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Displaying items by tag: Bill King

The current Vendee Globe Race non-stop round the world is deservedly attracting enough attention without having to make over-stated claims on behalf of some of its participants writes W M Nixon.

The official website is today carrying a story that if Enda O’Coineen can succeed in his plan of sailing his dismasted IMOCA 60 Kilcullen Voyager from Dunedin at the south end of New Zealand under jury rig to Auckland 800 miles away to the north, where a loaned replacement masts awaits, then if he can continue the voyage back to les Sables d’Olonne round Cape Horn he will become the first Irishman to sail solo round the world.

Not so. Noted Dublin marine artist Pete Hogan, who sailed solo round the world in his gaff ketch Molly B, said today that the number of misapprehensions about who was first doing what in the Irish circumnavigation stakes is astonishing.

For instance, when he rounded Cape Horn in the 1990s, he was acclaimed as the first Irishman to do it alone, for of course Conor O’Brien had done it with the crewed Saoirse in 1925. Yet Pete Hogan found it very difficult to get anyone to listen when he subsequently tried to set the record by saying that Bill King of Galway with the junk-rigged ketch Galway Blazer was the first solo, and that was way back in 1973.

The fact that Bill King was a distinguished former British submarine commander may have projected the image of being non-Irish. But in fact he flew both the Irish tricolour and the
British red ensign, and his home was Oranmore Castle at the head of Galway Bay.

irish solo2Bill King’s purpose-designed Galway Blazer circumnavigated the world solo south of the great Capes in 1973.

Since then, other Irish sailors who have striven to circumnavigate include Declan Mackell, originally from Portaferry but Canadian-based by the time he undertook his voyage in a Contessa 32, with which he returned home to Ireland for a prolonged stay during his circuit.

Another lone circumnavigator, Pat Lawless of Limerick who completed his voyage with a Seadog ketch in 1996 at the age of 70, had hoped to take in Cape Horn, but rigging damage forced him into a Chilean port, and eventually he returned to Ireland via the Panama Canal. But his circuit was definitely completed, and completed alone.

And Pete Hogan believes there may be one or two other Irish lone circumnavigators who have done it without fanfare. For not everyone seeks the kind of publicity which the Vendee Globe inevitably provides.

Pat Lawless solo sailorLimerick circumnavigator – the irrepressible Pat Lawless aboard his world-girdling Seadog ketch

Published in Vendee Globe

#OBITUARY - The Sunday Independent paid tribute this past weekend to round-the-world sailor and Galway native Bill King, who died last Friday 21 September aged 102.

William Donald Aelian King was the last surviving commander of a submarine in the Second World War - in charge of the British Navy's T-class Telemachus that sank a Japanese sub in the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia and Sumatra, in 1944.

Decorated many times for his service by the end of the war, King went on to become a trailblazing solo sailor.

At the age of 58, he was the oldest participant in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race sailing Galway Blazer II, a junk rigged schooner he designed himself.

After a number of abortive attempts, including an incident with "a large sea creature", he finally completed his solo circumnavigation of the globe in 1973.

Beyond his aquatic escapades, King settled with his wife Anita (who died in 1984, aged 70) at Oranmore Castle outside Galway after the war, where he later developed a pioneering organic farm and garden to help tackle his wife's asthma.

The Sunday Independent has much more on the story HERE.

Published in News Update
Tagged under
Killian Bushe of Cork must be one of the best sailors to come out of Ireland. But unfortunately his opportunities to enjoy the sport at which he excels are severely limited by one inescapable fact. He is probably the best specialist boatbuilder in the world.

So whenever a high-powered strongly-resourced international challenge is taking shape, Bushe is the boat-builder of choice, favoured by leading designers and top skippers alike. But if you have a challenge in mind and he is top of the list, please join the queue.

For at the moment, he is immersed as leading consultant in building the new Groupama 4, the top French Volvo 70 for Franck Cammas. Before that, he built the two successful Ericsson boats for the last Volvo – they took first and fourth. In fact, he has built the overall winners of the last three Volvo races. And when Groupama 4 is launched in May and signed off for the race (which starts on October 29th) Bushe returns his focus to Sweden which is now his home, where he has been involved with the Artemis challenger for the America's Cup 2013.

For that project, the designer is Juan Kouyoumdjian, and the skipper is Paul Cayard. This is stratospheric stuff, but that's the level where Bushe operates. With more than thirty years of high tech boat building experience, and a string of success that is mind-boggling, he is the gold standard. But beyond that, he is still the Crosshaven kid who started his racing on his father George's Avocet (which George designed and built), and internationally he is the spirit of Cork sailing.

His renowned skill and knowledge in the use of advanced materials and composites is such that you'd expect him to be awarded a Honorary Doctorate in chemistry from some appropriate university. But in the meantime, his special place in Irish and world sailing was honoured on Saturday March 26th with his award of the Fastnet Trophy.

This trophy is co-ordinated by the Irish Cruising Club, and it operates in very broad brief. Initiated in 2005 with its first award to Paddy Barry and Jarlath Cunnane for their pioneering circuit of the Arctic via both the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage, its unique lineage has been maintained by such awardees as Robin Knox-Johnston, and the most recent one, centenarian circumnavigator Bill King of Galway.

The Fastnet Trophy is envisaged as highlighting a contribution to sailing which has a sense of the unique about it, and Killian Bushe is just the man. His international sailing achievements began back in 1976 when he was one of the crew that won the Half Ton Cup at Trieste in the Cork-built Silver Shamrock. They celebrated by sailing up the Grand Canal in Venice with spinnaker set. But gradually the boat-building took over, though Bushe sails with his family in Sweden whenever he can. That is what was being celebrated on Saturday night. Killian Bushe – very good sailor, extremely good boatbuilder.

Published in Cruising

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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