20 Jun 2016
Boatbuilding in Carrickfergus flourished in the late eighteen hundreds, two yards were in operation employing a hundred or more people. One of these was owned by shipwright John Hilditch who specialised in building wooden yachts. The 'Romance', a steam yacht was built for Charles Legg, one of the founder members of the Club in 1866.
Seven Belfast Lough One Design racing yachts were built for other notables in the area, the first was the 'Peggy Bawn' in 1894. The Fairy Class were built for the then North of Ireland Yacht Club (now the Royal North of Ireland YC) in 1901 and are still sailing today at Cultra, and a fleet of seventeen footers was built in 1898 for Howth, knows as the Howth 17 Class. The last boat he built in 1915 was the 'Trasna', a 36 foot Island Class.
These beautiful classic boats can be seen racing at Carrickfergus as part of Carrickfergus Sailing Club's 150th anniversary celebration in a Classic Regatta on Thursday 23rd June. Thy will be moored in the harbour during their stay.
‘Peggy Bawn’, fully restored including newly-laid deck, arrived here last week. The recently restored ‘Trasnagh’ will sail up from Dartmouth, weather permitting. Also taking part are the Howth 17’s and Fairys, they will be joined by ‘Ain Mara’, ‘Glance’ and ‘Talisman’ from Strangford Lough and many other local gaff-rigged and Bermudan classic boats.
This fleet of Hilditch and other classic boats will be racing at Carrickfergus Sailing Club on Thursday 24th June, starting at 2pm – take a late lunch and come down to view this unique gathering of Hilditch built boats and the many other sailing ‘classics’.
Photo – Carrickfergus Sailing Club Photo – South West OGA Photo – courtesy of W M Nixon