Many people have said some very complimentary things about the Heir Island Sloop. The fact that we have developed from a singe prototype to a fleet of twenty boats many of which race regularly throughout the summer says a lot in itself.
Below are extracts from two journal reviews which will give you some idea of what the professionals think about our design and building skills:
Wooden Boat Magazine
Review by Bill Mayher
I am thumbing through a stack of 4” X 6” colour photographs of an 18’ gaff-rigged Heir Island Sloop. Most of them show her under sail over several of the days I was visiting Ireland and had the chance to go out sailing with her designer and builder. As I flip back and forth through these pictures, viewing her from different angles, seeing how she trims with a crew of one or two or how her wake behaves as the breeze builds, I keep looking for a dowdy angle, a picture that shows her tripping over herself or an awkward spot where the hull shape looks bunched up. But if this boat has a bad angle, I’m not catching it.
As Gubby puts it, his mission in designing the Heir Island Sloop was to “graft the desirable features of a light, fast, modern yacht onto the solid, traditional virtues of the Heir Island lobster boat – hardly a novel scheme, I know, but not particularly easy when the aim is not a hybrid hodgepodge but a wholesome, seakindly speedster of individuality and charm.”
Without question he has achieved his goal. The boat looks good, she feels good at sea, and in a surprising range of wind conditions she keeps finding her way up to her hull speed on different points of sail – a particularly pleasing attribute in a daysailer commodious enough to take the kids for a day’s sail, or even the in-laws.
Her obvious turn of speed will make her appealing to those interested in what Gubby characterises as “companionable racing”. At the same time, with 450 lbs of lead ballast bolted low in her bilges and an overall displacement of 1,700 lbs, she is sufficiently sure-footed in the open ocean of the Atlantic for Gubby and others to feel comfortable sailing their sloops out around the Fastnet Rock, nine miles offshore. In other words, here is a boat small enough to be handy around the narrow, shoal-water passages between local islands and yet one stretched long enough on her waterline to get you somewhere interesting (like across the bay for a pub lunch).
Furthermore, she will be as forgiving to the beginning sailor, with her speed and agility, as she will be engaging to the sporting old salt. And all the time you’re aboard, or as you row away from her after a day’s sail, gazing at her all the way as she lies at her mooring, she will centre you in design traditions that have stood their ground over several centuries.
To artfully reflect a lineage that combines both workboat and yacht traditions, the scale of component parts must be deftly accomplished. Strong, but not bulky, is the goal here. Delicate but not finicky. Admittedly, it’s a fine line to draw. Yet everywhere one looks on a Heir Island Sloop, the elusive goal has been met: from toerails, coamings, sheet leads, and blocks, to cleverly executed downhauls, outhauls, and jiffy-reefing systems, right down to the way your rear end feels after hiking out on the weather rail over a long beat to windward, things seem done right in terms of art and in terms of efficacy.
The boats are well-mannered and predictable which is reassuring for beginners and buoyancy testing has proved they are impossible to capsize. The fleet has been caught out in some hairy conditions, but the sloops have always come back safely to their moorings. “These boats look after their people.”