Tag Archives: Class III

C.G.S. Brant pictures are two of the gems from Irwin Album


C.G.S. Brant tied up beside the ferry Prince Edward Island loading yachts – 1939. Picture from Mac Irwin album.

Two photos of the Canadian Government Steamship Brant from the Mac Irwin Album show how small the coal-fired buoy and lighthouse tender really was. More importantly they add to the story of the inter-club races up and down Northumberland Strait.

Earlier I had written about the role of the Brant in getting racing boats back and forth from regattas.  At that time I had assumed from newspaper reports that the Brant accompanied the fleet and that smaller boats such as snipes were taken as deck cargo and that larger yachts had been towed. A newspaper account in 1939 said that three of the large Class 3 yachts were carried on the Brant. The photos show just how it was done.


The Brant with Class 3 yacht aboard 1939. Mac Irwin album

Slung outboard from the davits of the Brant is a full-keeled yacht, one that looks like a Class 3. Two additional large boats, again probably Class 3 yachts can be made out behind the launch and a fourth boat can be seen at the stern of the Brant.  What is particularly interesting is that the boat already hoisted aboard has its mast still in place. The Brant also carried the crews of several of the racing boats and officials from the Charlottetown Yacht Club to Shediac. In addition to the boats sent by the Brant several owners, including Mac Irwin, towed their boats behind powerboats from the Yacht Club.  The 1939 Regatta in Shediac was a major yachting event for the region and was a big success for the Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait.

The close working relationship between the Yacht Club and the Marine and Fisheries vessels rested on the harmonious attitude of the individuals concerned but also came from the long-time understanding that amateur sailors were the nursery for the navy.  Such organizations as the Navy League, Sea Scouts and the yacht clubs provided valuable training and experience at a time when funding for naval activities was strained.

Behind the Brant is the S.S. Prince Edward Island.  Since  the launch of the S.S. Charlottetown in 1931 the Prince Edward Island had seen little use. It filled in for the Charlottetown when the latter went on its annual trip to dry dock for maintenance. The ship was called into full-time service again in 1941 when the Charlottetown struck a reef on its way to dry-dock in Saint John and was lost off Port Mouton in Nova Scotia.


Skippers Series – Finding the best sailors 1950 style

Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait Class 3 boat probably Zenith

Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait Class 3 boat probably Zenith

Long before Charlottetown Race Week was inaugurated Charlottetown Harbour was the site of an annual regatta. In 1950 this took place at the end of August when, over a two-day period 16 races were run off – an impressive record compared with the dozen or so races over three days in the modern Race Week(end).

On Saturday three races were held in each of the two divisions: Snipes and the pre-war Mac Irwin-designed Class IIIs originated for the Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait.  Irwin, with crew of Bud Atkinson and Fred Small won the Class III championship with his Zenith. Onawa, sailing out of Montague and skippered by Eric Coffin with Gordon Coffin as crew came second with Naiad – Wallie and Gwen Sharpe third. Other Class III boats included Jeep – Avon Andrew and David Andrew, Mic – Louis and Simon Paoli and Argo Sandy and Mrs.(!) MacDonald and Jack King.

The snipe fleet racing in Charlottetown Harbour

The snipe fleet racing in Charlottetown Harbour

Mac and Doug Johnson of Montague took the Snipe trophy with their boat Monty. Second was Sinbad – Bob MacLeod and Elizabeth Martin. Third Scout – Ron Smith and Roy MacDougall. Rounding out the fleet were Dingbat – Ralph and Margaret Dumont, Surf – Clive Stewart and Fleur Hillion and Wings – Ian Rankin, Louis Sadler, Anne Rankin and Lynn Burnett.

The more interesting competition took place on Sunday when 10 races took place in the harbour – under somewhat different rules. The “Skippers Series” was a series of races which addressed the issue of “fast boats” versus “slow boats”.  In this series crews sailed, not just their own boat, but the boats of all of their competitors in the class. They rotated through the fleet each one sailing all the boats competing, not just their own.  The object was to find the best sailors not the best boat.  The results of each race mattered less than the overall placing across the series.  The trophy for the series had been provided by S.A. (Sandy) MacDonald, a Montreal doctor born on the Island who regularly summered at Keppoch. Sandy MacDonald was a competitive sailor who later went on to represent Canada in international competition.  [more about MacDonald in an upcoming posting]

When the series concluded the skippers ranking for the Class III yachts was : 1. Mac Irwin, 2. Dr. S.A. MacDonald, 3. Wilbur Andrew, 4. Gordon Coffin, 5. Louis Paoli, 6. Wallie Sharpe and 7. Louis Paoli.  In the Snipes, Malcolm Johnson led the fleet followed by Ron Smith, Bob MacLeod, Clive Stewart and Ralph Dumont.

The regatta attracted visitors from a  number of yachting centers including Borden, Montague and Shediac, the latter group travelling across the Strait by motor launch.

Besides the unique approach to unequal boats the surprising thing about the 1950 regatta is the number of Class III yachts still active in post-war racing. In addition to the Charlottetown boats there was also a large fleet in Shediac and boats in other Northumberland Strait clubs. Not a single one of this unique class seems to have survived the transition to fibreglass in the 1960s.  Also among the missing is the S.A. MacDonald trophy for the best skipper of 1950.