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Displaying items by tag: Shannon One Design

For most of their hundred years, the unique 18-foot Shannon One Designs have kept themselves to themselves in their secret world of Ireland’s great lakes. But in July 2022, they went unprecedently public with their Centenary celebrated in two special two-day regattas at their historic bases at Lough Derg YC (founded 1835) and Lough Ree YC (founded 1770).

The month’s fluctuating weather served up some very demanding conditions indeed, testing both light and heavy (sometimes very heavy) weather skills.

It took dedication and skill to come in as overall leader in the combined results in the large fleet, but Frank Guy and his well-proven team on No 142 (built 1990) proved able for the challenge.

Published in Sailor of the Month

The unique 18ft Shannon One-Designs have lived through some decidedly mixed times in Ireland during their hundred years of setting the sailing pace on the great lakes of our lordly river. And the two special Centenary Regattas at their main centres of Lough Derg YC in Dromineer at the beginning of July, and Lough Ree YC at Ballyglass near Athlone last weekend, between them, certainly provided as much meteorological variation and changing sailing conditions as you’d expect in a complete Irish summer.

Indeed, while Lough Ree mostly laid on two days of lively clearview sailing, it also experienced the sudden arrival of the zero-visibility black rain squall which – further east – was to cause the grounding of the RAF Red Arrows at Baldonnell, thereby preventing their participation in the Bray Air Show.

RED ARROWS GROUNDED, SODS SAIL ON

The Red Arrows may have been grounded, but there was no question of grounding the SODs, as they were already in the middle of a race. And though the whole fleet may have disappeared for a while into a wet and windy black wall, they emerged from it in due course a bit battered and distinctly power-hosed, yet still racing.

Gybing a SOD can become a sport in itself when there’s breeze about. Photo: Brendan ArthursGybing a SOD can become a sport in itself when there’s breeze about. Photo: Brendan Arthurs

All in a row and ready to go at Glasson. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyAll in a row and ready to go at Glasson. Photo: Reggie Goodbody

Challenging the tacticians – a perfectly-set beat. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyChallenging the tacticians – a perfectly-set beat

When we remember that the main focus of the SODs’ normal season is the time-honoured week-long regattas at LRYC and LDYC in August, it speaks volumes for the persuasive powers of Class Chairman Philip Mayne and Hon. Sec. Naomi Algeo and their team – supported by Club Regatta Chairmen John Tierney at LDYC and Harman Murtagh Jnr at LRYC – that they were able to encourage a total of 68 different boats (out of 144 currently on the register) to find the time and energy to take part in one or both of the Centenary Regattas.

Having started so well with the Dromineer event, it behoved the Lough Ree team to up the ante. And in what proved to be very much a family event with at least five families taking part who could trace their Shannon OD participation back to 1922, the guests included Richard Palmer, grandson of the boats’ designer Frank Morgan Giles and keeper of the Morgan Giles Archives, and the distinguished garden designer and botanist Daphne Levinge Shackleton, whose father Walter Levinge of Lough Ree was the legendary builder of the first SODs in 1922 in an output of many clinker-built boats - classic craft which are now central to the contemporary Irish sailing scene and its history.

Distinguished guests. At Lough Ree YC were (left to right) Philip Mayne (SODA Chairman), Daphne Levinge Shackleton (daughter of Walter Levinge who built the first boats of the class in 1922, and many thereafter), Richard Palmer (grandson of Shannon OD designer Frank Morgan Giles), and Reggie Goodbody of Lough Derg, “Father of the Class”. Photo: SODADistinguished guests. At Lough Ree YC were (left to right) Philip Mayne (SODA Chairman), Daphne Levinge Shackleton (daughter of Walter Levinge who built the first boats of the class in 1922, and many thereafter), Richard Palmer (grandson of Shannon OD designer Frank Morgan Giles), and Reggie Goodbody of Lough Derg, “Father of the Class”. Photo: SODA

And their catchment area is spreading, as the Lough Derg and Lough Ree events drew in sailors from many parts of Ireland, the spirit of it all being captured by John Horgan of Cork racing 167 on Lough Ree with his three young sons as crew: “They’re keeping a diary” he quipped, “and they plan to read it out at the 150th Anniversary Regatta…..”

A class for all ages and all counties. John Horgan and his sons from Cork, with spice added by the Saturday Committee Boat, ICC Commodore Davie Beattie’s 1913-vintage 47ft Dutch lemsteraak Schollevaer. The youthful Horgan crew were keeping a Centenary Diary which they plan to read out at the SODs’ 150th Anniversary Regattas in 2072.  Photo: Sarah GroarkeA class for all ages and all counties. John Horgan and his sons from Cork, with spice added by the Saturday Committee Boat, ICC Commodore Davie Beattie’s 1913-vintage 47ft Dutch lemsteraak Schollevaer. The youthful Horgan crew were keeping a Centenary Diary which they plan to read out at the SODs’ 150th Anniversary Regattas in 2072. Photo: Sarah Groarke

CHALLENGING FORECAST

With quite a challenging forecast, Race Officer Owen Delany (a former Olympian) and an experienced team including Alan Algeo had their work cut out to implement a programme which included a racing diversion into the Inner Lakes and Saturday lunch for the fleet and their shoreside supporters at Jane English & Ray Byrne’s Wineport Lodge, nowadays a hospitality venue of international renown, but its origins are very much within the Lough Ree sailing community.

It was shaping up to be the kind of weekend that could bring all sorts of weather – and it did. Photo: SODAIt was shaping up to be the kind of weekend that could bring all sorts of weather – and it did. Photo: SODA

It’s a community of many complex interactions and multiple family connections, so we’re obliged to Mags Delany for this insider’s view of what went on:

“Lough Ree SODA 100th Anniversary Regatta, 23rd & 24th July 2022.

“Fifty Shannon One Designs registered for the second SOD Centenary Regatta at Lough Ree Yacht Club, with wind and rain forecast. The weekend started with a Pimm’s Reception courtesy of Lough Ree Yacht Club, which got the celebrations off to a great start.

 Mags Delany racing Kiwi, no 37 and one of the original batch of boats, but diligently maintained and still going strong after a hundred years. Photo: Denis Bergin Mags Delany racing Kiwi, no 37 and one of the original batch of boats, but diligently maintained and still going strong after a hundred years. Photo: Denis Bergin

The first race on Saturday morning was in a southerly wind forecast with winds between twelve and twenty knots. The race committee decided to race with one reef, sailing in the shelter of Sandy Bay.

The first of four championship races with 49 starters was a very competitive contest, with two rounds and a short beat to the finish. The flat waters made for very exciting racing despite the strong winds. Three older boats came to the top of the fleet. Since the Class’s founding in 1922, the listings have started at Number 32, so the winner, Number 50, sailed by Mark McCormick and built in 1925, was definitely a senior. In a tight finish between second and third, second was number 97 sailed by Andrew Mannion and third Margaret Delany in 37, one of the original boats celebrating 100 years.

At the heart of Ireland, this is the lake that thinks it’s an inland sea. Lough Ree is 29km long and 11km across at its widest point. The racing in the Shannon OD Centenary Regatta took place in the southern and southeast areas.At the heart of Ireland, this is the lake that thinks it’s an inland sea. Lough Ree is 29km long and 11km across at its widest point. The racing in the Shannon OD Centenary Regatta took place in the southern and southeast areas.

Threading the maze of the Inner Lakes with Frank Guy’s 142 in the lead. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyThreading the maze of the Inner Lakes with Frank Guy’s 142 in the lead. Photo: Reggie Goodbody

Reading the breeze in the trees is one of many required skills for SOD racing. Photo: SODAReading the breeze in the trees is one of many required skills for SOD racing. Photo: SODA

There were times when the sun really did make an effort to break through…….Photo: SODAThere were times when the sun really did make an effort to break through…….Photo: SODA

“One of the buoys that were buoys when I was a boy…” A timely reminder that the River Shannon is one of Ireland’s most historic thoroughfares. As well, this is the first Shannon One Design, built 1922 by Walter Levinge, sailed for many years by Syd Shine who did much to keep Lough Ree YC alive during the recessionary 1950s, and now owned and lovingly maintained by Mary Cox. Photo: Denis Bergin“One of the buoys that were buoys when I was a boy…” A timely reminder that the River Shannon is one of Ireland’s most historic thoroughfares. As well, this is the first Shannon One Design, built 1922 by Walter Levinge, sailed for many years by Syd Shine who did much to keep Lough Ree YC alive during the recessionary 1950s, and now owned and lovingly maintained by Mary Cox. Photo: Denis Bergin

ORIGINAL BOATS BUILT ENTIRELY BY HAND

The second race was a passage race, from Sandy Bay to Wineport in the Inner Lakes. After several recalls, they raced in Sandy Bay before they entered the Inner Lakes. There, they sailed past Quigley’s Marina, where eighteen boats had been built by Peter Quigley between the 1970s and 1990s, and then close to Walter Levinge’s shed, where he’d built over 60 boats between 1922 and 1973 in an era when his workshop had no power tools, as it had no electric supply.

The fleet had a short run past Wineport, where the support teams were well entertained by several capsizes whilst the survivors had a short beat to the finish. TV crews would have been most entertained by the spectacle. The race was won by Stephen O’Driscoll in number 163, built in 2003.

Fresh angle on the Shannon One Designs gathered at Wineport. Photo: SODAFresh angle on the Shannon One Designs gathered at Wineport. Photo: SODA

An excellent and convivial lunch was enjoyed by all. Both competitors and supporters filled Wineport with a celebratory atmosphere, as so many of these families have known each other for three and four generations.

Back to business – time for a spot of post-prandial racing after lunch at Wineport. Photo: Reggie GoodbodyBack to business – time for a spot of post-prandial racing after lunch at Wineport. Photo: Reggie Goodbody

With a strengthening breeze for the return passage race to LRYC, several competitors choose to be towed back to the club. It was another exciting race which was won by a newer boat number 155, built in 1999 and sailed by Cathal Breen.

One hundred and eighty-five SOD enthusiasts – ten more than at LDYC three weeks earlier - enjoyed dinner in the Yacht Club with entertaining speeches and stories and songs from times past. The Commodore of Lough Ree Yacht Georgina Kenny and Lough Derg Yacht Club Joe Gilmartin both spoke of intense support and rivalry between the two Shannon One Design Clubs. A live band entertained the younger generations late into the night. Once again, Sean and his team kept the pints flowing, and the wines uncorked.

The Lough Ree YC’s hospitable complexThe Lough Ree YC’s hospitable complex

The Grandson of the Designer Frank Morgan Giles, Richard Palmer, CEO of the Morgan Giles Heritage Collection based in Gosport, was a guest for the day. He enjoyed sailing a Shannon One Design for the first time in the afternoon for the passage back to the Yacht Club, and during his speech at dinner, he announced a Morgan Giles Trophy to encourage the future generations in the class. He enjoyed the weekend to such an extent that he now plans to return next year to compete against the locals.

Sunday was not a promising day, with very strong winds and thunderstorms forecast. However, the Race Committee decided that the fourth Championship Race would have two reefs which is most unusual. It ensured that the exciting competitive racing continued and there were no more capsizes despite the stronger winds with gusts up to 28 knots. Andrew Mannion in number 97 (1970) was the winner.

Lough Ree YC Centenary Regatta Chairman Harmon Murtagh Jnr and his wife Susie with yet another generation of sailing Murtaghs. Photo: Helena BerginLough Ree YC Centenary Regatta Chairman Harmon Murtagh Jnr and his wife Susie

The disappointment for the weekend was that it was too windy to run the race for the 16 to 24-year-olds. The prizes were awarded to the best-performing younger sailors in the main fleet. Congratulations to the winner Adam Collison in 144, second Alex Leech (164), third Ben McMullen (147) and fourth Ben Graff (127).

Owen Delany PRO and his team did an extraordinary job in arranging competitive courses in spite of the very challenging weather conditions. This was greatly appreciated by all of the competitors and ensured that the adverse weather did not dampen the mood. And the competitors and supporters were delighted with the organisation by the sub committee from Lough Ree Yacht club of Harman Murtagh (jnr), Erica Mulvihill, DJ Algeo and Frank Rowe.

The winner of the Lough Ree Yacht Club Shannon One Design Centenary Regatta was Frank Guy in 142, built in 1990, second was Stephen O’Driscoll in 163 (2003), third was Mark McCormick in 50 (1925), and fourth was Cathal Breen in 155 (1999).

The Silver fleet winner was Alex Leech in 164, second was Julie Delany in 124, third Ben McMullen in 147 and fourth was Maedb and Aiden Breen in 67.

The results of combined Centenary Regattas in both Lough Derg YC and Lough Ree YC were first Frank Guy in 142, second Cathal Breen in 155, third Stephen O’Driscoll in 163 and fourth Margaret & Peter Delany in 37. The prizes were magnificent, half models of Shannon One Designs skilfully carved by Reggie Goodbody.

Supreme Champions – the winning Frank Guy Team receiving their trophy from Harmon & Susie Murtagh. Photo: Helena BerginSupreme Champions – the winning Frank Guy Team receiving their trophy from Harmon & Susie Murtagh. Photo: Helena Bergin

When you’ve Frank Guy’s series-winning Number 142 well-placed to lee in clear air like this, expect to be observing his transom in due course…..Photo: Reggie GoodbodyWhen you’ve Frank Guy’s series-winning Number 142 well-placed to lee in clear air like this, expect to be observing his transom in due course…..Photo: Reggie Goodbody

Reggie had also generously donated a splendid full model of a Shannon One Design to encourage competitors to enter the two Centenary Regattas, with the winner being decided by a raffle based on participation. The popular winner was William Reid of Lough Derg, owner of 76.

All the competitors and visitors greatly appreciated the efforts by Lough Ree Yacht Club, the Event Sub-committee and so many others who contributed to a fantastic weekend.”

William Reid of Lough Derg YC, skipper of Number 76, won the raffle for the classic scale model of a Shannon OD, and is seen here (left) with Lough Ree YC Commodore Georgina Kenny, and Reggie Goodbody, who made this model and also the Half Models which were the regatta prizes. Photo: Helena BerginWilliam Reid of Lough Derg YC, skipper of Number 76, won the raffle for the classic scale model of a Shannon OD, and is seen here (left) with Lough Ree YC Commodore Georgina Kenny, and Reggie Goodbody, who made this model and also the Half Models which were the regatta prizes. Photo: Helena Bergin

SHANNON ONE DESIGNS GO PRIVATE AGAIN

Having gone so very public for their official Centenary Celebrations during July, the Shannon One Designs are now withdrawing back into the privacy of their rural heartlands and their traditional programme which – as can be seen below – is going to be maintained at an extraordinary pace right up to the threshold of the Autumn Equinox. However, after a month in the limelight, it’s going to be business as usual in an agreeably civilized and muted way. The Big Bang of the Centenary is over and done with. And it has been done very well indeed. But now it is time to move on and go private again. 

  • JUL-AUG 30-5 Lough Ree Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LRYC)
  • AUG 6-7 Dromineer Castle Regatta (LDYC)
  • AUG 8-13 Lough Derg Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LDYC)
  • AUG 27-28 Corrikeens Regatta (LDYC)
  • SEP 3-4 North Shannon Regatta (LRYC)
  • SEP 10-11 Harvest Regatta (LDYC)
  • SEP 17-18 The Wega Weekend (LRYC)
Published in W M Nixon
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When we remember that in the class’s early days, the hundred-year-old Shannon One Designs were accustomed to cramming much of their racing into the first half of August with the two traditional Regatta Weeks at Lough Ree and Lough Derg, then it speaks volumes for the Class’s vitality at its Centenary that we’re still only in July, yet there has been accelerating action under way most weekends since May.

The Lough Derg special Centenary Regatta Weekend for the Class was staged with great success at the beginning of July, and this weekend sees Class Captain/Chairman Philip Mayne and Honorary Secretary Naomi Algeo leading their characterful fleet into a second peak weekend, this time at their other main centre at Lough Ree YC at Ballyglass in County Westmeath.

The Lough Ree YC complex has been further extended as the club celebrates its Quarter Millennium Plus TwoThe Lough Ree YC complex has been further extended as the club celebrates its Quarter Millennium Plus Two

There, LRYC under Commodore Georgina Kenny is catching up with marking its Quarter Millennium Plus Two, as it missed celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2020 owing to pandemic restrictions. The extensive clubhouse with its multiple facilities is conveniently on the threshold of that intricate southeast corner of Lough Ree aka The Inner Lakes, and the weekend’s Shannon OD programme will see the first morning’s competition rounded out with a passage race through the inner waters to the award-winning hospitality of the lakeside Wineport Lodge, where there’ll be a special lunch, accompanied by the usual synchronized attention to the mainbrace and the controlled splicing thereof.

They’ll try anything at least once….normally noted for their three-handed sociability, the Shannon ODs will occasionally give single-handed racing a bit of a whirlThey’ll try anything at least once….normally noted for their three-handed sociability, the Shannon ODs will occasionally give single-handed racing a bit of a whirl

Then after more afternoon racing, it’s back to the LRYC complex and the actual Centenary Dinner (the third one so far by Afloat.ie’s counting, but the SODs make their own rules) to energise everyone for another day’s racing on Sunday.

It is already a prodigious level of activity for any class, but this eternally energetic fleet have plans to sail their usual regatta weeks on the two great lakes in August, and then continue with a programme of weekend events which extends to the Autumn Equinox.

Published in Shannon One Design
Tagged under

This Centenary Year of the award-winning Shannon One Design Class seems to be a happening of infinite elasticity. For some of the keenest, it began with the raw weather of May, when there were regattas for a determined few at Mountshannon on Lough Derg and Cong on Lough Corrib in County Galway.

A new level was then reached with the Class being the undoubted Stars of the Show in the Clinkerfest at Lough Ree Yacht Club in the first weekend of June. This was followed by a moveable feast of various venues at Lough Ree’s Inner Lakes before the final weekend of June was scheduled for the marathon long-distance race from Lough Ree down Shannon to Lough Derg.

That was the weekend when most coastal events were blown out, but although the Shannon ODs made most of their progress south under tow from various mother-ships, by the time they’d got down to Meelick a gallant group was sailing in a slight relenting of the weather.

Either way, the focus was now moved to Lough Derg for the first “official official” event of the Centenary, Lough Derg YC’s Shannon OD Centenary Regatta last weekend (2nd & 3rd July). It certainly moved everything up several gears, and we are indebted to Tom Waller, a fourth generation Shannon OD sailor, for capturing the mood of this festive yet decidedly competitive event.

Lough Derg sailing perfection – sunshine on the lake, a very usable breeze, and the clouds staying where they belong over the Clare hills. Photo:SODALough Derg sailing perfection – sunshine on the lake, a very usable breeze, and the clouds staying where they belong over the Clare hills. Photo:SODA

To put it in perspective, Tom’s great-grandfather Edgar Waller of Lough Derg was one of the founders of the class in 1922, after an initial first exploratory meeting held upriver in Athlone on 19th January 1921. At the time, Ireland was in political and civic turmoil verging into guerilla warfare. Yet the class founders continued with their project, and the Walter Levinge-built boats first raced in August 1922.

In 1924, when the Tailteann Games were held as a national multi-sporting event to celebrate the establishment of the new Irish Free State, the expanding Shannon OD class sent a flotilla of seven boats (by railway) to take part in the sailing events on Dublin Bay, and Edgar Waller won the Gold Medal.

His great-grandson Tom takes up the story in July 2022: 

LOUGH DERG YC SHANNON OD CENTENARY REGATTA

“Forty-two entries were registered for the historic occasion of Lough Derg Yacht Club’s Shannon One Design Centenary Regatta on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd July 2022, organised with precision by Organising Committee Chairman and ex-LDYC Commodore John Tierney and his bespoke Centenary Regatta Committee, made up of the club’s Flag Officers and volunteers, in association with the Shannon One Design Association (SODA), currently chaired by Philip Mayne.

The 1835-founded Lough Derg YC at Dromineer successfully hosted a feast for 175 diners to celebrate the SODs’ CentenaryThe 1835-founded Lough Derg YC at Dromineer successfully hosted a feast for 175 diners to celebrate the SODs’ Centenary

Competitors were welcomed by current LDYC Commodore Joe Gilmartin at a Cheese and Wine reception in the clubhouse on Friday 1st July in Dromineer, marking the official start of a year long celebration of this unique wooden clinker-built dinghy class, exclusively sailed on the Shannon River lakes and surely the numerically largest family One Design in Ireland. The weeks and months of planning that went into this weekend event had paid off with a near-capacity turnout from sailors who came from far and wide.
And old faces met with new, with several families like the Wallers and Delanys carrying on the tradition by bringing the fourth or fifth generation of sailors into the class.

The Saturday morning briefing by veteran Race Officer John Lefroy at 0930 reminded competitors that the races would start on time, and that the Racing Rules of Sailing, the ISA Prescriptions, and all relevant Class rules would apply. This prompted visiting helmsman Graham McMullin, ‘asking for a friend’, whether on-water infringements would be subject to a 360 or 720 penalty.

PENALTY 360 WELCOMED

After an impromptu committee meeting, 360 was declared, to a sigh of relief from the gathered competitors, who sail 3-up in these 18ft Bermudan rig boats designed by Morgan Giles, and propelled by a single 140 square feet mainsail which can be reefed in windy weather.

“We are racing” - the fleet gets away cleanly“We are racing” - the fleet gets away cleanly

A moderate breeze blowing from the SW ensured that 38 SODs set out with their full sails for Race 1 of this historic event. Two triangles and then back downwind to the club, starting out in Dromineer Bay, with John and Sandra Lefroy’s ‘Phoenix’ steam yacht as the committee boat.

She’s a 58ft vessel now synonymous with the SOD class, although built in Waterford of Lowmooor iron in 1872, some 50 years before this wooden dinghy racing class had evolved. Her cannon fired at 1100hrs sharp, the smoke signalling a successful start to the regatta as the Blue Peter dropped and ‘All clear!’ was hailed by the PRO.

How senior can you get? The Committee Boat, John and Sandra Lefroy’s 58ft iron-built Phoenix, was already fifty years old when the Shannon One Design Class was founded in 1922. Photo: SODAHow senior can you get? The Committee Boat, John and Sandra Lefroy’s 58ft iron-built Phoenix, was already fifty years old when the Shannon One Design Class was founded in 1922. Photo: SODA

Liam Maloney in 75 made quick work of the first beat, with son Damian on the sheet, leading the fleet at the weather mark for the first championship race in the 100th year of this thoroughbred class, suggesting that local knowledge still counts. But by the end of the two-triangles-and-a-beat, the three generation team of Seamus, Cathal and Hugo Breen from Lough Ree Yacht Club had taken the lead, with team O’Driscoll in 163 close behind and Margaret Delany with nephew Mark on the sheet in 37 ‘Kiwi’ taking third place as they came around Goose Island to finish. It should be noted that in fourth place was another familial team with 2021 SOD champion Harman Murtagh Jnr at the helm, sailing with his father Harman Snr, and his young grandson Emile Hennessy as third hand in 176.

Bountiful July finally arrives – classic Shannon OD racing for their Centenary at Dromineer. Photo: SODABountiful July finally arrives – classic Shannon OD racing for their Centenary at Dromineer. Photo: SODA

SUN COMES OUT

By the afternoon, the sun had come out and the wind had veered West, allowing the course set to take the fleet up the Urra Channel and around the Corrikeen Islands, back to a mark off the south of the islands and down to the Mountaineer Rock Buoy, before returning back to a club finish, obeying the navigation mark at Salmon Rock, which had boats gybing back and forth as they raced home - competitors remarked that the course drawn on the board had resembled a dinosaur’s head! Some of the championship favourites started to appear, with 142 sailed by Frank Guy winning Race 2 and Stephen O’Driscoll in 163 taking second place, with Mags coming third again in 37, and Harman fourth in 176.

Running in for the finish, and keeping the weight forward as the breeze lightens. Photo: SODARunning in for the finish, and keeping the weight forward as the breeze lightens. Photo: SODA

After tea, which was a full-on traditional affair on the second level of LDYC’s smart clubhouse, the racing turned the spotlight on the Juvenile helms, who had to be between the age of 16 and 24 years old for the Youth Race, later reduced to the younger age of 12 to encourage more participants.

The race turned out to be a highlight of this regatta with the encouragement of seeing the younger generations taking the reins and showing their sailing prowess. Two triangles out in the bay with a run into Goose on the final leg provided much of a spectator sport to the assembled viewers on the terrace of the clubhouse, seeing 142 with Eimear Keogh on the tiller in the Guy Family’s 142 (current holder of the Class’s Transom Trophy) rounding up at the first mark in pole position, Oscar George in John and Mary Cox’s 32 following behind, and Oscar Flynn in John and Stephen O’Driscoll’s 163 in third.

Friends and shipmates – Peter McCutcheon, Alan Hodgins and Paraic Burke racing 165. Photo: SODAFriends and shipmates – Peter McCutcheon, Alan Hodgins and Paraic Burke racing 165. Photo: SODA

However, by the second round of the Youth Race, 32 - the oldest boat in the fleet - had skillfully taken the lead, coming in to Goose Island with a good two boat length lead. Gybing early, close to the island proved costly as the boats chasing them closed in, with 32’s rudder getting tangled in the weeds.

In what was almost a photo finish, Eimear Keogh helming with Frank Guy on the sheet, pipped them on the line to secure first place. Oscar George, with Anne-Marie Cox on sheet, took second with Oscar Flynn third in 163, while Hugo Breen was fourth in 155. The healthy rivalry between family boats, and the number of young sailors carrying on the sailing tradition, is surely a sign that the class is in good hands for the next centenary.

CENTENARY FEASTING FOR 175

The Regatta Dinner on the Saturday night was a fantastic reunion for members of the class at a seated feast for 175, celebrating the centenary with ‘Pig on a Spit’. Speeches were given by Chair of the Organising Committee John Tierney and SODA Chairman Philip Mayne, who reminisced about the characters from the past, ladies in the class who were formidable sailors such as Mary Hooker (née Tisdall), Joyce Blake (née Greene), Peggy Minchin and Posy Goodbody (née Holmes), as well as the 1972 SODA Governing Body stalwarts such as Syd Shine, Bunny Goodbody, Lola Leech, Hardress Waller and Peter Huskinson, all of whom did so much for the class.

Next to address the crowded room was Commodore and Squib sailor Joe Gilmartin, who spoke about the symbiotic relationship of the two yacht clubs in Derg and Ree, as well as humorously describing a sailing career in the Shannon One Design class which started and ended when he was offered the loan of Hardress Waller’s 102, which was duly rescinded after several capsize calamities and seeing him round up to the jetty - in John Marriage and Teddy Knight’s 93 - with a bang!

Joe impressed upon the dinner guests the importance of promoting sailing of all classes in the club, to protect the future of the sport. The mic was passed to LRYC Commodore Georgina Kenny, who expressed her appreciation to LDYC and invited members to come to their centenary event in Athlone. Finally John turned to the honorary guests: ‘elder statesman’ of the class Reggie Goodbody, who had remarked that he enjoyed sailing 81 with so many fond memories, and veteran sailor Teddy Knight, who at the age of 84 was honoured and thanked by all for his contribution to the class.

Still at it at age 84 – Teddy Knight with Seamus Breen and Tom Marriage “swept the board” in the class 46 years ago. Photo SODAStill at it at age 84 – Teddy Knight with Seamus Breen and Tom Marriage “swept the board” in the class 46 years ago. Photo SODA

Teddy had promised to sail the 93 in this regatta with his original crew from 46 years ago, when he had ‘cleaned up’, and they - Seamus Breen and Tom Marriage - were both in attendance. And after the formalities there was music, dancing and revelry continuing into the early hours, a Shannon sailing tradition pre-dating the SODs but continued by them with added enthusiasm.

FRESH SOUTHWEST BREEZE

A fresh breeze from the SW on Sunday morning helped to revive any muzzy heads from the previous night, but with the fleet barely out of the harbour by the time the Phoenix was on station, some competitors were relieved to see the AP flying at 1030hrs, despite the PRO’s insistence on time-keeping! Finally some 40 boats appeared on the line, harking back to the great old days of this class in the 90’s when there were even 50-60 entries for the Annual Regatta – it was a sight to be seen.

The ever-changing cloud formations above Lough Derg are a study in themselves. Photo: SODAThe ever-changing cloud formations above Lough Derg are a study in themselves. Photo: SODA

The first of two back-to-back races for the championship, Race 4, was two triangles and a beat, with the leaderboard chalking up as 155 in first, 163 in second, and 142 placed third, with John Leech in 96 coming fourth, something of a premonition for the overall results. Sailors were all too eager to get Race 5 underway, and three hoots sent everyone back to the beginning again. The second starting sequence also proved to be opportunistic for those choosing to go at the committee boat end, and several premature starters pushed everyone over the line again. Instructions were relayed to Ex-Commodore Jack Bayly who was manning the pin end of the line, to pull up anchor and move forwards to reduce the committee boat end bias.

Even after two general recalls, with the Round-the-Ends rule applying, one competitor did not take the hint as John Lefroy shouted loudly “Get off the line!”. This resulted in an OCS for just one premature sailor, and the rest of the fleet got off to a flying start for the deciding race in the Centenary championship, which was two rounds and then home. Graham McMullin, with regular sheethand Neil Smyth on board 151, managed to take first place from fellow LRYC champion Harman Murtagh in 176 in second and Cathal Breen in 155 coming third, with Liam Maloney and family coming fourth in 75.

Getting up close and personal – manoeuvring at the lee mark can be very close and precise with just one sail to handle. Photo: SODAGetting up close and personal – manoeuvring at the lee mark can be very close and precise with just one sail to handle. Photo: SODA

In the afternoon, a Guest Race was held where helms had to be other than a regular SOD helm or boat owner. Another photo finish ensued as Ben Huskinson helmed 75 to what seemed like sure victory, only to lose momentum inside Goose Island, but nevertheless drifting over the line just before Eimear Flynn in 163 caught up. Carden Kent came third in Jonathan Horgan’s 167, while Richard Hodgins took fourth in 155.

AND THE BAND PLAYED ON…

Just like old times, the Nenagh Ormond Brass Band played during tea and prizegiving, and sailors collected their very special Centenary prizes, ceramic plates which had been beautifully designed and made by Stephen Tierney (145) for this Centenary Regatta edition - he also prepared a beautiful and unique gift jug for every participating boat.

If you’re negotiating your way through a seaway on the ocean, are you in a “lakeway” on Lough Derg? Photo: SODAIf you’re negotiating your way through a seaway on the ocean, are you in a “lakeway” on Lough Derg? Photo: SODA

All in all, PRO John Lefroy gave us great racing over the weekend and both LDYC, SODA and the Organising Committee had put on a wonderful event to remember, ably assisted by the many volunteers and people on and off the water.

Participating in this regatta with my own son in our family boat, 53, that my great grandfather Edgar Waller sailed from 1926, was a true honour and pleasure. The Silver Fleet prize we won at the weekend sits with pride on the mantelpiece, and perhaps it will still be there in another 100 years!

Tom Waller 6/7/22

OVERALL RESULTS Shannon One Design Centenary Championship

1st Cathal Breen, 155 - LRYC
2nd Frank Guy, 142 - LDYC
3rd Stephen O’Driscoll, 163 - LDYC
4th John Leech, 96 - LDYC

Silver Fleet

1st Tom Waller, 53 - LDYC
2nd Jonathan Harper, 178 - LDYC
3rd Peter Keogh, 141 – LDYC
4th Mark O’Sullivan, 122 – LDYC

Youth Race

1st Eimear Keogh, 142
2nd Oscar George, 32
3rd Oscar Flynn, 163
4th Hugo Breen, 155

Guest Race

1st Ben Huskinson, 75
2nd Eimear Flynn, 163
3rd Carden Kent, 167
4th Richard Hodgins, 155

Organising Committee: Chair - John Tierney

CONTINUING SODA PROGRAMME

The busy Centenary Year programme continues this weekend with Goose Island Regatta on Lough Derg while on Lough Ree the SODs get together with the vintage and classic barges of the Hertage Boat Association, and then after a short break the second Centenary Regatta is staged at Lough Ree:

Jul 9-10 Goose Island Regatta (LDYC
Jul 9-10 Barges & SOD's (LRYC)
Jul 23-24 LRYC SODA Centenary Regatta
Jul-Aug 30-5 Lough Ree Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LRYC)
Aug 6-7 Dromineer Castle Regatta (LDYC)
Aug 8-13 Lough Derg Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LDYC)
Aug 27-28 Corrikeens Regatta (LDYC)
Sep 3-4 North Shannon Regatta (LRYC)
Sep 10-11 Harvest Regatta (LDYC)
Sep 17 The Wega Regatta (LRYC).

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Being involved in Shannon One Design racing in a normal year is a State of Mind as much as it’s a matter of active sport afloat in a highly individualistic 18ft una-rigged open boat, a hard-sailed work of art that was created with exquisite classic construction. The boat is well-matched by the characterful sailors that race her - they may not always be exquisite, but they’re certainly of classic construction.

Be that as it may, in this the SODs’ Centenary Year, Class Chairman Philip Mayne and the Honorary Secretary Naomi Algeo and their team seem determined to move it all on from being a State of Mind to becoming a complete Way of Life. For if SOD sailors can maintain the pace of the programme which is developing as management gauges the growing level of enthusiasm for Centenary sport, they’ll find that they’ve no sooner recovered from one major happening before the countdown begins towards the next.

Nip and tuck – Shannon ODs in close action on Lough Ree. Photo: Con MurphyNip and tuck – Shannon ODs in close action on Lough Ree. Photo: Con Murphy

The real rocket booster to getting things moving was the class’s stellar performance at the recent ClinkerFest at Lough Ree YC, where organiser Garret Leech was prepared to test them to the uttermost with a two-day programme of nine races in brisk breezes. They saw it through with style even if many had discovered twinge of varying severity in muscles that they didn’t even know existed.

But more importantly, the favourable reports of supper-sport inspired those who still hadn’t completed their fitting-out – for the SOD is a high-maintenance girl – to get on and finish the work in time to be ready for the two special regattas devoted to the Centenary in July, at Dromineer on Lough Derg from 2nd-3rd July, and then back up at Lough Ree from July 23rd and 24th.

Shannon One Design Centenary Year Fixtures List

There is of course more to the pillars of the programme than that, as this outline reveals:

  • JUN 18-19 Mid June Regatta (LRYC)
  • JUN 25-26 Long Distance Race (LRYC)
  • JUL 3-4 LDYC SODA Centenary Regatta
  • JUL 9-10 Goose Island Regatta (LDYC
  • JUL 9-10 Barges & SOD's (LRYC)
  • JUL 23-24 LRYC SODA Centenary Regatta
  • JUL-AUG 30-5 Lough Ree Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LRYC)
  • AUG 6-7 Dromineer Castle Regatta (LDYC)
  • AUG 8-13 Lough Derg Yacht Club Annual Regatta (LDYC)
  • AUG 27-28 Corrikeens Regatta (LDYC)
  • SEP 3-4 North Shannon Regatta (LRYC)
  • SEP 10-11 Harvest Regatta (LDYC)

Thanks to the meanderings of the Shannon, not all of the Long Distance Race is a beatThanks to the meanderings of the Shannon, not all of the Long Distance Race is a beat

With such a determinedly even-handed spread between Lough Ree and Lough Derg, logistics play a key role, and this reaches a special height in nine days time on the weekend of June 25th to 26th, with the legendary Long Distance Race from Lough Ree south to Lough Derg, forty miles of river racing which has an overnight at Banagher, and used to have a time-honoured pit stop at Shannonbridge for the high-energy intake of hot rum and chocolate to wash down black pudding toasties at Killeens unique grocery & hardware-selling pub. Alas, Killeen’s as the class knew it is no more, but SOD ingenuity will doubtless come up with a more-than-adequate substitute.

a good breeze on Lough Derg the Shannon ODs It may not quite be planing as it is generally understood, but when there’s a good breeze on Lough Derg the Shannon ODs have their own special version of get up and go

In fact, the prospect of the Long Distance Race makes it just possible that a hyper-enthusiast could do both the Round Ireland starting this weekend, and still be finished in time for the Long Distance, thereby circling and quartering Ireland in the space of eight days.

Certainly it’s the sort of thing that SOD sailors would see as a right and proper challenge. As it is, the second Centenary Regatta on Lough Ree on July 23rd-24th will see history in the making, as it will be attended by members of the family of Frank Morgan Giles, the Devon-based yacht designer who created the lines of the Shannon One Design in 1921-22 when some sections of Irish life were pre-occupied with the aftermath of the War of Independence and the prospect of the Civil War.

When you have only one sail, you soon think of unusual ways of deploying it.When you have only one sail, you soon think of unusual ways of deploying it.

In such circumstances, it’s scarcely surprising that the newly-formed Shannon One Design Association managed to create a little war of their own with their designer. Morgan Giles. His original drawings showed the boat with a dipping lug. This was surprising in itself, as it’s a much clumsier configuration than the standing lug which was already well known in Ireland at the time through the popular International 12.

But after a couple of labour-intensive experiences with the dipping lugs, the class decided to leap right over the standing lug possibility, and go instead beyond it for the much sleeker gunter rig, with which they still sail.

In the 1920s, the SODs quickly adopted the sleek-fitting gunter lug, with which they still sail todayIn the 1920s, the SODs quickly adopted the sleek-fitting gunter lug, with which they still sail today

Unfortunately, they omitted to tell Morgan Giles, and when he got to hear of this “amateur” change of his design, he was somewhat miffed. A 35-year frost set in on relations between designer and class, such that though he continued to draw a royalty as each new boat was built, communications were businesslike and distant in the extreme, until some sort of thaw set in back in the late 1950s. And it has happily since held up sufficiently well for Frank Morgan Giles’ descendants to contemplate a visit to the second Lough Ree SOD Centenary Regatta on July 23-24th.

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When the weather patterns conspire to provide wet or rugged sailing on Ireland’s sea coasts, the shrewd mariner heads for the inland sea that is Lough Ree, which has been geographically measured with some elegant 19th Century science as being plumb in the very middle of the Emerald isle. For in such a location, no matter what the conditions are like on the coast, on Lough Ree you’ll have the entire province of either Leinster or Connacht or both to provide you with a lee. And additionally, by some happy freak during the past weekend of strong winds and much rain elsewhere, somehow Lough Ree experienced so little in the way of precipitaton that most sailors in the Clinkerfest barely noticed it at all, with the final evening provide a serene yet colourful sunset to round out a unique event in considerable style.

 Mermaid Magic – we may think of the Mermaids as originating in Dublin Bay, but some of the first boats were built by Walter Levinge beside Lough Ree. Photo: John Malone Mermaid Magic – we may think of the Mermaids as originating in Dublin Bay, but some of the first boats were built by Walter Levinge beside Lough Ree. Photo: John Malone

Former LRYC Commodore Garret Leech was still in the senior role when he set the notion of Clinkerfest in motion to celebrate LRYC’s 250th Anniversary back in 2020. And though the pandemic has caused a two year delay and a certain creakiness in some would-be participants, the idea was not allowed to die - not least because it had engendered one of the best event logos anyone has ever created in Ireland, a logo appropriate to the fact that clinker boat-building is now recognised as a World Heritage Activity.

The Clinkerfest Logo stylishly honours what is now a international culturally-recognised method of boat construction The Clinkerfest Logo stylishly honours what is now a international culturally-recognised method of boat construction 

Nevertheless while some participants might have preferred a bit more time for leisurely consideration of all the clinker-built boat types involved, and the different techniques used in their design and construction, others from the more race-oriented classes were bursting with competitive energy after virtually two seasons of constraint. And with a race team headed by Garret Leech with Owen Delany and the support of Alan Algeo and Eileen Brown (almost all former LRYC Commodores) the administrative talent was there to keep sailors busy afloat.

SODA Chairman Philip Mayne finished 14th overall in No 83 after nine hard-fought races. Photo: John MaloneSODA Chairman Philip Mayne finished 14th overall in No 83 after nine hard-fought races. Photo: John Malone

SHANNON ODs BIGGEST FLEET

While LRYC may be celebrating their Quadrimillennial in a two year retrospect, the Shannon One Designs are fully immersed in the throes of the increasing pace of their current Centenary Year. And though the class is traditionally at its greatest numerical strength in the time-honoured regattas of August, fleet numbers are already up with every weekend as that final coat of varnish finally gets applied, and boats turn out to race – and race hard.

 A different world of sailing for Garrett O’Neill and his crew. If any spray dares to come aboard, you can simply swallow it….Photo: John Malone A different world of sailing for Garrett O’Neill and his crew. If any spray dares to come aboard, you can simply swallow it….Photo: John Malone

Thus they’d an entry of 29 for Clinkerfest, and while not all were fully race ready, at the sharp end of the fleet for a demanding total of nine races, the top six helms were Mark McCormick, David Dickson, Andrew Mannion, Cillian Dickson, Frank Guy and Cathal Breen.

INTERNATIONAL 12s

The International 12s – which originated in 1912 – continue to be hugely popular in The Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, but they’re gradually reviving in Ireland in both their una-riggged and sloop-rigged form. And while travel difficulties meant that not all of a significant contingent from the Continent could make it in the end, a couple of gallant Dutch boats managed to get to Ree, while the fleet was also enlarged by the inclusion of a brace of Rankin 12s from Cork Harbour. Here too they’d nine challenging races, and Bert Bos won while Gernt Kiughist was second, with Mark Delany best of the home division in third.

 By making the journey to Lough Ree, the crew of this Dutch International Twelve found much better weather than they’d have had at home. Photo: John Malone By making the journey to Lough Ree, the crew of this Dutch International Twelve found much better weather than they’d have had at home. Photo: John Malone

MERMAIDS

We may think of the 17ft Mermaids as very much a class of Dublin Bay origins through their designer J B Kearney, but in fact the first boats were built in 1932 by the great Walter Levinge of Lough Ree. So there was a sense of home-coming in their participation, Jim Carthy winning in Vee from Paul Smith & Pat Mangan in Jill, with Darach Dinneen taking third in Red Seal.

Proper summertime sailing for Mermaids at Clinkerfest. Photo: John MaloneProper summertime sailing for Mermaids at Clinkerfest. Photo: John Malone

WATER WAGS

The Dublin Bay Water Wags of 1887 and 1900 vintage had many sailors racing in Clinkerfest, but as there’s extensive cross-pollination with the Shannon One Designs, there were more of them racing in the SODs than in the Wags, which managed to get just four boats down to Lough Ree from Dun Laoghaire. That said, they had the distinction of being the most senior class, with David Kelly in Eva winning after the nine races from Mike Magowan in Mary Kate, with third place going to Dermot Bremner in Alfa.

A celebration of Ireland’s leading clinker-built classes in the display of models by Reggie Goodbody of Lough Derg YC. Photo: John MaloneA celebration of Ireland’s leading clinker-built classes in the display of models by Reggie Goodbody of Lough Derg YC. Photo: John Malone

IDRA 14s

Though the 1946-vintage IDRA 14s have held many famous championships with LRYC, few would think of them as a Lough Ree class. Thus there was special satisfaction when Billy Henshaw – who lives on he shores of the lake – emerged as overall winner, with Pierre Long getting second and Pat O’Kelly third.

There was special cheer for the IDRA 14s with Billy Henshaw providing a local winner. Photo: John MaloneThere was special cheer for the IDRA 14s with Billy Henshaw providing a local winner. Photo: John Malone

The complete results are here

FUTURE CLINKERFESTS

Clinkerfest deserves to be a major feature of the national programme in the future, and Lough Ree’s indisputably central location in Ireland surely gives it the first claim to be its permanent home. The problem is that as our sailing gets back up to pre-pandemic speeds, several events will re-emerge claiming equal rights to the coveted Bank Holiday weekend at the beginning of June.

 Getting stuck in….The Shannon One Designs launch themselves into a programme of nine races in two days. Number 50 (Mark McCormick) was to emerge as overall winner. Photo: John Malone Getting stuck in….The Shannon One Designs launch themselves into a programme of nine races in two days. Number 50 (Mark McCormick) was to emerge as overall winner. Photo: John Malone

But that’s a discussion for another day. Right now, there’s a feeling of wonder that in a weekend when several coastal events were either cancelled or gave their participants quite a drubbing, a secret inland sea in the middle of Ireland was able to provide a fascinating and varied fleet of true classics with the chance to contest no less than nine very competitive races in eminently sailable and often strongly sunny conditions, while at the same allowing their dedicated owners and crews to revel in a shared enthusiasm for a boat construction method whose inherent functional beauty is now a globally-recognized art and craft.

Evocative conclusion to a great regatta – final Clinkerfest sunset at Lough Ree YC marina. Photo: Clodagh FlanneryEvocative conclusion to a great regatta – final Clinkerfest sunset at Lough Ree YC marina. Photo: Clodagh Flannery

Published in Historic Boats

You need stamina afloat and ashore to get the best of Shannon One Design Racing, and already it’s clear that that the class – with Philip Mayne as Captain/Chairman and Naomi Algeo as Honorary Secretary - will be looking for Olympic-grade resilience from crews and boats in this their Centenary Year. While the first seriously high profile event in a busy programme is the coming Bank Holiday Weekend’s Clinkerfest at Lough Ree Yacht Club (4th-6th June), this unique class (we choose our adjectives with the greatest care and after due consultation with m’learned friends) has already been active on three great lakes with all the coiled-spring energy of a force of nature recently released from pandemic privations.

This was after the boisterous Centenary-launching dinner in the National YC in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday, March 5th, which seemed to be staged within minutes of restrictions being lifted, yet they’d managed to have a proper-job Hundredth Birthday Cake created on time, and it was also Alan Algeo’s birthday, age not disclosed. Sundry presentations were made, not least the Transom Trophy to Rachel Guy and the team from 142, and with it the realisation that Transom Trophies proliferate because they usually go to people who seldom spend much time looking at transoms, but it really wouldn’t do to have a Stemhead Superstar Award, as the cruel temptation would be to give it to the boat whose crew scarcely ever see another boat’s bow when looking astern.

Profoundly rural Lough Corrib. In this their Centenary Year, the Shannon One Designs have already revived the tradition of a regatta at Cong on island-studded Lough Corrib in County Galway. Photo: W M NixonProfoundly rural Lough Corrib. In this their Centenary Year, the Shannon One Designs have already revived the tradition of a regatta at Cong on island-studded Lough Corrib in County Galway. Photo: W M Nixon

Be that as it may, events already held include a return after three years to regatta sailing on Lough Corrib in County Galway and the charms of Cong, the revival of the Mountshannon Regatta (“wild and wet” we’re told, on Lough Derg, when that wondrous symbol of the Shannon, John & Sandra Lefroy’s 148-year-old iron-hulled classic poweryacht the Phoenix made her re-appearance, and most recently on May 21st and 22nd when Sam Haffield put a programme together in southeast Lough Ree under the comprehensive title of the LRYC Inner Lakes Regatta, involving multiple venues with the apparent purpose of ensuring that no lakeside licensed premises felt they’re being left out of the hospitality bonanza which this Centenary implies.

On the frontiers of the west – Shannon ODs racing off Dromineer on Lough DergOn the frontiers of the west – Shannon ODs racing off Dromineer on Lough Derg

Looking ahead, in addition to the time-honoured regatta weeks on Lough Derg and Lough Ree in August, the first specifically Centenary-celebrating Regatta will be at Lough Derg YC at Dromineer on 2nd & 3rd July when the shoreside festivities include a performance by the Nenagh Brass Band, and then the second Centenary Regatta will be at Lough Ree YC at Ballyglass on 23rd & 24th July, with shoreside entertainment as yet unspecified, but if the Athlone and district music scene can’t come up with something rather special, we’ll be vey surprised.

In due course, we may have more specific details as to who actually won some of these events. But right now, the only precise number that’s getting any attention is 100, and rightly so.

The Mother of all Mother-ships – the 1874-built Phoenix on Lough Derg in 1982, when “smoking-along” was still an acceptable mode of progress. Photo: W M NixonThe Mother of all Mother-ships – the 1874-built Phoenix on Lough Derg in 1982, when “smoking-along” was still an acceptable mode of progress. Photo: W M Nixon

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There are highly individualistic One Design Classes. And then there are the 1922-founded Shannon One Designs. They’re in a league of their own. And they’ll be launching their Hundred Year Programme for 2022 with a Centenary Dinner in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Saturday 5th March, with the class’s spirit being revealed by the fact that all tickets were sold out within 12 hours of the event being opened for business by Class Chairman Philip Mayne and Honorary Secretary Naomi Algeo.

Although the class races almost exclusively on the great lakes of the Shannon, it makes occasional excursions to other places like Lough Corrib in Galway and Lough Owel in Westmeath, while they made an impressive Dun Laoghaire debut in the sailing events of the 1924 Tailteann Games on Dublin Bay, when they returned home with the Gold Medal.

 The Shannon ODs have been providing close competition ever since their first race. It is believed to have been on Thursday 24th August 1922 on Lough Ree, though the first contest properly recorded was on Lough Bofin with the North Shannon YC on Tuesday 29th August 1922, won by Dr V Delany with Kiwi. Photo courtesy SODA The Shannon ODs have been providing close competition ever since their first race. It is believed to have been on Thursday 24th August 1922 on Lough Ree, though the first contest properly recorded was on Lough Bofin with the North Shannon YC on Tuesday 29th August 1922, won by Dr V Delany with Kiwi. Photo courtesy SODA

Such is this una-rigged 18ft clinker-built dinghy’s unique appeal that owners are to be found in more than half of the counties of Ireland. And as many of them winter - so to speak - in Dublin, a Springtime seasonal opening get-together with gala overtones at the hospitable National Yacht club will fit the bill to perfection.

The class has long links with the NYC, as the Earl of Granard, NYC Commodore from 1931 to 1941, was also involved with County Longford’s North Shannon YC, one of the clubs which made an active input into the foundation of the class in 1921-22.

More recently, the NYC Commodore was Con Murphy from 2005 to 2008, and his wife – former Olympic sailor Cathy Mac Aleavey - is not only a devoted Shannon OD sailor, but she built her boat personally, working with the late Jimmy Furey, the legendary classic boat-builder of Leecarrow in County Roscommon.

Olympic sailor Cathy Mac Aleavey, wife of former NYC Commodore Con Murphy, making knots with the Shannon OD she built with Jimmy Furey. Photo courtesy SODAOlympic sailor Cathy Mac Aleavey, wife of former NYC Commodore Con Murphy, making knots with the Shannon OD she built with Jimmy Furey. Photo courtesy SODA

Olympic enthusiasm is one of the Shannon OD’s character traits, starting with Dr Alf Delany who sailed for Ireland in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics while at the same time being a leading helm in both the Dublin Bay Water Wags and the Shannon One Designs.

Afloat.ie’s W M Nixon, who will be one of the speakers at the Dinner in the NYC on March 5th, was introduced to the Shannon ODs by sailing with Alf Delany at the Golden Jubilee Regatta at Lough Derg YC in Dromineer in August 1972.

“It was remarkable sailing with Alf” he recalls, “it was as though he and the boat became one, and despite his tyro crewmate, we were in the frame in both races sailed. As for the Shannon One Designs as a class and as a colourful group of people, I was immediately mesmerized, and have remained so ever since.”

Bendy boats do best…..Among the more fascinating aspects of the Shannon One Design is their hull flexibility in a good wind – “In a strong breeze, they’ll turn round and look at you”. Photo SODABendy boats do best…..Among the more fascinating aspects of the Shannon One Design is their hull flexibility in a good wind – “In a strong breeze, they’ll turn round and look at you”. Photo SODA

Published in Shannon One Design

When a Centenary arrives, most of those closely involved tend to focus on the history they’re celebrating, whether it’s a club or a boat class or whatever. Sometimes they become immersed in potentially challenging and even contentious projects like re-enactments, which the more snooty purists would tell us is “History for Those of Limited Attention Span and Small Imagination”.

But the 18ft Shannon One Designs didn’t get so successfully to their Centenary in 2022 by dwelling excessively on the past, as was revealed in the write up on their accolade as “Sailing Club of the Year 2022”, which they share with Lough Ree Yacht Club. On the contrary, they honoured the establishment of the new Irish Free State in their own foundation year of 1922 with enthusiastic involvement in the sailing events in Dublin Bay of the Tailteann Games in 1924 to celebrate the new nation, and were suitably rewarded by returning home with the Gold Medal to their great lakes along Ireland’s largest river.

Thus the Shannon ODs have not only adapted to change, from time to time they’ve actively shaped it, and they do this by living very actively in the present every bit as much they fondly recall their colourful past.

It’s entirely in keeping with this that one of the projects they have in hand for 2022 is what will eventually be a profusely-illustrated calendar for 2023, in which each monthly photograph will be from the matching month of 2022, showing this unique class’s way of life through the four seasons.

It is already under way with photo fans recording Shannon ODs in January in their widely varying winter quarters, which would make a book in itself. And the scope will widen as the year progresses, with the winners being initially publicised through this year on a monthly basis - a procedure which will emphasise the theme of living in the present while honouring the past.

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Lough Ree Yacht Club and the Shannon One Design Association are sharing this year’s MG Motors Sailing Club of the Year Award. It’s the well-deserved honouring of a dynamic combination that provides a core contribution to the Athlone area’s reputation as a hotbed of Irish sailing advancement and was recognised back in 2008 when they previously were joint winners.

At that time, Shannon OD numbers were expanding at an unprecedented rate, while Lough Ree YC was settling into an enlarged clubhouse which facilitated the club’s growth as a national focal point for sailing in Ireland, both as a venue afloat and a meeting place ashore.

MG Motors Sailing club of the Year

In this new award some fourteen years later, there are two vital extra elements to add to the healthy combination which was so outstanding in 2008 and continues today. In 2020, Lough Ree YC should have been celebrating its Quarter Millennium in exuberant style, but the fact that - with its foundation in 1770 - the Club is possibly the second-oldest in the world had to be marked in a COVID-muted way, and thus 2022 hopes to see LRYC celebrate Quarter Millennium + 2, if anything with added zest.

Lough Ree Yacht Club at Ballyglass. The club has steadily increased its land-holding, and with activity and membership increasing on a strongly family basis, it is contemplating further extension of the premises and facilities afloat and ashoreLough Ree Yacht Club at Ballyglass. The club has steadily increased its land-holding, and with activity and membership increasing on a strongly family basis, it is contemplating further extension of the premises and facilities afloat and ashore  

But for the Shannon One Designs, 2022 is it - the Centenary Year. In making the award, we will be celebrating one of the most remarkable classes in the world, a class which - thanks to its classic clinker-built construction - is now recognised as being of special Heritage Significance, with official UNESCO recognition of this ancient-yet-updated method of boat-building.

Walter Levinge of Lough Ree YC built many of the Shannon One Designs in the early days of the class from 1922 onwards, and was active in boat-building and sailing until the 1960s. His clinker construction of these classic boats was of a quality well deserving of the recently-awarded UNESCO Heritage Status.Walter Levinge of Lough Ree YC built many of the Shannon One Designs in the early days of the class from 1922 onwards, and was active in boat-building and sailing until the 1960s. His clinker construction of these classic boats was of a quality well deserving of the recently-awarded UNESCO Heritage Status.

In fact, so much of long-term sailing heritage is to be found in and around the southeast corner of Lough Ree that perhaps the entire area should be declared a UNESCO Heritage Site, for in addition to the Lough Ree YC complex, it includes the location where the legendary Walter Levinge built many of the early Shannon One Designs in addition to other classic clinker-built designs, and it also includes the newly re-configured headquarters of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

MGM Motors Sailing club of the Year

LOUGH REE YACHT CLUB

It’s probable that organised sailing of some sort was taking place on Lough Ree long before 1770, but the records from 1770 prove beyond doubt that something was under way by that time. And though the name Lough Ree Yacht Club was not always the title being used, it’s the one that has lasted, even if within the past hundred years the club activity had sometimes become thin enough.

That said, dedicated families like the Murtaghs of Athlone kept the flame alight, even though - in the very thin years of the 1950s - if it hadn’t been for Sid Shine of Athlone making his houseboat/barge The Fox available for use as a clubhouse when required, LRYC might have become an idea rather than something tangible.

Jimmy Furey and Sid Shine. The late Jimmy Furey of Leecarrow on Lough Ree took over the Levinge mantle as the leading builder of Shannon ODs of the highest standard, while Sid Shine of Athlone was a dedicated sailing enthusiast who played a central role in keeping Lough Ree YC going through the thin years of the 1950s. Photo: W M NixonJimmy Furey and Sid Shine. The late Jimmy Furey of Leecarrow on Lough Ree took over the Levinge mantle as the leading builder of Shannon ODs of the highest standard, while Sid Shine of Athlone was a dedicated sailing enthusiast who played a central role in keeping Lough Ree YC going through the thin years of the 1950s. Photo: W M Nixon

That is something difficult to imagine as we contemplate the contemporary thriving clubhouse/dinghy park/boatyard/marina complex at Ballyglass. As proof of the club’s thriving good health, it has managed to keep a busy if truncated COVID-compliant programme going during the regulation periods under current Commodore John McGonigle, who incidentally is Ireland’s leading classic watch-maker. And before that in 2020 itself with his predecessor Garrett Leech, there was as much activity afloat as possible, and a continuing programme of acquiring extra land which has led to LRYC having a total site of six acres. This will facilitate the re-routing of the access road and other amenities, thereby making the interaction between the clubhouse and the on-water facilities more user-friendly, while providing a launching pad for further clubhouse expansion.

The secret life of yacht club flag officers…..John McGonigle, Lough Ree YC Commodore, is Ireland’s leading creator of customised classic wrist watchesThe secret life of yacht club flag officers…..John McGonigle, Lough Ree YC Commodore, is Ireland’s leading creator of customised classic wrist watches

Virtually all of this has been done with voluntary effort as far as the actual running of the club is concerned. Yet that’s something the members take in their stride as they focus on sailing, with one of their peak interests being the Olympic 49er duo of Rob Dickson and Sean Waddilove. Although the pair are generally associated with the east coast Fingal clubs of Howth and Skerries, Rob Dickson’s total passion for sailing was basically shaped around family holidays on the Shannon with the focus on Lough Ree YC, and while his head may be in Fingal or at some major international venue, his heart is on Lough Ree.

Lough Ree is renowned for its big skies, seen here making shapes over the LRYC SB20 Class.Lough Ree is renowned for its big skies, seen here making shapes over the LRYC SB20 Class.

There, the LRYC fleet is eclectic, with a strong emphasis on family and junior sailing through Optimists, Mirrors and 420s in addition to the Shannon ODs, while they’re also a stronghold of Cruisers and the SB20 Class, having provided the SB20s with their exuberant “Pandemic President” John Malone, who enthusiastically led his fleet both at LRYC and nationally into as much activity as was permitted, making them one of Ireland’s busiest classes.

LRYC is noted for its encouragement of youth classes, and while the 420s can enjoy its best summertime racing condition………LRYC is noted for its encouragement of youth classes, and while the 420s can enjoy its best summertime racing condition………
….there are many times when the lough reminds them that is basically an inland sea.….there are many times when the lough reminds them that is basically an inland sea.

But like all LRYC classes, the Lough Ree SB20s’ first loyalty is to their own home waters, and the way that they and all the sailors of Lough Ree YC interact in the most positive way with their own local community is an aspect of the club which the adjudicators find particularly inspiring. This soothing vid of a lone Shannon One Design sailing on the lake at Ballyglass tells us much about why the LRYC approach works so well:

 

SHANNON ONE DESIGN ASSOCIATION

Any organization which was founded in Ireland a hundred years ago will have found its earliest experiences coinciding precisely with the birth throes of the Irish Free State, which between 1919 and 1922 included a War of Independence, and the Civil War fought over the Treaty which resulted from the Independence conflict.

Thus the establishment of the Shannon One Design Association between the members of the North Shannon YC on Lough Bofin in Longford, Lough Ree YC at Athlone, and Lough Derg YC at Dromineer took place in a sort of parallel universe in which many people were trying to get on with some sort of normal life, while others in relatively confined areas were prepared to fight to the death for their objectives.

An early Shannon One Design clearly revealing the class’s noted hull flexibility.An early Shannon One Design clearly revealing the class’s noted hull flexibility

The ability to live with parallel situations was already almost normal in Ireland, for after the Sinn Fein victory in the 1918 General Election, an alternative government to that ruling from Dublin Castle was established under the new and “illegal” Dail, such that in many parts of the country, it was quietly if almost invisibly accepted as the real administration which either got things done, or prevented the supposedly official government from performing its more mundane functions.

MGM Motors Sailing club of the Year

In such circumstances, and with the River Shannon available to provide them with the means of travel should various roads and railways be blocked by felled trees or detonated bridges, the task of setting the Shannon One Design Association in being was put in motion, the key meeting being a gathering in the Prince of Wales Hotel in Athlone on January 20th 1920.

It may have started with a tentative January meeting in Athlone in 1920, but since then the Shannon One Designs have become one of the wonders of Irish sailing, as seen here with the class making a boisterous start in racing at Dromineer on Lough Derg, with John & Sandra Lefroy’s 1873-vintage iron-built Phoenix as Committee Boat. Photo SODAIt may have started with a tentative January meeting in Athlone in 1920, but since then the Shannon One Designs have become one of the wonders of Irish sailing, as seen here with the class making a boisterous start in racing at Dromineer on Lough Derg, with John & Sandra Lefroy’s 1873-vintage iron-built Phoenix as Committee Boat. Photo SODA

We get a fascinating insight into the mood and attitude of those involved through the 1972-published Golden Jubilee History of the class by L. M. “Bunny” Goodbody. For the most part, those originally involved lived in big house on the lakes and along the river, or were top professional and business people in the Shannon port towns. Nicknames were almost the norm – Bunny Goodbody had a formidable female relative, Posie Goodbody, whose most famous of many achievements was to set off at dawn from Killaloe in her hyper-fast motor-powered hydroplane, and by sunset she was at Lough Key, having power-boated in one span of daylight through the length of the Shannon.

MG Motors Sailing club of the Year

Then as the Shannon ODs – or Sods as everyone called them – got going after many discussions, their long-serving timekeeper was one Henry R Newland MA (TCD), whom you might expect to be called Harry or even Hal, but you’d be wrong. Everyone knew him as Tulip.

With noted longtime Shannon sailing families like the Delanys, Murtaghs, Hogans, Lefroys, Levinges, Lysters, Moerans, Devenishes, Handcocks, Wallers, Goodbodies and Boltons involved from the start, it’s not surprising to learn that some of these talented individuals expected their own self-created designs to become the standard boat for the new 18ft una-rigged class, so perhaps it was a peace-making ploy to go to the English designer Morgan Giles of Devon for the designs.

He produced something whose hull looked in profile like his recently-created clinker-built Essex One-Design, but the proposed SOD was much narrower and this – with the una rig - changed the character of the boat completely to make it truly expressive of the classic Irish lake boat with a substantial sail added.

Shannon OD designer Frank Morgan Giles of Devon created some noted dinghy classes. However, when his original plan for a dipping-lug mainsail for the Shannon One Designs in 1921 was soon changed by the class to a much neater gunter lug, they only told him after it had been done, resulting in frosty relations for 35 years.Shannon OD designer Frank Morgan Giles of Devon created some noted dinghy classes. However, when his original plan for a dipping-lug mainsail for the Shannon One Designs in 1921 was soon changed by the class to a much neater gunter lug, they only told him after it had been done, resulting in frosty relations for 35 years.

The sail immediately caused trouble. Giles had designed it as a lug sail, and despite the increasing presence in Ireland of the International 12 dinghy with its very effective standing lug, the Shannon sailors seem to have been provided with a dipping lug.

This was an infernal nuisance, so they quickly changed it to a gunter lug, and almost as an afterthought, they sent a letter about the change to Morgan Giles. He replied in such a frosty style that there was a stand-off in friendly relations for something like 35 years before any sort of client-designer harmony was properly restored.

This may have been something to do with the Irish situation, for while the new class merrily went ahead with Walter Levinge building seven boats to the new design for the 1922 season, the Civil War was causing sporadic violence in Ireland, and increasing hostility and incomprehension in England.

Yet those who were determined to get the new class going and continue to live in Ireland knew well the mood of their people among whom they lived, whatever their own political views. A certain mutual tolerance, understanding and respect was needed.

MG Motors Sailing club of the Year

Thus when the new class was finally lined up for its first proper race on Wednesday, August 23rd 1922 at Lough Ree YC at Ballyglass, as the L. M. Goodbody Shannon OD History of 1972 records: “Wednesday brought the news of the death in action in West Cork of General Michael Collins, the Commander in Chief of the National Army, and in consequence all racing that day was suspended”.

Referring to the former guerilla leader as General Collins was something which had first emerged from Winston Churchill and F E Smith - of all people – during the long and tedious Treaty negotiations. But the fact that it should have appeared as a natural part of the first history of the Shannon One Designs tells us much about how the class’s members – as natural conservatives – were already anticipating di Lampedusa’s philosophy that those who wish things to stay basically the same must give a subtle lead in controlled change.

Consequently, when an invitation was extended to the expanding new class to take part in the Tailteann Games in 1924 to celebrate the new Irish Free State, it was accepted with enthusiasm, with seven SODs going to what all those involved still thought of as Kingstown. Part of the attraction was that this offered the chance to prove their mettle against the Dublin Bay Water Wags, who apparently didn’t think very highly of this new take on the traditional Shannon sailing boat.

When the Shannon One Designs first raced on the sea with their participation in the sailing events of the Tailteann Games in 1924 at Dun Laoghaire, the big seas of Dublin Bay revealed their readiness to plane when conditions suited. It takes a bit more effort to do the same on freshwater lakes, but here we see Olympic sailor Cathy Mac Aleavey’s boat – which she built herself working with Jimmy Furey – getting up to planning speed on Lough Derg.When the Shannon One Designs first raced on the sea with their participation in the sailing events of the Tailteann Games in 1924 at Dun Laoghaire, the big seas of Dublin Bay revealed their readiness to plane when conditions suited. It takes a bit more effort to do the same on freshwater lakes, but here we see Olympic sailor Cathy Mac Aleavey’s boat – which she built herself working with Jimmy Furey – getting up to planning speed on Lough Derg.

We tend nowadays to think that Shannon One Designs look slightly out of place on the sea, but in their 1924 expedition to Dun Laoghaire where they were based at the Royal Irish YC, they very forcefully demonstrated otherwise. On one particularly rough day when the Water Wags refused to go out of the harbour, the Shannons sallied for with gusto and revelled in the planing opportunities which the big seas of Dublin Bay provided.

Edgar Waller of Lough Derg YC sailing SOD No. 47 (they’d started their numbering at 30) won the Tailteann Sailing Gold Medal after they’d out-performed the Water Wags boat-for-boat. It was a very satisfied group that returned to their home waters, with their new boats delivered back to the Shannon in due course on flat-bed rail trucks in a joint exercise by the Dublin South Eastern Railway and the Great Southern & Western Railway.

MG Motors Sailing club of the Year

This very convenient facility was available at Dun Laoghaire until 1961, when the entire Firefly Class, having raced their DBSC Tuesday evening contest, was transferred by launching trolleys to the waiting flatbed trucks on the waterfront railway, and on Friday evening their crews re-claimed them in West Cork in Baltimore Station nicely in time for Dinghy Week. It the last year in which they could so such a thing with the West Cork Line soon closing, though not all was lost - in time, the quayside Baltimore Railway Station became the first Glenans Base in Ireland.

The swans in the evening – Shannon One Designs return to portThe swans in the evening – Shannon One Designs return to port

Meanwhile, the Shannon One Designs built steadily through the 1920s and ’30s, with all transport needs between regattas being provided by sundry motor-cruisers when the wind didn’t suit. The North Shannon Yacht Club on Lough Bofin more or less expired after 1929, but this enabled a more compact programme between Lough Ree and Lough Derg to be devised for August, when many of the Shannon OD sailors returned on leave from remote postings in distant places – it’s said you could find photos of Shannon One Designs displayed on walls in District Offices in dusty places up towards the Khyber Pass.

Thus the user-friendly system of a week on Lough Ree followed by a week on Lough Derg developed, with additional spice being added to the summer’s doings with a long-distance race from Athlone down-Shannon to Lough Derg, with a midway stop at Shannonbridge and sustenance from the house speciality of hot rum and chocolate at Killeen’s pub.

They’ll always be trying something new – as August approaches, in distant parts of the world people will be dreaming of getting home to Ireland and trying a new trick or two in Shannon OD racing.They’ll always be trying something new – as August approaches, in distant parts of the world people will be dreaming of getting home to Ireland and trying a new trick or two in Shannon OD racing.

With class numbers continuing to expand as the challenge of building boats to the required high standard passed from Walter Levinge of Athlone to Jimmy Furey of Leecarrow and then since his demise (at a great age) to Dougal MacMahon of Athlone – thereby retaining Lough Ree’s reputation as the heartland of SOD construction - new names have emerged to the fore both in the racing and in the class administration, with the tradition of family involvement being stronger than ever.

Thus in 2021’s racing, the top overall prize, the Transom Trophy, was won by the Guy family of LDYC with number 142, second place going to the Mannions of Lough Ree with number 97, while third was another LRYC boat, number 73 sailed by David Dickson, uncle of Olympian Rob.

MG Motors Sailing club of the Year

Facing into the Centenary, the Class Chairman is Philip Mayne of Lough Ree who, like many other top Shannon OD sailors, has more to his sailing CV than just this one class, for among many other achievements he did a successful two-handed Round Britain and Ireland race in 1985 with Lough Derg’s Jocelyn Waller in the latter’s slim but slippy First Class 10 Silk.

The Shannon One Design Association Honorary Secretary is Naomi Algeo of Lough Ree YC, where her father Alan – a SOD sailor of many decades - has played many roles, including being Commodore.

Family matters…..SODA Hon. Sec. Naomi Algeo and her father Alan, former Lough Ree YC Commodore and longtime Shannon OD sailor.Family matters…..SODA Hon. Sec. Naomi Algeo and her father Alan, former Lough Ree YC Commodore and longtime Shannon OD sailor.

The programme to celebrate the Centenary will be developed as it becomes clear how the pandemic is moving and what becomes possible, though we can be sure that if it’s at all permissible, the Shannon One Designs will be doing it, and in considerable numbers too. Meanwhile, there’s a group effort in hand to publish the Centenary History before the magic hundred years are fully upon us all. Our thoughts are with the pictures editors in particular. The word is that they have 4,000 images - and counting – to choose between.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Lough Ree Yacht Club and the Shannon One Design Association on becoming the MG Motors Sailing Clubs of the year for 2022. Their joint achievements are so very special that if this informal and uniquely Irish contest hadn’t already been in existence for 43 years, it would be imperative to invent it immediately…….

The Guy family’s SOD No 142, Transom Trophy winner in 2021.The Guy family’s SOD No 142, Transom Trophy winner in 2021.

Published in W M Nixon
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