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David Laurence "Larry" Martin 1933-2021

9th April 2021
The late Larry Martin in his youthful Trans-European motor-cycling days
The late Larry Martin in his youthful Trans-European motor-cycling days Credit: Photo courtesy Martin family

We have lost an incredible friend with the passing of Larry Martin. I first met him through sailing many moons ago, and was immediately struck by what an obvious and true gentleman he was. He had endless and extraordinary stand-apart qualities; his lifetime achievements were many, but few were ever spoken about by the humble person that he was.

An always-on character, he never repeated himself, and retained his title throughout his life of 87 years as the master of the one-liner - his 'blink and you'll miss it' dead-pan witticisms were one-offs, and brought echoes of laughter wherever he went.

Cruising onboard with Larry was always highly entertaining; even in the worst weather conditions, he always remained poised and ready for a laugh. It was during these sailing expeditions in Turkey, Greece and Croatia that I first appreciated the singular organiser/researcher dynamic between himself and his wonderful wife Ann B.

Their seamless, spirited and often self-deprecating interactions always brought a unique hilariousness to these ventures, making them truly unforgettable to anyone lucky enough to be in their company. 

The Royal St George YC – Larry Martin joined in the late 1950s, and when he became Commodore in 1980 at the age of 47, he was the youngest to have filled the role   The Royal St George YC – Larry Martin joined in the late 1950s, and when he became Commodore in 1980 at the age of 47, he was the youngest to have filled the role  

He was contagious. Larry loved people. For those less fortunate than himself, he was generous to a fault. His kindnesses were many, and quietly done. He never spoke about any of them. In fact, he would rarely even speak about himself, with a handful of exceptions, of course:

"As you know", he said one evening, "I was sent to boarding school in my teens, at Ampleforth. As a result, I ended up with this rather plummy accent. Over there, I was considered a Paddy, whereas over here, I'm often considered to be a blow-in. When I tell people that I was born here, they often look at me in disbelief. When I started working as a Chartered Surveyor in Dublin", he recalled with considerable amusement, "I would be wheeled out to meet the visiting dignitaries".

On these infrequent occasions of self-revelation, he might slip into priceless autobiographical detail: "When I retired from the practice, I decided that I would realise a lifelong ambition to fly, so I took lessons. I got the feeling, however, that the instructors thought that I had flown with the RAF and was trying to get my licence back. I really hope I don't look that old!"

In a distinguished professional career as a Quantity Surveyor, Larry Martin was senior partner in DL Martin & Partners, with a long list of varied contracts which included this famous temporary roof put over Westport House in Mayo to facilitate a restoration, with conservation being one of the Partnership's many specialitiesIn a distinguished professional career as a Quantity Surveyor, Larry Martin was senior partner in DL Martin & Partners, with a long list of varied contracts which included this famous temporary roof put over Westport House in Mayo to facilitate a restoration, with conservation being one of the Partnership's many specialities

Although he reached solo flying capability, a medical issue prevented him from continuing, and so he and Ann B decided to start walking in the Wicklow Hills. As usual, the walking group grew, and ultimately their walking horizons expanded to include Italy and the Tuscan Hills. It was always the company of his friends that made these walks for Larry.

In his earlier days, he developed a keen interest in motorcycling, taking part in a long list of international trials and events, including a trial in Czechoslovakia in the early 1950's, which was then behind the Iron Curtain. However, with the Suez crisis in 1956, he ran out of fuel and happily for the sailing community, he was persuaded to try wind power.

Larry Martin in 1984Larry Martin in 1984

He approached sailing with the same enthusiasm as his biking and quickly developed a passion for the sport, which continued for the remainder of his life. He joined the Royal St George YC and began sailing initially in dinghies, moving into the Dragon class and in later years, racing J/24s. Fortunately, the wonderful Ann B enjoyed the on-shore element of sailing just as much, and so 'The George' became a home away from home for the fun-loving pair.

Having started in dinghies, when Larry Martin moved into keelboats his first command was in the International Dragon Class in Dublin Bay   Having started in dinghies, when Larry Martin moved into keelboats his first command was in the International Dragon Class in Dublin Bay

As was true to his character, he became fully immersed in the club, not only with extensive racing but also with the social and administrative aspects. It was no surprise then - when he was elected Commodore of the Club in 1980 at the age of 47 - that he was at the time the youngest Commodore ever elected in the long history of the club.

Few will now remember that it was he, as Commodore, who first introduced the concept of women being eligible for full membership of the Club. He managed to start a movement that ultimately resulted in the necessary changes to the Rules some years later, when he was a Trustee.

Larry Martin's most dedicated campaigning was with the J/24s in Dublin Bay.   Larry Martin's most dedicated campaigning was with the J/24s in Dublin Bay

He was a very competitive sailor, but in later years, raced more for the fun and companionship than to win. He was very loyal to his crew, and they of course loved their Thursday evening races, while his last few years saw his involvement afloat continued with regular and much-appreciated service on the DBSC Committee Boat.

In his professional life, his growing Partnership was noted for the interest in unusual challenges to which it was prepared to bring the specialised skills which they usually deployed in more orthodox major projects, while among his peers his talents were recognised with the Fellowship of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, where he served as Chairman for several years.

For home and family life, Hollybrook Cottage was 'The house that Larry built' for his family of five children, who were quite literally the centre of his universe. As you might expect, it became - and stayed - a bustling haven of spontaneous hospitality.

Even when well into his eighties, Larry Martin continued to be much involved afloat with regular service on the DBSC Committee BoatEven when well into his eighties, Larry Martin continued to be much involved afloat with regular service on the DBSC Committee Boat.  

Like many others in these extraordinary times, we did not have the opportunity to bid Larry a proper and fitting farewell as he embarked on his last voyage. However, he selected a prayer to be read at his funeral, and I feel that the last sentence of that prayer, in particular, sums up Larry's approach to life and why he will be missed so much, and by so many:

"Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places

And talent in unexpected people,


And give me O Lord,

The grace to tell them so."

To Ann B and to his children Andrea, Caroline, Gerard, Brian and Gillian and extended family both here, in England and in Australia, we give our heartfelt sympathy for their great loss.

I will miss him.

AOB

Published in RStGYC, Dragon, J24, DBSC
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Royal St. George Yacht Club

The Royal St George Yacht Club was founded in Dun Laoghaire (then Kingstown) Harbour in 1838 by a small number of like-minded individuals who liked to go rowing and sailing together. The club gradually gathered pace and has become, with the passage of time and the unstinting efforts of its Flag Officers, committees and members, a world-class yacht club.

Today, the ‘George’, as it is known by everyone, maybe one of the world’s oldest sailing clubs, but it has a very contemporary friendly outlook that is in touch with the demands of today and offers world-class facilities for all forms of water sports

Royal St. George Yacht Club FAQs

The Royal St George Yacht Club — often abbreviated as RStGYC and affectionately known as ‘the George’ — is one of the world’s oldest sailing clubs, and one of a number that ring Dublin Bay on the East Coast of Ireland.

The Royal St George Yacht Club is based at the harbour of Dun Laoghaire, a suburban coastal town in south Co Dublin around 11km south-east of Dublin city centre and with a population of some 26,000. The Royal St George is one of the four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Clubs, along with the National Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC).

The Royal St George was founded by members of the Pembroke Rowing Club in 1838 and was originally known as Kingstown Boat Club, as Kingstown was what Dun Laoghaire was named at the time. The club obtained royal patronage in 1845 and became known as Royal Kingstown Yacht Club. After 1847 the club took on its current name.

The George is first and foremost an active yacht club with a strong commitment to and involvement with all aspects of the sport of sailing, whether racing your one design on Dublin Bay, to offshore racing in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, to junior sailing, to cruising and all that can loosely be described as “messing about in boats”.

As of November 2020, the Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club is Peter Bowring, with Richard O’Connor as Vice-Commodore. The club has two Rear-Commodores, Mark Hennessy for Sailing and Derek Ryan for Social.

As of November 2020, the Royal St George has around 1,900 members.

The Royal St George’s burgee is a red pennant with a white cross which has a crown at its centre. The club’s ensign has a blue field with the Irish tricolour in its top left corner and a crown towards the bottom right corner.

Yes, the club hosts regular weekly racing for dinghies and keelboats as well as a number of national and international sailing events each season. Major annual events include the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, hosted in conjunction with the three other Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Clubs.

Yes, the Royal St George has a vibrant junior sailing section that organises training and events throughout the year.

Sail training is a core part of what the George does, and training programmes start with the Sea Squirts aged 5 to 8, continuing through its Irish Sailing Youth Training Scheme for ages 8 to 18, with adult sail training a new feature since 2009. The George runs probably the largest and most comprehensive programme each summer with upwards of 500 children participating. This junior focus continues at competitive level, with coaching programmes run for aspiring young racers from Optimist through to Lasers, 420s and Skiffs.

 

The most popular boats raced at the club are one-design keelboats such as the Dragon, Shipman 28, Ruffian, SB20, Squib and J80; dinghy classes including the Laser, RS200 and RS400; junior classes the 420, Optimist and Laser Radial; and heritage wooden boats including the Water Wags, the oldest one-design dinghy class in the world. The club also has a large group of cruising yachts.

The Royal St George is based in a Victorian-style clubhouse that dates from 1843 and adjoins the harbour’s Watering Pier. The clubhouse was conceived as a miniature classical Palladian Villa, a feature which has been faithfully maintained despite a series of extensions, and a 1919 fire that destroyed all but four rooms. Additionally, the club has a substantial forecourt with space for more than 50 boats dry sailing, as well as its entire dinghy fleet. There is also a dry dock, four cranes (limit 12 tonnes) and a dedicated lift=out facility enabling members keep their boats in ready to race condition at all times. The George also has a floating dock for short stays and can supply fuel, power and water to visitors.

Yes, the Royal St George’s clubhouse offers a full bar and catering service for members, visitors and guests. Currently the bar is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Royal St George boathouse is open daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm during the winter. The office and reception are open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10am to 5pm. The bar is currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Lunch is served on Wednesdays and Fridays from 12.30pm to 2.30pm, with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3pm.

Yes, the Royal St George regularly hosts weddings and family celebrations from birthdays to christenings, and offers a unique and prestigious location to celebrate your day. The club also hosts corporate meetings, sailing workshops and company celebrations with a choice of rooms. From small private meetings to work parties and celebrations hosting up to 150 guests, the club can professionally and successfully manage your corporate requirements. In addition, team building events can utilise its fleet of club boats and highly trained instructors. For enquiries contact Laura Smart at [email protected] or phone 01 280 1811.

The George is delighted to welcome new members. It may look traditional — and is proud of its heritage — but behind the facade is a lively and friendly club, steeped in history but not stuck in it. It is a strongly held belief that new members bring new ideas, new skills and new contacts on both the sailing and social sides.

No — members can avail of the club’s own fleet of watercraft.

There is currently no joining fee for new members of the Royal St George. The introductory ordinary membership subscription fee is €775 annually for the first two years. A full list of membership categories and related annual subscriptions is available.

Membership subscriptions are renewed on an annual basis

Full contact details for the club and its staff can be found at the top of this page

©Afloat 2020

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