Hilbre One Design

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Hilbre
Hilbre menai.JPG
Hie and Hilarity in the Menai Strait Regattas
Current Specifications
Crew 3-4
Type Monohull
Keel Fixed
LOA 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Beam 6 ft 6.25 in (1.9876 m)
Hull weight 2,700 lb (1,200 kg)
Infobox last updated: 05/02/2013

The Hilbre Island One Design is a racing keelboat built to a strict design specification and raced at West Kirby Sailing Club in north west England. The class is named after an island in the mouth of the river Dee. To date there have been 55 built. The first boat was completed in 1958 but most of the 55 examples built were constructed between 1960 and 1963. The class has a Portsmouth Yardstick of 1290.

In 1956 a committee meeting was held at West Kirby Sailing Club with the proposal of expanding the Star fleet, at the time there was a majority view of Star owners that the fleet should not be expanded (11 in favour, 1 against, 2 abstentions) at the current time but instead a new boat somewhat larger than the 16 ft Star should be developed with "a more modern design and a more solid construction than the Liverpool Bay Falcons" This proposal became the Hilbre One Design. Designer Alan Buchanan was commissioned to build a sturdy shallow drafted boat with a drop keel suitable for use on the Dee estury which could be used for both racing and family picnics. The design had to cope with the shallow waters and strong tidal effects and moorings which dry out twice a day. Buchanan's design was for 19 feet 9 inches long boats, built of wood, with a clinker built hull. Their draught is 4 ft 5in with their centre plate lowered, and 1 ft 7in with it raised. They had a displacement of 2700 lbs (including the 500 lb keel) and looked more like a yacht than a large dinghy. The original design had a flat stern but the committee decided to change this to one with an over hang similar to a Seabird Half Rater and also to add a small cuddy for day and family sailing.

The original boat Hilbre, number 1, was demonstrated in the Menai Straits in 1958 however during her trip from the builders, Williams & Nixon in Deganwy to the Straits she was dismasted whilst under tow! This failed to put off interest and 7 boats were ordered to be built by Enterprise Small Craft Company in Rock Ferry and Williams & Nixon in Deganwy, 6 for private owners and the 7th to be raffled by West Kirby Sailing Club. Priced originally at £350.00 for the hull and spars and £150.00 for a full set of sails (now approximately £1,800.00), the original boat found an eager market which was met with the additional builders who were duly authorised.

By the early 80's the majority of the fleet were located on the River Dee, with 22 boats at Dee SC, 18 at West Kirby and 5 at Tranmere Sailing Club on the Mersey, but following the closure of Riversdale Technical College the fleet at Tranmere ceased to exist and the boats were sold off. The fleet based at Dee SC dwindled in the mid to late 80's and subsequently either left or joined West Kirby Sailing Club.

Boats carry an overlapping genoa as well as a smaller No1 jib and a spinnaker. Class rules permit windows in these sails, and currently permit three official sailmakers: North Sails, Speed Sails & Pinnel and Bax, albeit this is now being reviewed with the possible introduction of a more local manufacturer which would require ratification from the Hilbre Association. The Hilbre has a small cabin, which allows the boats to be used for day sailing as well as racing: Hilbres have crossed from the Dee to the Menai Strait and back many times, with the fastest trip reported as seven hours, however due to the unpredictability of the weather it was found that the long race which debuted on the class' 21st birthday from the Dee to Beaumaris was almost impossible to hold. Class rules stipulate a minimum of three crew when racing, although the boat can be sailed single-handed at a pinch, and benefits from having four crew in strong winds.

Like all wooden boats, Hilbres need regular maintenance in the winter. This is carried out in the boat sheds at West Kirby Sailing Club. The club also offers class racing including team and match racing. Hilbres also have their own starts at local Wirral regattas and at the Menai Strait Regattas fortnight in Anglesey during the beginning of August. In 2012, Hirondelle (H5) sailed by the Riley family dominated the racing at home winning all of the series. In this year's Menai Straits Regatta, the fortnight of racing was won by Peter Bramley sailing Hicotee (H27).

Hipparchus built in 1966 is located at Merseyside Maritime Museum, albeit not currently on display.

It is a class rule that all boat names should begin with the prefix "Hi" but as the fleet numbers rose to around the 50 mark it became increasingly difficult to find unique suitable words left in the dictionary! This has led to some curious names and spellings and one boat, Heulwen number 50, even managed to slip through the net and have the prefix "He", no one is quite sure why this was allowed by the committee. Though the spelling "Hieuwen" has been noted.

The Hilbre One Design Association was formed in 1960 to preserve the one design principles, which were threatened by the use of seven different boat builders who constructed the majority of the 55 strong class within a 3-year period each offering a list of extras to suit the prospective owners needs. However most of these concerned the interior layout and did not affect the sailing performance. For example the Williams & Nixon boats tend to have a far flatter cuddy compared to the other builders and it is reputed the only boats that strictly comply with the approved plans in full are the two Partington Boats (H47 & H53). Various improvements and adaptations have been incorporated into the rules over time including allowing kicking straps etc. The Hilbre One Design Association endeavours to keep boats sailing locally and currently owns two boats, Hiraethog (H32) and Hi-C (H46). The Association are now attempting to locate all "lost" boats with various Hilbres being found in gardens and one apparently being the possession of West Cheshire Sailing Club's Commodore. There is a view to obtain some of these boats and refurbish one per year. The plan of the Association is to make a boat a year available for sale or possible lease to sailors who want to sail and race on the Dee.

Following the recent Hilbre Association Annual General Meeting, Mr G Wright was confirmed as the Association's President.

An auspicious start to the 2013 season following Force 11-12 winds left H27 sunk (albeit successfully salvaged) and H8, H9, H34, H53 de-masted with 4 broken masts requiring replacement and stem heads re-securing. H8 lost its mooring and beached on rocks albeit the damage was limited to a few broken planks.

Current fleet[edit]

Number Name Year Built Boat Builder Current Status
1 Hilbre 1958 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy WKSC-Regularly sailed
2 Highlight 1959 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC-Regularly sailed
3 Hilary 1959 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy South of Wales
4 Hioco 1959 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC-Regularly sailed
5 Hirondelle 1959 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC-Regularly sailed
6 Hie 1959 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy WKSC-Regularly sailed
7 Highwayman 1959 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy WKSC-Regularly sailed
8 Hiccup 1959 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy WKSC-Regularly sailed
9 Hiawatha 1960 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy WKSC-Regularly sailed
10 Hidalgo 1960 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Located in Hamburg, Germany
11 Highlander 1960 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Lying in Heswall Boat yard last 10 years, cuddy removed and decking changed to resemble a half rater
12 Hippo 1960 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC
13 No boat
14 Hibernia 1961 Turner & Son, Donegal Last heard located at Fiddlers Ferry SC
15 Hieros 1961 Turner & Son, Donegal Understood to be in a garden in Chester
16 High & Dry 1961 Turner & Son, Donegal Went down in the Persian gulf after 130 degree temperatures in 1981
17 Hilsa 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC-Regularly sailed
18 Hijinx 1960 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Abersoch
19 Hilarity 1960 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy WKSC-Regularly sailed
20 Hilda 1960 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC-Regularly sailed
21 Highlea 1960 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy Last heard in Polperro
22 Hijack 1961 Turner & Son, Donegal Set on fire and destroyed in Nevin,in 1995 after a dispute with local fishermen
23 Hi-Falutin 1962 Wirral Boat Co., Rock Ferry Located at West Cheshire SC
24 Hibiscus 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Sunk when it disappeared from its mooring at Tranmere in 1984
25 Hideaway 1961 JM Lowther, Whitby Originally built out of class, subsequently altered and accepted by the Association in 1978. Five similar boats thought to have been built but not classed as Hilbres. Last Heard in West Lancs SC in 1996
26 Hispaniola 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Last heard of heard in Irvine, Scotland
27 Hicotee 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC-Regularly sailed
28 Highland Scot 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC - Regularly sailed
29 Hither 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC - Regularly sailed
30 Hiatus 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Last heard of in Barrow in Furness
31 Hi Sheriff 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside WKSC-Regularly sailed
32 Hiraethog 1960 Williams & Nixon, Deganwy WKSC-Hilbre Association Boat....Undergoing a rebuild by the Association
33 Hiwmor 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside South East England
34 Hi Fi 1960 Crossfield Successors, Arnside WKSC - Regularly sailed
35 Hilo 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Wrecked when escaped moorings at West Kirby SC
36 Hinayana 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Poorly repaired in the past and beyond economic repair and subsequently set on fire on bonfire night
37 Hinden 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Destroyed when put in a skip in Liverpool by over keen repairers who cut three feet off the stern in 1994
38 Hinemoa 1961 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry WKSC - Regularly sailed
39 Hickory 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Burnt on Bonfire Night
40 Hirundo 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Broken up and burnt with parts re-used
41 Highcrest 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Wrecked when came off its moorings at West Kirby SC
42 Hindu Honey 1962 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Destroyed/sank in North Wales with parts made available to the Hilbre Association
43 Hildebrand 1962 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Last heard in Northumberland
44 Hibrena 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Cut up and burnt in 2002 and parts salvaged for use by the Association
45 Hifactum 1962 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Lying in a garden in the Irby, Wirral
46 Hi C 1962 Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry Hilbre Association boat requiring extensive work
47 Highland Piper 1961 William Partington Marine, Pwhelli WKSC-Regularly sailed
48 Hi Di Hi 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Damaged beyond repair and burnt on bonfire night 2011 at WKSC
49 Higgler 1961 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Last heard of in Polperro
50 Heulwen 1962 Wirral Boat Co., Rock Ferry Porthmadog
51 Hiatus 1962 Wirral Boat Co., Rock Ferry WKSC -
52 Hikari 1963 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Converted to fishing boat, although understood now to be destroyed and burnt
53 High Hat 1963 William Partington Marine, Pwhelli WKSC-Regularly sailed
54 Hinon 1964 Crossfield Successors, Arnside Lying in a garden in Buckley, in a poor condition
55 Hiriver 1964 Anglesey Boat Co., Beaumaris Sunk in the river Mersey, when swamped by the Isle of Man Ferry in 1970
56 Hipparchus 1966 Anglesey Boat Co., Beaumaris Liverpool Maritime Museum

External links[edit]

West Kirby Sailing Club