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Three New Dublin Bay Mermaid Dinghies Join the Clinker Fleet

12th August 2012
Three New Dublin Bay Mermaid Dinghies Join the Clinker Fleet

#mermaid – Saturday 7th July last was an historic day at Rush Sailing Club with the launch of three new Dublin Bay Mermaids. Three members built the boats over the past two years: brothers Enda and Anthony (Ants) Weldon and Paddy Archer. Mermaids have been at the heart of Rush Sailing Club since members built four of them together in the 1950s. The prime mover of this project was Enda Weldon, who had built a Mermaid before. In fact Mermaids are in the Weldon blood, they still have their father's boat built in the 1960s, which along with the new ones, brings the family fleet to six!

Nationally, the active Mermaid fleet numbers around fifty boats, with around ten boats regularly competing in Rush. Designed by J. B. Kearney in 1932, these 17ft, clinker built dinghies are one of the oldest one-design classes, celebrating their eightieth birthday this year. The building of the three new boats, numbers 190, 191 and 192, created quite a 'buzz', with many turning up in the Weldon's farm shed to lend a hand throughout the long winter evenings.

In spite of the forecast for more grey weather on Saturday, the boats glistened in the sunshine of a glorious afternoon as they arrived in procession to a welcoming crowd on launch day (God must be a Mermaid sailor!). They were a splendid sight. The creamy Sitka spruce planking contrasts with rich mahogany sheer strakes, decks and transoms, trimmed with pale ash rubbing strakes and combings. The spruce was sourced through a boat builder in the South of England, whose father is in the timber business in Canada, and selects special logs for him. Timber of such quality is hard to find, there was hardly a knot or a shake to be found in the entire lot.

Naming the boats was left to the last minute, with Enda, choosing Mayhem for no. 190, followed by a more cautious Maybe for 191 by Paddy Archer. Anthony Weldon chose the more romantic Ariel for no. 192, inspired by many hours of reading stories to his daughter Ciara.

After a brief sail around the bay, the three skippers declared themselves contented with very well balanced boats. As to how competitive they prove to be, only time will tell – no two hand built wooden boats are exactly the same, and Mermaids are notoriously 'tweeky', with tiny adjustments to rig tension and mast positions proving crucial. What is certain is that they are a credit to the men that built them, and a proof that the skills of traditional boat building are not dead yet.

Published in Mermaid
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