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Dublin Bay 21 Sailing Class News
The spirit of Dublin Bay. Senior Skipper Tim Goodbody helming his very successful family-owned J/109 White Mischief
There’s something special about a large organisation which is so attuned to the needs of the many services it quietly provides that it can - naturally and confidently and without fuss - move into action each year in a distinctly…
Three of the restored Dublin Bay 21 vintage one-design wooden yacht fleet, Naneen (blue), Geraldine (white) and Estelle (yellow), on their new moorings off the bandstand at Dun Laoghaire Harbour's East Pier
The restored Dublin Bay 21 vintage one-design wooden yacht fleet is sitting pretty this season on new moorings off the bandstand at Dun Laoghaire's East Pier. The newly laid dedicated trot of seven moorings will give the Edwardian fleet a…
A rose-tinted view? The setting sun – enhanced by the recent incursion of Sahara dust – adds romance for three Howth 17s in the final evening race of their 125th season in 2023, with current champion Sheila (Dave Mulligan) in foreground. But the sun is definitely not setting in a more general way on such historic local classes in Ireland, as they’re thriving with a new surge of interest
They’ve been part of our sailing furniture for so long that you could be forgiven for thinking Ireland’s historic local classes might just quietly fade away through being barely noticed. But you’d be very much mistaken. 2023 has been a…
In July, a new classic boat/yacht parade is planned for Dun Laoghaire Harbour. This event is being arranged in association with Dun Laoghaire's Coastival Festival, a week-long series of events and activities that culminates in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.…
DB21s artist impression
The Sailors of Dublin Bay 21s committee have announced further details of the membership structure ahead of the upcoming inaugural season. Weather permitting, the plan is to launch the fleet comprising Naneen, Estelle, Geraldine and Garavogue in mid-May, pending the…
Two of the newly restored Dublin Bay 21s being put through their paces
The next stage in the Dublin Bay 21 restoration project is getting out on the water and racing the Naneen, Garavogue, Estelle and Geraldine in their original sailing condition. And that’s exactly what will be happening later this month with…
Alfred Mylne lives anew. The modern build classic-style schooner Naema is a contemporary amalgamation of design concepts used by Alfred Mylne in two of his large schooners
We’re accustomed to thinking of successful and long-lived local One-Design keelboat classes as being a distinctive feature of Irish sailing. Thus we tend to overlook the fact that one particular Scottish designer created more of these Irish boats than anyone…
The restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen sailing again on Dublin Bay in 2021 after forty years ashore
Dublin Bay's Hal Sisk and Fionan De Barra talked at Galway Bay Sailing Club on the Dublin Bay 21 Class restoration project and the history of the World's oldest cruiser racing class (1903 - 2023). As regular Afloat readers know, thanks to Sisk…
“The Special One” – the DB21 Geraldine arrives for restoration in Kilrush in July 2021. For members of the Queens University Belfast SC team of 1963, she holds cherished memoriest
The continuing restoration of the Mylne-designed Dublin Bay 21 class of 1902-1908 origins, undertaken by Steve Morris of Kilrush Boatyard for Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra, has deservedly won several awards, including recognition for the project’s use of modern…
Any images of the award-winning restored Dublin Bay 21 Naneen show a traditional rudderhead which you'd assume to be the original, going all the way back back to first owner T. Cosby Burrows in 1905. But Afloat.iereader Richard Dixon wonders…
Hal Sisk aboard his restored 1894-built G L Watson cutter Peggy Bawn in Dublin Bay in 2005
When Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire was awarded the International “Classic Boater Of The Year” Award in London on April 12th, the brief outline of his major achievements in preserving maritime heritage may have high-lighted his current project - with…
Hal Sisk with the re-build of the record-breaking 1912 schooner Atlantic in Dun Laoghaire
Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire has tonight (Tuesday) received the International Classic Boater of the Year Award in London for his decades of inspired service to classic craft and sailing history, while his colleagues Fionan de Barra of Dun Laoghaire…
Born again…..the classic DB21 revival has now taken on a new dimension
It may well be that Zoom sessions will continue as a significant permanent element in communication within the sailing community. But if the emergence from the pandemic continues reasonably well on course, there are many who hope that traditional human…
Classic renewed – the re-built Dublin Bay 21 Garavogue and her sister-ships are in line for a major award
Two classic designs with strong Dublin Bay links have been nominated for major prizes in the annual international Classic Boat Awards. Master boat-builder Steve Morris of Kilrush will of course be personally in line for the prize for his work…
The The 1938-founded Ballyholme Bay Class when still going strong in 1970, with Bobby Swanston's Eileen leading from Frank Humphreys' Penelope. While the class in Bangor is now largely defunct, an active sister-ship has emerged in Isle of Wight ownership
Coming as it does from David Tasker - an Afloat.ie reader from the Isle of Wight - a typically Autumnal query received a day or two ago from this new owner of an interesting and much-loved vintage boat is one…
“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…

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