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Dublin Bay 21 Sailing Class News
“With a bone in her teeth” - the restored Dublin Bay 21 Garavogue revelling in Friday evening’s breeze to win her class in the RIYC end-of-season race
The three 1903 Dublin Bay 21s newy-restored for Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra by Steve Morris and his team in Kilrush Boatyard have been back in Dun Laoghaire for six weeks now. But in the late season’s perverse weather, there…
The RIYC fleet will be joined by the Dublin Bay 21s which will be helmed for the occasion by the Club’s Flag Officers for the annual pursuit race
The Royal Irish Yacht Club annual pursuit race, tomorrow evening Friday 10th September, will celebrate the 190th anniversary of the historic Club’s foundation in 1831 at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. This, says the Club Commodore Pat Shannon, will be a fitting…
One hundred and eighteen years after they first sailed across to Howth, the first three restored Dublin Bay 21s will be making a repeat visit this Sunday, September 12th.
In times past before they ceased racing in 1986, the 1903-founded Dublin Bay 21s were regular participants in regattas at Howth. With three of the boats newly-restored under the class revival project inspired by Fionan de Barra and Hal Sisk,…
The Dublin Bay 21s Estelle and Maureen in their jackyard-topsail-rigged heyday on a Saturday afternoon in the 1950s. The background speaks volumes of the low level of national economic activity at the time. Over towards the inner bay at Poolbeg, the most conspicuous building seems to be the former Pigeon House Hotel, which dated back to the 1740s. Power stations and major port development were still in the future, and ship movements were minimal
When the three newly-restored Dublin Bay 21s fulfilled the dream of Fionan de Barra and Hal Sisk by racing last Tuesday, they did so off a coastline much-changed since they last sailed on the bay in 1986. Admittedly the unmistakable…
The Dublin Bay 21 Footers competing in the second last DBSC Tuesday Series race
The Dublin Bay 21 Footer Naneen was the winner of the penultimate DBSC Tuesday keelboat race of the 2021 season. Second of the recently restored three boat fleet was Estelle with Garavogue third. 66 boats enjoyed a light breeze on a…
Competing in the first DBSC Dublin Bay Twenty Footer Race of 2021 at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour were from  (L to R) front row: Winifred McCourt. Fionán de Barra. Dean McElree. (Back row) Article author Ronan Beirne, Alastair Rumball, Hal Sisk, Tim Pearson, Jim Foley and Michael Rothschild
Former National Yacht Club Commodore Ronan Beirne, who welcomed three restored Dublin Bay 21s back to Dun Laoghaire Harbour last Friday, accepted an invitation to join a DB21 crew for the first DBSC race in 35 years last Tuesday evening.…
The DB21 Naneen arrives in Kilrush in 2016 pre-restoration, with (left to right) Fionan de Barra, boatbuilder Steve Morris, designer Paul Spooner, and Hal Sisk.
The restoration of all seven original Dublin Bay 21ft One-Designs (the oldest of them date from 1903) is still work in progress. But a major milestone in the process - the Cape Horn of a unique voyage – was safely…
Gun smoke for Estelle as she is greeted back to Dun Laoghaire by a 21 gun salute by Dublin Bay Sailing Club
Photographer Michael Chester documented the arrival home of the first three restored Dublin Bay 21’s Number 3 Estelle, 4 Garavogue and 6 Naneen that sailed from Arklow yesterday (Friday 30th) July arriving at Dun Laoghaire at 17.00 where they were met by…
Home again. After an absence of 35 years - and all of 116 years after she first sailed here - the restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen sails past Dun Laoghaire's East Pier lighthouse with a 21-gun salute
There's something about the way that Steve Morris and his boat-building team in Kilrush are restoring the 1903-vintage Dublin Bay 21s that speaks to people with only a vague notion of the sea and sailing. The class association circled around…
Keeping your ducks in a row….in damp and almost windless conditions, the three restored Dublin Bay 21s were seen being hustled along by mother-ship Molly Ban close off the Wicklow coast this morning, on their way towards returning to Dublin Bay for the first time since 1986
Despite a brief gale and much rain in the night, Ireland’s east coast has been a bit lifeless as regards wind this morning as the three restored Dublin Bay 21s make their way from Arklow to their appointment with destiny…
At the heart of the harbour for 83 years - a Dublin Bay 21 under the original gaff rig, which was used from 1903 until 1964. The class then sailed under Bemuda rig until 1986, and will resume Dublin Bay activities in 2021 with reversion to a modified gaff rig
The Dublin Bay 21 Footers are the oldest class of racing yachts of their kind in the world - the World’s Oldest Cruiser Racer Class. Designed in 1902 by the leading yacht designer, Alfred Mylne of Glasgow, for Dublin Bay…
The mixed tapestry of Irish sailing – Olympians Finn Lynch and Annalise Murphy winning a race in Dun Laoghaire in a classic Dublin Bay Water Wag
The start of the Sailing Olympics tomorrow (Sunday) at Enoshima, fifty kilometres from central Tokyo, may seem to be the beginning of a boat event about as different as humanly possible from the staging next Friday (July 30th) of an…
Secret sailing in the Shannon Estuary. The restored Dublin Bay 21 Garavogue (originally built Portrush 1903) on her 2021 maiden sail in the Shannon Estuary. All being well, she’ll be sailing from the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire for the first time in 35 years on Friday July 30th.
Although the more energetic clubs managed successful if very compressed programmes in the brief permitted sailing season of 2020, the pandemic shut-down was so all-encompassing for life in general that it’s taking quite some time to get a proper feeling…
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…

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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