Hilbre One Design
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Hie and Hilarity in the Menai Strait Regattas
|Hull weight||2,700 lb (1,200 kg)|
|LOA||19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)|
|Beam||6 ft 6.25 in (1.9876 m)|
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 estuary 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 Hilbre (H1).
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.
|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||On a trailer in Heswall Boatyard last 15 years, cuddy removed and decking changed to resemble a half rater|
|12||Hippo||1960||Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry||WKSC|
|14||Hibernia||1961||Turner & Son, Donegal||Last heard located at Fidlers 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||WKSC|
|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 Nefyn 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 Lancashire YC in 1996|
|26||Hispaniola||1961||Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry||Last heard of in Irvine, Scotland|
|27||Hicotee||1961||Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry||WKSC-Regularly sailed|
|28||Highland Scot||1961||Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry||WKSC - Ownership to be resolved|
|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-Regularly sailed (Rebuilt by the Hilbre Association)|
|33||Hiwmor||1961||Crossfield Successors, Arnside||South East England|
|34||Hi Fi||1960||Crossfield Successors, Arnside||WKSC-Hilbre Association boat|
|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 Irby, Wirral, likely beyond economic repair|
|46||Hi C||1962||Enterprise Boat Company, Rock Ferry||Beyond economic repair so hull was acquired by the Parkgate Society in 2015 as part of a flower display at Parkgate middle slipway|
|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 Derry, reported to be in a poor condition, severe rot and broken ribs and likely to beyond economic repair|
|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||Merseyside Maritime Museum|