Is my car suitable for towing?

For towing the boats a decently-sized car 2.0L and up should be ideal, although people have certainly towed on smaller vehicles than that.

However these are only rough guidelines, the torque and power of the engine have to be taken into consideration also. Engine size and power aren’t directly proportional and older engines will output less power. There’s also the weight of the vehicle and the state of its suspension and brakes to consider as well.

If in doubt it is a good idea to speak to an experienced tower.

Fitting a towbar to your car

The club will pay 50% of your towbar fitting costs and then, if you remain an active tower in the club, you will get free air money. You will still have to pay your BSAC fees. Active tower means you have towed at least three times for the club in the previous year.

It’s a good idea to try a few places for quotes for fitting towbars because the cost can vary enormously.


Unladen weight: the weight of the vehicle itself, without any payload.

Gross weight: the weight of the vehicle with its full payload.

DGVW: Design Gross Vehicle Weight; the maximum gross weight the vehicle is designed for.

O1 Trailer: A trailer with a DGVW not exceeding 0.75 tonnes.

O2 Trailer: A trailer with a DGVW exceeding 0.75 tonnes and not exceeding 3.5 tonnes.

When towing you are restricted to a maximum speed limit of 80kph, including when on the motorway.

With an ordinary category B licence, a person can:

  • Tow a trailer of up to 0.75 tonnes DGVW, with a vehicle with a DGVW not exceeding 3.5 tonnes and seating for up to 8 passengers (apart from the driver). The combination weight cannot exceed 4.25 tonnes.
  • Tow an O2 trailer, provided that the DGVW of the trailer does not exceed the un-laden weight of the towing vehicle, and the total design gross vehicle weight of the combination does not exceed a total of 3.5 tonnes.

Weights of Club Trailers


Boat 330kg (this is just the weight for the basic boat hull – not including fuel/equipment)
Engine: 170kg
Trailer (unladen) 300kg
Total: 800kg
DGVW: 1300kg

For practical purposes assume 100kg of fuel and equipment in the boat, so 900kg.

Mariana’s trailer is a category O2 trailer and can be towed by any vehicle (without an Irish Towing Licence) whose unladen weight is at least 1.3 tonnes, and whose DGVW is no more than 2.2 tonnes.


Boat: 360kg (again just the weight for the basic boat hull – not including fuel/equipment)
Engine: 170kg
Trailer: (unladen) 400kg
For practical purposes assume 100kg of fuel and equipment in the boat, so 1030kg.
Total: 930kg
DGVW: 1100kg

Topknot’s trailer is a category O2 trailer and can be towed by any vehicle (without an Irish Towing Licence) whose unladen weight is at least 1.1 tonnes, and whose DGVW is no more than 2.4 tonnes.

Towing Boats

  • The boats must be strapped down through the eyes on either side of the engine using ratchet straps.
  • The painter (and bottle screw in the case of Topknot) should be used to secure the boat to the boat trailer at the front. The pressure should be taken off the boat winch once this is done.
  • The engine should be up (this should be the case after retrieving anyway) and put on the mooring locks for travel.
  • The bung should be taken out and the the bailer put down when coming out of the water, and the bung should be replaced prior to launching. Mariana should not be towed with the bung out as it will break off in transit so replace the bung prior to travel.
  • Don’t forget to attach the lightboard and attach the failsafe on the brake – if the trailer should ever come off the hitch this will stop it.
  • The boat trailers both have integrated brakes which are activated when the momentum of the boat trailer pushes into your car when you slow down – the ‘accordion’ part of the boat trailer.
  • Make sure any bottles of liquid, like two-stroke etc, are sealed tightly to avoid mess, any fuel should be upright and not able to fall over.
  • After towing long distances the bearings will be very hot. They should be given time to cool before entering the trailer into the water to launch the boat. Failure to allow them to cool can cause them to break.
  • Upon returning to clubrooms allow the bearings to cool before washing them down.
  • Flush the engines out with fresh water using the rabbit-ears (both boats can take the rabbit-ears, although Topknot has an intake also) before storing the boat in clubrooms.

Towing compressors

  • Make sure the compressors have their fuel turned off before setting off (or fuel can leak into the oil and then the oil will need changing)
  • All compressors should be strapped down tightly using ratchet straps and not knots. Ideally you would stop a few minutes into the journey and tighten the straps, as they will naturally loosen a little.


Always check the lightboard you are bringing is working and connected properly to the plug.

If the lightboard is not working fully report it to the Equipments Officer.

What if I have an accident or break down while towing?

If you are towing and cause an accident that damages your own or other vehicles, your insurance must cover this.

The club has insurance that should cover damage to club equipment in transit but it won’t cover your vehicle.
Most breakdown policies will also include moving any trailer you are towing to wherever your vehicle goes for repair – it’s a good idea to have such a policy and to check what it covers.

You must inform your insurance company that you tow otherwise you may run into trouble when trying to make a claim.

General Information for Towers

College is open between 8am and 12pm.

Useful Things to Bring

Bring the towing kit – this contains rope, cable ties, a spare lightboard plug, a spare break-away cable, new bearings and a few basic tools that are necessary to change bearings.

Do bring a spare wheel for the trailer you are towing.

If towing the boat trailer on a trip the grease gun is a good thing to have.

A socket set is a handy thing to have in case you need to change a wheel, as is a warning triangle and a high-viz jacket.

If towing the boat you’re usually expected to bring boat keys, and in the case of Topknot, two-stroke oil.

Tyre Pressures for the trailers

The formula for the ideal tyre pressure on a trailer is:

(max tyre pressure) * (actual load per tyre in kilos/tyre max pressure rating in kilos)

I’ve worked out numbers for the tyres currently on the trailers as of April 2011 but this could change. The max load and pressure is on the sidewall of the tyre and boat and trailer weights are calculated above.

These are pressures for the tyre while cold. Tyre pressure will be about 10% higher if the tyres are warm.

Mariana: 900kg so 450kg per tyre. Tyre max load 670kg and max pressure 65PSI

65PSI * (450kg/670kg) = 44PSI or 3 bar

Topknot: 1030kg so 515kg per tyre. Tyre max load 730kg and max pressure 65PSI

65PSI * (515kg/730kg) = 45PSI or 3.1 bar

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do give yourself plenty of room on corners, especially with the boat trailers – the boat will cut any corner
  • Try to avoid any sudden turns or braking maneouvres
  • If you’re new to towing, tow the trailer a few times before trying the boats
  • Do get someone to explain reversing maneouvres to you and practice somewhere such as an empty car park if possible
  • Do stick to the speed limits – they are for safety and your braking distance will be much greater
  • Even if only dropping a boat in for service etc the club will pay petrol costs for towers – contact the club treasurer who will reimburse you
  • Do let your insurance company know that you intend to tow
  • Before setting off make sure that the trailer attachment really is secure! Give it a good hard pull up and down
  • If setting off somewhere in the back end of nowhere that you haven’t been before, and your vehicle isn’t that powerful, be on the lookout for big hills – ideally send someone else who isn’t towing on ahead to make sure you won’t have problems