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William A Maguire Collection of One Design Model Boats

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maguire_model_02Better than any half model, painting or photograph, these eight models, now on permanent display in the National Yacht Club, show us all the wooden racing one design classes of Dublin Bay. They are presented as a unit, all to the same scale, the product of many years of work by former Commodore of the National Yacht Club, the late William A. (Willie) Maguire. Starting with the Dublin Bay 24s Footer, he went on to build models of each of the other classic classes. No commercial kit models these, Willie had to carry out detailed research from a variety of sources, including plans from the original designers and builders.

The collection celebrates also the importance of the very concept of one design racing, a principle now universally adopted, helped by modern production techniques. But it all started in Dublin Bay, with the World’s first One Design Class, the Water Wags of 1887, still one of our best supported dinghy fleets, and one which spread around the world. Other classes remained local, such as the 21 Footers, which were designed for the Bay in 1903. Willie would have known the 21s, the Mermaids, the 17s, the Glens (also very active today), and the Water Wags, but for completeness sake, he even researched and resurrected the long forgotten Colleen Class of 1897, which had disappeared from the bay almost a century ago. This class was designed by the Dún Laoghaire yacht builder James E Doyle, and it spread to Argentina in 1899, thus becoming the World’s First International Keelboat One Design. Such innovations followed many other pioneering efforts of the 19th sailors of Dublin Bay in standardising key aspects of the sport of yacht racing, features that we now take for granted. Thus we can claim for Dublin Bay the grand title of the “Cradle of Yacht Racing”.

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This collection celebrates over a century of one design racing, and thanks to Willie’s painstaking detailing, present-day sailors can get an partial understanding of how yachts were sailed, without winches, synthetic sails and rigging, and all the comforts of the modern era. The grouping of designs spanning 60 years also allows us to see the evolution of yacht design, with the 24 Footers of 1939 replacing the 25 Footers of 1898, each the leading cruiser racer class of its time. Truly a unique display of the continuity of Ireland’s yachting heritage.

  The National Yacht Club is privileged and honoured that Willie’s family has allowed this superb and historic collection to be donated to his Club. Willie’s wife, Ailbhe Maguire, presented the collection to the present Commodore of the National Yacht Club, Peter Ryan, at a dinner in the Club on the 14th November.

Hal Sisk.

Willie Maguire’s unique set of model yachts, displayed at the National Yacht Club, are reviewed in Afloat’s Irish Sailing Annual