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In 1931, there was no national structure to organise sailing in Ireland, so the County Dublin 12 Foot International Dinghy Association was formed to co-ordinate sailing activities in Malahide, Howth, Sutton, Clontarf, Seapoint and Dun Laoghaire under the Presidency of P.T. Walsh, and H. McCracken as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. History tells us that that modest organisation evolved into the Irish Dinghy Racing Association in 1945, and is now known as Irish Sailing.

The first County Dublin 12 Foot International Dinghy Association championship in Dun Laoghaire was won by R.St.G. Mooney from Howth in Altair.

The following year, 1932, the championship was held in Dun Laoghaire, and in 1933 it was held in Howth.

In recent years the 12-Foot Dinghy Class have held an annual National Championship in Dun Laoghaire, but in 2022 the National Championship was relocated in Lough Ree Yacht Club, as part of Clinkerfest, so their event in Dun Laoghaire, hosted by the Royal St. George Yacht Club, on 28th August, was the 4th. County Dublin 12 Foot Championships.

Four races were held inside the harbour in light winds from the north–east.

In race one against a foul tide, Margaret Delany in Cora opted to start at the pin end and despite George Miller in Pixie pointing higher, Cora reached the first mark at the head of the fleet and maintained her lead to the leeward mark where the race was shortened to a single lap.

In race two the wind dropped to about four knots, but with the fleet staying close together the race was allowed to run over two laps. At the first leeward mark the order was: Cora, Pixie and Gail Varian and Gavin Johnson’s Dublin Bay rigged Albany in third place. Albany overhauled Pixie on the second beat to finish second.

It was time for a lunch break, so the fleet went ashore for a hearty lunch and social get- together in the Royal St. George Y.C.

In the afternoon the wind increased to about 8 knots, and the tide had turned, so the race was increased to three laps. Andrew and Francis Johnson in Scythian got the best start, but unfortunately, some Sailing School boats were towed crossed the fleet obstructing all but Pixie. At the second leeward mark the order was Cora, Scythian, Pixie and Albany. On the third beat a port and starboard incident left Pixie looking embarrassed, so she immediately retired.

The final race was also of three laps, Pixie made up for her earlier infringement, and led the fleet from the windward mark. Cora swapped places with her on the off-wind legs, but at the finish the order was Pixie, Cora, Albany Scythian.

Margaret Delany being presented with a history of the 12 foot class 'Twaalfvoetsjol 100 jaar klase 1914-2014'Margaret Delany being presented with a history of the 12 foot class 'Twaalfvoetsjol 100 jaar klase 1914-2014'

At the prizegiving, the class President Vincent Delany complimented the competitors, and observed that on the day of ‘Women at the Helm’, that it was appropriate that the leading International 12 Foot Dinghy was steered by a Margaret Delany, and the leading Dublin Bay 12 Foot Dinghy was steered by Gail Varian. He advised that we expect to have at least eight 12 Foot Dinghies for next year’s championship.

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Despite Covid restrictions, The Irish 12 Foot Dinghy Championship took place in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in both 2020 and 2021. This year the entry numbers were reduced due to one dinghy being trapped in Mayo with a broken trailer, and the painting of another dinghy not been completed in time. Despite this, the championship was hard-fought and the deserved winner was Margaret Delany's 100-year-old 'Cora', which was built by Camper and Nicholson in Gosport or Southampton for Lieut. Colonel the Hon. Claud Maitland Patrick Brabazon, son of the 12th Earl of Meath in 1921.

In race one over a triangular course with about 6 knots of breeze, 'Cora' was a premature starter, and despite her excellent speed, she could not get near Andrew and George Miller in 'Pixie'. Third place was taken by David and Henry Shackleton in the beautifully prepared 'Scythian', and Gail Varian and Gavin Johnston in 'Albany' were fourth.

Due to some ambiguity as to whether the boats were required to pass through the start-finish line on intermediate rounds race two was scrapped. All the crews went ashore for a sociable lunch in the Royal St George Yacht Club, where they were joined by some former 12 foot dinghy sailors and discussions ranged from absent friends to travel to international regattas.

Margaret Delany in the 100 year old CoraMargaret Delany in the 100-year-old Cora dinghy

In the afternoon, the breeze had increased slightly. Again 'Pixie' dominated partly because 'Cora' was obliged to take a penalty turn soon after the start. The finishing order after two laps was 'Pixie', 'Cora', 'Albany' and 'Scythian'. The third race was controlled by 'Cora', who was pushed hard by 'Albany', which had better upwind speed. 'Pixie' was third and 'Scythian' fourth. The final race again fell to 'Cora' who sailed a faultless race to win the championship on countback as winner of the last race.

At the prize-giving at the Royal St George Yacht Club, championship chairman Vincent Delany congratulated the Irish 12 Foot dinghy Championship winner, wished 'Pixie' the best of luck at her forthcoming regatta in Monaco. Delany thanked the Windyridge Garden Centre for their sponsorship of the prizes for the event and looked forward to an increased entry for the 2022 Irish champion

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In 1955, Irish Olympian Dr Alf Delany bought an International 12-foot dinghy called Cora. She is now owned by his daughter Margaret Delany and Cora is again racing. Gerry Murray, who races her with Margaret has been looking into Cora's history and discovered that she was built in 1921. The class is holding a 100th birthday party for Cora at the Irish 12-foot Nationals in Dun Laoghaire on 29th August.

Cora was built by Camper and Nicholsons in Gosport. She was commissioned for Lt Col The Hon Claud Brabazon and he called her Gadget with sail number K29. Gadget is on the right in the photo above taken at Seaview on the Isle of Wight in 1921. 

In 1928 Claud Brabazon retired to Wicklow and brought Gadget to Seapoint Boat Club where she became No 8. After the club moved to Dun Laoghaire, he continued to race her until at least 1933. He suffered from arthritis so in 1935/36, he had a Mermaid called Delphis (sail number 2) built by Michael Mahony in Dun Laoghaire, and he became the Mermaid class captain in 1938.

In the meantime, no 8 reappeared in Howth SC as Cora and was sailed by Dr Tom Lane in 1935 and 1936. Dr Lane was a well-respected urologist at the Meath hospital who lived in Howth. In 1937 she was raced by P. Corbett, who we believe to be Peggy Corbett. JM Hickey sailed her in 1938 and D Dixon in 1942. Cora was also sailed by Tom Stewart, Ted Croxon and Sean Hooper in the years around 1945 when she won the Edmond Johnson Cup.

In 1944 she was raced by Norman Ross in Skerries, and he was noted as the owner by Sutton Dinghy Club in 1945. I really hope so because he sold her to Alf Delany in 1955. Here is the bill of sale.

Cora's bill of saleCora's bill of sale from 1955

Norman Ross was an interesting character who owned the Royal Hotel on Valentia Island. Previously he started a successful barber's shop in Suffolk Street for a bet. Notes from Aidan Henry at SDC implies that he owned Cora in 1941. Cora was scratch 12 foot dinghy in DBSC in 1944 though Aidan thinks she was sailed by Sean Hooper that year before he went on to race Ean Gaile. Norman Ross also presented the Cora Trophy which is now the Irish National l2 foot Trophy.

Alf Delany raced successfully in Cora in 1954 before he bought her and used her at Sutton and Clontarf for the next few years. The next generation of Delany's learned to sail in her before the 12 foot dinghy class lost out to newer designs. She was re-rigged as a DBSC 12 foot although she did not suffer the foredeck. She was then mostly used for family holidays and as a tender to Camblyn but Cora did feature in the Irish Nationals in 1963.

In 2006 Margaret Delany inherited her and Cora was rejuvenated. A rebuild at the International Boat Building College in Lowestoft and much more work by Doughal MacMahon brought her back to full racing trim in her original configuration. Since 2013 she has competed in West Kirby, Loosdtrecht, De Kaag, Lowestoft, Oulton Broad, Rutland Water and she has been at every Irish 12-foot Nationals in Dun Laoghaire since 2015.

Cora holding off the Dutch at Rutland in July 2019Cora holding off the Dutch at Rutland in July 2019

I am hoping that some readers will be able to fill in some of the gaps in Cora's history. Any information would be helpful to understand who owned and raced Cora at any time but especially between 1933 and 1955. We would like to know how her name was chosen and as much as possible about Norman Ross.

If you have any memories of Cora, we would be delighted to hear from you. Her email is [email protected].

Gerry Murray lives in Reading and is an active sailor at Cowes and on the Shannon. With Margaret Delany, he has been privileged to care for and race Cora for the last 15 years. He is currently researching her history and the fascinating people that have sailed her.

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Next Sunday the ‘Altair’ trophy will be presented to the highest placed crew in the Irish 12-foot dinghy championships to be held in the Royal St George Yacht Club writes Vincent Delany.

This trophy was originally won at the Dublin Coast Championship for International 12 Foot Dinghies, an event held in Dun Laoghaire Harbour on 21 September 1931 (although the engraving on the trophy describes it as Kingstown). This was probably the first ‘open meeting’ for a one-design class ever to be held in the Republic of Ireland. Despite none of the owners having road trailers, and the dinghies sailing from their home ports, there were fifteen entries from Howth Sailing Club, Sutton branch of Howth Sailing Club, Seapoint Boat Club and Malahide (where a sailing club was yet to be established). The event took place despite there not being an overall Class organisation to encourage entries. Perhaps things were done by word of mouth in those days. After four rounds of the Water Wag course, in a single race, the event was won by A.W. (Billy) Mooney in ‘Altair’ from Howth Sailing Club, followed by Mr. G. Bayly Spencer’s ‘Kittiwake’ from the Seapoint Boat Club, and Mr. Mc Cracken's ‘Snipe’ from Howth in third place. Mooney went on to win many races in other classes such as the Howth 17 foot class and in International Dragons.

The ‘Altair’ trophy was held by the Mooney family until 1970 when it was represented to the D.B.S.C. 12 Foot Dinghy fleet as a prize, for crews steering 12-foot dinghies. The trophy was competed for every year until 1977. It was represented to the International 12 Foot Dinghy Association of Ireland this week by the McGloughlin family.

Under event rules, 12-foot dinghies may sail either single-handed or two-handed.

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In one of the most international regattas for the International 12 Foot Dinghy of recent years, entries came from Uganda, Holland, Canada, England and Ireland. This historic dinghy class permits either a crew of one of two. There is no doubt that in heavy weather the second person can be of great advantage is keeping the wooden dinghy moving through choppy water. The event was held at Rutland Sailing Club due to its location equidistant from Holland and Ireland, and due to the calmer water to be found on a reservoir.

On Friday two races were held. Initially, the wind was less than two knots with dragonflies were moving faster than the dinghies. Large fish were jumping in an attempt to catch the dragonflies which provided entertainment for the eleven competitors. After a postponement, a 6-knot breeze arose from the west. In this race, Dutch Champion Pieter Bleeker (NED) won from Colin Blewell (GBR), with the strong Canadian team of Nicolette Aronidus third. It might have been expected that the Dutch expertise would dominate, but in this race, they did not. This was followed by race two in similar conditions in which the superior Dutch boat handling was a lesson to the Irish and English.

On Saturday the breeze had increased to 10 knots which presented problems to the lighter teams. Bleeker dominated with Bos and de Vrybuiter on the podium. It was now becoming clear that keeping close to the north shore of the reservoir provided beneficial wind bends. The wind was progressively building in strength with strong gusts which were testing the crews on the downwind legs of the windward-leeward course. Vincent Delany who was unable to control his boat in the stronger winds was joined by Andrew Miller who skilfully crewed for the rest of the event.

Dinghies were beached or moored on Saturday evening. With heavy rain overnight, the moored boats of Mark Delany and George Miller took a lot of water and, unfortunately, they were unable to clear the water before the first gun in 14 knots of wind. In these conditions, Margaret Delany and Gerry Murray (in 1928 built ‘Cora’ from the defunct Seapoint Boat Club) had their best race. In the final race, Vincent Delany and Andrew Miller in the historic 112 (which was narrowly beaten by 29 seconds by Captain Payne in the World Dinghy Championships of 1925) were growing in confidence and took a valuable third place.

This friendly event was a good test for all the competitors who are expected to attend Clinkerfest, the celebration of 250 years of sailing at Lough Ree Yacht Club in May/June 2020.

Download results below

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