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Waverleys on the Move from Ballyholme to Strangford Lough

10th July 2021
The Waverley Durward owned by Steve and Anne Allen
The Waverley Durward owned by Steve and Anne Allen

The 18-foot Waverley open racing yacht has for many years been a Ballyholme Yacht Club class, and those which are still sailing have been berthed in Bangor Marina, which from when it was opened in 1989 proved to be something of a haven for boats traditionally moored in Ballyholme Bay which occasionally over the years were subject to being hurled onto the beach by the big seas of a northerly gale.

But now they are leaving Bangor (albeit for a trial season) for Strangford Lough Yacht Club at Whiterock on the Lough's western shore, as their owners are finding berthing costs more than they feel they want to pay, coupled with the fact that they have no engines and moving in and out is tricky. They will be kept on moorings in Whiterock Bay.

Waverley IvanhoeWaverley Ivanhoe

The Waverley was designed by a complete amateur, John Wylie, who was a technician at Queen's University Belfast and Captain of the newly formed County Antrim YC at Whitehead on the north shore of Belfast Lough. The first three Waverleys were built in Carrickfergus, and first raced in 1903 at the opening of the new clubhouse.

The Centenary Regatta at Ballyholme was held in 2003 with eight boats taking part.

Over the years 18 were built, gunter rigged, and all named after characters and places in Sir Walter Scott novels. By 1907 there was a fleet of eight, two of which two still sailing today, Waverley no 5 and Lilias no 7.

 Waverley launch at Ballyholme YC circa 1973A Waverley launch at Ballyholme YC circa 1973

In 1962 the boats relocated to Ballyholme, by which time the fleet had doubled in size. Those joining the owner of Waverley, Mike Stevens, a former member of Ballyholme YC and now a member of SLYC at Whiterock, are Lilias owned by Jeff Gouk, Ivanhoe (John McCrea), Fair Maid owned by Ben Gouk and Steve and Anne Allen's Durward, which was built with a Bermudan rig in Bertie Slater's Shipyard in Bangor in 1948 and is perhaps the most celebrated of all. For as you can read here as told by WM Nixon in 1961, the MacLaverty brothers of Belfast – Kevin and Colm, both alas no longer with us – sailed around Ireland in Durward crewed by Mick Clarke from Lough Erne Yacht Club.

The Waverley Opening Day at Ballyholme makes headlines in the local newspaperThe Waverley Opening Day at Ballyholme makes headlines in the local newspaper

The then owners of Durward seemed to have a penchant for cross North Channel voyages as well, for in the same year (1961) after Winkie Nixon sold his Skal, and was taking part in the Schools and Universities racing based at McGruers of Clynder on the Clyde, Durward turned up and provided for McLaverty and Nixon the perfect ferry substitute for the trip back to Bangor though it was a beat all the way - a lot of windward work for an 18-footer.

There are now no Waverleys in commission in Ballyholme Yacht Club, and about those leaving the club Commodore Aidan Pounder said, "The Waverley class are very much part of our history, not just at Ballyholme but in Belfast Lough and will be sadly missed. We hope that their departure is temporary and very much look forward to their return to the shores of Bangor in the very near future".

And Kevin Baird, Marina Manager, said, " The Waverly class will always be welcome at Bangor Marina, and we wish those moving to Whiterock fair winds, following seas and a safe voyage".

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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