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Rankin Dinghies Continue to Make Impact in Cork Harbour

26th May 2023
Rankin and Laser dinghies sailing from Cove Sailing Club in Cork Harbour
Rankin and Laser dinghies sailing from Cove Sailing Club in Cork Harbour Credit: Bob Bateman

“A great Rankin day,” said Tommy Dwyer describing the annual Ballinacurra Race from Cove Sailing Club to the former port in East Cork. “It is the first time the Rankins have done so well in the race. We ghosted along for about two hours, and four Rankins were in the top five.”

Sailing Rankin R29 Tommy Dwyer, crewed by his grandnephew Harry Coole, won the Ballinacurra Cup, a cherished Cork Harbour Trophy dating back to 1947 when the Naval Service presented it to Cove Sailing Club. It is competed for by dinghies from harbour clubs.

Tommy, from Monkstown, is better known as one of the leading National 18 sailors in Cork Harbour, sailing out of the RCYC. He has also owned Rankin R29 for thirty years. 

Rankin dinghies made their mark at when the renowned Cobh boats formed the winning trio making it a ‘Rankin Day.’

Rankin R30, sailed by David and Richard Marshall Photo Bob BatemanRankin R30, sailed by David and Richard Marshall Photo Bob Bateman

The race course is from Cobh to the eastern end of the harbour at East Ferry, then up the Owenacurra River to Ballinacurra village, once an active port. The mecca there is Creenan’s Pub, hallowed location of the family which operated the last schooner to trade out of Cork Harbour, the famous Brooklands.

Twelve boats raced for the Ballinacurra Cup in a mixed fleet, including another older-style Cobh dinghy design, a T-Class. There were National 18s, a Topaz, a Solo and several Lasers.

Finishing second was Rankin R30, sailed by David and Richard Marshall. Rankin R14, sailed by Dan and Lola O’Regan, was third. Owen O’Connell sailing the T-Class Cliodna was fourth, crewed by Eamon Twomey. Another Rankin, R12, sailed by Maurice and Frances Kidney, was fifth. Conditions were light.

Wednesday night league at Cove Sailing Club

Rankins are also dominating the top of the Wednesday night league at Cove Sailing Club. Four of them are in the top six at present of the May/June event, in which there are 19 entries. Kieran Dorgan leads the league in his Laser. He won the Monkstown Bay SC Winter League in February. Second is the Rankin R30 sailed by David and Richard Marshall, third is George Radley’s Topper, and then there are three Rankins in 4th (R61 Owen O’Connell); 5th (R2 Johnny Horgan) and 6th (R12 Maurice and Frances Kidney).

The revival of the Rankin fleet over the past few years has been a notable achievement by enthusiasts for the boat at Cove SC. Older, unused boats were located, refurbished and owners found to use them, emphasising family involvement.

Rankin R39 – CooleenRankin R39 – Cooleen

The latest boat to join the fleet is Rankin R39 – Cooleen - which the Johanssen father and son crew, Eric and Flynn is sailing.

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for He presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

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The Rankin Dinghy of Cobh, Cork Harbour 

A Rankin is a traditional wooden dinghy which was built in Cobh, of which it’s believed there were 80 and of which The Rankin Dinghy Group has traced nearly half. 

The name of the Rankin dinghies is revered in Cork Harbour and particularly in the harbourside town of Cobh.

And the name of one of those boats is linked to the gunboat which fought against the Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Easter Rising and later for the emergent Irish Free State Government against anti-Treaty Forces during the Irish Civil War.

It also links the renowned boat-building Rankin family in Cobh, one of whose members crewed on the gunboat.

Maurice Kidney and Conor English are driving the restoration of the Rankin dinghies in Cork Harbour. They have discovered that Rankins were bought and sailed in several parts of the country.