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Restorer of MGRS 34 'Twenty Twenty' Has Round Ireland Race Ambition

26th July 2021
The vintage MGRS 34 Twenty Twenty is a new Dublin Bay restoration project
The vintage MGRS 34 Twenty Twenty is a new Dublin Bay restoration project Credit: courtesy Rick Tomlinson

The MGRS 34 Twenty Twenty, originally owned by Bangor man, Jimmy Mackey, lay unused in the river Liffey at Poolbeg, Dublin for about seven years and now, like another Humphrey's design, Juno, will have a new lease of life.

Rex Robinson, the new owner, has trusted the restoration to Kevin O'Neill in his repair shed at Kirkistown in County Down and by the end of September, this three-quarter tonner will be in Dun Laoghaire sailing out of the National Yacht Club.

MGRS 34 Twenty Twenty taken from the Liffey at Poolbeg and brought indoorsMGRS 34 Twenty Twenty taken from the Liffey at Poolbeg and brought indoors for restoration

Four years ago, Kevin bought Juno, which had lain in Arklow for a long time, restored her, and is now based in Strangford Lough. She, too, had been owned by another Bangor man, Myles Lindsay.

Jimmy Mackey was the first owner of Twenty Twenty, which is said to have been one of the last off the production line. He sailed her enthusiastically for 14 years, including Cork and Bangor Weeks, a Round Ireland Race and four Round Isle of Man races. And he says of a return trip from Cork when he thought the predicted persistent 40-knot south-westerly was too good to miss for a fast passage home up the west coast; "It was the best sail of my life - she was doing 14 knots". Another great memory was when the late Peter Blake visited Ballyholme Yacht Club ahead of an event, and as part of the pre-publicity, sailed in Twenty-Twenty.

A 1992 news paper cutting showing round the world yachtsman Sir Peter Blake on Twenty TwentyA 1992 newspaper cutting showing round the world yachtsman Sir Peter Blake on Twenty Twenty

In 1999, she was bought by David McNally and moored at Poolbeg but for the last seven years wasn't sailed.

Rex had stopped sailing about twenty years ago while his children were growing up. Sadly, he lost his wife Debbie late last year. He felt that if he had a boat and started sailing again, he could use it for fundraising for Lung Cancer Research. He will be setting up a Go Fund Me page with the aim of raising 10,000 euros for that charity and plans to focus on the next Round Ireland Race.

On deck looking aftOn deck looking aftOn deck looking forward

The name will be changed to Debbie R and the paintwork to shades of purple, which was Debbie's favourite colour. The mast and rigging will be replaced by Masts and Rigging of Duleek and a new bigger engine and up to date electronics installed.

Below decks on Twenty TwentyBelow decks on Twenty Twenty. A new bigger engine and up to date electronics are to be installed.

Rex looks on this venture enthusiastically "Having the boat restored allows me to give the boat a new lease of life while honouring my wife's memory".

And in an interesting twist to the story given to me by Fiona Hicks, one of the original Twenty Twenty crew, it is thought that Ian Adams, another crew member, hid a piece of Christmas Cake somewhere in the boat on the 1988 Round Ireland Race and claimed no one would ever find it! Maybe Kevin O'Neill will be the lucky one! It would certainly be a bit stale by now though.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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