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Dublin Bay Water Wags Celebrate Arrival at France’s Morbihan with The First Picnic

22nd May 2017
Definitely not Glyndebourne style....In fact, these Dublin Bay Water Wags spotted on a beach in the Morbihan would probably be very offended at the suggestion that this is a picnic. They’re serious Picnic People in the Water Wags, and they’d regard this informal gathering as no more than a quick lunch stop. Photo: Judith Malcolm Definitely not Glyndebourne style....In fact, these Dublin Bay Water Wags spotted on a beach in the Morbihan would probably be very offended at the suggestion that this is a picnic. They’re serious Picnic People in the Water Wags, and they’d regard this informal gathering as no more than a quick lunch stop. Photo: Judith Malcolm

It’s probably more than a little sacrilegious to suggest that, as some of the rituals of a global religion are built around The Last Supper, then it’s not at all unreasonable for the world’s oldest One-Design sailing class to have its rituals built around The First Picnic writes W M Nixon.

But the thought springs irresistibly to mind on seeing the first image of the Dublin Bay Water Wags settling into their new home for the week, southern Brittany’s incomparable inland sea of the Morbihan, currently en fete with a fleet of 1400 craft of all sizes for the biennial Festival of Sail which has been getting under way today.

The Dublin Bay Water Wags make up just 1% of the fleet, with fourteen boats present. But that’s not bad going for a class founded in 1887. Admittedly the boats now in France are of a type introduced to the class in 1900, yet that still makes them older than most other boats present, though not the two Howth 17s Leila and Aura of 1898 vintage, there in France with four other newer boats of their class

It was when the two Irish classes finally met up today that the Water Wags were found having a picnic. Not a very organized one admittedly, and definitely not Glyndeburne style, as it was little more than a lunch stop at a handy beach.

water wags in france2
The First Picnic. Midsummer’s Day 1887, and the Water Wags (of the original 13ft type) are gathering at Dalkey Island. Photo courtesy Water Wags

Nevertheless it sparked thoughts of The First Picnic, which was held on Dalkey Island on Midsummer’s Day, June 21st 1887, when the Water Wags were in their first year, and were sailing the little double-ended 13ft dinghies that were the basis of the class for their first dozen years.

It was combined with a “cruise” from what was then Kingstown Harbour to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. And as the photos from Alfred & Vincent Delany’s excellent history of the Water Wag class reveal, Victorian picnics were not something to be undertaken lightly. This is Serious Fun in a tradition which the class have continued ever since. So they’ll probably be very offended by any thought that this photo just in from the Morbihan suggests for even a nano-second that they’re having a picnic.

water wags in france3These are Serious Picnic People – the Water Wag Class members and guests on Dalkey island, June 21st 1887. Photo courtesy Water Wags

Published in Water Wag
Vincent Delany

About The Author

Vincent Delany

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Sailing historian Vincent Delany is a member of the Association of Yachting Historians, and an active sailor in Water Wag, SOD and Squib classes. He has written a thesis on 'Yachting and yachtsmen on the River Shannon 1830-1930.' He has lectured on the history of The Water Wag Club, Royal St.George Yacht Club, and the Killinure Yacht Club, He has written two sailing books 'The Water Wags 1887-2012' and 'The International 12 foot class in Ireland' both of which are available from blurb.com

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