Jan 9, 2018

Bruce KirbyBruce Kirby was born and raised in Ottawa and began sailing on Lac Deschenes with his father and older brother David. He likes to say he was late getting started because he was born in January and didn't get sailing until June.

When he was 8 and his brother was 10 their father designed and built them a 12-foot double ended sloop; with a self bailing cockpit. The boat performed well and gave the youngsters a boat to use when they were not crewing aboard the family's 24-foot Velvet.

By World War II the boys were actively racing a 14-foot Peterborough catboat, which had been left to them by a family friend who had been sent overseas. From there it was a small but significant step to the International 14 Class, and by war's end the Kirby boys, now teenagers, were crewing in this hot dinghy class, and borrowing boats from absent owners whenever possible.

On graduating from Ottawa's Lisgar Collegiate in 1949 Bruce went to work at the Ottawa Journal as a reporter and began a career in journalism that lasted until 1975.

In the middle of his time at the Journal he took a year to sail in Europe with friends aboard a 70-foot ketch and wrote a series of articles on their adventures for the Journal.

Back into small boats upon his return to Canada, he sailed a Finn in the 1956 Olympics at the age of 27, only six months after marrying Margo Dancey of Ottawa, and moving to Montreal to work for the Montreal Star. The Games that year were in Melbourne and Bruce finished 8th out of 24.

It was two years later, in the fall of 1958, that he tried his hand at serious design work with his first International 14, which became known as the Kirby Mark I. He designed the boat for himself after having raced in Cowes for Canada against British and New Zealand teams; but before his boat was completed four friends had ordered boats and the designer took the fourth one out of the mould. In that Cowes regatta the Canadian team won, but only because the wind was predominately light to medium. Every time it blew up a bit the Kiwis were superior upwind. So Bruce's Mark I was aimed at speed upwind in heavy air, and it turned out to be quite fast in those conditions. In all there were 28 Kirby Mark 1s built, and there were two of them, including the designer's, on the Canadian squad that won the team event at Toronto in 1961. Six more Kirby 14s were designed in the ensuing 14 years, and in particular the Mark III and Mark V sold very well in all countries where the class was popular.

Bruce, Margo and their daughters Janice and Kelly moved in 1965 from Montreal to Chicago, where Bruce became editor of the old One Design yachtsman Magazine, which is now called Sailing World.

Six moths later, at the same time as he was working on his Mark V International14, he was asked by a Montreal friend to design a ìcartopperî dinghy, and the result of that was the Laser, which hit the market in January of 1971. The success of this little boat - there are now 182,000 worldwide - inspired the designer to resign from the magazine and go full time into sailboat design.

Since then he has come up with about 60 designs, including many IOR boats, and the 12-Meters Canada I and Canada II which were America's Cup challengers in 1983 and '87. He has also designed several cruising boats, including a line of shallow draft sharpies aimed at the home builder. In terms of numbers his second most successful design was the San Juan 24, an IOR Quarter Tonner, which was built in Seattle and North Carolina, and about 1,200 of which were produced.

In 1993 the Laser was chosen as one on the Olympic classes and first sailed in the Games in the 1996 event in Savannah. A few months ago the Laser Radial, which is a Laser with a reduced rig, and intended for lighter people, was chosen as the women's single handed Olympic boat.

Kirby's 23-foot Sonar and the Ideal 18 are turned out by Ontario Yachts in Oakville. The Sonar is also being built in England. Bruce does his serious racing in the Sonar class, which numbers 28 at his club in Connecticut and 800 worldwide. The Sonar is used in the Paralympics and world championships by disabled sailors.

On the race course Bruce followed his 1956 Olympic effort with another try at the Finn in Japan in 1964. This time he was 11th of 35, and likes to point out that again he was in the top one third. This was not the case when he sailed on the Canadian team in the Star Class in Acapulco in 1968, where he dropped below mid fleet.

He raced in the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit from 1968 until 1983. and in 1981 was skipper of his own Runaway, a 40 foot fractional sloop which finished fifth in class and won the Nassau Cup, the final event of the series, in Class C. Under Kirby's command Runaway also won the 1980 Block Island Week in class and sailed on the Canadian team in the 1981 Admiral's Cup in England, finishing 9th out of the 39 boats from 13 countries.

For the past 36 years Bruce and his family have lived in the village of Rowayton on the shores of Long Island Sound about 40 miles from New York City, and for the past 27 years have owned a harbor side home with a dock at which he keeps his self-designed 35 foot centerboarder, Nightwind.

Featured Articles

Featured Articles
  • Prev
We had the pleasure of speaking to Mike Gridley, Show Chairman of the Gravenhurst Antique Boat ...
On June 6th, 2018, Boating Ontario welcomed a sold-out field of 124 golfers at Innisbrook Golf ...
The Boating Industry Canada Employer of Choice (BICEOC) Award is the industry's only Made-in-Canada ...
It’s true…research has discovered that 40% of boaters set out without legally required safety ...
Interest in Boating Ontario’s 2018 spring regional meetings appears to be very high among marina ...
As enjoyable as our shows are here at home, a trip over to Dusseldorf, Germany for the biggest ...
On Friday, January 12th, at the Toronto International Boat Show, the Boating Industry Canada ...
The Boating Ontario Conference held in Collingwood, Ontario November 25 to 27, included a number of ...
Last night Boating Ontario presented BIC’s Andy Adams with the W.J. Robertson ...
History was made in Amsterdam, Netherlands on November 15 as Campion Marine became the first ...

MIKE GRIDLEY: SHOW CHAIRMAN OF GRAVENHURST’S ANTIQUE BOAT SHOW

Mike GridleyWe had the pleasure of speaking to Mike Gridley, Show Chairman of the Gravenhurst Antique Boat Show, which took place this past weekend, on July 7th as part of the Toronto Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society. 

Mike reports that Another Vintage Boat Show is in the books. By all accounts and the feedback and comments that we have received thus far it was a fantastic show. An absolute sell-out with 120 boats on display in the water and more on land, including fiberglass boats! ACBS President Tom Crawford was in attendance. READ MORE

 

 

Changing Scene

  • Prev
The marine industry has really come together over the sudden imposition of a 10% retaliatory tariff ...
Since March, the US has imposed a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminium. Rebalancing ...
In an investor relations call June 25th, 2018, Brunswick Corporation announced that the Sea Ray ...
Creditors have been notified that on the fifth day of June 2018, Grant Thornton Limited was ...
At the June 6th Boating Ontario Golf Tournament, Rick Layzell CEO of Boating Ontario announced a ...
In its first-ever venture into the recreational boating market, Forest City, Iowa-based camper ...
Across Canada, all the marine trades associations and NMMA Canada are taking action on the 10% ...
On June 5th, MarineMax Vacations announced that they are welcoming Cooper Boating as a preferred ...
Talk about starting the month on an explosive note. On Thursday, May 31, the Trump administration ...
Boating Industry Canada was fortunate to be invited to the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Newport, ...

IBEX EXPANDS INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS TO ATTRACT A DIVERSE DELEGATION OF GLOBAL VISITORS

Ibex Expands International Program

 

The 28th International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference (IBEX), held October 2nd through 4th at the Tampa Convention Center will include expanded programs for international visitors. Scheduled programs will include networking and educational opportunities developed to attract attendees and exhibitors from countries other than the United States. The show will continue the popular International B2B VIP Program launched last year, host the Export Excellence Award, include Country Pavilions, and have expanded exhibits from global vendors throughout the show floor. READ MORE 

 

BARNACLE SYSTEMS AWARDED "STARTUP OF THE YEAR" FROM VIATEC

Startup Award Barnacle

Boat Security Tech Company Receives High Praise from Entrepreneurship Organization

Barnacle Systems has been named "Startup of the Year" for 2018 by VIATEC, an organization focused on facilitating the growth of tech companies in Victoria, BC, Canada. Barnacle Systems was announced as "Startup of the Year" at the annual VIATEC Awards, which had an attendance of over one-thousand individuals.

Barnacle Systems' product, BRNKL, has been paving the way for boat security technology to catch up to the technology already available for 'smart homes'. Similar to home monitoring products from companies such as Nest and Ring, BRNKL is a hardware product that provides peace of mind to READ MORE

XTREME BOAT PROOF MAY BE THE LAST COATING YOU WILL EVER HAVE TO APPLY

Xtreme Boat Proof

 

 

Xtreme Boat Proof is dedicated to providing new generation durable coatings and sealants for the marine industry applied using our Fusion Gun. Products like fastest curing polysulphide teak sealers and anti-graffiti silicone coatings are just a few of the unique offerings for this market. The hottest seller is the Fusion Gun applied polyurea which is used for extreme waterproofing, reinforcing, corrosion proofing and abrasion proofing boat bottoms and also used in many... READ MORE