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Enterprise Team Racing Champions and the much travelled McWillaim Volvo 1985

WBW#23 – Enterprising Days

Here Paul Tingle relates the fun times of the Enterprise class, the mid performance dinghy that was highly active in the harbour from the ’60s to the early ’90s.

It was not just a Royal Cork class, it was big in Monkstown for a period and by dint of two clubs the class thrived in the harbour for over thirty years.

At the bottom of this post we make a further linkage between these clubs through burgees in what is a significant year not just for us.


Way Back When – No. 23 – By Paul Tingle

The Enterprise is long gone with all the modern-day skiffs and moths and all sorts grabbing the interest of the young folk today, but it is a boat that has had a long association with the club.

Our author with Peter Morehead in Hi Jinx c1980. This was one of four boats that the club bought in 1979 using a “revolving fund” (thanks to the foresight of Junior Affairs Chair, Bill O’Mahony, and others at the time) to kick start the revival of the class in Crosshaven. As each boat found an owner, the committee sourced the next!

Easily recognised by its distinctive blue sails the Enterprise dinghy (aka ‘The Enty’) was designed by Jack Holt in 1955 and had its first outing in January 1956 when the ‘News Chronicle’ Enterprise was launched, well actually there were two boats launched on the 9th January and as a publicity stunt they sailed from Dover to Calais. The first Enterprise World Championships were held in Antibes in 1966. All told there were just over 24,000 boats built (mainly of wood with the more recent ones being GRP).

The Enty arrived in the harbour about 1960 with the club hosting the National Championship for the first time in 1961. It was the fleet to be involved with at that time with many future olympians cutting their cloth in these boats and at the various southern and national dinghy championships held throughout Ireland. There were Enterprise fleets in Sligo, Fenit, Bantry, Kinsale, Cork, Dunmore East as well as in Dublin and the North.

We could not find photographic evidence of the early Enterprise fleet in the harbour. We do know that the southern event circuit included Bantry Sailing Club, Dunmore East and Kinsale. Dick Lane’s collection of sailing photos has already provided some lovely images for the WbW series and we are grateful for this one taken near Whiddy Island during the ’60s.

The Cork fleet at that time included sailors like Tony and Greg O’Gorman, Hugh and Dick Gibson, Adrian O’Donovan, Dougie Deane, John and Michael Ryan, Kevin Dunne, Harold Cudmore, Fred Cudmore to name but a few. A number of these sailors ventured to the UK for British and World Championships.

With the rise in popularity of keelboat racing (Admirals cup) and the arrival of families etc the fleet faded out in Crosshaven but were kept going in the harbour by the newly founded Monkstown Bay sailing club.

Dunmore East 1975 – fab sailing waters with an ever present chop that will be familiar to everyone who has attended an open event in WHSC.

This one if from an old international class yearbook – it gives a good idea of what the crew has to do – and the chop!

The first worlds in Ireland were held in 1975 at Dunmore East (WHSC).

In 1979 there was a revival of the fleet in Crosshaven. The committee of that time decided that a two-handed dinghy for the older sailors graduating from Mirrors and Cadets was required. A number of boats were sourced by the club and these boats were subsequently purchased by members. Training was organised for all and by 1979 there was a fleet of Enterprises racing on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons. Various outings across the harbour to Monkstown, Aghada, East Ferry and further shores of Kinsale and Dunmore East followed.

Johnny Moynihan hasn’t changed much over the years! There was a fleet of up to 20 Ents sailing in the newly founded MBSC during the seventies, which kept the class in the harbour while it had it’s hiatus in Crosshaven. One of the all time great Irish Enty sailors is Flor O’Driscoll – we are reliably told that the name Monkstown Bay was chosen so as to “capture” as many as possible of Jack O’Driscoll of Ringaskiddy’s family! 

There were a few ventured as far as Sligo for the Enterprise world championships in mid- August 1979 (it was the week after the Fastnet ‘79 race). Sailors of that time included Johnny and Judy Moynihan, Tom and Elizabeth Crosbie, Brian Hickey and Anne O’Mahony, Dan Cahill and John MacSweeney, Peter Morehead and Mike Sullivan. The national championship returned to the club in 1980.

Peter Morehead (senior brother of our current Admiral) was one of the first to join in the revived club fleet in ’79. Here he has been snapped with Eleanor Lane, instead of his regular crew Mike Sull. The class proved an excellent method of “speed dating” as will be further evidenced later.

Between 1984 and 1986 there was an influx of ex Mirror sailors as well as a number of older sailors that took a break from the keelboat scene. The input brought on sailors like Tom and Jamie McWilliam (their Dad ‘Johnny’ was instrumental in getting a lot of the younger sailors to buy and sail the boats locally at that time) and the Coveney brothers.

The McWilliam brothers, Tom and Jamie, on tour. Not alone did Tom make his own blue sails – it looks like he took all the McWilliam bag material to make a boat cover as well.

Tom McWilliam with Keith (Bendy) McKeown crewing.  Tom’s sails looked to have been dyed in the bath at home! Because of this we reckon neither Tom nor Jamie could ever afford to capsize and get them wet….

….which is more than could be said about some others. Myles Hassett and John Crotty putting on a great display of synchronised capsizing with Tom McWilliam in Full Tilt Boogie looking on.

The fleet gathered pace with Eddie Tingle, Deirdre Collins, Myles Hassett, Alys Morrissey, Karen Horgan, Frank Murphy, Neil Kenefick, Grattan Roberts, Denis Cudmore, Stuart Nairn, John Crotty and Joe O Mahony all buying boats. There was a lot of racing, team racing and socialising.

The boats were like pieces of furniture – beautifully built and very light. The mast was deck stepped which made them tricky to set up as the spreaders controlled everything (or not!). This photo is also interesting as it shows the gradual progress of the dinghy park westward during the 1980s.

Stuart Nairn, a long term club member who is fondly remembered, at that time worked in near Shannon Airport and got a fleet of Ents going in Cullaun, a tiny lake in the middle of Co. Clare with an island to race around. Those outings, along with trips to places like Bray, Greystones, Malahide, Dunmore East, Wexford, Louth Neagh, Ballyholme, Royal North in Cultra etc were all great fun. 

The occasion above was a John McWilliam organised training session with class ace, Ian Southworth. Included in pic are Rob Bergin, Dave, Myles and Brian Hassett, Sandra Good, Pauline McKechnie, Roy VanMannen, Jonathon Horgan, Paul and Neil Hegarty, Richard Moran, Kevin Cahill, Niamh McHale, Francis Donnelly, Nicola Kiely, Deirdre Collins, Paul Tingle, Michael Collins, Barry O Meara, Tom McWilliam, Alys Morrissey, Jane O Mahony, Tom Crosbie, Frank Murphy, Eddie Tingle, John McCann, Ian Southworth (Coach), John Crotty, Roddy Hogan, Stuart Nairn, ?, John McWilliam, Grattan Roberts, Adrian Bell (Coach). If you can help with the ? pls leave a comment.

The highlight of that time had to be the Royal Cork hosting the Enterprise World championships in July 1987. The World championships had been held previously in Ireland on two other occasions, namely Dunmore East in 1975 and Sligo in 1979. It was a windy week of racing in Cork for the 80 boats. Ted Crosbie was the OOD. The first race highlight was the pathfinder (gate starts) being holed by an oncoming starter. The local boat had to scamper to Myrtleville beach as they were sinking (no RIBs around back then!). They beached the boat and then walked back to the club to get the car and trailer to recover the boat and get it repaired in time for the next day’s racing.

Eddie Tingle and Dermot O’Flynn lining up to pass behind the gate boat at the ’87 Worlds….

…. while Deirdre Collins and Orla Fitzgerald seem to be lining up quite happily for a tow. The class was the scene of many a budding romance – the two crew in these pictures are now married to each other while one helm married the other’s brother!

Again, when you look at the list of sailors at that event there was lot of future olympians and medalists racing in that regatta. It was a ‘red-hot’ fleet at the time.

As always when a large regatta is held at the club the vacuum afterwards reduces the fleet numbers. The fleet held together until circa 1993. Other sailors reckoned the Enty wasn’t the boat to sail anymore as it didn’t have a spinnaker!

There was another Enterprise Worlds held in the club in 2004. Peter Hassett, who by then was sailing Ents in Bray persuaded the class to return while Tom Crosbie was the event chairperson.

The Enterprise World Championship of 2004 was the last time a large fleet of blue sails have graced the harbour. 

“…If you can sail an Enterprise downwind in a blow then you can manage to sail most other boats too”….. What a great boat to have sailed. Thank you, Jack Holt, again!

The boat that was always tricky downwind! The class appears to have completely disappeared as a competitive fleet in Ireland but is still showing good numbers in the very diverse UK dinghy scene. This rather appropriate image is from their class FB page.



UPDATE 09/04/2020: We have been handed this handsome lot from 1989 – Dave Hassett, Willie Healy, Prof and Cara Nagle – they were supposed to be in Malahide for the Nationals but somehow ended up on Haddington Road!


Note: Monkstown Bay Sailing Club has it’s own significant birthday this year having been founded in 1970 – and we are delighted to mark it….

This is their burgee….


…. and this was the burgee of the MMYC

The Munster Model Yacht Club was founded in Monkstown in 1872 and became the Royal Munster when it received it’s charter twenty years later. The move of the Royal Munster from Monkstown to Crosshaven in 1923, as related by club architect Jim Buchan, is covered in the WbW#12 post. The burgee above is from page 388 of “A History of the Royal Cork Yacht Club” by Dr. Alicia St. Leger, published in 2005. 

Our harbour has a fabulous shared history and it is appropriate that we mark and congratulate MBSC, its officers and members, on their 50th anniversary. Happy Birthday!



WayBackWhen is being published as a regular series as part of the Club’s 300th anniversary celebrations. Each post looks as some aspect of club and harbour life in the living memory of the current membership, and continues to be published twice a week for now. While the June and July elements of the Club’s celebrations have been cancelled (apart from the Fleet Review which it is hoped to have later this summer), it is important to note that the programme for August and September is unchanged at this time. 

WbW#22<<<              >>>WbW#24

2 Responses to WBW#23 – Enterprising Days

  1. Pat Murphy April 11, 2020 at 1:57 pm #

    Nice piece, I sailed an Enterprise for a couple of years and won the Irish Nationals which were held in conjunction with the Worlds in Sligo in 1979.
    Pat Murphy

  2. Paul Tingle April 17, 2020 at 12:34 pm #

    Further information added by Brian Cudmore.
    Enterprise Fleet early 60s…Tony O Gorman, Adrian O Donavan, John Ryan, Harold Cudmore, Conor Doyle, Brian Cudmore, David Gay, Kevin Dunne, Hal Sisk, John Sisk, Sean Dumphy, Robert McClement.
    In those days there was also a very active class in Kinsale and over the June weekend the RMYC boats used to go down to Kinsale for three days of racing. This was always a fun event and often had a combined fleet of over Twenty five Enterprises racing.
    Names sailing in Kinsale at the time included; David Nicholson, Jonh Petch, Eddy Sheehy, Courtney Good, David Tucker, Adrian Stokes, Ian Heaslip, Ronnie Smith, Peter Johnson, Robin Mathews, Bruce Mathews.

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