LEYC (B Class)

LEYC (B Class) Sail Plan

One hundred years ago the Lough Erne Yacht Club’s One-designs first raced on Lower Lough Erne, in August 1909. The fleet, consisting of nine yachts, were designed by Arthur Edward Payne Jnr., and built by Alexander Macdonald & Co., at their Ferry Yard in Itchen near Southampton.

LEYC (B Class) leaving Southampton for Lough Erne

The nine centreboard sloop rigged yachts were brought to Lough Erne by rail, ferry and rail and off loaded at Enniskillen. Built in response to the Enniskillen Yacht Club’s fleet of Fairy Class yachts but also as a replacement for the fleet of Colleens (the A Class), the Upper Lough families, not to be out done by the new sailing club’s one-designs, commissioned A. E. Payne, one of the top yacht designers of the day to produce a new one-design class. Payne was already well known to LEYC members having designed the highly successful 2-Raters Squall in 1894 for Viscount Crichton, Mistral in 1899 for G. Massy-Beresford, and Foam in 1905 for The Hon. Cyril A. Ward. Some confusion exists over the names and owners of the original B Class fleet but the list below gives the correct list for their first season on Lough Erne:

Yacht Name & Owner

DuckCapt. Somerset Saunderson

FaldettaEarl of Lanesborough

GrisetteGeorge Massy-Beresford, DL, JP

Kestrel – Capt. Viscount Crichton

LilyHon. Cyril A. Ward

MavisLady Mary Grosvenor

NanArmar Saunderson

Ocean SparkEdward A. Saunderson

SoniaLady Mary Crichton

Lough Erne Yacht Club One-design (B Class)

LEYC (B Class) Lines Plan

Fleet Captain: -

Past Fleet Captain: Viscount Crichton (1909-1914)

LEYC (B Class) Historian: Paul Louden-Brown

LEYC (B Class) designer: Arthur Edward Payne Jnr., Belvidere Road, Southampton

Yacht builder: Alexander Macdonald & Co., Ferry Yard, Itchen, Southampton


Length (L.O.A.): 24ft.

Length (L.W.L.): 17ft.

Beam: 6ft. 9in.

Draught: 2ft. 6in.

Draught (with centerboard deployed): 5ft. 6in.

Displacement: Not recorded

Tonnage: 3 tons (Thames Measurement)

Rig: Sloop

Sail area: 310 sq. ft. union silk (original sailmaker Ratsey & Lapthorn)

Blocks & Rigging: Davey & Co., London, EC


Carvel, yellow pine and pitch pine on oak ribs. Deck, yellow pine tongue and groove planking with canvas. Lead saddle ballast keel with iron centreboard plate.

The first yacht constructed was Kestrel her hull painted in traditional “Crom Blue.” The class were the most upto date and technically advanced on the Lough, each equipped with a suit of top quality Ratsey & Lapthorn sails and the latest Wykeham-Martin furling gears on the jib and with their centreboard design the yachts offered the flexibility of being able to be race on virtually any part of the Upper or Lower Loughs.

The first trial race of the B Class yachts was at Rossclare on 20 August 1909 against the Enniskillen Yacht Club’s Fairy Class. The Fermanagh Times reported:

‘The racing under the auspices of the Enniskillen Yacht Club was continued at Rossclare…The weather was fairly good, and an excellent day’s sport was enjoyed. The principal event of the day was a “trial yacht race” between boats of the Fairy class belonging to the Enniskillen Yacht Club and a new class of yachts recently procured by the Upper Lough Erne Club. The wind was blowing half a gale from the north-west, and the owners of a number of the upper lake boats did not venture out, as they have not yet had much experience of their sailing qualities. Captain the Hon. George Crichton [younger brother of Viscount Crichton], however, faced the gale, and a very brilliant performance he made, and judging by the result of the race, and the very fine sailing qualities of Kestrel, the Upper Lake Club have got a really fine sporting class of small yachts. They are larger in measurement than the “Fairy” class, with a shade more sail area, and they are certainly faster, but probably not so stiff in a blow…The boats to start were: – Kestrel (Captain the Hon. George Crichton), Spook (Mr. E. M. Archdale), Psyche (Mr. C. F. Falls), Snipe (Major C. D’Arcy Irvine and Colonel Challoner Knox), Tuftie (Mr. J. Porter-Porter), Pastime (Major Irvine and Mrs Irvine), Paxie (Messrs R.W. Wilson and C. M’Donagh), Iris (Colonel Richardson), Storm (Mr. G. V. Irvine and Misses Irvine, Goblusk).”

The course of the first race extended to about twelve miles. Shortly after the start of the race at Rossclare Point, Spook and Psyche fouled each other and had to retire, the latter with a broken bowsprit. The results of the first race were:

Name – H. M. S. – Class

Kestrel (1st) – 4 32 0 – B Class

Storm (2nd) – 4 36 3 – Fairy Class

Iris (3rd) – 4 38 40  Fairy Class

Paxie (4th) – 4 41 17 Fairy Class

Pastime (5th) – 4 42 55 – Fairy Class

Tuftie (6th) – 4 43 40 – Fairy Class

The racing continued on the 21st August:

‘There was again a large gathering and excellent sport” reported the Fermanagh Times. “The handicap allowed by the Upper Lake class of boats to the Fairy class was 8 mins. 6 secs. Calculated after trial races on the 20th inst., in much the same weather. The course, which extended to about 12 miles, was from a point off Rossclare, twice round buoys off Inishdever Island, Innishmacsaint, and Straheny, and back to starting line. There was a strong stiff breeze blowing from the North-west to the north-north-west, accompanied by showers. It was also a bit squally, and the boats were all tightly reefed, except Psyche, which was in full dress, and some had storm jibs set. At the start Tuftie, Doreen, and Snipe were late, and of these only the last named boat crossed the line. The start was at 11.30 a.m.”

The finishing times for the second race, with the handicap allowance were:

Name – H. M. S. – Class

Storm (1st) – 2 38 10 – Fairy Class

Ocean Spark (2nd) – 2 38 28 – B Class

Pastime (3rd) – 2 42 06 – Fairy Class

Kestrel (4th) – 2 42 37 – B Class

Grisette (5th) – 2 43 07 – B Class

Iris (6th) – 2 43 55 – Fairy Class

Lily (7th) – 2 43 58 – B Class

Spook (8th) – 2 44 04 – Fairy Class

Mavis (9th) – 2 46 53 – B Class

The Fairy Class yachts PaxieSnipe and Psyche gave up.

A memory of this import meeting of the two classes survives to this day in the collection of the LEYC in the form of a magnificent Sterling silver two handled trophy cup presented by The Hon. George Crichton, on behalf of his brother Viscount Crichton, to the Enniskillen Yacht Club, and engraved:





Ulster based Sonia gives new hope for revival of LEYC One-design fleet

After a careful examination of Sonia in storage at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum it has been agreed to rebuild Kestrel. Permission has been obtained to take the lines from Sonia and with the use of a surviving copy of the lines and rigging plan the yacht will be rebuilt using the same construction methods as used in the originals. The fleet of nine yachts were built upside down over moulds, carvel planked with stem bent ribs on an oak backbone. The centreboard case, constructed in wood, over an iron frame had its lead ballast attached with keel bolts. The centreboard, set within the keel, left the cockpit free of obstructions, an important feature. Lady Mary Crichton, a keen yachtswoman was paralysed from the waist down following a horse riding accident in March 1909.

Viscountess Crichton, owner of Sonia

She was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life and therefore the B Class were designed around the needs of a disabled person (as far as I am aware this is the first example of a racing yacht designed for use by a disabled person). Their decks were built of yellow pine planking, tongue and grooved together with a canvas covering attached with a mixture of paint and glue to make a water and drum tight deck, but as with the restored Fairy Class yachts Maeve and Storm this will be changed to marine ply covered with glass matting for extra strength and longevity. A number of the deck fittings and rigging survive and these will be refurbished and refitted in Kestrel.

Viscountess Crichton and her husband photographed at a flower show in London in 1914

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