Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Water Wags Snakes & Ladders in Dun Laoghaire Harbour

18th July 2019
From L to R: Dipper, Penelope, Gavotte, Mary Kate, Sprite, Chloe, Peggy, Mollie, Swallow, Coquette, and Skee From L to R: Dipper, Penelope, Gavotte, Mary Kate, Sprite, Chloe, Peggy, Mollie, Swallow, Coquette, and Skee

On 17th July the wind was in an unusual direction for the Water Wag Race in Dun Laoghaire Harbour, blowing from the south-south-east at about 6 knots with occasional stronger gusts. Henry Leonard the RO set the start line for the twenty-eight Water Wags with the pin in the Harbour Mouth and the committee boat located off the pierhead of the west pier. Everything went well until the start gun at which point the wind swung ten degrees toward the south. The RO put up the general recall flag, but despite that many of the fleet ‘sailed off into the sunset’. 

A second start was arranged, this time with a longer start line parallel to the harbour mouth. All went well until one minute before the start, the wind backed by thirty degrees- creating a situation where the Water Wags could neither cross the line on starboard tack or sail parallel to the line. Despite this, Good Hope and Gavotte sailed by Rachel and Stuart were at the pin mark and were able to tack away to start. Others found themselves ten boat-lengths or more back from the start line and having to dip the sterns of the starboard tackers. With several more radical wind shifts and holes during the beat to the marina breakwater, Tortoise followed by Pansy were first the reach the windward mark.

The spinnakers went up, but it was evident that spinnakers should have been on the port side. Tortoise flew her spinnaker on the port side and increased her lead and towards the end of the run Pansy was forced to put in a gybe. They both took the starboard gate mark. What a mistake! On the second beat Mariposa started to climb up over Pansy who was doing the same to Tortoise. If they had looked over their shoulders they would have seen the Wags who rounded the port gate mark: Mollie, Ethna, Scallywag and Gavotte taking full advantage of the change in wind direction as they were lifted up to the windward mark, and they rounded in that order.

On the second beat, there were more snakes and ladders. The RO decided to shorten the race at the windward mark, and places were changing all the way to the line.

The final results:
1st Mollie Claudine Murphy & Sonya Boyce winner div.1A Sri Lanka Tankard, 2nd Ethna David Somerville & Pauline McNamara winner div.1B Sri Lanka Mug, 3rd. Scallywag, 4th Pansy, 5th Gavotte, 6th Tortoise, 7th Barbara, 8th Patricia, 10th Good Hope, 11th Swallow, 12th Freddie, 14th Skee, 16th Polly, 17th Phyllis Fraser Mitchell & Laura Barker winner div.2 Meldon Cup, 18th Mary Kate 19th Peggy, 20th Sara, 21st Sprite, 22nd. Penelope, 23rd. Chloe, 24th Coquette, 25th Dipper, Mariposa, Mademoiselle and Moosmie were OCS.

Published in Water Wag
Vincent Delany

About The Author

Vincent Delany

Email The Author

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

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button
Who is Your Sailor Sailor of the Year 2019?
Total Votes:
First Vote:
Last Vote:

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating