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New Website Promotes Restored Dublin Bay Twenty-One Class

2nd May 2024
The restored Dublin Bay 21 Number six Naneen  competing in a yacht race on Dublin Bay
The restored Dublin Bay 21 Number six Naneen competing in a yacht race on Dublin Bay Credit: Afloat

The Dublin Bay Twenty-One class that was restored after a 35-year hiatus now has a new website.

The fleet, designed by Alfred Mylne in 1902 for the Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC), was revived in 2021.

The new website portal provides information about the fleet, including its active sailing programme, history, and how to join the Sailors of Dublin Bay Twentyones.

The fleet's boats, Estelle, Garavogue, Naneen, and Geraldine, can be seen moored off the Dun Laoghaire harbour East Pier, where they race every Tuesday and Saturday.

The East Pier moorings, provided by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, are adjacent to the bandstand, and the Class Association and Sailors of Dublin Bay Twentyones are grateful for this support. The Class Association, led by Hal Sisk and Fionán de Barra, which owns the boats, revived these classic yachts. The Class Association is supported by the Sailors of Dublin Bay Twentyones, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to ensuring the fleet's sustainability.

The Dublin Bay 21s: From left to right Maureen (2), Garavogue (4), Oola (5), Naneen (6), Inisfallen (1), Geraldine (7) and Estelle (3)The Dublin Bay 21s: From left to right Maureen (2), Garavogue (4), Oola (5), Naneen (6), Inisfallen (1), Geraldine (7) and Estelle (3)

The Sailors of Dublin Bay Twentyones participate in all races and events held for the class in the vicinity of Dublin Bay during the sailing season from May to October, generating income to cover maintenance and related sailing costs. Oola, Maureen, and Innisfallen will rejoin the fleet, with Oola expected to return to Dublin Bay in July.

Sean Doyle of the class says the new association is excited about the comeback of these boats and hopes to attract more sailing enthusiasts to the fleet. The new website provides details about the fleet, including a sailing programme that combines DBSC racing, cruising events, regattas, training days, and Parades of Sail. It also highlights the history of the fleet and how to become part of the Sailors of Dublin Bay Twentyones.

The restoration of the Dublin Bay Twenty-One class is a significant achievement for the sailing community and Dublin Bay Sailing Club. The fleet's comeback has brought back a piece of history and adds to the rich sailing culture of the Dublin Bay area. 

The new website is here.

Published in Dublin Bay 21
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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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