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Dublin Bay 21 Sailing Class News
The Dublin Bay 21 Naneen on her first sail after restoration, slipping effortlessly along on the Shannon Estuary off Kilrush
The continuing restoration of the Dublin Bay 21 class of 1902, in the longterm project guided by Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra of Dun Laoghaire, has seen the work of Master Shipwright Stephen Morris of Kilrush and his team…
Better than a Health Farm……the soothing setup in the McMahon shed in Athlone, with the "new-old" Dublin Bay Water Wag Shindilla (original built in 1932) nearing completion beside a useful little clinker-built dinghy, while a multi-purpose canoe with sailing potential is stored by suspension from the roof
In times of stress like this, there is nowhere more soothing than a well-organised but not unduly fussy timber workshop where each day's harmonious effort shows a tangible result. And of all such workshops, there's nowhere so healthily absorbing –…
The Dublin Bay 21 Naneen of 1905 vintage (foreground) and her 1903 sister-ship Garavoge, elegantly together in Kilrush Marina
The dedicated and detailed process whereby Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra are restoring the historic Dublin Bay 21 Class (founded 1903) for a meaningful role in the 21st century has taken a major step forward with the 1903 Portrush-built…
The revived Dublin Bay 21 Class will remain true to their original colours, but their order of restoration is non-numerical, as Number 6 – Naneen, centre - has been the first to sail again, as she was the only one to be built in Dun Laoghaire
The complex project of restoring the Alfred Mylne-designed Dublin Bay 21 class – which first raced in 1903 and ceased racing in 1986 – has been in hiatus during the Lockdown. But now Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra have…
The Dublin Bay 21 Garavogue in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. During the 1930s, she was owned and raced by Lord Glenavy with his crew including his son, the writer Patrick Campbell
With hopes being expressed that we’re approaching peak COVID-19, there’s concern that people will relax their vigilance in maintaining the proven quarantine precautions, and that numbers will start to rise again. One of the most frighteningly effective ways of spreading…
Dublin Bay 21 Naneen will be back racing on Dublin Bay this season
There has been excellent progress on the revival of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club Twenty One project the world’s oldest intact on design keelboat class as they prepare for a new season racing again on Dublin Bay. Chris Moore of Dublin…
“The light of other days…..” The Dublin Bay 21 Naneen sails for the first time in 33 years in the otherworldly illumination of December sunshine on the Shannon Estuary. Photo: Kate Griffiths
Sunshine in December imparts a surreal look to everything it illuminates with its vivid low-angled delineation. And for anyone who happened to be on the Shannon Estuary between Kilrush and Scattery Island on Monday afternoon this week, the sense of…
Naneen, the Dublin Bay 21 sailing on the Shannon Estuary
“They are drop dead gorgeous.” Those words came to mind this week when, amongst the collection of many Emails, phone texts and post that arrive each week there was a photograph which nicely illustrated those words. Stephen Morris sent me…
Naneen about to be launched
I won’t be challenging Hal Sisk’s confident declaration that he is Chairman of “the world’s oldest cruiser-racer class!” His offer to anyone to challenge him sounded across Kilrush Boatyard to where I had driven over 400 kilometres from Cork to…
In frame. Dublin Bay 21 Naneen at an early stage of her current re-birth in Kilrush. Photo: Steve Morris
The restoration of classic yachts and traditional craft to the recognised international standard is still relatively new in Ireland writes W M Nixon. In fact, it could be argued that the major project in Dunmore East, completed in 2005 on…
#dublinbay21s – Celebrating several sailing centenaries have been joyful occasions on Dublin bay recently, seen as opportunities to reflect on the capital's rich sailing tradition. But the misfortune of the Dublin Bay 21 foot class represents a far bigger problem…
#dublinbay21 – Dun Laoghaire sailor and former Irish Sailing Association President Roger Bannon was intrigued by recent correspondence from Paddy Boyd to W M Nixon regarding the Dublin Bay 21s in his recent Afloat.ie Sailing on Saturday Column. Here Roger…

Dublin Bay 21s

An exciting new project to breathe life into six defunct 120-year-old Irish yachts that happen to be the oldest intact one-design keelboat class in the world has captured the imagination of sailors at Ireland's biggest sailing centre. The birthplace of the original Dublin Bay 21 class is getting ready to welcome home the six restored craft after 40 years thanks to an ambitious boat building project was completed on the Shannon Estuary that saved them from completely rotting away.

Dublin Bay 21 FAQs

The Dublin Bay 21 is a vintage one-design wooden yacht designed for sailing in Dublin Bay.

Seven were built between 1903 and 1906.

As of 2020, the yachts are 117 years old.

Alfred Mylne designed the seven yachts.

The total voting population in the Republic's inhabited islands is just over 2,600 people, according to the Department of Housing.

Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) commissioned the boat to encourage inexpensive one-design racing to recognise the success of the Water Wag one-design dinghy of 1887 and the Colleen keelboat class of 1897.

Estelle built by Hollwey, 1903; Garavogue built by Kelly, 1903; Innisfallen built by Hollwey, 1903.; Maureen built by Hollwey, 1903.; Oola built by Kelly, 1905; Naneen built by Clancy, 1905.

Overall length- 32'-6', Beam- 7'-6", Keel lead- 2 tons Sail area - 600sq.ft

The first race took place on 19 June 1903 in Dublin Bay.

They may be the oldest intact class of racing keelboat yacht in the world. Sailing together in a fleet, they are one of the loveliest sights to be seen on any sailing waters in the world, according to many Dublin Bay aficionados.

In 1964, some of the owners thought that the boats were outdated, and needed a new breath of fresh air. After extensive discussions between all the owners, the gaff rig and timber mast was abandoned in favour of a more fashionable Bermudan rig with an aluminium mast. Unfortunately, this rig put previously unseen loads on the hulls, resulting in some permanent damage.

The fleet was taken out of the water in 1986 after Hurricane Charlie ruined active Dublin Bay 21 fleet racing in August of that year. Two 21s sank in the storm, suffering the same fate as their sister ship Estelle four years earlier. The class then became defunct. In 1988, master shipwright Jack Tyrrell of Arklow inspected the fleet and considered the state of the hulls as vulnerable, describing them as 'still restorable even if some would need a virtual rebuild'. The fleet then lay rotting in a farmyard in Arklow until 2019 and the pioneering project of Dun Laoghaire sailors Fionan De Barra and Hal Sisk who decided to bring them back to their former glory.

Hurricane Charlie finally ruined active Dublin Bay 21 fleet racing in August 1986. Two 21s sank in the storm, suffering the same fate as a sister ship four years earlier; Estelle sank twice, once on her moorings and once in a near-tragic downwind capsize. Despite their collective salvage from the sea bed, the class decided the ancient boats should not be allowed suffer anymore. To avoid further deterioration and risk to the rare craft all seven 21s were put into storage in 1989 under the direction of the naval architect Jack Tyrrell at his yard in Arklow.

While two of the fleet, Garavogue and Geraldine sailed to their current home, the other five, in various states of disrepair, were carried the 50-odd miles to Arklow by road.

To revive the legendary Dublin Bay 21 class, the famous Mylne design of 1902-03. Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra are developing ideas to retain the class's spirit while making the boats more appropriate to today's needs in Dun Laoghaire harbour, with its many other rival sailing attractions. The Dublin Bay 21-foot class's fate represents far more than the loss of a single class; it is bad news for the Bay's yachting heritage at large. Although Dún Laoghaire turned a blind eye to the plight of the oldest intact one-design keelboat fleet in the world for 30 years or more they are now fully restored.

The Dublin Bay 21 Restoration team includes Steve Morris, James Madigan, Hal Sisk, Fionan de Barra, Fintan Ryan and Dan Mill.

Retaining the pure Mylne-designed hull was essential, but the project has new laminated cold-moulded hulls which are being built inverted but will, when finished and upright, be fitted on the original ballast keels, thereby maintaining the boat’s continuity of existence, the presence of the true spirit of the ship.

It will be a gunter-rigged sloop. It was decided a simpler yet clearly vintage rig was needed for the time-constrained sailors of the 21st Century. So, far from bringing the original and almost-mythical gaff cutter rig with jackyard topsail back to life above a traditionally-constructed hull, the project is content to have an attractive gunter-rigged sloop – “American gaff” some would call it.

The first DB 21 to get the treatment was Naneen, originally built in 1905 by Clancy of Dun Laoghaire for T. Cosby Burrowes, a serial boat owner from Cavan.

On Dublin Bay. Dublin Bay Sailing Club granted a racing start for 2020 Tuesday evening racing starting in 2020, but it was deferred due to COVID-19.
Initially, two Dublin Bay 21s will race then three as the boat building project based in Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary completes the six-boat project.
The restored boats will be welcomed back to the Bay in a special DBSC gun salute from committee boat Mac Lir at the start of the season.
In a recollection for Afloat, well known Dun Laoghaire one-design sailor Roger Bannon said: "They were complete bitches of boats to sail, over-canvassed and fundamentally badly balanced. Their construction and design was also seriously flawed which meant that they constantly leaked and required endless expensive maintenance. They suffered from unbelievable lee helm which led to regular swamping's and indeed several sinkings.

©Afloat 2020

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