over 80 years the doyenne of the Dublin Bay fleet,
the 36ft long cutter yacht Peggy Bawn is a remarkable
survivor from a golden age of yachting style and craftsmanship.
Not only that but she also has perfect breeding.
designer George Lennox Watson of Glasgow, Scotland,
was at the height of his genius when she came off
his drawing board during the winter of 1893/94. In
the past year he had overseen the launch of one of
the most famous yachts of all time, the Prince of
Wales's Britannia, and watched her near sister Lord
Dunraven's Valkyrie II being beaten by the American
defender Vigilant in the 1893 America's Cup matches.
And in the coming year or so he would design a third
Valkyrie for Dunraven's second attempt at The Cup
followed by the large cutter Meteor II for Germany's
Kaiser Wilhelm II.
these massive yachts were broken up many years ago
and Watson himself died rather prematurely at the
age of 53 in 1904. So nowadays examples of this most
famous of designer's work are rather rare.
was commissioned by Belfast flax miller Alfred Lepper
and built by his local yacht builder John Hilditch
of Carrickefergus, County Antrim. Lepper fancied a
cruiser racer, to give him some good sport in the
burgeoning Belfast Lough regatta scene and yet still
be capable of cruising up to the west coast of Scotland
in reasonable comfort.
was a time of rapid development in yacht design. By
the year of her launch pretty much all the experiments
possible in the form of a yacht's hull had already
had two seasons of fun out of Peggy Bawn and then
replaced her with both a steam yacht and a flat out
racing yacht. Perhaps the compromise between racer
and cruiser didn't work for him... But he left us
a beautiful reminder of Watson's eye for a yacht.