Other boats in that class were Ornsay , Elfin , and Lizette. Corsair, Rater. Major H. Payne in Queen Mab, 10 tons. The first class this season was composed of Meteor and Iverna only, yet the racing between these two vessels proved excellent. Meteor was sailing in vastly improved form, but Iverna was, on the whole, the more successful of the two.
Three new raters were built — viz. Payne for Admiral the Hon. Victor Montagu; Queen Mab , designed by Mr. West; and Varuna , by the same designer, for Captain Towers Clark. Of these, Queen Mab was a centre-board vessel, and as it was found eventually that she sailed as well without as with the plate, it was discarded. Varuna, Rater. Varuna was a narrower and deeper vessel, without much hollow in the section, and with a triangular profile below water. Corsair was an extremely. Both Queen Mab and Varuna had stems rounded up in the modern fashion, but with moderate overhangs.
Thalia, Creole, Castanet , and Reverie also raced in the class. Queen Mab turned out to be the most successful vessel in the fleet, winning thirty-one first and six second prizes in forty-six starts. Corsair , however, showed herself to be a faster vessel in rough water. Natica, 5-Rater. Trevor Henderson. In the North the crack of the 5-rating class was Natica , designed by Mr. A series of three races in Torbay was arranged between the two. The first was won, in a nice breeze, by Dacia , and the second, in paltry weather, by Natica.
The deciding race resulted in the victory of the Southern boat, but she was disqualified on a protest. Designed and built by Herreshoff in for Miss W. Allen , Phantom Mr. Arthur , Yseult Mr. Peter Donaldson , and Ptarmigan Mr. The two first were designed by Mr. Watson, and the last two by Mr. Of these, Yseult was the fastest, Dora being the next best boat.
Allen by Herreshoff. She won fifteen first and four second prizes in twenty-one starts. With the season of we arrive at one of the most exceptional years in the history of yacht-racing, a year made memorable also by the appearance of the Prince of Wales as owner of the wonderful racing cutter Britannia , rating, which during this and several succeeding seasons predominated the sport. Lord Dunraven, in the autumn of , commissioned Mr. Watson to design a new cup-challenger, Valkyrie II , of about double the rating of his first cutter of that name.
To the intense satisfaction of British yachtsmen, H. Both these racing cutters were built at the yard of Messrs. Henderson and Co. At the same time Fay and Co. Soper, the cutter Satanita , for Mr. Clarke, and Mr. Fife, jun. Inglis built, the Calluna at very short notice. There was thus every prospect of a very great revival of big-cutter racing, a prospect which materialized in a most satisfactory manner.
At about the same time Mr. The latter vessel broke her bowsprit in the race, and Calluna took the ground near the Ovens coming home, so Iverna took second place, saving her time on Valkyrie. The second match, under the burgee of the Royal London Yacht Club, commenced with a disaster for Calluna , which lost her mast before the start. This left Valkyrie, Britannia , and Iverna in the race, which was magnificently sailed; and though Iverna secured first prize on time, Britannia succeeded in beating Valkyrie by 73 seconds.
Following the racing programme, the five big cutters were entered and sailed in the Royal Thames Nore to Dover match. Calluna had been in dock, and was there lightened. The match ended, however, in favour of the Britannia , with 3 seconds to spare, Valkyrie being second, and Satanita third. In the cross-Channel match from Dover to Boulogne there were eight entries — viz.
A smart north-easterly breeze was blowing, and Vendetta crossed the line first. She came into collision, however, with Valkyrie , and her topmast was carried away in the foul. The race was therefore ruined at the outset, and Calluna and Iverna got a clear start of 12 minutes.
Calluna beat the Valkyrie by 5 minutes 25 seconds, and the Iverna by 8 minutes 52 seconds. In this match Valkyrie succeeded in beating the Britannia by 5 minutes 32 seconds, and Satanita by more than 16 minutes. Taking the Royal Mersey Regatta — which, by the way, was the Jubilee — on their way to the Clyde, the big cutters met with boisterous weather, and Valkyrie failed to get her mainsail bent in time for the race.
Calluna was another non-starter, owing to her anchor fouling, and Britannia, Satanita , and Iverna alone started, Britannia leading by 2 minutes. The race lay between the two new cutters, and sailing was very fast. At the finish Britannia had 2 minutes 19 seconds to spare over Satanita. The yachts next met on the Clyde at the Royal Northern Regatta, the race opening in a piping breeze and ending in the lightest of airs. Jameson sailed the Satanita , and Mr. George Watson the Valkyrie. Britannia was steered by Mr. Jameson, Satanita by Mr. Ure, and Valkyrie by her owner.
The Royal Clyde match was singular for its extraordinary weather conditions and a protest by both Calluna and Valkyrie against the Britannia. The race opened in a light breeze, but before Britannia had reached the winning-mark the fleet had experienced the flukiest of winds, a violent thunderstorm, and a downpour of rain. Valkyrie immediately came into collision with Britannia , the latter boat sustaining some damage aft. In the race Satanita burst her bobstay, and her bowsprit breaking off short, Britannia was left to beat Valkyrie by 41 minutes 40 seconds.
The protest was considered by the Sailing Committee, and Britannia was disqualified. The Royal Clyde match was won by the Valkyrie. From the Clyde the racing fleet journeyed to Belfast Lough, where the Irish fixtures opened at Bangor in a north-east breeze — the truest wind that blows over the splendid Royal Ulster course. The contest, in which Satanita beat Britannia by 5 seconds, was one of the finest of the season, the winning boat showing remarkable speed. On the second day, however, the weather was light, and the match lay between the Britannia and the Valkyrie , the Valkyrie creeping to the line a few lengths ahead, and a time difference of 1 minute 56 seconds.
The sailing of Satanita was very fine, her speed with sheets free being remarkable, Calluna was disabled through breaking her boom in gybing. The race was a hard-fought one in a fair breeze, Britannia and Valkyrie carrying on a fierce duel, and leading Navahoe home. At the finish, Britannia led by 63 seconds over Valkyrie , and was 83 seconds ahead of Navahoe. Later, with a more certain breeze, Valkyrie took the lead, closely followed by Britannia. At the finishing-line Valkyrie had gained such a splendid lead that she beat the Meteor by 18 seconds over a time allowance of 14 minutes 32 seconds.
She was, however, disqualified, having failed to comply with the sailing instructions, and the cup went to the Meteor.
This precluded all possibility of her racing for the Cowes Town Cup, and Valkyrie , Satanita, Calluna , and Navahoe comprised the list of entries. A hard breeze was blowing, and Navahoe burst her mainsail at the clew, and retired. Calluna fouled a steam yacht, which resulted in her gaff being broken and mainsail split. The former vessel displayed astonishing speed in a hard breeze, and finished with 8 minutes 13 seconds to spare. The course of 48 miles was covered in 3 hours 40 minutes 50 seconds.
Of the concluding club matches of the season, Britannia won two at Weymouth. She was not, however, entered for the Royal Dart matches, though she subsequently raced for, and won, the Start Bay Yacht Club prize. There was by this time little doubt that Britannia was the best all-round vessel of the fleet, with Valkyrie a dangerous second. The Navahoe had shown remarkable qualities on a broad reach or run, but Britannia was superior in going to windward.
Of the Royal Victoria matches little need be written, for Britannia had little difficulty in defending the trophy, beating the challenger by 15 minutes 8 seconds in the deciding race. The Brenton Reef Cup match was fixed for September 12, and, according to the conditions, was sailed from a point off the Needles round Cherbourg breakwater and back. There was a fine breeze and some amount of sea, but two hours after the start 25 miles had been logged. On rounding for the return, however, Britannia took the lead and kept it, though the challenger was scarcely ever more than yards astern.
The club steamer could not be anchored outside the Needles, and was therefore brought into Alum Bay. According to official timing the finish was as follows:. Carroll protested that the steamer was not in position, and that the difference in, time was less. A committee of the Royal Yacht Squadron considered the protest and awarded the race to Navahoe , a decision which was not universally regarded with satisfaction. Three days later — September 15 — the Cape May Cup was sailed for under exactly similar conditions, with the exception that the starting and finishing line was fixed in Alum Bay.
A dead calm and fog prevailed throughout the morning, and it was not till afternoon that the vessels were started. A soft westerly breeze carried Britannia into the Channel, and in the evening died away, leaving her about 3 miles ahead of Navahoe. They lay becalmed for three hours, and when a breeze gathered from the north-east Britannia increased her lead, and was coming out of Cherbourg Roads as Navahoe entered.
The official times at the finish were:.
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The Britannia throughout the season was sailed by Mr. Jameson and John Carter. Calluna won ten prizes in thirty-six starts. Navahoe , in eighteen starts, won six prizes, including the Brenton Reef Challenge Cup. In the rating division the fleet was not equal to that seen in the previous season, the Queen Mab having been sold to America. The Varuna was victorious in the first four matches of the season, but Lais headed the list with twenty-nine prizes in thirty-nine starts, Varuna being second with twenty-three prizes in forty starts. The Vendetta gained eighteen flags in thirty-three starts, and Thalia six prizes in ten starts.
There was keen competition among the raters, Dragon III. Hill, being added. Deirdre, Rater. Designed by G. Watson in for the Earl of Dunraven, and now owned by Messrs. Dezilles and A. The Dragon was champion of the season, winning thirty-one prizes in thirty-four starts. Connell, which had things pretty much her own way on the Clyde and did not meet the Southern boats, had a record at the end of the season of eighteen prizes in twenty-four starts. Racing in the rating class was confined to the Clyde, and there were no new boats. Red Lancer 5-Rater. The season of opened tamely enough.
Britannia had only the old Iverna as antagonist in the river matches on the Thames. Both she and Britannia were over the line too soon, but were allowed to go, and they sailed a ding-dong race to the Swin Middle, with the wind aft. The Watson boat, however, managed to draw away, and won with ease. Satanita and Britannia sailed a stirring race on the first day of the Royal Harwich Regatta. Both were obviously over the line too soon, but were not recalled. Britannia led in the run to the Shipwash, but Satanita raced past her after they rounded, and led by nearly a minute at the Sunk Lightship.
Then came a close reach Britannia not fetching to the Cork and a dead beat in. In this turn to windward Britannia settled up and drew abeam to leeward, and the two great cutters raced level to the committee boat. Just at the finish Satanita drew ahead, and got home first by 3 seconds. Britannia , however, won on her time allowance. Next day, in another gusty breeze, Britannia led Satanita home by 1 minute 54 seconds, but lost the prize on a protest. She finished over 4 minutes ahead of Satanita , and in the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club race on the following Monday Satanita was obliged to give up with a burst masthead shroud, after she had been well beaten by Britannia in a fresh south-west breeze.
On the first day of this regatta, June 29, Britannia had only Iverna to defeat, but Satanita turned up next day, and had to put up with a light-weather beating. After the Royal Mersey Regatta, Valkyrie joined the first class at the Royal Largs Regatta on the Clyde, on July 3, when she was expected to meet her cup antagonist, Vigilant , which had come to race in Britain under the flag of Messrs.
George and Howard Gould. Vigilant , however, did not turn up. Valkyrie had the best of the start, and led until the last round, when Britannia caught her on the wind, and won by nearly 2 minutes. Satanita had to give up. The next meeting of the big boats was signalized alike by the appearance of the Vigilant , the last successful cup-defender, and by a collision between Satanita and Valkyrie , in which the latter was sunk and a man fatally injured, thus preventing the two old rivals from ever meeting again.
The yachts were to be steered by amateur helmsmen, and there was a strong wind blowing when Vigilant and Britannia got away. Satanita was standing up the Holy Loch on starboard tack, whilst Valkyrie was coming for the line on port. Valkyrie was sent staggering against the steam yacht Hebe , and one of her hands was badly injured in trying to scramble on board the steamer.
Clearing the Hebe , she next fell foul of the steam yacht Vanduara , tearing her bulwarks and destroying her steam launch. Valkyrie — Satanita disaster. Satanita after the Collision. Valkyrie — Satanita Disaster.
Valkyrie after the Collision. Her own rigging was foul of Vanduara , and her topmast was pulled out; then, clearing again, the fine racer went down head foremost in 14 fathoms of water. Satanita had her bows and bulwarks badly damaged, but sustained no injury below water. Vigilant led by 1 minute 57 seconds on the first round, and seemed safe to win; but Britannia got a lift on the last round, and won the race by 36 seconds. This not very meritorious victory was the first of a brilliant series of races between these two yachts.
She held the lead all day until the last run home, when Vigilant got past and led her in by 1 minute 7 seconds. The enormous sail-spread of the American was too much for Britannia down the wind, but on all other points she held Vigilant well. On the second day, which was light and fluky, Britannia won, with nearly 10 minutes to spare beyond her allowance.
On July 10 Britannia again defeated Vigilant in a light-weather trial at the Clyde Corinthian Regatta, and on the following day she repeated her victory at Rothesay in the Royal Northern match. Vigilant had been lightened of some ballast. The weather was changeable and rather fluky, but the English boat showed better speed when the breeze was steady and true. On July 12, however, the last day of the Clyde Regattas, there was a fine southerly breeze, and Britannia won again with some ease, although she had bad luck in the way of wind. Things were not changed when the two yachts met at the Royal Ulster Regatta on July 16, for here Britannia won again.
She had, it must be said, a bit of luck. She had Britannia well and truly beaten when the latter had to give up owing to her gaff-band bursting. The two yachts next met at Kingstown, and Britannia won again on the first day of the Royal St. George Yacht Club Regatta. This was a plain race, with no turn to windward. The breeze was variable in strength, but not fluky, and Britannia won by 2 minutes.
Next day the American won her second victory in very light and fluky weather. Her success, however, was not due to luck, but to light-weather speed. The Penzance and Mounts Bay Regatta was the next meet of the two great rivals. Here Britannia gave the visitor a very pretty beating. Vigilant , however, did not start, but Satanita , having been repaired, again met Britannia , and was badly beaten. On August 4 Vigilant and Britannia sailed a private match at Cowes for a guinea cup.
Vigilant had been in dock and had her mainsail remade. The weather seemed to suit the American, which sported an enormous jackyard topsail, and she won a very easy victory. Vigilant , Britannia , and Satanita sailed, and they started to the eastward from Cowes. For a long time it was a very close race, in light and variable weather, and Britannia had a short lead. Both she and Vigilant touched the rocks at the back of the island, and later on Britannia again struck hard, letting Vigilant get a good lead, which she improved, winning somewhat easily.
There was a smart west-north-west breeze blowing, and Britannia won. The next day Iverna , Viking ex Wendur , and Britannia raced for the Meteor Challenge Shield, held by Britannia , which now won the trophy outright with ease. There was a fine west-south-west breeze, and in this reaching wind Satanita proved the victor. She had had her sail somewhat reduced since the beginning of the season. Again, on August 16, Satanita put the Ryde Town Cup in her locker, this time beating both Britannia and Vigilant , which, indeed, neglected her in fighting their own battle.
The breeze was strong and true, giving a turn to windward and a run. It was a very pretty match between Britannia and Vigilant , but the latter was decisively beaten. The finish was: Satanita , 3 36 39; Britannia , 3 42 23; Vigilant , 3 43 The result was that Carina snatched the prize on Yacht Racing Association time allowance.
A shift of wind accounted largely for this result. Lord Wolverton presented a cup for a race between Britannia and Vigilant outside the Needles — 15 miles to windward and return. The pivot was broken, and the plate was held in place by jamming with the keel. The race was sailed in a strong west wind, and Satanita never gave a better display on all points of sailing.
On the following day she again came in first, but failed to give Britannia her time. In the Channel match from Cowes to Weymouth Satanita had bad luck. There was a hard easterly breeze, and soon after the start her spinnaker halliards chafed through, and the sail blew into the water and was torn to shreds.
Nevertheless, she led Britannia by about 15 minutes between St. It blew very hard, and the course was only 30 miles. The race was chiefly reaching, and Satanita won easily, beating Britannia by 4 minutes 33 seconds. Vigilant won easily, Satanita getting completely hung up in the calm, and being unable to finish.
Vigilant had challenged for the Cape May Cup, and the match was fixed for September 5. However, in beating up the West Channel two days before the race, the yacht touched the ground in Alum Bay, and the centre-plate subsequently fell out in deep water. The challenge was thereupon withdrawn, though Mr. Gould was willing to sail without the plate and to ship 4 tons of ballast as its equivalent weight. This was the finish of the season. Vigilant had met Britannia seventeen times, and had won five of the events. In all she won six firsts out of nineteen starts.
Britannia started in forty-two races, and won twenty-nine first and two second prizes. The two yachts were, indeed, very fairly matched, though the British yacht was, perhaps, when all is said, slightly the superior. The rating class was very weak this year, such racing as there was being principally between the new Carina , designed by Mr. Watson for Admiral Montagu, and Vendetta.
The new boat was clearly the better of the two. She sailed in the Kiel regattas, in many of the handicaps, and sometimes with the first-class yachts, winning thirty-two prizes. Asphodel, rater. Watson in for Prince Henry of Battenberg. Owner, Captain Wm. Connell; and Luna , Mr. Of these, Luna started no less than fifty-three times, winning twenty first, nine second, and three third prizes.
Almida, Cutter, 24 tons. Watson; and Rosetta , designed by C. Of these, Dakotah was the most successful, winning twenty-five firsts and one second in thirty-three starts. Lilith, Dora, and Almida were also successful boats, Lilith winning eleven firsts and ten seconds in thirty-two starts. The topic of the winter was another challenge for the America Cup by Lord Dunraven, who commissioned Mr. Watson to design Valkyrie III for this purpose. The Americans on their side laid down a new yacht, which was named Defender.
During the winter Mr. Walker, and the rater Isolde for Mr. Peter Donaldson. Caress , another new rater, was designed by Mr. Howard Gould had the rater Niagara , designed and built for him by Messrs.
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Herreshoff, and Lord Lonsdale brought out a Fife-designed rater, Eucharis , which was built in a remarkably short space of time. Ailsa was a cutter of rating. So the buildup towards such a visit was set in place with quiet appearances at some relatively low key events — international charities were very useful for this — by some minor members of the Royal Family. In a remarkably short space of time, what had been shaping up as the usual awards ceremony at Irish Distillers in February , to present the gongs for including Sailor of the Year, had been re-shaped as a Royal occasion, while retaining the basics of the proven annual ceremony to provide an event in which everyone could feel at ease.
Back in February , Irish sailing was given the Royal treatment in Dublin. It all went as smooth as clockwork. As our double-page spread from the March Afloat suggests, just about everyone was there, they all had their chance of a word or two — and sometimes many — with the Royal President of the RYA, and then we had to canter through a multiplicity of awards with more appropriate words on stage at each juncture, followed by the presentation of the top trophy, which for was a double, as it was for Noel Butler and Stephen Campion, new World Champions of the International Laser 2 Class.
But then, after the meeting and greeting session with a diversity of members including RUYC Archivist Gordon Finlay and RUYC Historian Ed Wheeler, who are battling with a mountain of incredible material, the visit to the club was rounded out by the presentation to the Princess Royal by Vice Commodore Myles Lindsay of a legendary cruising book which she assured everyone will be going straight into the bookshelf aboard Ballochbuie.
The immediately-cherished book was Letters from High Latitudes, published in as an account of the voyage by Lord Dufferin his family seat is Clandeboye near Bangor to Iceland, Jan Mayen and Spitzbergen in the schooner Foam. It has long been a classic of cruising literature, and it still reads today as crisply as though it was written only last week.
So when a few Belfast Lough sailors got together to form the Ulster Yacht Club in , naturally they asked the local national sailing celebrity, this special man who had voyaged to Iceland and beyond ten years earlier, to become its first Commodore, and he in turn ensured that the new club of which he was senior officer became the Royal Ulster YC in At first they did without a clubhouse as the sought to serve all the more significant sailors throughout the north of Ireland. But by they rented some premises on Bangor seafront, and then in they took a lease on a substantial if semi-detached house on an eminence above the eastern side of Bangor Bay.
By the late s and early s, sailing in Belfast Lough was beginning to take off with local confidence, for before that leading northern sailors such as Henry Crawford with the cruiser-racing yawl Nixie, and John Mullholland - later Lord Dunleath - with the schooner Egeria, had tended to cut a dash elsewhere, Crawford on Dublin Bay, and Mulholland also on Dublin Bay , but even more so in the Solent.
We now want to know more about some great event way beyond the fact that it merely happened at a certain date, and that by doing so it had some significant outcome. The much-travelled and very successful racing schooner Egeria was built in for John Mulholland. It may well be that one of the reasons sailing is a sport which is lacking in general public resonance is because histories of sailing have tended to concentrate on the narrow narrative of the development of the sport, and the boats it inspires.
Such people may well prefer that the history of their beloved escapist sport is kept aloof from the socioeconomic circumstances in which it exists, and the context in which it developed. But for others, it enriches our experience of sailing to know how it came to be as it is today, and this year in Northern Ireland there are sailing events and commemorations taking place which, when their back-story is analysed in some depth, give us a much better understanding of the way we live today, and how we go afloat today, and it is in turn all set in a meaningful way in the context of the general historical narrative.
In the case of Belfast in , it was suddenly becoming the Mumbai of its day. It was the sort of place where a bright and energetic young man with some innovative idea in manufacture could make a fortune well within ten years. This meant that while there was wealth about, extravagant expenditure on personal enjoyment was frowned upon, and this extended to sailing as to most other things.
Its membership was open to members of any of the half dozen or so clubs now dotted around the lough including the RUYC itself, and its objective was the simple one of creating economical yet effective one design keelboat classes suitable for the sometimes quite demanding conditions to be found in Belfast Lough. And by that time, the Association had become much more clearly structured, as its Honorary Secretary was one James Craig Jnr, aged only 25 but already noted as a formidable organiser.
Carrickfergus around But in his prime interest was in expanding the 15ft LWL class with an up-and-coming new boatbuilder, John Hilditch of Carrickfergus. The true pioneers. But in the fast-moving world of Belfast in the mids. Several of the more affluent Belfast Lough yachtsmen had already noted with approval the able seagoing power and attractive performance of the first three 15ft LWL boats.
In a very short space of time, the heavy hitters in the BLODA had persuaded the Association to order the plans of a The humble birthplace. The new BLOD Class I boats were built with remarkable efficiency by John Hlditch and his team in the little boatyard in those black sheds on the inner corner of Carrickcfergus Harbour in the wintyer of In all their glory. But anyone who is into Centenaries will realise that Belfast in had become a very different place from Belfast in In addition to his many other interests, McCracken had been a very early pioneer in developing Belfast Lough sailing, and he and his friends cruised most summers to the west coast of Scotland.
But while McCracken may have been taken, his friends lived on in an increasingly different Belfast in the early s, where successful trade and manufacturing industry obliterated any earlier political idealism. By the end of the s, the Holywood club had been joined by the clubs at Carrickfergus and the Royal Ulster, but some years were to pass before the sport of sailing came central stage. It was world-leading. Already, there was a movement among members to build a proper trophy clubhouse for the RUYC, and Lipton made it clear he was unenthusiastic about having his challenge based on a club which was head-quartered in a semi-detached suburban house.
But the outbreak of the Great War signalled the end of the Golden Era, and though Shamrock IV finally challenged unsuccessfuly in , in was in very subdued circumstances. And today we know that, regardless of the turmoil within Ireland from to , it was the Great War of which was to wipe out the cream of an entire generation from the north of Ireland, with sports like sailing taking a very long time to recover, if they ever really did recover until much more modern times.
Yet in , it was a time of such hope, such anticipation, such planning — such excitement and exuberance. To mark the anniversary there will be a series of sailing and cruising events throughout the summer. The day will start with a Sail Past in front of the Clubhouse and a naval Guardship will be in attendance. The visiting boats will include modern racing craft and classic boats such as the River and Glen classes from Strangford Lough some of which started life competing at Royal Ulster YC over 90 years ago.
We are also expecting that several of the classic Howth 17 classes will travel north for our event. The cruising fleet will be joining forces with similar associations such as the Irish Cruising Club and the Clyde Cruising Club for a social gathering before a cruise-in-company to Scottish waters. The recreational marine industry is a demanding trade.
But in the end, business is business. The bottom line rules everything else. However enthusiastic young people may have been when first going into the boat trade, as they battle on with running their own marine business they find the world of commerce can become a cruel place. W M Nixon considers the challenges of boat-building, and looks at the story of John Hilditch of Carrickfergus, who was one of the brightest stars of the Irish boat-building industry in the golden age of yachting, yet his light was extinguished after barely two decades.
The name of Hilditch of Carrickfergus is synonymous with classic yachts of significant age. In fact, she sails in better shape than ever, as she had a meticulous restoration completed for Hal Sisk of Dun Laoghaire in Peggy Bawn in her first season afloat in A monumental achievement.
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The little new Howth gaff sloops — rigged with huge jackyard topsails as they still are today - sailed the 90 miles home down the Irish Sea to Howth in April , and had their first race on May 4th All five of the original Hilditch creations continue to race with the thriving Howth 17 class, which today has eighteen boats. The Howth 17s Aura left and Pauline.
Aura is one of the original five Howth 17s built for by John Hilditch immediately after he had completed the Belfast Lough Class I boats. Photo: John Deane. This concentration of yacht design development in a short time span, and through just one boatyard, is rare but not unique — the great name of Charlie Sibbick of Cowes shone equally briefly but even more brightly at much the same time, as he was a designer too. But Sibbick made his name in an established international centre for sailing. Yet when John Hilditch — who was both a seafarer and a fully-qualified shipwright — established his yard at Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough in the winter of , the north of Ireland was still a relative backwater in international sailing terms.
Thus his achievement is indeed remarkable. For by the time Hilditch closed down in the winter of , he had put Belfast Lough firmly in the global picture as a pace-setter in yacht development, and his pivotal role in that transformation is gaining increasing recognition.
There are many yacht and sailing clubs around this fine stretch of sailing water, and the most senior of them is Holywood Yacht Club on the waterfront below the hills where Rory McIlroy learned to pay golf , which dates back to The shared foundation year which goes back through the mists of time to means that both clubs will be celebrating their th Anniversaries in But once they did begin to take it up, they did so with complete enthusiasm, and the sailing pace of Belfast Lough during the s, and on towards , had few rivals.
The old-style hull of Peggy Bawn is revealed as she is lifted out of the Coal Harbour Yard in Dun Laoghaire in for a first attempt at restoration. Photo:W M Nixon. The new style shape. Although they were built only three years after Peggy Bawn, the Fife-designed Belfast Lough Class I boats had a much more modern hull shape and were primarily racing boats, yet they were required to be well capable of sailing to Scotland and Dublin Bay, and did so.
Formidable performers. Both owner-skippers were members of Carrickfergus SC, and based their boats there. In order to meet this demand, John Hilditch was able to expand his new boatyard at an extraordinary pace. And at the same time, the fishing-boat builder James Kelly of Portrush on the North Coast found that yacht-building to supply the new craze was much more lucrative than producing his own variant of the classic Greencastle yawl for fishermen on both the Irish and Scottish coasts, and he went into yacht-building both for Belfast Lough and Dublin Bay.
But in terms of overall contribution to the transformation of Belfast Lough sailing, John Hilditch was very much in a league of his own. It has all become viable during this past week thanks to the confirmation that the more distantly-located significant classic boats of the Hilditch oeuvre — Peggy Bawn of , Tern of the Belfast Lough Class I, the Howth 17s of , and Trasnagh, the Island Class yawl of — all hope to be in Belfast Lough towards the end of June , where numbers will be further swollen by the Hilditch-built Royal North of Ireland YC Fairy Class of , together with some of their sister-ships from Lough Erne.
The Hilditch-built Tern in a breeze of wind on Belfast Lough, In addition, the fleet will be increased by other classics of every type, coming together to wish the Hilditch boats well at this special time. So just what did go wrong, that the much-admired Hilditch yard faced closure before the end of , with the man himself dead — perhaps broken-hearted — before the end of ? There seem to be a number of explanations, all of which combine to explain the sudden demise of a great enterprise.
The incredible rate of economic expansion in Belfast — which had been accelerating virtually every year since around — seems to have first shown significant signs of slackening in The greater Belfast economy did continue to expand in the broadest sense, but the rate of expansion was now slowing. During the rapid growth years, John Hilditch was able to meet demand, but regardless of the underlying economic patterns, by his market was beginning to reach saturation levels.
But people were beginning to realise that a good one design boat was good for much longer than a mere three years. In fact, some argued that a class was only bedded in after three years. So the number of new boats being ordered dried to a trickle. Yet those boats that were being ordered became individually larger. The new Island Class yawls were handsome enough. The island Class yawl Trasnagh, seen here in her first season of , is believed to be the last boat to have been built by John Hilditch.
The last of them, Trasnagh herself in , was the last boat to come out of a formerly great yard rapidly tumbling towards extinction. And apart from the saturation of the market and the financial demands of building the relatively large Island Class boats, sailing was no longer attracting the same number of newcomers, as rival interests such as motor cars and aeroplanes were taking away many potential enthusiasts,. Yet ironically, had John Hilditch been able to hang on for just another year into the beginning of the Great War of , a slew of war work for the Admiralty would have given his yard a new lease of life.
But it was not to be. The yard was gone. And soon, so too was the man himself. But the boats live on. All that together with the th Anniversaries of two remarkable sailing clubs. For sure, late June on Belfast Lough is going to be one very special time. But we were keeping our fingers crossed that all would continue to go well after her successful launching on August 6th - so much effort was going into the final work and detailed finishing that, with time limited before she could be taken to the major regattas in the south of France, all and any sorts of hitches could still occur.
Since then, there has been further concern with the weather in southeast France being exceptionally bad, with seriously adverse effects in recent days on the classic events in both Cannes and St Tropez. But Tern has not only come through unscathed, she has won her class overall despite the fact that there was only racing on two days at St Tropez, recording a first and second. This has all been hugely confidence-building for the team involved, and greatly improves the likelihood of Tern coming to Ireland next year.
Aboard Tern on her first sail since restoration, off the coast of Mallorca in August. And Tern herself - though by that time rigged as a cruising yawl - was based at the National YC from to , firstly under the joint ownership of Charles E Hogg and Maurice Healy from to , and then under the ownership of J J Lenihan until , after which she moved to Falmouth in southwest England. Another beautiful morning's race saw the half-way stage of the Belfast Lough Autumn Keelboat Series and the end of the Waverley series. The 18 boat fleet have enjoyed 3 very enjoyable races so far in gorgeous sunshine, wondering why the rest of the summer wasn't the same.
We can only hope that October fares similar. Tradtional tight racing in the year old Waverley class has seen all of the boats win one race. John McCrea's Ivanhoe won the final one but any hopes of winning the series overall were dashed when the husbacnd and wife team of Robin "Sailor" and Victoria Millar folowed them home in front of Ben Gouk's Fair Maid, winning the series by a single point.
John Minnis and B Roche are enjoying their first few races in their new Final Call but finding it hard to stay close enough to the bigger yachts. Even in relatively light winds, Johnny Henry struggled to keep the boat upright enough with only 2 on the rail, and Starshine Challenger took advantage to score their first win of the series. Special mention must be made of Burton Allen and Adrian Allen who was absent due to attending the wedding of his grandson Michael. Last week's winner Chatterbox was 5th on corrected time struggling in the lighter winds in Race 2 and 3 having ran Manzanita close in Race 1, coming 2nd in that race only 3 seconds behind on corrected time.
Alan Morrison's Starflash has struggled so far this series on handicap, possibly due to success earlier in the year when they were setting the benchmark. Only 5 minutes on the water separated the 6 boat fleet in the first two races showing the competitive nature of this restricted class. After 3 races, Johnathon Star leads from Manzanita and Chatterbox by 2 points. The whitesail NHC fleet have also enjoyed changing fortunes and having won the first two races and leading the series overall, John Ritchie's Mingulay saw D Lowe's Gecko cling on close enough to the quicker boats last Sunday to clinch the race on handicap although the results posted look a bit irregular and may need reviewed.
Many thanks must go to Colin Loeonard who has set great courses over the first 3 races. We now look forward to Elaine Tyalor who will take over for the remaining 4 races running until 25th Oct October. William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US.
An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records.
A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association now the Irish Sailing Association , he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago. The Afloat daily newsletter highlights the best of our editors' picks, as well as the latest content from other popular sections of our website. View Previous Editions Here. We will only ever use your details to send you our enews and never pass them onto third parties. Stormy seas rock our boat But we are still very much Afloat You can help this website for our boating nation By joining our crew and making a small donation.
Displaying items by tag: Royal Ulster Yacht Club. Photo: W M Nixon Yet at a certain stage, as the pioneering Dutch yachtsmen moved from the sprit rig to the gaff rig, the gaff booms became so short that the sailing world was very close to having jib-headed mainsails. Photo courtesy Hilary Keatinge-Roche Howth 17s at Dun Laoghaire again, but this time rigged as nature intended, complete with jackyard topsails. Dublin Bay 21 in full gaff rig glory It is , the Old Gaffers Association has just been formed, yet in Dun Laoghaire in the Dublin Bay 21s make their debut rigged like this……..
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And all that where Bermuda rig as we knew it for so long originated more than years ago…… When gaffers meet…. Published in W M Nixon. Read more Photo: W M Nixon During those same fifty years, while Dickie kept on with Ainmara and did many things with her, including racing to Norway and cruising to the Outer Hebrides and southern Brittany and notching success in many North Channel offshore races, he also spread his wings in many other sailing directions.
Photo: Trish Nixon The Sesquicentennial Parade of sail was a real floating come-all-ye, with Toppers and other dinghies mixing it with Howth 17s such as the award-wining Gladys 14 and modern cruiser-racers. Photo: Betty Armstrong History afloat. Photo: Andrew Gallagher So how do you celebrate the th Anniversary of such a remarkable institution? Photo: Andrew Gallagher Together with the restored local 18ft keelboats of the Waverley class in Bangor, there was now a comprehensive gathering of past and present to sail forth in the RUYC Sesquicentennial last Saturday.
Published in Belfast Lough. Published in Sigma. The following year, he became the first Vice Commodore of Royal Ulster YC It may well be that one of the reasons sailing is a sport which is lacking in general public resonance is because histories of sailing have tended to concentrate on the narrow narrative of the development of the sport, and the boats it inspires.
Photo: John Deane This concentration of yacht design development in a short time span, and through just one boatyard, is rare but not unique — the great name of Charlie Sibbick of Cowes shone equally briefly but even more brightly at much the same time, as he was a designer too. Photo:W M Nixon The new style shape. Although they were built only three years after Peggy Bawn, the Fife-designed Belfast Lough Class I boats had a much more modern hull shape and were primarily racing boats, yet they were required to be well capable of sailing to Scotland and Dublin Bay, and did so Formidable performers.
Photo: Courtesy RNIYC The last of them, Trasnagh herself in , was the last boat to come out of a formerly great yard rapidly tumbling towards extinction. And apart from the saturation of the market and the financial demands of building the relatively large Island Class boats, sailing was no longer attracting the same number of newcomers, as rival interests such as motor cars and aeroplanes were taking away many potential enthusiasts, Yet ironically, had John Hilditch been able to hang on for just another year into the beginning of the Great War of , a slew of war work for the Admiralty would have given his yard a new lease of life.
Trasnagh restored for her Centenary in