If variety is the spice of life, then the 25th Anniversary Glandore Classics Regatta is currently staging the most vibrant and flavoursome boat show on the Irish coast writes W M Nixon.
Admittedly the mid-week routine, which will lead on to events like races to Castlehaven (or Castletownshend if you prefer), doesn’t have quite the same hectic pace as the opening weekend. But for connoisseurs of classic or traditional or even just plain odd boats, it’s a feast for eye, memory and analysis which has seen some vividly contrasting boats all united in at least one purpose.
That purpose was to honour the memory and achievement of the late Theo Rye (1968-2016). He was taken from us all too soon last Autumn. But in his short life, his passion for yacht and boat design - its history and its future – was an inspiration for all who came in contact with him, and particularly those with whom he worked on a variety of projects which could range from the smallest of boats right up to the ultimate Fife restoration, the giant 23 Metre Cambria
In Glandore, there are currently several boats which have benefitted from Theo’s expertise, or could do were it so wished. For instance, a regular at Glandore is the modernized Clyde 30 Brynoth, a Fife creation of 1905. If anyone had ever planned to bring Brynoth back to her original form, it would have been so reassuring to entrust the project to Theo’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the Fife design and build canon.
Yet the breadth of his influence and expertise is also seen in Hal Sisk’s eye-catching yet under-stated 63ft powercruiser Molly Ban, which is in Glandore to act as mothership to the owner’s Dublin Bay Water Wag. Molly Ban could be claimed to find inspiration from may sources, but she is such a unique combination of seagoing powerboat and classic dinghy mothership that we could reasonably argue she is sui generis, she’s just her own sweet self, and that’s all there is to it.
In addition to the owner’s advanced technical experience, Molly Ban saw the combined talent of Nigel Irens and Theo Rye put to work to create a very elegant and distinctive vessel so easily driven that, with a single 300hp Cummins diesel, she has a maximum loaded speed of 16 knots and makes an easily-reached 14 knots on 30 litres of fuel an hour. Yet if you throttle back to 10 knots – a tidy enough speed for most cruising – she burns only ten litres an hour.
There’s a completeness to the Molly Ban concept which is a credit to the memory of Theo Rye. But equally, in looking at the presentation of all the top classics at Glandore, you realize that you’re looking at yachts which have been raised to a standard which Theo and others like him ensured was set, and then adhered to, and if anything improved over time.
His mind could also produce totally off-the-wall solutions to design challenges. But though we all know that it was Theo Rye who came up with the completely innovative design for the CityOne dinghies to be built by the Ilen Boatbuilding School in Limerick, nevertheless at Glandore it was still pause for thought to see them sharing the sea with the utterly classic Dublin Bay Water Wags, a design of 1900 which Theo Rye equally cherished.
With four CityOne dinghies available in Glandore for an inter-area Theo Rye Memorial Series, Race Officer Donal Lynch was able to provide competition for a representative selection with crews from Limerick, the County Clare folk of Seol Sionna who had arrived in Glandore with their own distinctive Shannon Estuary hooker Sally O’Keeffe after a fine overnight passage from Kilrush, a West Cork crew with some involved in the restoration of the ketch Ilen at Oldcourt, and a Cork city team.
In the end, it was the Limerick duo of Donal Coffey (helm) crewed by Sean McNulty who won the weekend series overall, but really it was the way that the CityOne dinghies so ably fulfilled the role envisaged for them by Gary MacMahon of the Ilen School and Theo Rye which was the abiding memory.
As the photos reveal, Donal Lunch has had quite a challenge in setting races for all classes which will be manageable despite a shortage of wind, with further frustration early in the week as the underlying northerly airstream tended to negate the efforts of the warming summer days to create a sea breeze, but by week’s end we hope to get reports of improved sailing.
Meanwhile, a view of the classic style currently gracing the Glandore anchorage is more than enough to be going along with.