Celebrating 100 years of Trearddur Bay Sailing Club

2019 is a very special year for Trearddur Bay sailing club on Holy Island. Trearddur bay Sailing club is having it’s centenary year and we wish to help them celebrate in style. A hundred years of an operation sailing club throughout the ups and downs of time, is nothing to be scoffed at. The club has been going from strength to strength, with it’s membership now standing at over 1,000 members with a large waiting list. It’s feet of classic boats seems to be expanding always too. The sailing club runs throughout the summer months of late July and August at Trearddur bay on Holy Island. It runs a month of sailing regattas and events for a wide range of dinghy’s both old and new and draws many to compete in it’s fun events. The sailing club has also has spawned a few sailing all stars in its time, like the Americas cup tactician, Edward warden Owen.

What I love about TBSC, is they have a fleet of beautiful half rater classic boats. In fact they are one of the few yacht clubs, that show a lot of love to the old classic boats, which I think is wonderful. The wooden classics represent such a strong part of our maritime past in the UK, and show the amazing craftsmanship that went into creating sailing vessels of their time. I still think that they knock spots off any modern boat in terms of looks. There will be a wonderful opportunity to see many of classic boats at TBSC, that will be sailing in a regatta together on sat 31st August, that’s open to all to see.

There will be a host of classic boats sailing in the bay, It is planned that there will be five Mersey Mylnes, five Fifes, five Menai One Designs and five Dublin Bay Waterwags in addition to our own Seabird Half Raters and Myths- get down to the bay and watch for yourself.

Below is an excerpt from their centenary club book, which is circling around the sailing clubs of Anglesey, keep your eye out for it.

Trearddur bay sailing club

On an August morning in 1918, Frank Buckley, sailing with his eight-year-old son, Peter, in his 16-foot dinghy, Elf, challenged Frank Mathews in Margaret to a “race” round rocks in the bay. While Frank Mathews won, the much more far-reaching result was that the two sailors that evening went to see William Smellie at Craig y Mor and the three decided to investigate the support for forming a sailing club. The following August, a handicap race was held with six boats ranging from 13 to 18 feet long participating, and on the 23rd of August 1919, at a meeting held in the Trearddur Bay Hotel, Trearddur Bay Sailing Club was founded by the 15 men and 2 women in attendance. A week later, a committee decided to order a number of 12- foot dinghies to be ready for racing in 1920. By that following summer, five of the 12-foot boats, by then known as the Insect class, and three of a 14-foot class, called Myths, were raced.

Although the Insect class no longer exists, ironically the three boats built first for the club, number1 Hornet, number2 Midge, and number3 Ant, are extant and have been restored to race in the club’s centenary, and their 99th year. No original Myths remain but the Myth class has recently seen a great resurgence of support with many new boats being built to bring the current fleet to over 40. The third of the “traditional” boat classes raced at TBSC, the Half Raters, was adopted for racing in Trearddur in 1922. Since then other classes have come and gone in popularity; currently in addition to the Half Raters and Myths, Mirrors, Fevas, and Optimists, plus miscellaneous classes, are raced.

A brief history of Trearddur bay sailing club

Newspaper records indicate that a sailing regatta was held in the bay in 1896, with both local residents and summer visitors participating. Many of these same people helped found the club and it grew quickly with 55 members by the end of summer 1919, around 250 prior to World War II, c. 600 at the time of the golden jubilee in 1969, and over 1100 now.

Membership is now full as the club functions only in August and has very limited facilities. There is no clubhouse but a range of social, as well as sailing, events are held each August.The club’s original flag was a simple geometric red, white and blue design, which was slightly altered in the first few years. The current flag dates from 1922 and displays a white bishop’s mitre of Holyhead on a red background because the members wanted to have a symbol with a significance related to its location.Racing at TBSC occurs almost exclusively in August, making the club somewhat unusual. However, this fact makes it a holiday sailing club and many members sail elsewhere during the year.

The smaller boats race on courses inside the bay, while the larger boats race farther out to sea. Most courses are a mix of triangular and sausage-shaped legs, and the number of times round varies according to weather conditions. The starting/finishing line is a projection out across the water from the flagstaff. The countdown to the start is signalled every 5 minutes by the firing of small cannon-shaped guns; the club uses guns as the noise needs to carry to all boats on the water so stop watches can be set by the sailors. Unlike, for example, athletics races, boats do not start from a stationary position, thus the accurate timing of a fast crossing of the starting line is critical. Flags signal the start and large wooden boards at the flagstaff signal the course each class is to use.

The Sea Bird Half Rater

The Seabird Half Rater is the oldest one design class still sailing in Britain. It is a 20ft carvel planked sailing boat, with a design dating back to 1898. The latest boat built is sail No. 108, called Booby. It all started in the autumn of 1898 when West Lancashire Yacht Club passed a resolution favouring the founding of a new One Design Class boat, not to cost more than £35 complete. The first eight boats were built at a cost of £34 17s 6d each. The boats were named after seabirds and their ratings were assessed at 0.5 hence the term Half Rater.

The first race was sailed off the Southport Pierhead on 13 June 1899 when eight boats participated over a ten-mile course and Goshawk No. 2 took the winning gun, ahead of Fulmar No. 1. Goshawk went on to have the best record in both the 1899 and 1900 seasons. In 1910 it was agreed that the Association Burgee be a ‘White Seagull’ on a red background. Prior to the First World War, 41 boats had been built and were racing regularly and the cost of a new boat had risen to £60. The first Half Rater appeared in Trearddur Bay in 1921 and a year later Trearddur Bay Sailing Club officially adopted the Class. By the onset of World War 2, 81 Seabirds had been constructed and then in the 1960’s there was a revival in the building programme of ten new boats. By this time the price of a Seabird had risen to around £800.

In 1965 there were 54 seabirds sailing regularly and the Seabird Association became affiliated to the RYA. The present day fleet is based at Trearddur Bay, Abersoch and Wallasey. 1979 saw recognition by the Guinness Book of Yachting that the Seabird Half Rater is the oldest One Design Class still racing in Britain, and the Liverpool Maritime Museum hold the Association documents on loan. The highlight of 1999 class centenary year was when the three stations raced together in the Menai Strait Regattas and 45 Seabirds out of a total fleet of 65 met. Many of the older boats have been lovingly restored and the regattas saw Goshawk No. 2, the winner of that very first race in 1899, racing against Oystercatcher No.100.

The Myth Class

The glorious seascape around Trearddur Bay was discovered by holiday makers with the coming of the railway to Holyhead but the idea of sailing races did not take shape until after the Great War. Naturally the earlyvisitorswere afloat fishing and exploring in the years before that warand from photographs of the period it is clear that the small sailing dinghy of around 15 feet was the favoured size.

When the Sailing Club was founded in 1919 it was felt that it should adopt a racing class broadly similar to the sailing craft of the time; tough little open boats that could sit on a mooring in one of the bay’s many coves that offered some protection from the stormy Irish Sea and still be fun to sail with a crew of two.

Accordingly one of the foremost designers of the day, Morgan Giles of Teignmouth in Devon was asked to design a suitable boat on the lines laid down by the committee.Unfortunately, and typical of all clubs, the committeecould not agree amongst themselves and certainly not with Morgan Giles and his design.So our beautiful Myth Class, although loosely based on the International 14 foot class of the time, has really arisen from a hotch potch of ideas.But they have all been built to an increasingly tight specification which insists on those lovely turkey red sails and either painted white or varnished wooden hulls.

There are five different types of wood involved in the building of these handsome boats, from the silver spruce of the planking to the elm and oak on the keel housing the centreboard in its varnished mahogany case. Some of the original boats still compete andrace despite being nearly a hundred years old and there are now 44 of these little boats on the water.Their provenance may have been a lucky chance but the boats have proved to be extraordinarily well suited to Trearddur Bay.Young and old can compete against each other on equal terms and, being tricky to sail, they need understanding.Not surprisingly, the best sailors always end up at the head of the fleet. 2020 sees the centenary of the Myth Class and we will be having special events for the fleet. Look out for those distinctive turkey red sail sails next year!

A guide to TBSC racing in 2019

Local people and visitors to Trearddur Bay often ask about the sailing club and its races. How the club began 100 years ago is explained on another page as is the meaning of the flags flown at the flagstaff on the headland. The club only races in August during the four weeks which end on the Bank Holiday weekend. It has over 1,000 members and there is currently a long waiting list to join as it has limited moorings, space for boats and sail training places.

Below is a list of races for spectators’ guidance together with events that non-members of the Club are very welcome to attend, highlighted in light blue.Races are scheduled at morning, afternoon or evening times. The Cup, Novice and Centenary races are three separate linked series in which points are earned during the whole month. The Cup races in particular are usually very well supported and quite a spectacle at the start. Seabird Half Raters will race to and from Holyhead on 9th August and can be seen battling it out in the waves off South and North Stacks. In the hotly contested Memorial Cup Races classes compete for cups which have been presented in memory of a club member. On our Regatta Day on 10th August there are two cup races which count towards the series but there are also cups for the races held on that day and competition is always keen. These races are open to non-members, apply to sailingsec@tbsc.org.uk

To celebrate the centenary, every boat in the club, including some which have not raced or even been afloat for years, will be sailing from the main bay out in front of the flagstaff in procession with the oldest leading the fleet. There will be further celebration in the evening with a firework display across the whole bay.The Seabird Interstation Race is on Monday 12th August. This year it is TBSC’s turn to host crews from Abersoch and Wallasey. The prize for the Allcomers Race (open to non-members, apply to sailingsec@tbsc.org)on 16th August is called the Llewellyn Burgee which is in fact a silver plate presented in memory of Llewellyn Price-Jones. He was employed as club boatman from 1946 until the 60s and was a familiar sight in his navy sweater rowing around the courses. It is a handicap pursuit race in which every different type of boat is given its own start time. This year, participants are asked to wear what would have been appropriate in 1919!

This year, to celebrate the centenary, TBSC is hosting a Classic Boat regatta on 31st August and 1st September and this will involve classic boats from other clubs. It is planned that there will be five Mersey Mylnes, five Fifes, five Menai One Designs and five Dublin Bay Waterwags in addition to our own Seabird Half Raters and Myths. This is very much a one-off for the centenary and racing will take place morning and afternoon on Saturday and on Sunday morning, weather permitting.All races are subject to postponement if the weather is unsuitable.

Magical Summer Music

Classical Summer Music Concert, will be held at Ravens Point Road, Doors open at 7pm 21stAugust, For tickets email: events@tbsc.org. Tickets are £16.00

A feast of magical summer music awaits you at this spectacular evening. Come and enjoy some of Wales’ major talents who will be entertaining you with songs from the world of opera, musicals, stage and screen, as well as singing some of Wales’ most popular songs.

Sioned Terry

Sioned Terry gained her experience as a singer on the stages of Wales’ Eisteddfodau. Today, the professional mezzo soprano who was raised a stone’s throw away from the banks of the Menai Straits, can turn her hand to songs of all genres – from lieder, operatic and oratorio songs, to popular songs from the stage and big screen.

Ensemble Cymru

Ensemble Cymru was established in 2001 to provide the best possible experience of chamber music to audiences from all over Wales. Wales is the Ensemble’s backdrop – although it has a wide international repertoire, it is inspired by Wales’ countryside, its landscapes, culture and history.

Peryn Clement-Evans

Is the lead clarinettist and artistic director of Ensemble Cymru. After a period studying in Manchester, Rotterdam and Fontainebleau, he has performed as lead clarinet with the Northern Ballet, Manchester Camerata, Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia (Spain) and London City Opera (USA Tour 2001).

Harpist Elen Hydref Thomas

comes from Porthmadog. At the age of 16 she went to study at the Purcell School of Music and then on to the Royal Academy in London. After graduating, she has worked with various orchestras in Britain and Scandinavia and as a soloist in Britain and Europe.

Côr Meibion ​​Goronwy

Côr Meibion Goronwy (or if the name is translated to English, the Sons of Goronwy Choir), was established in 2015  in a pub in Brynteg on the western side of Anglesey but now meets in the village of Benllech. The male voice choir’s name is a tribute to Goronwy Owen, a famous 18thcentury poet from the area. Dafydd Ifan Jones is the conductor and Rhian Lloyd Jones, the accompanist.

For further information on this evening’s performers, visit

@sionedterry, @EnsCymru, @ElenHydref, @meibiongoronwy

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Words and front cover courtesy of : Trearddur Bay Sailing Club.

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