As we begin the countdown to February’s deed of Gift Showdown
between the carbon fibre super cats.
One can easily become detached from the current reality
of the 2009/10 global economy pulling a Movistar, we
dream of helming one of these leviathans.
How often do we think that that could have been us-
heavily involved in the design process, pouring over the figures
and statistics, salivating at the prospect of the wingmast delivering
Trying your best to dispel any thoughts of a pitchpole, the wing
Wondering if our design will stand up to the rigours of the Med,
far removed from the calm waters of Lake Geneva or San Diego??
Well, here is a pleasant reminder of traditional sailing.
Sailing a boat, in this instance a Galway Hooker.
A boat that remain in families for generations.
Boats that were handcrafted from locally sourced materials and
not an ounce of carbon fibre on offer. No £500 worth of sailing gear.
Galway Hookers are built primarily with timber from the Larch tree.
Strong, yet supple this timber is shaped into a hull and then coated in a
pitch resin. This guarantees the waterproofness of the hull.
The sails-as evident from the photos are made from calico cotton-all
hand measured and cut.
The Hookers, with their open layout were ideal for transport to all the
island on the Irish western seaboard.
Their big mainsail performs as a spinnaker in its own right when running
downwind, and as you can see in this clip, they are well capable of
To date, these boats are the pride of families in Conamara, Co. Galway.
They have been in families for generations, maintained with great pride,
all with their own unique stories.
During the summer months, these old war horses gather at various quays
along the west coast for races.
They race in a similar manner to the America’s Cup yachts and perform
While the Hookers lack the melange of international accents, of a crew
assembled from all corners of the globe with a healthy antipodean flavor.
The Hooker races boast a strong family connection-families racing families, neighbors racing neighbors. The level of competition is as almost unrivaled.
During the Galway stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race, Ericsson 4 skipper
Torben Grael sailed on a hooker called "Meiriceá Mór" translating from
Gaelic to- Big America. This hooker has been raced by the O’Flaharta family
for generations, the name of the hooker highlights the connection between
the West of Ireland and America.
All in all, the Hookers have a proud tradition, spanning generations,
quietly showing the world how easily exhilarating match racing can be
Long may they last.
Best of luck and great sailing to all.