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
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 ...
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 New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...

Mediterranean Shakedown: A Summer Cruise in Spain

Mediterranean ShakedownBy Sheryl and Paul Shard

This summer my husband, Paul, and I bought our fourth offshore cruising boat, a new Southerly 480 built by Discovery Yachts in the UK. It’s a unique boat with a retractable variable-draft swing keel giving you the option of sailing with a deep draft of 3.1 metres when the keel is down or just less than a metre with the keel fully retracted. Southerly Yachts are great for bluewater sailing and also for gunkholing in shallow creeks and inland waterways. You can even dry them out at low tide so they are is the perfect boat for the type of exploring we like to do. Our new boat, Distant Shores III, is the third Southerly Yacht that we’ve owned over 29 years of international cruising to destinations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle East, UK, Scandinavia and South America. This boat we plan to sail to the South Pacific.

Read more about the Shards' cruise in Spain...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...
Readers give us a bit of feedback on the 60th anniversary of the Shark 24
We are home for Christmas this year. Soon we will be heading back to Adamant 1 for another winter ...
This past October we drove to Telegraph Cove with friends and spent a day of wonder cruising the ...
We have kept our subscription to Canadian Yacht Onboard as we have traveled the South Pacific over ...
Stuart Walker a legend in competitive sailing passed away on November 12, 2018 in Annapolis. Stuart ...
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...

Beneteau Antares 27

Beneteau Antares 27By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

You have to love it when something exceeds your expectations on so many levels; the new Antares 27 from Beneteau looks to me like that sort of all-around overachiever.

This is a brand new express cruiser design. With twin Mercury 200 V6 outboards, it delivers impressive performance, a reassuring and comfortable ride, and a level of versatility that will enable this boat to be your vacation partner for all sorts of adventures.

Read more about the Antares 27...

 

 

 

 

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read More about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
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 ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 

Ask Andrew: Electrical Installations – Part 1: Electrical Connections - basics and how-to’s

Electrical InstallationsBy Andrew McDonald

Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is aboard, areas of improvement and ways to upgrade.

One of the most common jobs that I’m asked to look at are electrical installations and upgrades. Surprisingly, the majority of these types of jobs are to ‘clean up’ the wiring of years past – when electrical standards were more fluid, and jury-rigged upgrades have been added and adapted over multiple owners and contractors.

Read More about Electrical Installations Basics...

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
While the basics of boat hull design hasn’t changed that much over the years, the same cannot be ...
Yamaha targets the Canadian big-water market with its high-torque 425 horsepower V8 XTO outboard, ...
Looking for a great Christmas gift for the Offshore sailor on your list? This being a Marblehead to ...
Sail shape is long gone. They have stained, feels thin and you see broken threads everywhere. Your ...
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System