Kirby25250Nov2Skipper Jim Matthew is nice enough on land. He smiles, issues pleasantries with an English accent and talks about racing. On the water his whimsical Kirby 25 appears with big red lips on a white spinnaker. But don't be fooled. The name of the boat is Poch Ma Hon, Gaelic for "kiss my ass." And the sight of this boat frays the nerves of other Kirby sailors from the Barrie Yacht Club in Barrie, Ontario.

Out on the high seas of Lake Simcoe's Kempenfelt Bay, crews' faces twist and redden as they try to keep that giant mouth behind them. It's war on the water on Monday and Wednesday nights during the summer. "STARBOOOARD," echoes across the bay, drowned out only by the profanities spewing from arm-waving, deck-stomping helmspersons. While Matthew doesn't always win, he's always a thorn in the side of ambitious skippers.

Back on land after a club race, the warm smile and pleasant Dr. Jekyll nature reappear. And while his crew changes every year, the "captain" remains the same. Matthew is one of a few long-time Kirby owners at the Barrie Yacht Club. He's had his boat since 1981 and has raced in Barrie since 1987.

As with other boats, owners come and go, but Kirbys rarely stray far from their home port. If a boat is sold and taken to another club, it's the topic of conversation at the BYC bar until somebody can muster the cash to bring it home to Kempenfelt Bay. For example the sole Kirby from the neighbouring Lagoon City Yacht Club on Lake Simcoe was just bought by Bill MacKenzie, bringing the Barrie fleet number to 14. Now MacKenzie is the proud owner of twin Kirbys! The Kirby 25 is a popular one-design at the Barrie and Nepean Yacht Clubs. The fleet on the Ottawa River hovers at 16 and there are many others in Quebec and the Maritimes. In fact the Kirby diaspora reaches into the United States and on down to the Caribbean.

"But the Kirby 25 is very much a Canadian boat," observes John Osborne, the former owner of a speedy Kirby called Mosquito. More than 200 Kirby 25s were built in Canada by Mirage Yachts in Montreal between 1978 and 1983. Dick Steffen, the former owner of the company which closed its doors in the early eighties, tells how he began building his 25s after his deal to build J/24s in Canada went sour. "I hung up the phone on Mr. Johnstone and immediately dialled Bruce Kirby," explained Steffen. "I asked him to draw me a boat to beat the J/24s." It just happened that Bruce Kirby had something in mind. "Steffen wanted a good, fast 25-footer," said Kirby from his home Rowayton, Conn., during a recent telephone interview. "The J/24s were already in production and we didn't want to be copy-cats. What I did was design that was a little faster than the Johnstone's." Designers, Steffen observed, can design a boat fast. "We had (Kirby's) drawings within days and our tooling started within weeks," explained Steffen. "Then Mr. Johnstone phoned back but I didn't return his call."

Built in Canada from a Canadian design (Kirby is originally from Montreal), it's not surprising that the majority of Kirby 25s were sold to Canadians. And in spite of the fact that the 25 has been out of production for 10 years, the boat remains a popular fleet and PHRF racer. But this doesn't surprise Kirby. In fact, Kirby's wife thinks the 25 was the best boat her hubby ever designed. Considering that Kirby drew the lines for the first Laser (now an Olympic class), this is quite a statement!

Back in Barrie, Kirby owners will tell you why their boats are worth keeping, "People see it as a competitive and relatively inexpensive boat," said Hugh Rowlinson, a former president of the Kirby 25 Association from 1981 to 1983. "As well, it's ideally adapted to our relatively sheltered waters."

"They are a reasonably priced one-design racer. That's the attraction," said Osborne, an Olympic medallist in the Tornado at the '76 Games in Kingston. "They've bottomed out in price and will probably remain cheap."

In comparison to other one-designs the 25 is a steal. While a competitive Kirby will run for $7,000 to $10,000, a pre-owned J/24 will set you back by $16,000 to $29,000. Owners describe Kirbys as great racers because they're fast and agile. The hull will often plane in a strong blow and the fractional rig is easily adjusted for different wind conditions. "These dinghy-like qualities are not an accident," said Kirby, who was concentrating on dinghy designs up to the 25.

"It's a fractional rig," explains Matthew, "so the genoa luff doesn't go to the top of the mast. The idea with this ail plan is to allow the crew to really bend the mast to flatten the main in a blow or set the mast up straight with no bend for a full and juicy shape in the light stuff."

Kirby 25s are also equipped with running backstays, which enable the helmsperson to adjust sail shape and headstay tension. It also means they have to be readjusted after every tack. "This configuration is designed for competitive sailors who don't mind the extra work for the sake of a competitive edge," said Kirby.

Each summer keen racers trailer their boats to a series of three major regattas; the Midland Walwyn One-Design Regatta in June at the Nepean Sailing Club on the Ottawa River; the Frenchman's Bay Regatta in August at the F.B.Y.C. in Pickering on Lake Ontario; and the Kirby North American Championships held each September at the Barrie Yacht Club. Everyone at last summer's Frenchman's Bay Regatta had to poch Jim Matthew's hon when his boat won. With a new paint job and crew, Captain Jim hopes to place in the top three at this summer's Kirby events. So look out for those big, red lips!

Specifications

LOA            25 ft. 2 in.

LWL            20 ft. 9 in.

Beam             8 ft. 9 in.

Draft            4 ft. 2 in.

Displacement            3,100 lbs.

Sail Area             290 sq. ft.

To see if this boat is available, go to http://www.boatcan.com for listings!

 

Destinations

  • Prev
At the 2019 Vancouver International Boat Show I had the pleasure of meeting up with Allyson and ...
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
There is good anchoring in Cowichan Bay and nearby, and salt water enough to make any boater happy. ...
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...


The Marina at Blind ChannelOne of my favourite places

By Marianne Scott

Sailing north of Desolation Sound, the Discovery Islands and the Broughton Archipelago offer cruisers a bevy islands with ample anchorages. Tides cause swift currents to run through the islands’ waterways. Few marinas are found in this large, sparsely populated region but one that provides all the services boaters need and especially enjoy is Blind Channel, a marina and resort operated by the Richter family located on Mayne Passage on the east side of West Thurlow Island (50 24. 82N, 125 30. 00).

Read more about the Blind Channel Resort...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...
West Vancouver Yacht Club reports that following an independent certification process the Georgia ...
It has been hot in the Abacos this winter. Whoever said this area was cool this time of year must ...
Unfortunately this is not a picture from a boat but was taken on the evening of February 27, 2019 ...
On March 1, Tom Ramshaw of Stoney Lake Yacht Club was honoured with the most prestigious National ...
Vero Beach, aka Velcro Beach, lived up to its reputation again. Our original plan was to be there ...
My husband and I were visiting the Bra d'Or Lake from Newfoundland in our 39 foot Sea Ray ...
After an autumn in Canada, we arrived back in northern Florida at Adamant 1 on January 3rd and with ...
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...

Swift Trawler 47By Andy Adams

You might look at the pictures of the new Beneteau Swift Trawler 47 and think that this is not a “performance boat”, but I think it certainly is, and here is why; it can top out at 30 mph to get you from A to B quickly or to beat the weather in, so it’s pretty fast, but it can also loaf along doing 1,250 rpm making 9.3 mph and at that pace, it travels 2.4 miles on a gallon of fuel. That’s great performance in my books!

With a light displacement of almost 28,000 lbs, this is a big boat. In fact, it looks and feels more like a small ship than a big boat.

Read more about the Swift Trawler 47......

 

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1When Beneteau introduced their new Oceanis 46.1, they were inspired by the fact that their previous Oceanis 45 was one of Beneteau’s best sellers and the new 46.1 had to be a clearly superior boat. The Oceanis range is about space and comfort for cruising while still delivering strong performance.

The yachting world has now recognized the Oceanis 46.1 as being just such a worthy successor. On January 19th, 2019, the Oceanis 46.1 won the highly regarded title of European Yacht of the Year in the “Family Cruiser” category.

Read More about the Oceanis 46.1......

DIY & How to

  • Prev
I’ve had two emails over the past few weeks with a count-down to launch (47 days per the last ...
Electrical ground is a term used to describe the reference point in an electrical circuit from ...
Last time we looked at making proper electrical connections – the tools, supplies and methods ...
Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is ...
When a boat is in the water, the bilge will often collect water that enters the boat from weather, ...
Recently I suggested doing an off-season (winter) project with a potential client, and my ...
A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...

Sea to Sky SailingSea to Sky Sailing has just been approved as the only Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recognized training centre on the west coast of North America just in time to deliver an epic 2019 season!

“This transition from our previous International Yacht Training (IYT) certification to RYA is a huge benefit to our students as it provides them certification that is known globally as the gold standard for yacht training.  The RYA requires training centres to undergo annual inspections of their vessels, business practices and training delivery in order to maintain a strong standard and guarantee a high quality experience for students. 

Read More about Sea to Sky Sailing......

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
The Walker Bay Venture 14 claims to be the world’s first luxury Explorer Sport Tender. It is ...
Mercury Marine is pleased to announce the launch of the new MerCruiser V8 6.2L 370hp Jet Ready ...
My history with the Cayenne goes back many years, as I was at the launch of the original vehicle ...
Last month, Mercury Marine has announced the launch of the 400hp Verado outboard engine, the ...
Featuring advanced, intuitive 3D controls, Zipwake Dynamic Trim Control Systems deliver a more ...
Gina de Vere approached me at the Canadian Yachting booth at this year’s Vancouver International ...
A revolutionary “assisted docking” system that provides a glimpse into the future of boating ...
After developing the Figaro Beneteau 3, the first production foiling sailing yacht, Groupe Beneteau ...
You most likely operate your vessel with batteries that are rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries ...
This past decade has been a real up-and-down ride for the companies who make boating equipment. ...