Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

nyc maintopper flag

Displaying items by tag: Flying fifteen

#loughderg – Lough Derg's annual Keelboat Freshwater Regatta in October is meant to round out the season with some gentle lake sailing for salty folk in big boats. But 2014's event last weekend was just too near a ferociously active bad weather system which had lows sometimes down to the 950s spinning around each other out in the Atlantic close to Ireland's West Coast. Thus although it was possible to get in the racing in the CH Marine Autumn Series down at Crosshaven, while the MSL Park Motors Autumn League at Howth concluded in balmy if breezy conditions across on the east coast, over to the west on Lough Derg they were lashed by the tails of two storms, and two classes failed to get any racing at all. But if you happened to be with the stately Dragons or the perky Squibs, then there was some great sport which has W M Nixon reflecting on the way our keelboat classes are developing.

Of all Ireland's lakes, it is Lough Derg which most truly merits the description of "Inland Sea'. Lough Neagh may have greater area, but in the final analysis it's only an oddly characterless shallow basin which happens to be filled with water. Lough Erne is marvellous, but too convoluted. Lough Ree has the area and the intricate coastline, but lacks the scenery. And while Lough Corrib is right up there in the beauty stakes, it's isolated from the rest of the world.

But Lough Derg – now there really is a proper inland sea. It has splendid scenery, and historic little ports with ancient quaysides all round its complex coastline, while beside them you'll find modern marinas which host an astonishing variety and number of boats, including some quite substantial sailing cruisers.

Not only is it a splendid place unto itself, but Lough Derg is part of the greater world. From it, you can undertake inland voyages to every part of Ireland, yet it takes only a day to access the sea and the oceans beyond. It's the sort of place where boating and sailing ambitions can seem endless, so it's not surprising that in recent years the Autumn keelboat regatta has become a trendy annual fixture.

Last weekend, sixty boats from four classes headed Dromineer way, to a hospitable bay and village where Lough Derg YC has been established since 1835. Keelboat racing is nothing new on Lough Derg, but boat numbers at this level is something new, and the logistics of getting the visitors launched, and organising racing on two courses when the weather was being massively unco-operative, caused something of an overload on the club system.

As well, being slightly later in October than is usual, some key members of LDYC's small core of voluntary workers afloat and ashore were already out of the country on their usual mid-Autumn breaks. So although it would have been manageable if the weather had been clement, with the main part of the racing planned for mid-lake there simply weren't the service boats and personnel available to make a sudden shift of some of the racing to a second inshore course in Dromineer Bay.

derg2.jpg
Lough Derg isn't just a lake – it's a proper inland sea with connections to the wide world.

derg3.jpg
There's nothing new about keelboats on Lough Derg. This is the 7-ton cutter Tessa (Trahern Holmes, LDYC) on the lake in 1884......

derg4.jpg
....and this is the keelboat class at Dromineer in the late 1920s. The Bermuda rigged sail number L11 is a former Olympic 6 Metre from Finland

Happily for the Dragons racing in their well-established challenge for the Jack Craig Cup, the trophy which started the whole Dromineer Autumn Keelboat event, their racing was planned for three days. In the end, they only managed the required mid-lake racing on the Friday, but it gave great sport.

derg5.jpgThe Dragons start on the Friday. It was the introduction of the Jack Craig Cup for the International Dragons which inaugurated the Lough Derg Keelboat Regatta. The overall winner was to be Phantom (Neil Hegarty, RStGYC, no 176) Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg6.jpg
Diva (Richard Goodbody) holds the lead downwind from Dublin Bay (Gary Treacy), Little Fella (Cameron Good) and Mar J (Adrian Bendon) Photo Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg6a.jpgWhen the going was good for the Dragons at Dromineer, it was very good. Gary Treacy's Dublin Bay from Dun Laoghaire and Adrian Bendon's Mar J from Kinsale neck and neck on the run, with Lough Derg YC's clubhouse and harbour on the shoreline beyond. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg7.jpg
Gary Treacy's Dublin Bay settles into the groove upwind. Photo: Gareth Craig /fotosail

derg8.jpg
Richard Goodbody's Diva showing the form which won second overall. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg9.jpg
Martin Byrne's Jaguar at the finish on starboard. A former Edinburgh Cup winner, Jaguar placed third on Lough Derg. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg10.jpg
The Lough Derg 2014 Dragon Champions – Neil Hegarty's Phantom (right) won from Richard Goodbody's Diva (left). Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg11.jpgAutumn sailing at its best – Adrian Bendon's Mar J from Kinsale closes in on the finish and tenth place overall at Dromineer. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

However, for the SB20s and the Flying Fifteens, trying to race the same waters on Saturday proved a non-event, and again on Sunday too. All of which made it even more galling that the Squibs, the biggest fleet of all, had requested their own simple windward-leeward course set further into Dromineer Bay on the Saturday. As long as the wind stayed in the south, the Squibs were able to race on into Saturday afternoon until, with a slight veering and further freshening of the already strong wind, all options were off.

Then on the Sunday with the wind firmly in the southwest and strong, only the Squibs had racing with one contest out on the lake, and another – with very short legs – in the inner bay. With hindsight, it seems reasonable to think that room might have been found in the bay for the two other classes of smaller boats, though admittedly the SB20s at full cry do need quite a bit of space. But that would have needed some very slick manoeuvres by more supporting RIBs, committee boats and personnel than were available.

derg12.jpg
Revelling in it. Veteran skipper Vincent Delany (who also races Water Wags and Shannon ODs) puts his vintage Squib Femme Fatale (no 24) through her paces on Lough Derg. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

Come to think of it, the Dragons might also have been given racing on Saturday morning if they'd been prepared to set out early and get over to the shelter of the Garrykennedy shore. But in truth, after their super sailing during Friday, the night had passed in turbo-powered conviviality, and as the Dragon crews came very slowly to life on Saturday morning on various motor-cruisers and in other accommodation, they reckoned to let the approaching storm have its way, and made arrangements to watch the rugby in the Whiskey Still in Dromineer, while other more intrepid Dragoneers battled across the lake in their vast hired Shannon motor-cruiser for a slight change of scene to watch the match in Larkin's of Garrykennedy.

But meanwhile the little Squibs were having themselves a fine old time. It was of extra interest in Dromineer, as that great stalwart of Shannon sailing Reggie Goodbody, supported by David Meredith and others, has been quietly beavering away during the past couple of years to get the Squibs going as a local class at Lough Derg Yacht Club.

As of Thursday of this week, they'd got numbers up to nine boats with others interested, which is good going from a standing start late in the summer of 2012. And though they knew that Squibs from the more experienced classes from all round Ireland would be giving them a hard time on the water, they were there ready and willing to welcome them as they drove into Dromineer on the Friday night last weekend, with twenty visiting Squibs being rigged and launched in one-and-a-half hours.

The Lough Derg people are keen to keep their new class in manageable parameters, so they've set a purchase price limit of €4,500 on people buying Squibs new to the area, which still allows for shrewd purchases in sailing centres in Great Britain, where at this time of the year it's a happy hunting ground for Squib seekers.

derg13.jpg
The breeze is building. One of the newest Squibs racing was Tonia McAllister's Pintail from the National YC, which finished 7th. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg14.jpgStorm? What storm? Despite dire weather predictions, at first on the Saturday morning the Squibs had perfect sailing conditions. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg15.jpgSailing as it should be. In foreground is Rupert Bowen's Sidewinder (138, RStGYC) and beyond is clubmate Gerry O'Connor's Buzzlite (125). Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

The attraction of the Squib for Dromineer is that it is so easily managed and maintained, a real bonus for people who may find they no longer have the energy and enthusiasm to maintain and tune a Shannon One Design, let alone the athletic ability to race one flat out. As I well recall from my own happy year of owning a Squib, they really are proper little sit-in keelboats despite being only 19ft LOA, and with our family including three small boys, a Squib proved ideal for mini-cruises along the Fingal coast and out to the islands of Ireland's Eye and Lambay, while the rapid development of the class at Howth meant we were getting good racing by the early summer of 1979.

derg16.jpg
One of the attractions of the Squib is that though she is only 19ft long, there's a proper sit-in cockpit. These are some very junior Nixons sailing on the family Squib Huppatee while returning to Howth from Ireland's Eye (hence the dinghy towing astern) in 1979. The only drawback of the Squib was she had only one tiller, so not all could steer, thus the most junior crewmember needed special consolation from his Mum.

These days the Squibs in Howth are in something of a fallow period, as many of the people who would have raced the boat in times past have moved on and up to the Puppeteer 22 which, with its little cabin and easily handled fractional rig, ticks very many boxes. However, the British & Irish Squib Championship 2015 is scheduled for Howth next June 26th- July 3rd, so doubtless that will lead to a local revival, though whether the magic number of a hundred boat racing in the same championship at the Howth venue in 1996 will be reached again is a moot point.

derg17.jpg
Off Dromineer, there's starting to be a real bite to the breeze as Pintail chases Femme Fatale (right) and Lola..........Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

derg18.jpg
....while keeping an eye on Sidewinder off the starboard quarter. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

But you never know. New boats are being built, so the class's enduring attraction is still proven, and certainly the way they got themselves back into some very confined berths at Dromineer on Saturday afternoon as further racing was being blown out was testament to their quality design and very positive handling qualities. Admittedly they may seem almost too smoothly-handling for sailing's thrill seekers, but growing classes in Dun Laoghaire and Kinsale, and the continuing health of the Squib fleets in Northern Ireland, means that the new Squib fleet at Lough Derg need never feel lonely.

That said, because the Squib has a countrywide spread, trying to keep it first and foremost a local class - as they hope to do at Dromineer - is quite a challenge. Many inshore keelboat classes today find they are becoming event boats, with crew concentrating on big happenings to which they travel perhaps every other weekend, or every three weeks or so, and they simply don't bother trying to keep up the twice-weekly commitment of club racing.

derg19.jpg
Experiment under way. Jill Fleming of Dun Laoghaire was testing a new variant on Squib sails, but although her rig looked very potent, she was back in 8th place overall with seven suits of standard tan sails ahead of her. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

Certainly that's often the case with the Dragons, but then the Dragon class in Ireland offers its members a very attractive package of events all round the country at the most pleasant and glamorous sailing centres. Thus Dragon racing today in Ireland is a high-powered and potentially very expensive way of sailing, and just about as far removed as possible from Reggie Goodbody's ambitions for inexpensive Squibs at Dromineer.

He hopes to see the them develop as a good-value local class which will bring life back to Lough Derg Yacht Club during the more everyday times, when there isn't a championship going on, or it isn't the annual Lough Derg Week in August. This isn't at all the style of the Dragons' jet-setters – they're big-event performers.

derg20.jpg
Cool sailing. One of the reasons the Squib appeals to former Shannon One Design sailors in Dromineer is that even on a busy run, you can still be relaxed and comfortable (very comfortable for the helmsman), whereas a SOD would be providing a hairy ride. Photo: Gareth Craig/fotosail

So it was fascinating to see the two very different classes sharing the lake and harbour space at Dromineer, though it was clear that if you wished to take the cheque book sailing route, the Squibs offer that as well, so Reggie and his team will have to keep the expenditure lid very firmly clamped in place.

The racing results well reflected the nationwide appeal of this event, for though the Dragons may seem to have emerged with a Dun Laoghaire dominance, winner Neil Hegarty of Royal St George YC originally hailed from Cork, and Cameron Good of Kinsale was consistent with a 6th and 3rd to take fourth behind two Dublin Bay boats.

In the Squibs, James Matthews and Rob Jacob of Kinsale racing the vintage Mucky Duck were notably consistent with a final scoreline of two firsts, a second and a third, but almost equally good were Gordon Paterson and Ross Nolan of Royal North of Ireland YC with two firsts, a second and a fifth. Another RNIYC boat from Cultra, Des and Chris Clayton's Inismara, got into the frame with the win in the final race, and the complete Squib scoreline shows the longterm health of the class, as the top six boats range in sail numbers from 24 to 820.

derg21.jpg
The Squibs might have been invented with Lough Derg YC's facilities in mind, as they are easy to berth on the outer harbour....Photo: W M Nixon

derg22.jpg...yet even in an awkward breeze, they can head confidently for the narrow little East Dock.......Photo: W M Nixon

derg24.jpg

....and stay nicely under control while assessing the situation. This is Peter Kennedy's Whipper Snapper, which was top of the local boats at 11th overall in the Dromineer regatta. Photo: W M Nixon

derg23.jpg
The Squib is so well mannered she'll wriggle up the most unlikely channel whatever the wind.........Photo: W M Nixon

derg25.jpg
....and so Whipper Snapper reaches her berth right at the top of the dock with no bother at all. Photo: W M Nixon

As to the longterm health of the event, despite this year's problems for which we have to make some allowance for the extreme weather, there's no doubt everyone very much wants Dromineer to succeed as the venue for what has the potential to be a major and rather special keelboat regatta.

But as an outside observer who has been notably unsuccessful in running races himself, it seemed to me that when number start pushing towards the sixty mark and four classes are involved, then the visiting classes will have to expect to be bringing back-up support boats and some race officials with them. And that in turn will require a certain amount of diplomacy between the visitors and the established race administration at the hosting club. Yet that would be well worth the effort. For when the going was good at Dromineer, it was very good indeed.

LOUGH DERG YACHT CLUB KEELBOAT REGATTA 2014

International Dragon Class: 1st Phantom (Neil Hegarty, RStGYC) 3pts; 2nd Diva (Richard Goodbody, RIYC) 4pt; 3rd Jaguar (Martin Byrne, RStGYC) 7 pts; 4th Little Fella (Cameron Good, KYC) 9 pts; 5th Sir Ossis (Denis Bergin, RIYC) 13pts; 6th Cloud (Claire Hogan, RStGYC) 14pts. (15 raced).

National Squib Class: 1st Mucky Duck (James Matthews, KYC) 7pts; 2nd Quickstep (Gordon Paterson, RNIYC) 9pts; 3rd Inismara (Des Clayton, RNIYC) 15pts; 4th Fagan (Cian O'Regan, KYC) 15pts; 5th Femme Fatale (Vincent Delany, RStGYC) 15 pts; 6th Perfection (Jill Fleming, RStGYC) 17pts; 7th Pintail (Tonia McAllister, NYC) 37pts; 8th Sidewinder (Rupert Bowen, RStGYC) 40 pts (23 raced).

derg26.jpg
When the going gets too rough on Lough Derg, the prudent Dromineer mariner will seek a secure berth in the Whiskey Still to watch the rugby. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

#flyingfifteens – Ireland's Flying Fifteen man in Waterford, Charlie Boland, has organised an information session on Tuesday next week for those interested in taking up sailing or switching into the 20–foot keelboat class.

Boland, of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club in Dunmore East says: "Sailing a Flying Fifteen is an affordable way to learn the ropes and have great fun on the water. Next season will see several new boats arrive at the club."

He adds that he is actively on the lookout for entry-level boats for the club's new Fifteeners to purchase.

The information meeting takes place on Tuesday at 19:30 the Haven Hotel, Dunmore East. Contact Charlie at 087 2224475 for more details.

Published in Flying Fifteen

#flyingfifteen – Irish Flying fifteen vice–president Alan Green has led tributes from Ireland to Flying Fifteen doyen Roy Windebank of Hayling Island in Hampshire who died last month aged 81.

The British master builder who had been involved as both a builder and developer of the class for over forty years is credited with the international success of the 'original sportsboat'  due to ground breaking hull development work in the 1980s.

The register shows that Windebank personally built 252 flying fifteens up to his retirement in 1997 (all of which were constructed using polyester resins). Flying Fifteens recently broke the 4000 mark with sail numbers as high as 4025 at the recent European FF Championships in Mallorca.

A full obituary and funeral details have been posted on the International FF class website here.

Roy Windebank (March 26th, 1933 - September 26th, 2014)

Published in Flying Fifteen

#flyingfifteen – UK visitor Charles Apthorp paired with the National Yacht Club's Alan Green took four wins from five races to be the clear overall winners of the Flying Fifteen East Coast Championships at Dun Laoghaire yesterday. Hayling Island's Apthorp, the 2001 world champion, slipped from the perfect scoreline in race four yesterday afternoon to allow past Irish champions David Gorman and Chris Doorly of the host club take a penultimate race win to be a comfortable second overall on eight nett points from current national champions Andrew McCreery and Colin Dougan of Strangford Lough who finished on 15.

24 boats competed in the end of season event for the keelboat class. Results sheet downloadable below as a jpeg file.

Published in Flying Fifteen

#flyingfifteen – Flying Fifteen National Champions Andy McCleery and Colin Dougan from Killyleagh Yacht Club on Strangford Lough will have to contend with UK visitor Charles Apthorp, a former world champion, in a fleet of up to 30 boats expected at this weekend's East Coast Championships at the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire. After a light wind end to the summer, rain and wind are expected for the two day Dublin Bay competition. Local prospects in the fleet include Dave Gorman & Chris Doorly and Ian Mathews & Keith Poole. 

Published in Flying Fifteen

#flyingfifteen – Hayling Island Sailing Club's Greg Wells and Richard Riggs, from the UK, successfully defended their Flying Fifteen European keelboat title in a cliffhanger finish at Port de Pollenca in Northern, Mallorca last Friday. In a dominant display, British boats took the top six places overall. A seven boat Irish team from Dublin Bay made the trip to the Balearic venue. The top Irish result came from John Lavery and David O'Brien of the National Yacht Club in seventh. Full results below.

Wells described the closing moments as 'a miracle run & beat' to recover from tenth at the first mark of the last race of the light air nine race series to cross the line in third. It was just enough on tie break to put  former world champions Steve Goacher and Phil Evans, who led throughout the final race, into second overall.

Flying 15 - 2014 European Championship, Final positions

1 GBR 4030 Greg Wells, Richard Rigg 6 1 2 3 1 1 2 1 3 20 14 pts
2 GBR 4021 Steve Goacher, Phil Evans 1 2 1 2 2 2 3 8 1 22 14 pts
3 GBR 4005 David McKee, Andy Weatherspoon 3 3 3 1 13 10 4 2 10 49 36 pts
4 GBR 3998 Alan Bax, Mark Darling 2 6 8 4 8 RAF 1 6 2 69 37 pts
5 GBR 4019 David Tabb, Chewey Sherrell 4 4 7 9 4 4 6 7 5 50 41 pts
6 GBR 3957 Charles Apthorp, Gavin Tappenaen 7 8 4 5 5 8 9 3 4 53 44 pts
7 IRL 4002 John Lavery, David o brien 16 5 5 13 3 7 8 5 8 70 54 pts
8 GBR 4016 Hamish Mackay Andrew, Lawson 12 15 11 7 7 14 7 9 7 89 74 pts
9 IRL 3864 Ian Mathews, Keith Poole 10 13 6 8 6 6 21 18 11 99 78 pts
10 GBR 4025 Chris Gorringe, Nadia Hosie 5 7 9 15 15 17 10 4 21 103 82 pts
11 GBR 4020 Graham Scroggie, Ben Scroggie 9 18 10 12 9 11 5 26 14 114 88 pts
12 ESP 3279 Juan G. Manresa, Luis Valentin Fernández 13 12 18 25 14 3 13 15 9 122 97 pts
13 GBR 3914 Adrian Tattersall, Tim Smart 8 11 OCS 11 17 15 14 12 17 137 105 pts
14 GBR 4029 Stephen Hopson, Nigel King 15 9 13 18 16 9 16 10 18 124 106 pts
15 ESP 3804 David Michael, Clough Alan Green 17 19 14 6 12 13 17 17 12 127 108 pts
16 ESP 3592 Vicent Harris, Patrick Harris 18 16 12 20 20 21 12 11 6 136 115 pts
17 ESP 3728 David James Barber, Hannah Elizabeth Barber 14 17 19 22 10 20 11 16 29 158 129 pts
18 ESP 3577 John Lawrence Walker, Stephen Babbage 22 14 20 17 24 12 22 14 19 164 140 pts
19 IRL 3938 Niall Meagher, Nicki Matthews 11 21 17 21 28 23 15 20 13 169 141 pts
20 IRL 3757 Tom Galvin, Ben Mulligan 20 10 OCS 14 11 24 23 21 28 183 151 pts
21 ESP 3724 Staphen John Hart, Steven Phillips 27 20 22 16 18 18 30 23 16 190 160 pts
22 IRL 4028 Dave Mulvin, Valerie Mulvin 28 30 27 26 26 5 28 13 15 198 168 pts
23 IRL 3897 Ken Dumpleton, John Mcneilly 21 23 16 23 19 22 24 DNF 25 205 173 pts
24 GBR 3610 David Miles, Philip Marcus Parry 30 26 25 10 25 16 26 22 24 204 174 pts
25 IRL 3893 Peter Lawson, Jo 19 22 15 27 22 DNF 18 DNF 23 210 178 pts
26 IRL 3774 Tom Murphy, Hugh Cahill 23 28 21 30 21 28 19 24 26 220 190 pts
27 ESP 3763 Scott Walker, Andrew Harvey 26 25 24 24 27 25 20 27 20 218 191 pts
28 ESP 3589 Emiliano Llinás, Rafael Jaime Matas 25 27 28 28 30 27 27 19 22 233 203 pts
29 ESP 3600 Michael Beecken, Stephen Parry 24 31 26 29 23 19 29 28 30 239 208 pts
30 IRL 3665 Ryan Ryan, John Macaree DNC 24 29 DNF 29 26 25 25 27 249 217 pts
31 ESP 3388 Francisco Palmer, Jaume Pujadas 29 29 23 19 DNF DNC DNC DNC DNC 260 228 pts

Published in Flying Fifteen

#flyingfifteen – A fleet of seven Dublin Bay Flying Fifteen keelboats on a load measuring over 50–foot long and 12–foot high are on their way to the European Championships in Mallorca, Spain. The extra long load is the result of an innovative class plan to cut travel costs on the 2300–km journey by shipping the entire fleet by car transporter. The road trip is expected to take 30–hours or more.

The National YC sailors fly out this weekend for the regatta that starts next Monday at Reial Club Nautic de Pollensa in the north of the Balearic island. An international fleet of 40 is expected to contest the biennial event.

Published in Flying Fifteen
Tagged under

#flyingfifteen – Strangford locals Andy McCleery and Colin Dougan won the 2014 Flying Fifteen Irish title at Portaferry Sailing club today by a single point but it was not until the final race of the six race series did the Killyleagh duo clinch the keelboat cup. Overall results are downloadable below as a jpeg file.

Dublin Bay's David Gorman and Chris Doorly made the best of Strangford's fickle north–westerlies on Saturday with some consistent sailing to be overnight leaders after four races.

Local skippers Peter Lawson and Brian McKee also proved consistent in races that featured forty degree windshifts or more and were in Sunday's shake–up for the top spot in one of Ireland's leading one design classes.

As it turned out, McCleery and Dougan took two final race wins on Sunday, enough it turned out to take the title North from Dun Laoghaire holders Ian Mathews and Keith Poole who finished 19th.

Going into Race 6, it was to be winner takes all between Dun Laoghaire pairing Dave Gorman & Chris Doorly (NYC) and local Killyleagh boys Andrew McCleery & Colin Dougan (KYC). After a long weekend of sailing in a variety of conditions tensions were high in the prestart, after a bit of cat and mouse the gun went with both boats close to the pin end but McCleery was to weather- general recal! All to do again now with a black flag up. The wind had shifted slightly to the right and Gorman had a good start at the committee boat end, this also gave him the option of taking off in the shifts, McCleery was down the line below him. McCleery came across to the right and did a few tacks up the middle but was covered by Gorman. Other boats went out to the left and to the right but it was the middle that actually paid with local Portaferry man Seamus Byers leading at the weather mark with Gorman second, Logan third and McCleery fourth. Gorman got held up at the gybe mark and eventually got over Byers to move into the lead as McCleery moved into second place on the reach, it was now the top two fighting it out at the front!

On the next beat both went to the right out of the strong tide, tack for tack Gorman covered and stayed ahead going down the run. Into the last beat, still the cover was on but it was close as Gorman was only a few boat lengths to weather but it was enough for now. Within 100 meters of the weather mark both tacked out to the apparently stronger wind, the wind pressure was very up and down on this beat, there were local gusts and patchy light areas. Suddenly there was a big knock and McCleery tacked to be above Gorman, opportunity taken! Rounding the weather mark it was McCleerys red and white spinnaker first with Gorman just a boat length behind, around the gybe mark Gorman was to weather, there was still a chance if he could get inside at the leeward mark but alas it wasn't to be, McCleery crossed the line to take the gun and the trophy in dramatic circumstances. It was their first time winning this trophy after many years getting very close and they were deserving winners. Previous winners Gorman & Doorly live to fight another day.

Further back the Lawsons were having a similar dual with McKee and it was the Lawsons who came third in race 6 and third in the regatta. David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne (NYC) also had a great event and won the Silver fleet.

Race 1 was sailed on Friday with 29 boats at the start line, a windward leeward course was a strange affair, with the winds from the NW, the tide was going in and out at the same time depending where you were! Shortly after the start the winds died, those on the right with the tide with them seemed to be cleaning up, what to do? Some cut their loses and tried to get over but to no avail and were spat out the back door, others on the left just stayed and hoped something would come. To make matters worse it was very difficult to actually see the weather mark. The breeze came along the shore after a long wait, Gorman was in a good position with the Meagher but local boys Logan and Lawson got closest to the shore and got the wind and to the weather mark first. It stayed Logan first, Lawson second, Gorman third, McCleery fourth and the Meaghers fifth.

Race 2 on Saturday also had winds from the NW. Gorman got a good start and tacked out to the strong tide, taking some good shifts he built up a good lead from McCleery and Lawson. This is how it stayed till the last beat, dark menacing clouds were looming and the sea was getting rough. Most boats were out on the right but McKee and Lavery went left towards the Killyleagh shore. Gorman arrived at the weather mark after increasing his lead over McCleery, to strong winds and heavy rain. On the reach the visibility was poor and the mark couldn't be seen, the spinnaker was up and it was a full plane down, finding the gybe mark it was a reach to the finish to take the gun. McKee was second with Lavery third and McCleery fourth. It was a long way back to the others as the localised stormed had passed through and they drifted slowly to the finish line.

Race 3 was close, Gorman and McCleery were at the weather mark but McCleery jybed just before the wing mark to get inside and lead, there was no hurry for Gorman as there were still two laps to go. At the leeward mark the winds were light and to the surprise of all the course was shortened so it finished with McCleery first, Gorman a close second, the Meaghers a fantastic third and brother and sister act Peter and Jo Lawson fourth.

Race 4 the winds had settled or so we thought. After a great start Shane McCarthy got his nose in front and stayed there, up the first beat McCleery was second but Gorman had gone left and suffered coming into the weather mark in about tenth position. Down the run not a lot change but on the next beat many boats went left, strange as it didn't pay on the first beat. Shane covered them all but Lawson and Gorman went right and after a while the wind shifted to lift them up to the mark ahead of all those on the left! Shane won, followed by McKee. Lawson, Gorman and the Meaghers.
So overnight it was Gorman leading from McCleery and Lawson on equal points with the Meaghers and McKee tied in fourth place. A great meal was put on by the club that night and tales of an interesting day on the Lough were exchanged into the early hours.

What would Sunday bring, nothing in Strangford Lough is straight forward and anything could happen. The forecast was for little or no wind and that was the case for the morning but it was to fill in from the SE later. After arriving at the race area assisted only by the tide the wind did come in and the PRO soon got Race 5 going with a windward/ leeward course. McCleery hit the left side and got into a quick lead followed by Shane McCarthy and then Gorman. The wind was steady but there were small shifts, on lap two Gorman went out left and into the tide, quickly they went back but McKee and Willis had slipped through. This was how it stayed. McCleery and Gorman were both on 10 points going into the last race.

There is always a great welcome at Portaferry Sailing Club, many thanks to the members and volenteers for making a success of the event. Also thanks to the PRO and his team on managing the event in difficult conditions and getting a full programme of races in. Congratulation to Andrew and Colin on winning.

Published in Flying Fifteen

#flyingfifteen – The Flying Fifteen Championships of Ireland take place in Portaferry Sailing Club on Strangford Lough tomorrow. Up to 30 boats are expected with boats travelling from four sailing centres across Ireland; Antrim, Carlingford, Dun Laoghaire and Dunmore East.

Reigning National champions Ian Mathews & Keith Poole of Dun Laoghaire will be one of the favourites. Local knowledge is expected to play a deciding role. Class President Roger Chamberlain from the lough is in great form and won the recent Northern Championships. Brian McKee and the David McClery and Colin Dougan combination are as consistent as ever as are Peter Lawson and Shane Carty from the local Portaferry Sailing Club.

Also from Dun Laoghaire previous winners David Gorman and Chris Doorly, National YC (NYC) and John Lavery and David O'Brien (NYC) will also be competing. 

The Northern Ireland venue featured last week in WM Nixon's Sailing blog: Strangford Lough Sailing Secrets Revealed.

Published in Flying Fifteen

#strangfordlough – Strangford Lough is one of Ireland's most important sailing locations, yet it is surprising how few sailors from other areas have savoured its unique attractions. W M Nixon tries to explain why this is so, and delves into the racing enjoyed this week by two very different classes of boats on an alluring and secret water.

Strangford Lough is a very private and hidden sort of place, whether by sea or land. Prehistoric voyagers through the Irish Sea will only have guessed and wondered at the possible existence nearby of this huge salt water lake if they happened to be near the approaches to the narrow entrance during the six hours in twelve when the ebb flows, pouring out of the lough with such vigour that the turbulence can push two or three miles out to sea. And on land, even with today's road system much of Strangford Lough remains hidden from sight.

For sure, you can have fine clear views if you happen to be driving along the road on the lough's eastern shore between Newtownwards and Kircubbin, seeing clear across the water to the lough's islands and rolling coastal hills, and beyond towards the purple peaks of the Mountains of Mourne.

But those vistas only flatter to deceive. The most intricate interaction between sea and land is largely unseen. This is along the lough's western shore, where the drumlin country which defines much of County Down becomes a remarkable pattern of sea and islands. Very occasional glimpses of the sea – inevitably with some boats moored on it in a sheltered and private looking spot – is all that the curious sightseer on land will get for his trouble.

This continually surprising if occasionally frustrating inlet is 15 nautical miles long by six miles wide. The Narrows, which feed it twice daily with a huge surge of tide from the Irish Sea, are 8 miles in length, but less than half a mile wide at their most constricted section at Bankmore Point, where the streams can run at better than eight knots and the neighbourhood whirlpool, forming just when you're thinking it doesn't really exist, is called the Routen Wheel.

While the similarly swift tides which flow through the entrance of the Morbihan in southern Brittany can become something of a small boat playground in summer, Strangford Narrows has a more serious image as the overfalls on the ebb to seaward are a much more challenging proposition. Nevertheless it's fun to sail much of it on the fair tide, and in going into the lough with the tide under you, even in ancient craft you find you're beating at better than ten knots over the ground, the VMG is jet propelled, and soon you're swooshed into a miniature cruising paradise with a myriad of islands – 365 of course - and a wide range of overnight options.

strangfordlough2_1.jpg
The secret place – despite its substantial size, Strangford Lough remains a mystery to a surprisingly large number of sailors. Courtesy Irish Cruising Club

strangfordlough3_1.jpg
Strangford Lough's western shore provides tantalising glimpses of sea and islands, usually with boats moored in a snug spot. Photo: W M Nixon

But even when you arrive at the lough by this much-preferred option of being on a boat, there's still that slight sense of intruding on a private place. While Portaferry on the east side of the narrows may present a traditional welcoming façade, and Strangford village to the west is its own charming little self, of the other towns on the lough only Kircubbin halfway up the eastern shore has anything vaguely resembling a waterfront. The lough's biggest township, Killyleagh on the west shore, may have a modern recently-developed waterfront. But that's a private enterprise thing, the town's main street is at some remove from the shore, while other urban centres in the Strangford Lough area such as Downpatrick, Killinchy, Comber, Newtownards and Greyabbey may be near the sea, but they're not of it.

strangfordlough4_1.jpg
The lough's premier club is the Strangford Lough YC at Whiterock, where this "new" building has been serving members' needs for a dozen years now. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough5_1.jpg
The view from within. Though the SLYC building may present a utilitarian appearance, its main room is successfully multi-purpose as lounge, dining room and bar, and the view from it is of a comfortable anchorage ready for sailing. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet the lough is home to hundreds of boats, serviced both by private facilities and something like eleven different boat, yacht and sailing clubs. But most of them are along that complex western shore where, in choice locations, the big landowners who had made their money in Belfast's boom days from 1850 to 1912 were so keen to preserve their privacy that they made sure there were no road signs on the few narrow public roads approaching their substantial houses near the shore.

Some years ago, there was an official attempt to liberalise this with a sprinkling of signs, but a visit this week showed that many of them had somehow disappeared, or become invisible under the verdant growth which is fundamental to this heart of the County Down. So more than a smidgin of local knowledge is needed if you wish to access the sailing in this maritime wonderland. But if you can do so, the sport is wonderful if racing around islands and in wayward yet manageable currents is your thing, while there's enough open space in mid-lough to provide a clear venue for major open events, even if it can involved a bit of a sea trek from the shore base at some hidden club.

strangfordlough6_1.jpg
Flying Fifteen in action at Whiterock off Strangford Lough YC, which has produced F/F Champions to world level.

The active sailing scene in Strangford Lough has produced champions to world level over the years, most notably in the Flying Fifteen class where Strangford Lough sailing surnames such as Carson, Brown, Andrews and McCann have been inscribed on the top trophies down the decades. Thus there's a sense of history in the making with this year's Irish F/F Championship being staged in six days time from August 22nd to 24th by Portaferry Sailing Club at the southeast corner of the lough, where it will be interesting to see how far north they have to go in order to get clear of the fierce tides which flow close past the club's headquarters near Portaferry Marina beside The Narrows.

Meanwhile, this week we'd the chance on Strangford Lough to suss out the racing in two classes which may seem very different, yet each emerged from a clearcut initial requirement which now seems very remote.

The River Class boats at the lough's premier club, Strangford Lough YC at Whiterock on the west shore near Killinchy, really are the area's best kept secret. This is quite an achievement in an ultra-private place like Strangford Lough. Everyone involved with the Rivers knows so much about them that they assume the rest of the world does too. But surprisingly few outsiders know that in the inner reaches of Strangford Lough, they race a class of handsome Alfred Mylne-designed 29ft one design sloops which yield to no-one for classic good looks.

strangfordlough7_1.jpg
The Mylne-designed 29ft River Class combine classic good looks with real sailing power. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough8_1.jpg
As usual, River Class champion Kenny Smyth has to look astern to see how the opposition is doing. Photo: W M Nixon

Their origins date back to 1919, when some northern sailing people started exchanging ideas about the need for an easily-handled simple sloop "which could be sailed by a man and his daughters". At first glance, this seems like a welcome and liberal requirement, fuelled by the emergence of the suffragette movement seeking votes and rights for women. But in fact, it's the bleakest design spec you ever read. The Great War of 1914-18 had resulted in the deaths of so many young men from the north of Ireland, with scores of them boat enthusiasts who had been active sailors before its outbreak, that the only way the sport could resume in any meaningful way was by moving on from the labour-intensive gaff rigs, jackyard topsails and multiple headsails of the pre war days, on into a simple rig which faced the harsh new reality.

strangfordlough9_1.jpg
The essence of Strangford Lough – a River Class sloop sailing well, and the timeless view beyond across County Down to the Mountains of Mourne. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough10_1.jpg
If dodging tides by going close inshore is your thing while using every little twist to the wind, then racing Rivers on Strangford Lough is just for you. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough11_1.jpg
In harmony with her surroundings, a River Class sloop makes her elegant way afloat. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough12_1.jpg
When there's a bit of bite to the breeze, it's impressive how much power the conservatively-canvassed River Class sloops can develop. Photo: W M Nixon

But though the rig may have spoken volumes – it's believed to be the first Bermudan-rigged one design – there was no way that the great Alfred Mylne, the man who reputedly drew the lines of Britannia in 1892-93 as a trainee naval architect in G L Watson's Glasgow office, was going to design anything other than a good-looking boat. Admittedy, with her cockpit well aft, there can be times when a River seems to sit on her stern if her crew are more interested in comfort than boat trim. But when she's sailing on her designed lines, she's a joy to behold, and with her heavy but harmonious hull, she can carry her way in impressive style, making tacking a nicely judged and elegant manoeuvre if it's done right.

In all, a dozen Rivers have been built, most of them before 1923, while the class started racing in 1921. At first, they shifted their racing venues between Belfast Lough and Strangford Lough, as the owners were mostly members of Royal Ulster YC at Bangor. But from time to time they liked to moor their boats off their shoreside big houses on Strangford Lough, usually with their estate gardeners being roped in for additional duties as boat delivery crews sailing between the two loughs along the often rough North Channel coast of the Ards Peninsula. The very thought of it might easily turn anyone into a firebrand revolutionary.

strangfordlough13_1.jpg
The River was designed by Alfred Mylne in 1920, and shows some family resemblance to the Mylne-designed Dublin Bay 21s (1902) and Dublin Bay 24s (1937), while still being very much an individual in her own right. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough14_1.jpg
Thanks to an adequately-sized rudder of only moderate rake, it is possible to race the Rivers at close quarters with confidence. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough15_1.jpg
As the Rivers don't set genoas, the correct trim of the little jib is absolutely key to racing success. The class has strict rules about replacing sails only as a group in order to maintain one design performance. Photo: W M Nixon

Be that as it may, gradually the focus moved completely to Strangford Lough, and for a while the class had such a preponderance of aristocratic owners that you could be forgiven for thinking it was P G Wodehouse's take on yachting. Typical were Lord and Lady Londonderry (they pronounced its London-dree), with their seat at Mount Stewart on the lough's eastern shore.

They argued so much aboard their River that they had to get another one so that Lady Edith could race against her husband. In the late 1930s, when she began to favour a policy of Appeasement with the resurgent Germany and flirted with Hitler's Nazis, she invited the Nazi big cheese von Ribbentrop to stay at Mount Stewart and sail with her in a race off the house aboard her River, which was duly T-boned during the event by her husband in his boat.

That was about the height of international excitement and celebrity for the Rivers. By the end of the 1930s, the class had become based at Whiterock with the new Strangford Lough Yacht Club, and the only time they subsequently emerged blinking into the outside world was in 1951 when they sailed as a group to race in the Festival of Britain Regatta Week on Belfast Lough, where the supreme champion by a mile in the River racing was the young Barry Bramwell sailing his family's boat Roe. His subsequent stellar sailing career included winning many dinghy championships, and he skippered a boat for Ireland in the Admiral's Cup.

strangfordlough16_1.jpg
Although the River Class have not sailed outside Strangford Lough since 1951, their close competition at home has produced some notable performers in other boat types. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough17_1.jpg
Rivers on the run, and looking very handsome with it. The class has decided that having a kicking strap would not be in the spirit of the design, so having a crewman seated on the boom on a dead run is standard practice. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough18_1.jpg
With the crew up forward under the deck, and only the helmsman aft in the cockpit, Brian Law's Uladh (10) is perfectly trimmed for best performance to windward. Photo: W M Nixon

The Rivers meanwhile returned home after the Festival Regatta Week, and since 1951 the nearest they've ever got to the open sea is the annual visit to the time-honoured Narrows Regatta between Portaferry and Strangford for a few days in July. Otherwise, they might sometimes be seen at local regattas at the Quoile, Killyleagh and Kircubbin. But for the most part, they stay in stately seclusion at Whiterock and enjoy a compact annual racing programme. This may seem to be only relatively few races to those from other hyper-keen local one design classes. But after 93 years, the Rivers have become such an integral part of the fabric of sailing at Whiterock, and such a central part of community and family life for those involved, that you don't need a huge number of races for each season to be a success, what's needed is the savouring of the moments afloat on a summer's evening, and then an analysis of each race in loving detail in the friendly clubhouse afterwards.

With the GP 14 Worlds coming up on Strangford Lough this past week, there was an ideal opportunity to contrast two forms of sailing there. I'd already tried to get some River Class photos on an evening earlier in the season by signing up to sail as fifth hand aboard Brian Law's Uladh (the von Ribbentrop boat). But when we all assembled, it emerged - in typically Strangford Lough style - that the helmsman was delayed by the need to get his wife and daughter's vintage horsebox through its MOT test, so I was stuck on the Tiller That Von Ribbentrop Held.

Despite that, the boat was a joy to sail in a light summery shirt sleeves breeze, but it resulted in damn all worthwhile photos on the disk. So this week, Brian and another River owner Kenny Smyth, Vice Commodore SLYC, arranged for Chris Boston, whose hobby is being a sort of Honorary Boatman at Whiterock, to take me out to buzz around the racing fleet on an August evening with a decent though fading northwest breeze, and Chris did a super job.

My camera is just a clever little Lumix, which is a Leica lens with a sort of digital Box Brownie stuck on the back. So please excuse the fuzzy telephoto shots, but the photos speak for themselves – the Rivers are good looking classic boats which provide great sport. These days, the Smyth brothers Kenny and Graham are setting the pace, which suggests sailing enthusiasm of a high order. Their day job is running the characterful little boatyard immediately south of Whiterock, an establishment created by their legendary father Billy who introduced his family to cruising through extensive ventures in the former Manx fishing boat Aigh Vie (see this blog on 29th March 2014). Whatever way Billy Smyth did it, he imbued his sons with such enthusiasm that they can spend their working day being busy fixing somebody else's boat, then go out and sail their own boats with equal dedication in the weekly evening race. And they're more than generous with helpful tips to their opponents on tactics and tuning.
strangfordlough19_1.jpg

When they talk of "twilight racing" in the River Class, they really mean it......Photo: W M Nixon

Having spent an entertaing and very complete evening with the classics that were designed so that they could be sailed by a man and his daughters, next morning found me contemplating a hundred dinghies to a 14ft design which was originally envisaged as a useful and versatile little boat to provide "affordable fun afloat for Pa, Ma and the kids".

Like the River, the GP 14 emerged in a post war situation, but in 1949 the mood after World War II (1939-45) was much more egalitarian than it had been in 1919. The General Purpose 14 was the brainchild of Teddy Haylock, the Editor of Yachting World magazine in London, and it was one of the first in a series which became the YW Build Her Yourself boats, mostly designed by Jack Holt with DIY plywood kits supplied by Bell Woodworking Co.

Haylock still carried his wartime title of Group Captain E F Haylock after a "good war" with the RAF, but he had a very clearcut view of how things should go in peacetime. If his projects sometimes seemed to be delivered in a slightly patronising tone, there's no doubt his heart was in the right place, even if some of his posher advertisers weren't at all pleased by his glossy magazine devoting so much energy to people who hoped to self-assemble their own boats rather than buy a complete and expensive one from an established yacht builder.

To say that the GP 14 succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams is under-stating the case. Though the 14,000-plus boats built worldwide have been used for general purposes, they're primarily racing boats these days, and it was this which brought a hundred of them to the well hidden East Down YC in behind Island Taggart on Strangford Lough's west shore just north of Killyleagh.

Back in 1970, most folk thought that just about every possible sailing club site on the shores of Strangford Lough had been earmarked and developed. But the founders of EDYC discovered this place, which was accessible by land only along a narrow unpaved track going so close to the edge of a farmyard that it almost goes through it. In those days before 4X4s were ubiquitous, you really did need a Landrover to get to the new waterfront location with any certainty. But over the years the club has expanded its clubhouse and its facilities ashore with an extensive dinghy park, while the keelboat fleet linked to the club includes former Commodore Jay Colville's First 40 which took part in this year's ICRA Nats in Dun Laoghaire.

strangfordlough20_1.jpg
East Down YC, venue for the GP 14 Worlds 2014. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough21_1.jpg
Somehow or other, the founders of EDYC in 1970 managed to shoehorn their substantial clubhouse with its large dinghy park into a previously unused waterfront setting accessed via this narrow lane. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough22_1.jpg
All that GP 14 sailors require is somewhere to pitch their tent........Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough23_1.jpg
...or park their 'van. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough24_1.jpg
Graham Wright of EDYC gallantly took on the challenge of chairing the Organising Committee for the GP 14 Worlds 2014 with just two years to go to the off. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough25_1.jpg
The kind of headlines that any organisers dread. Yet EDYC were quite rightly so confident about their proper handling of the weather problems that they subsequently displayed this newspaper spread in the main marque. Photo: W M Nixon

Taking on a Worlds is a formidable challenge for any club, and when it's the Worlds of a dinghy class which is as important in Ireland as the GP 14, the pressure is greater still. It was as recently as 2012 that East Down was approached by the Irish GP 14 Association as they realised other avenues were being closed off in their search for a willing club for their allocated staging of the Worlds in 2014, and the club deserves an award for courage in taking it on, setting up an Organising Committee under Graham Wright and getting the show on the road.

I'd a telling instance of just why the GP 14 is so relevant recently while heading through Youghal, where three dinghy masts were visible above a harbourside wall. On the other side of the wall was one of those little mud-filled docks which are such a feature of Youghal's waterfront, and sitting serenely on the mud were three GP 14s.

What else could they have been? As I was to discover at EDYC, the GP 14 is central to building up the sailing club at Youghal, and at many other clubs all round the country too. While some members may try more glamorous boats from time to time, the GP 14 ticks most boxes in terms of versatility while setting a spinnaker, having an effective class structure, and providing racing at all levels.

My own links to the class go back to the 1960s when the sailing club at Queens University in Belfast suddenly found itself supplied with funds for a new boat or two provided the boats were built within a specified time. Although club captain, I was already a dedicated keelboat man except for the annual foray into Fireflies racing against other colleges in Dun Laoghaire and England & Wales. In other words, I knew nothing. However, our Honorary Secretary Mike Balmforth was a very switched on guy who had built his own Enterprise with his father. But as QUB already had a couple of old GP 14s, he soon decided that we could get the boats built on time – and they'd be GP 14s as required - by a relative newcomer to boatbuilding called Gerry Duffin, a former housebuilder and carpenter who had his workshop in East Belfast and was starting to fulfil his dream of building boats.

strangfordlough26_1.jpg
The sign of success – the home firm builds the best GP 14s in the world. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough27_1.jpg
The "Duffin dip" in the transom of the newest boat for the Lough Foyle fleet. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough28_1.jpg
"If you want to be sure it's done properly, then you have to do it yourself" Top contender Ian Dobson putting in some work on the hull finish. Photo: W M Nixon

One rainy day we went across town in Mike's rickety Austin 7 (its wooden frame was supported by Spanish windlasses utilising electric cable instead of rope), and there in the shed was the first of the new boats. It was a very old shed, and there were several leaks which prompted Gerry to quip that he really should get the builders in. But to our young eyes, there was nothing to see but this lovely new GP 14, an early product of a line which continues to the present day, for at East Down YC this week all the main contenders, and indeed the majority of the fleet, were Duffin built, with Duffin Marine for many years now being run by Gerry's son Alistair.

Like the Smyth brothers up at Whiterock, his enthusiasm is almost certifiable, as he not only builds the best GP 14s for everyone else, but he also races keenly with the class. And though the rules are strict, he is always trying to find ways of innovating his products, which are more like collector's furniture than boats.

In recent years, he has tried to persuade the class to let him take out most of the transom in modern style, but when an open transom was declared verboten, instead he introduced the "Duffin dip" in the afterdeck. When asked why, his answer was that he just keeps trying to reduce weight. Whatever, people certainly love his boats. I was at East Down briefly in late afternoon on the layday on Wednesday, and though there were few folk around, down at the end of the dinghy park was top contender Ian Southworth beavering away at his beloved Duffin boat.

The mood was distinctly relaxed with the club and the class well recovered from he unexpected wall-to-wall attention they'd received on the Monday. A couple of nasty squalls – yet another by-product of the slow progress of former Hurricane Bertha across northwest Europe – had resulted in between ten and twenty boats having some difficulty in coping with being capsized. But the Championship safety team were handling it competently when it was declared an Emergency Situation by some Powers That Be. Almost immediately those narrow roads and single track approaches to the club were jammed with ambulances and a fire brigade as helicopters gyrated overhead.

While some newspapers sought only to have shock headlines, it has to be said that when the scale of the over-response became evident, it was heartening to see how the better strands of the media responded to it all with an intelligent and friendly interest in what was going on. They were fascinated by how an event which was classed as a World Championship was being staged, and staged so effectively too, at the end of a tree-lined single-track lane in remotely rural County Down. In the end, the clear egalitarian nature of GP 14 racing and the calmness of the people involved reflected very well on the image of our sport. And as for the multiple rescue and emergency services, they had all the benefits of a "for real" exercise which might prove to be very useful in the unlikely event of a passenger jetliner ever coming down among the islands of Strangford Lough.

The atmosphere may have been serene in the late afternoon of the layday, but next morning with three races scheduled in a brisk nor'wester, the club compound was hectic enough for anyone. And the layday did the trick – as one of the International Jury remarked, it is very unusual at any Worlds to see the entire fleet put to sea two thirds of the way into the event, but they poured down the slip and away out round the island, and at the end of it there wasn't a boat left ashore.

But by that time I'd had every opportunity to observe the spirit of the GP 14s, and it is formidable. Ireland has a great record in the class, with Bill Whisker of Ballyholme becoming a World Champion, while others like Paul Rowan of East Antrim and Pat Murphy of Clontarf were in the international frame for years.

Yet these days the class is as keen as ever in encouraging new blood and establishing a firm foothold at new clubs. That glimpse of a nascent GP 14 class at Youghal well illustrated the point, and it was Norman Lee who told the story. I'd spotted the famous vintage camper van which is the campaign base for GP 14 legend Norman Lee of Greystones, who is crewed by his brother Ken and supported by Norman's wife Una and their two collie dogs - dogs on campaign are very much a GP 14 thing.

strangfordlough29_1.jpg
The Lee team from Greystones with their vintage campervan are Ken (left), Norman (right) and Una. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough30_1.jpg
If you're going to have a GP 14.........Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough31_1.jpg

....then you have to have a pooch. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough32_1.jpg
...and while most breeds are allowed, a collie variant is preferred. Photo: W M Nixon

The Lee equipage was in fine form, having taken a useful second in one of Tuesday's races, but as soon as I mentioned the presence of the Geeps at Youghal, all that was forgotten as Norman enthused about the growing club there, and what he and the class are doing to get Youghal's GP fan Adrian Lee (no relation) and his group further down the road.

strangfordlough33_1.jpg
Getting a hunded boats away is a formidable challenge..... Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough34_1.jpg
....and the last thing you need is somebody deciding last minute adjustments are essential.......Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough35_1.jpg
....when they're still joining the queue at the top of slip. Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough36_1.jpg
"Don't these guys holding us up realise that they're delaying a whole line of renowned international athletes.....?" Photo: W M Nixon

strangfordlough37.jpg
Suddenly, they're gone – every last one of them. This is one very keen class. Photo: W M Nixon

Or more accurately, further up the river. Norman and other GP 14 sailors are fascinated by the possibilities of the mighty Blackwater River which reaches the sea at Youghal. Already, they have had a trial distance sail from the estuary right up to Cappoquin, and this has fired them up so much that they're going to make it a major event when they repeat it in the last weekend of August in order to give Youghal SC a proper re-launch. Their enthusiasm has so fired up others that top GP 14 racers like Ger Owens from Dun Laoghaire have said they'll go, as have crews from the growing fleets on Lough Foyle, which is wellnigh as far as it's possible to be from Youghal without leaving Ireland.

It may all seem a bit far-fetched. But believe me, when you're in a large dinghy park at the end of a small farm track in the depths of County Down, and when the event photographer has just gone aloft in a small aircraft because that's the best way to get snaps of a major dinghy event out in the middle of Strangford Lough, then long distance dinghy sailing events from Youghal to Cappoquin seem eminently feasible.

Published in W M Nixon
Page 20 of 28

The home club of Laser Radial Olympic Silver medalist Annalise Murphy, the National Yacht Club is a lot more besides. It is also the spiritual home of the offshore sailing body ISORA, the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race and the biggest Flying Fifteen fleet in Ireland. Founded on a loyal membership, the National Yacht Club at the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay enjoys a family ethos and a strong fellowship in a relaxed atmosphere of support and friendship through sailing.

Bathing in the gentle waterfront ambience of Dun Laoghaire on the edge of South County Dublin, the National Yacht Club has graced the waters of the Irish Sea and far beyond for more than a century and in 2020 celebrates its sesquicentennial.  

The club is particularly active in dinghy and keelboat one-design racing and has hosted three World Championships in recent years including the Flying Fifteen Worlds in 2003, 2019 and the SB3 Worlds in 2008. The ISAF Youth Worlds was co-hosted with our neighbouring club the Royal St. George Yacht Club in 2012...

National Yacht Club Facilities

Facilities include a slipway directly accessing Dun Laoghaire Harbour, over eighty club moorings, platform parking, pontoons, fuelling, watering and crane-lifting ensure that the NYC is excellently equipped to cater for all the needs of the contemporary sailor. Berths with diesel, water, power and overnight facilities are available to cruising yachtsmen with shopping facilities being a short walk away. The club is active throughout the year with full dining and bar facilities and winter activities include bridge, snooker, quiz nights, wine tasting and special events.

National Yacht Club History

Although there are references to an active “club” prior to 1870, history records that the present clubhouse was erected in 1870 at a cost of £4,000 to a design by William Sterling and the Kingstown Royal Harbour Boat Club was registered with Lloyds in the same year. By 1872 the name had been changed to the Kingston Harbour Boat Club and this change was registered at Lloyds.

In 1881. the premises were purchased by a Captain Peacocke and others who formed a proprietary club called the Kingstown Harbour Yacht Club again registered at Lloyds. Some six years later in 1877 the building again changed hands being bought by a Mr Charles Barrington. and between 1877 and 1901 the club was very active and operated for a while as the “Absolute Club” although this change of name was never registered.

In 1901, the lease was purchased by three trustees who registered it as the Edward Yacht Club. In 1930 at a time when the Edward Yacht Club was relatively inactive, a committee including The Earl of Granard approached the trustees with a proposition to form the National Yacht Club. The Earl of Granard had been Commodore of the North Shannon Y.C. and was a senator in the W.T.Cosgrave government. An agreement was reached, the National Yacht Club was registered at Lloyds. The club burgee was created, red cross of Saint George with blue and white quarters being sky cloud, sea and surf. The Earl of Granard became the first Commodore.

In July of 1950, a warrant was issued to the National Yacht Club by the Government under the Merchant Shipping Act authorising members to hoist a club ensign in lieu of the National Flag. The new ensign to include a representation of the harp. This privilege is unique and specific to members of the National Yacht Club. Sterling’s design for the exterior of the club was a hybrid French Chateau and eighteenth century Garden Pavilion and today as a Class A restricted building it continues to provide elegant dining and bar facilities.

An early drawing of the building shows viewing balconies on the roof and the waterfront façade. Subsequent additions of platforms and a new slip to the seaward side and most recently the construction of new changing rooms, offices and boathouse provide state of the art facilities, capable of coping with major international and world championship events. The club provides a wide range of sailing facilities, from Junior training to family cruising, dinghy sailing to offshore racing and caters for most major classes of dinghies, one design keelboats, sports boats and cruiser racers. It provides training facilities within the ISA Youth Sailing Scheme and National Power Boat Schemes.

Past Commodores

1931 – 42 Earl of Granard 1942 – 45 T.J. Hamilton 1945 – 47 P.M. Purcell 1947 – 50 J.J. O’Leary 1950 – 55 A.A. Murphy 1955 – 60 J.J. O’Leary 1960 – 64 F. Lemass 1964 – 69 J.C. McConnell 1969 – 72 P.J. Johnston 1972 – 74 L. Boyd 1974 – 76 F.C. Winkelmann 1976 – 79 P.A. Browne 1979 – 83 W.A. Maguire 1983 – 87 F.J. Cooney 1987 – 88 J.J. Byrne 1988 – 91 M.F. Muldoon 1991 – 94 B.D. Barry 1994 – 97 M.P.B. Horgan 1997 – 00 B. MacNeaney 2000 – 02 I.E. Kiernan 2002 – 05 C.N.I. Moore 2005 – 08 C.J. Murphy 2008 – 11 P.D. Ryan 2011 – P. Barrington 2011-2014 Larry Power 2014-2017 Ronan Beirne 2017 – 2019

Who is Your Sailor of the Year 2020?
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 Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton dob
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

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

Please show your support for Afloat by donating