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The 19ft–Squib keelboat is quite often raced with ferocious competitiveness which is almost frightening for those of us who bought them many years ago as handy little boats which worked as an ideal family day-sailer while providing some club One-Design racing as a useful option writes W M Nixon.

The alleged story of their origins has a certain irresistible charm. It’s said that in 1967 or thereabouts, the local GP in Burnham-on-Crouch - that total sailing place in among the many rivers and creeks of Essex - had the complete rig for an Enterprise Dinghy, but no hull to go with it.

However, having decided that his dinghy-sailing days were over, the doctor was yarning down the pub with the local small boat designer Oliver Lee, and the upshot of it was that Lee agreed to design a smaller version of his proven Ajax 23 in order to create a comfortable little keelboat which could use that redundant Enterprise rig.

You wouldn’t dream of measuring up an actual Enterprise rig against what finally emerged on the Squib, for fear of blowing that charming myth out of the water. But in any case, when the new boat soon proved so popular that classes started developing almost immediately, they were using distinctive sails in a tanned fabric such as you see on old gaffers, as it’s said some sailmaker had mistakenly over-ordered a stock of the stuff, so they were very competitively priced.

large squib fleet2Squibs in their dozens…..ever since the design appeared, there have been those who wanted a bigger spinnaker, while others want to change the sail colour, but the Squib remains her own very distinctive self

The odd boat turned up here and there in Ireland – there’s a rumour one of the first was seen in West Cork – but the first Club to seriously adopt the class was Royal North of Ireland YC at Cultra on Belfast Lough. And they certainly didn’t let the grass grow under their feet – they’d Squibs racing in significant numbers by 1969, and in the years since, they’ve been far and away the most frequent winners of the Irish championship.

Admittedly it was when Howth hosted the British and Irish Championship in 1995 that the Squibs achieved a hundred boats-plus on the starting line for the first time, but down the ages it is the Cultra sailors who have most assiduously kept the faith, and this year they’re celebrating the Golden Jubilee of their fleet with a turbo-powered three day event for the 2019 Irish Nationals at Cultra on August 2nd to 4th, details here

The Squib is so broadly spread all over Ireland that we can get typical photos from many centres showing their versatility, but my favourite continues to be one taken at Dromineer on Lough Derg where the little boats are revelling in Autumn sailing at its best.

It now has added interest, as it shows a classic Lough Derg shoreline. Yachting historian Vincent Delany was referring to this background when he commented that the recently-sold Montagu Dawson painting of International 6 Metres supposedly racing on Lough Derg featured a shoreline which no Lough Derg sailor would recognise. Enough said.

Published in Squib
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A long time ago when I brought the first very second-hand Squib to Howth Yacht Club in 1979, things were different writes WM Nixon. After all, it was forty years ago (there’s another local class anniversary for you), and I’d spent the 1970s either racing offshore under IOR as it then was, with 150% genoas, or cruising in good old-fashioned boats where a taut forestay was likewise de rigeur.

Sometimes crews were so keen to straighten the forestay on hot offshore racers that they found their over-use of the hydraulic backstay tensioner was slowly driving the foot of the mast through the bottom of the boat. As for narrowing the slot between jib and mainsail, it was thought to look scruffy - “I don’t like the cut of his jib” had real meaning.

So it was interesting to note the recent North Sails piece on Afloat.ie about the benefit of giving the forestay a little bit of sag to help performance in light airs. Just how much sag you should give presumably depends on many factors, but on boats where the headsail is really only a jib, such as the Etchells 22 or Squib, it seems that anything goes.

Certainly, I felt distinctly prehistoric over the years, in becoming aware of the way Squibs were experimenting with slack forestays and the clew hauled well inboard. It looked plain wrong. But it worked. That said, in the quaint photo of 40 years ago where I’m helming in considerable comfort thanks to a marvellous crew in Ian Jackson, who could sit right out ramrod straight for as long as was needed, there certainly were other Squibs out racing, but there doesn’t seem to be one in front of us…….

squib jib2Do you like the cut of his jib? Squib jib trim as it is today

Published in Squib
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At the recent Dublin Bay Squib fleet AGM which was well attended by active members, the following decisions were taken:

  • Members of the Squib fleet will ensure that the turn out of Squibs at Dublin Bay Sailing Club Thursday and Saturday races will be superior to 2018.
  • It is expected that Allsorts and Karma will join the active fleet for club racing.
  • Class Captain Noel Colclough and his team will be organising crew coaching at the beginning of the season.
  • The Squib fleet will be supporting the Fun Fridays at the Royal St George Yacht Club.
  • The Dublin Bay Squib Fleet will endeavour to find new owners for any boats currently for sale.
Published in Squib
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Lough Derg Yacht Club's Freshwater Championships in Dromineer last weekend was all about the weather! On Thursday and Friday when the teams were arriving from every part of Ireland, they were told to expect 100km/hr winds.

Fortunately, these winds did not materialise, and 21 one entries represented the best supported Squib event of the year, with three teams from Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, three from Killyleagh Yacht Club, two from Kinsale Yacht Club, one from Baltimore Sailing Club, one from Howth Yacht Club, one from Glandore Harbour Yacht Club, one from Royal St George Yacht Club, and three from the home club. There were three very welcome visitors from Brexitland, one from Holyhead, one from Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club and Dick Batt from Bosham. Two further entries didn’t arrive due to personal circumstances. Although there were no female helms, there were several female crews, including Fiona Ward in ‘Allegro’, Pamela Phelan in ‘Squib’, and Mary Faherty in ‘Sidewinder.’

"with only three races sailed, all race results counted"

Racing on Saturday took place in rain-drenched Dromineer Bay in shifty winds which varied from 4 to 8 knots. This made for difficult boat handling due to telltales being non- operational, and solar-powered compasses responding in the same manner. Over the duration of the day, the wind swung 180 degrees from the east through the south and then the west. Notwithstanding the conditions, there were three different winners. The PRO John Leech was persuaded by the competitors to abandon the fourth race due to the crews finding it difficult to concentrate under such conditions.

On Sunday the sun shone, but the wind stayed away- so the race which was started was abandoned by the PRO on the grounds of inadequate means of propulsion. Thus, with only three races sailed, all race results counted.

Full results downloadable below:

Published in Squib
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Lough Derg Yacht Club is hosting its annual Freshwater Keelboat Championships in Dromineer, County Tipperary this coming weekend with racing for Squibs and Flying Fifteens over two days.

The event is an end of season celebration and competition for sailors who love the autumnal conditions and the challenge of the vagaries of lake sailing.

Currently, the weather forecast indicates gusty, southerly winds on Saturday and Sunday

Competitors are travelling from as far afield as Norfolk, Holyhead, Strangford, Howth, Kinsale and Dun Laoghaire to join the local fleet.

LDYC Commodore John Leech is Race officer for the event.

Published in Flying Fifteen
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Kinsale Yacht Club hosted the Squib Southern Championships this weekend. Six races were sailed over the two days with different wind and sea conditions each day. Saturday had a 12 – 15-knot breeze coming from due east so there was a swell which made for testing conditions while Sunday saw gusts over 20 knots but flat seas as the wind was due north.

Race 1 saw Colm Dunne & Fiona Ward on Allegro dominate from the start with Ian Travers and Keith O’Riordan on Outlaw second and Denis and Brid Cudmore on Sensation third. With less than 3.5 mins between the last finisher and the warning signal for the next race Race Officer Peter Crowley had his team running like a well-oiled machine. Race two saw the lead boats reversed with Outlaw in command and Allegro in second. Bodacious with Jeff Cochrane and Finbarr O’Regan were battling with Sensation for third but Sensation prevailed.

Race four on Sunday had Allegro in front from the start. Sensation tacked up the middle of the course and gained several places to secure 2nd and Bodacious was third. Outlaw was 4th which meant that this was possibly his discard. Race 5 got underway and Allegro was 1st and Outlaw 2nd. Sensation was jockeying with Bodacious again but secured another 3rd.

Race six got underway with Allegro and Outlaw on equal points. They tacked up the beat covering each other. Outlaw got to the windward mark first on the final beat but Allegro caught him on the run and they arrived to the leeward mark together. Allegro managed to push Outlaw up after rounding and this gave Allegro the edge he needed to beat to the line and secure the championship.

Published in Squib
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It’s still cold enough in boatyards to require determination to take off the covers, slide back the hatch and go below to start the annual preparation work. There are some more determined than others to have their boats ready to get the maximum out of the season but, having listened to a work colleague who presented me with a mathematical disassembly of the costs of owning a boat – the balance sheet he compiled in that cold analysis was on the financial red side - my emotional attachment to my boat and the sport of sailing didn’t impress him.

I hear, though, from other owners, telling me that they have also compared cost and usage, but I’m trying to cast aside such disturbing issues as news comes that the cruiser racing season will start on the South Coast on post–St.Patrick’s Day Bank Holiday next Monday – at Kinsale Yacht Club where the March League will provide an All-In introduction to the year for Spinnaker and White Sail Boats.

That notice came as I got a reminder that ICRA members will gather at the Maldron Hotel in Portlaoise on Wednesday night of next week, March 21, at 7.30 p.m. for the extraordinary general meeting which follows on the travails of the organisation in recent months,

The Interim Constitution, which will be voted on, mainly has changes to the management structure, as it appears from its publication on the Irish Cruiser Racing Association’s website, which says that the objective is to “allow the membership the greatest freedom to elect an Executive Committee while ensuring that the views of each region are represented.”

There is emphasis on ensuring a spread of representation from what is described as “the main cruiser fleets and areas…” It provides for the election of a Commodore and Vice Commodore, an Executive Officer and or a National Handicap Officer, a General Council and an Executive Committee, the latter to manage the business of the Association and with power to co-opt members.

The immediate task for the new Executive will be to carry out a review of the objectives and governance of the Association to ensure that it remains relevant to the membership. A 5-year plan and Constitution will be brought back to the membership for adoption.

Squibs 50th Anniversary

From that onshore debate, back to Kinsale and that club’s fleet of Squibs which, from continuing the club’s commitment to disabled sailing, has also become a highly competitive able-bodied boat, to judge from the Frosbite Series where the boats dealt with a wind gusting to 22 knots on the final day last Sunday. Not alone did that make it tough for the sailors but for the Race Committee whose boat was hit not once but three times by racing Squibs - once when one boat was approaching the finishing line; another when starting and the third after finishing a race.

I’m told from Kinsale that plans are underway to mark the 50th anniversary of the Squib Class this August at Calves Week. The prototype Squib was built by boat designer Oliver Lee in 1967, as a successor to the Ajax 23 and the first GRP version was launched in 1968.

• Listen to the Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Having lost three weeks to the vagaries of the Irish weather, flat seas and a 9 – 12 knot breeze greeted the fleets on Sunday morning for the last day of the 2018 Kinsale Yacht Club Frostbite Series.

13 Squibs left the marina and with only 4 points between the 1st to 3rd boats it was all to play for. As the wind was almost due east, and given the configuration of the harbour, the beat was going to be short so three rounds of the course per race was posted on the board.

In the first race the Squib fleet were all pushing the line which resulted in a General Recall. Second time around and with the U Flag flying they were much better behaved and we got them away at 11.07hrs. Allegro, Colm Dunne & Fiona Ward, took the lead at the windward mark. Fuggles, Jeff Condell & Jeff Cochrane, and Badger, Rob Doyle & Rob Gill, were battling for 2nd with Fuggles eventually taking it. Fifty Shades and Outlaw were also in the leading pack and got 4th and 5th respectively.

Race 2 saw the fleet much better behaved on the start line and they all got cleanly away. This time the leaders were reversed with Fuggles in front, Allegro got 2nd and Fifty Shades, Cliodhna & Finbarr O’Regan, were 3rd. At this stage the series was still undecided. Race 3 saw the wind rising to 12 – 14 knots with gusts of 19 knots and lots of shifts on the race course. Outlaw, Ian Travers & Keith O’Riordan, were challenging both Allegro and Fuggles around the course. Fuggles managed to take another bullet with Allegro in 2nd and Outlaw in 3rd.

As we had lost so many races the decision was made by RO John Stallard to give the Squib Fleet a fourth race. Race 4 started with the wind at 16 – 18 knots and gusts of 22 knots recorded on the committee boat. Outlaw lead from the off until they rounded the windward mark. Allegro decided to gybe and run down the middle of the course and this paid off handsomely. Outlaw managed to hold on to second place with Fuggles in 3rd. This however was enough to secure the series for Fuggles with Allegro in 2nd and Fifty Shades in 3rd.

Racing was so close in the Squib fleet that the front 3 – 4 boats were arriving at the leeward mark together most of the day. However the tight racing resulted in 3 boats hitting the committe boat at various times, 1 coming to the finish line, 1 starting and the other after finishing, they almost took the burgee off the bow. We also had a M.O.B just after the finish line, thankfully the now very wet crew managed to hang on to the boat, his helm almost followed him into the sea but he held on and then recovered his crew.

The Mixed Dinghy fleet was somewhat depleted today due to injury and other commitments. Race 1 saw Sean Collins in the Laser Radial take both line honours and 1st place, with Tom Good and Dave Carter, both in Laser 4.7’s, 2nd and 3rd. In Race 2 while Sean Collins took line honours again, Tom Good took 1st under PY with Sean Collins 2nd and Dave Carter 3rd. This result was replicated in Race 3. However Sean Collins had done enough to take the title with Micheal O’Suilleabhain and Michael Carroll, 420, 2nd and Tom Good, Laser 4.7, in 3rd. Well gone to the Laser 4.7 sailors who had recently moved up from the Topper fleet and performed so well.

A fleet of 7 Toppers took to the water with some of the sailors being very new to racing. Dorothy Matthews was very focused today and it showed with bullets in Race 1 & 2 today. However gear failure just before the start of Race 3 meant Dorothy had to sail for home. Francesca Lewis put in another strong performance but a capsize in Race 2 put paid to her chances of taking the title. However she took 2nd in the third race which was enough to secure 2nd overall. Frances Corkery was placing better each race and took a bullet in the third which placed her 3rd overall.

KYC would like to thank Bruce & June Matthews for providing Destiny as committee boat and also being an integral part of the team. Also thanks to all the mark layers on RIB’s and parents who provided safety cover. Our Race Officer, John Stallard, provided the fleets with excellent courses over the series so many thanks John and also to his team of helpers, Valerie, Susan, Michele, Siobhan and Sid. A final thanks is to our sponsor Osean74 without whom it wouldn’t be possible to run such events.

Overall results:

Squib Fleet
1st Fuggles Jeff Condell Jeff Cochrane
2nd Allegro Colm Dunne Fiona Ward
3rd Fifty Shades Cliodhna O’Regan Finbarr O’Regan

Mixed Dinghy Fleet
1st Sean Collins Laser Radial
2nd M O’Suilleabhain/M Carroll 420
3rd Tom Good Laser 4.7

Topper Fleet
1st Dorothy Matthews
2nd Francesca Lewis
3rd Frances Corkery

Published in Kinsale
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The annual pilgrimage of the Squib Class to the Whiskey Still Pub Lough Derg Yacht Club in the picturesque village of Dromineer on Lough Derg was somewhat interrupted/disrupted this year by the passage of Storm Brian during the weekend of October 21st-22nd.

Part of the annual Freshwater Regatta, with the weekend also shared by the Dragon, SB20 and Flying Fifteen Classes, given the time of year there is always the strong possibility of some extreme of weather during the weekend, be it calm or gales! With the forecast clearly indicating that racing was going to be unlikely on Saturday, the organisers notified the competitors on Thursday that the Regatta would be going ahead anyway (the Dragon Class start their Regatta on Friday) with the intention of an earlier start on Sunday morning for the Classes that would likely miss racing on Saturday with the intention of getting four races in. For those who couldn’t travel early on Friday, the prospect of towing a boat in winds gusting 35-45 knots plus on Friday evening, or during Saturday, inevitably meant that many boats that had intended to travel decided to wisely stay at home. Nevertheless, 12 Squibs came to the start line early on Sunday morning in winds generally in the 12-14 knots range from the South West. With a slight delay to allow the last boats which had just launched to make their way to the course area North of the Corrikeen Islands (the Squibs and Flying 15’s shared the same course).

With a tight schedule, OOD John Leech wisely decided to keep the courses simple and run windward-leewards. Ably assisted by Start-Sequence-Controller-and-Master Adair Leech, assisted by Jenny Kent and Captain Patrick Blaney (who kindly provided his services and his wonderful motor cruiser Bo Derg as the Committee boat) racing ran smoothly and effortlessly all day (once the Leeward Gate was secured to the Lake bed!).

The first race gone underway without any drama with a well-set line and it wasn’t long before the usual suspects were at the top of the fleet in winds which were fluctuating in direction and generally increasing. There were some very close battles going on throughout the fleet which kept the race fun and interesting. Continuing the form that they have shown all year (outside of the Irish & UK National Championship and despite a late night in the Whiskey Still Pub with some other leading Squib aficionados) Colm Dunne with No.1 crew Fiona Ward on 134 Allegro showed that they meant business by leading the fleet home, followed by Sam Lyness and Eric Heyes on 824 The Worm who were keen to show that last years win wasn’t a flash in the pan! They were followed home by current National Champions Peter Wallace and Martin Weatherstone on 818 Toys for the Boys.

With a wind that was shifting 20-25 degrees at times requiring some adjustment of the course and increasing to 20-22 knots during the race, Race 2 was a livelier affair. After an uncharacteristically poor start from Allegro leaving them with it all to do to catch up, it was Toys for the Boys who took the win with a resurgent Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan on 100 Fagan taking the 2nd having shaken off the cobwebs, with Allegro recovering to take a well-deserved 3rd. With winds continuing to increase, despite the forecast (the OOD recorded a gust of 31 knots during the race), Race 3 was won with a convincing performance by none other than Irish Sailing President, Jack Roy, crewed by daughter Jill on 130 Kanola. They were followed home by Toys for the Boys with Allegro taking the 3rd to keep them in contention going into the last race. Race 4 saw the wind drop off dramatically, right down to 5-6 knots, resulting in the OOD shortening the final beat to keep more-or-less on schedule. Allegro went hard left up the beat while the others went middle to right. She got a ‘lucky’ wind shift (according to the lads elsewhere on the course!) and got a jump on the fleet giving them a comfortable win with Fagan taking 2nd and Toys for the Boys coming in 3rd.

This gave Colm & Fiona a well-deserved win with Toys for the Boys taking 2nd overall and Fagan 3rd.

Much thanks must go to LDYC for their persistence despite the weather, to the many volunteers ashore and on the mark boats and also to the OOD John Leech and his team on the Committee Boat.

We will be hoping for more favourable weather next year and a record turnout of Squibs for what is regularly the most popular event of the season.

Published in Squib

In Lough Derg Yacht Club over the weekend of 22-23 October, Squibs will come from the North, South and East coasts of Ireland as well as from Britain to compete in what will be one of the most enjoyable regattas of the year. The British visiting boat is remarkable in many ways, it is the first Squib ever built, therefore, its name is ‘SQUIB’, and despite being 50 years old, Dick Batt and Pamela Phelan managed to lead the UK national championships, and only lost the winning of the championships on count back. They won the South of Ireland Championship in Kinsale in August. Another Squib worth noting is Peter Wallace’s ‘Toy for the Boys’ from RNIYC which dominated the Irish championship in Killyleagh in July.

The owners of ‘Fagin’, Gordon Patterson and Ross Nolan from the same club, have been runner up in this event, innumerable times in their ‘old’ Squib, which is allegedly slower that their present Squib, which is number 100. Another competitor who should not be overlooked is ‘The Worm’, Sam Lyness who easily won the event in light winds last year.

A good turnout of local Squibs will also be competing.

The format is ideal, with four races on Saturday, with the first race starting at 11.00 am, which enables some competitors to travel on Saturday. On Sunday there are only two races, which allows enough time to wash out boats with fresh water, and lift them onto their trailers.

Lough Derg never overlook the social side of sailing, they will be putting on a grand dinner in the clubhouse on Saturday evening.

Published in Squib
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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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