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Report on the Water Wags 125th Centenary Regatta Incorporating the Water Wags World Championships.

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13th.- 17th. June 2012.

It was always going to be difficult to upstage the Centenary celebrations of 1887 when a week of racing took place with entries from India, Sri Lanka etc. Furthermore there was an overall sponsor and individual sponsors for each days sailing, and for the social events which followed.

In 2012 a sub- committee was appointed to manage the events, with Cathy MacAleavey, David Williams, Kate O’Leary, Geoff Sarratt and Gail Varian. Despite invitations being sent to Galway, Norfolk, and Slovenia- none of the invitees arrived. However there were 23 entries, which included Geoff Sarratt, Gail Varian, and John and Mary Cox all of whom had competed in 1987.

The first race took place on Wednesday evening. It was a tightly fought race in light south easterly winds within Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The wind was uneven with many holes. The fleet got away on the second attempt- the first being a general recall with congestion at the committee boat end. At the finish line, three boats crossed the line simultaneously, but it was Moosmie sailed by David and Sally Mc.Farlane who had led most of the race was deemed the winner, from Little Tern sailed by John Ross Murphy and Paul Cassidy who sneeked in ahead of Pansy with Vincent Delany and Noelle Breen. Division 1B was won by Barbara sailed by Ian and Judith Malcolm in 6th. place and Division 2 was won by Good Hope with Hal Sisk and Hilary Scott in 16th. place. After sailing, a sailing Supper was held in the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Tom Hudson acted as race officer.

Race two took place on Friday evening within the Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The weather was not kindly, it was windy, cold and wet. The races were short consisting of only 2 laps of the harbour. Swift, Guy and Jackie Kilroy won from Tortoise, William Prentice and Mark Delany and Mollie II third with Cathy Mac.Aleavey and Con Murphy. John and Mary Cox in Badger took Division 1B and Ian Mc.Gowan in Mary Kate II took Division 2.

Without much of a break the second race was commenced from the Committee boat Mollie Bawn. This time it was Moosmie back in the winning seat ahead of the consistent Tortoise and Mollie II in third place. Scallywag with Dan O’Connor and David Williams won Division IB with Good Hope taking Division 2. After racing a barbecue was cooked on the balcony of the Royal St. George Yacht Club but with the cold weather the barbecue was eaten inside.

On Saturday morning the weather had not improved and there was a small craft warning. The programmed arrival of the Stena H.S.S. necessitated racing outside the harbour. A strong ebb tide was running and the Mollie Bawn took up station off the Forty Foot which was appropriate for Bloomsday. Jack Roy set a windward leeward course. The wind was up to 17 knots from the west with a short choppy sea. There is a skill in getting up-wind in a traditional boat with an overall length of only fourteen feet three inches in choppy conditions. It was Swift which won from Moosmie and Pansy. This was a race with a lot of place changing, as the tide and waves made for difficult racing conditions. Ian Matthews and Ken Poole in Marcia took Division 1B, and Good Hope Division 1B.

The wind strength increased for the fifth race. In the middle of the race a black cloud overhead resulted in a 27 knot squall hitting the fleet while on the off-wind leg. Masts creaked. Coquette broke her tiller while gybing and subsequently capsized. Scallywag nearly bow dived, but she has a nifty helmsman who handled the situation perfectly and did Mary Kate II. Mollie won the start and quickly pulled out a generous lead and held the lead for the entire race. Tortoise was now being steered by Jimmy Fitzpatrick and his son, Jack, who had completed his leaving certificate exams, and subsequent celebrations the previous day. They took second place from Moosmie. Badger won Division 1b and Mary Kate II Division II.

By the time of the sixth race the crews were becoming tired and mistakes started to occur. On the start line Marie Louise made contact with Barbara, resulting in the former shipping a lot of water and requiring to be rescued. At the other end of the start line Moosmie could see her grasp on the Transom Trophy getting tighter. She could not cross the start line on starboard and tacked onto port, making contact with another boat. This resulted in them both capsizing. On the start Tortoise got cleanly away and took the lead at the windward mark. She put in a neat gybe at the next mark. The skipper of Mollie II hailed her to draw her attention to a signal on the committee boat. The N and H flags were flying. So, the entire fleet had to sail back to harbour. On the Saturday evening a formal dinner was held in the National Yacht Club. Geoff Sarratt told some stories of the 1987 centenary regatta. President of the Wags, George Henry, spoke of the founding of the club.

On Sunday morning the weather was better with lighter winds from the west and flatter seas. Mollie Bawn took up station in Seapoint Bay. The first race involved some individual recalls, but none of the competitors knew who was recalled until the finish, when Swift, Mollie II and Gavotte did not receive sound signals. This was unfortunate as Swift finish in a top three place. This gave first place to Moosmie with Barbara in second to win Division 1B and Pansy behind. Mary Kate II won Division II.

The final race of the championship was held in a 6 knot breeze which had some holes in it. Mollie II got a great start headed towards Monkstown. Eros II with Gail Varian and Geoff Sarratt headed towards the twin ESB chimneys. The wind started to shift to the north west, leaving Mollie II high and dry. It was Pansy and Barbara who took a middle course and got to the windward mark first. They held their positions until the second lap when Swift overtook Barbara. Then a luffing match started between Swift and Moosmie to decide the outcome of the championships. Swift pushed Moosmie back to seventh place- but Moosmie was able to discard this result and win the championships.

The final race which was not part of the series was a handicap race, with handicaps based on performance over the year to date. It was won by Good Hope.

Afternoon tea in the Natonal Yacht Club was followed by a prize-giving at which Captain of the Water Wags Cathy Mac.Aleavey thanked the National Yacht Club, the competitors, the race committee, and all who contributed to the success of the event. Competition in the Water Wags is now much tighter in 2012 than it was in 1987 or in 1887. There were four different race winners, and high scores in the results due to the level of competition right through the fleet.

Final Results:

1st. Moosmie- 1, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, (7). (Built in 1910)

2nd. Swift- 4, 1, 5, 1, 4, (OCS), 5. (Built in 2001)

3rd. Pansy- 3, 8, 4, 3, (9), 3, 1. (Built in 1906)

Div. 1B.- Barbara- 6, 9, 7, (14), 10, 2, 2. ( Built in 1915)

Division 2- Mary Kate II- (20), 12, 13, 16, 13, 11, 8. ( Built in 1915)

For a history of each boat see the file below:

Waterwags 125th

For photographs of the event click HERE