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Howth Yacht Club hosted the Optimist Team racing Vice President's Cup last weekend. On the water there were lots of smiles, buckets of team spirit and great selfless tactical moves.

The races were so effectively run (well done Richard Kissane & team), there was a review to the schedule to avoid finishing too early adding a Gold and Silver round robin so by the end of the event there were 57 races in total.

On the racing side, two teams were surely showing effective team racing tactics and it was no surprise to see them battling it in the final. After a great day of racing, RCYC-1 captained by Rory O'Sullivan came out on top against the RstGYC-1 captained by Trevor Bolger.

Clubs represented were the RstGYC (3 teams), RCYC (2 teams), HYC (2 teams), MYC (2 teams), NYC and TBSC

Published in Optimist

As Ireland's sole representatives, Howth Yacht Club's Laura Dillon with Jonathan Bourke, Rita Gonçalves, Antonio Gois lie just outside the top third of the Dragon World Championships after three races sailed in Cascais, Portgual.

As Afloat.ie noted in its daily e–news yesterday, Dillon’s sailing record is nothing if not varied. Since 1996, when she clinched ISAF Youth Worlds bronze with Ciara Peelo and then became the first female ISA Champion Helm, the Howth sailor has campaigned in the RORC Series and Middle Sea Race at the wheel of the S&S41 Winsome, flown the flag as a Match Racing skipper, and this time last year was celebrating victory with Team Ireland at the UK Women’s Open Keelboat Champs

Dillon is counting 18, 25, 45 to be 25th overall, nine points off the top 20.

Full results for the 70–boat fleet are here

Published in Dragon

Dublin sailors Laura Dillon from Howth Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire sailor Jonathan Bourke lie 18th after the first race of the  2017 Dragon World Championship in Cascais, Portugal yesterday. The sole Irish entry 'Cloud' is also crewed by Rita Gonçalves and Antonio Gois.

Andy Beadsworth sailing Provezza, the Turkish flagged entry with his team of Ali Tezdiker and Simon Fry won the first race of the in superb sailing conditions and warm sunshine.

70 Dragons from 19 nations tackled the challenging waters off Cascais, only 20 km down the coast from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. For the first day of racing one longer race was scheduled using a 2 lap windward/leeward course of 2.2nm in length with a final upwind leg to the finish.

The race was started in gutsy 16 - 20 knots of breeze from 330 degrees, accompanied by rolling waves and warm hazy sunshine.

Race Day 2 on Tuesday 13 June has 2 races scheduled with a first warning signal at 1300hrs local time.

Full results are here

Published in Dragon

Howth Yacht Club’s annual Lambay Race in recent decades was always traditionally held in the second weekend of June writes W M Nixon. But pressure from other major events meant that Howth simply had to go for the June Bank Holiday slot in 2017 if it was going to have a viable entry at all for an event which had taken on extra muscle with local sponsorship.

However, this meant that the Lambay Race was treading on the toes of the long-established Bank Holiday regatta at Poolbeg Y&BC in Dublin Bay, which in turn was the sailing part of the Dublin Port Riverfest. So unless some genius came up with a way of suddenly finding days and weekends in the month that simply didn’t exist before, the noise clashing of results would reverberate along the coast.

In the end, there were no Old Gaffer classics from Poolbeg to race round Lambay in company with the even-older Howth 17s. However, rising above all this fixtures confusion was the creative administrative genius of Peter Ryan, Chairman of the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association.

Peter’s members from both sides of the Irish Sea were keen to have a long coastal race on Saturday June 3rd, but many of them – including ISORA’s growing Howth contingent – also wished to do the Lambay Race, while there were those from Dun Laoghaire who wished to salute the Festival in Dublin Port. With the wisdom of Solomon, Chairman Ryan came up with a solution which pleased everyone, and as a bonus provided his members with an excellent race.

It all seems so simple in hindsight. But at the time there were those who could see nothing but problems in having the ISORA fleet do the Lambay Race to finish it at the Stack mark on the northeast corner of Ireland’s Eye, following which they simply continued racing right on round the Baily and into Dublin Bay and a second finish line at the end of the South Bull Wall provided by Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club.

The full report on this part of the Lambay is HERE, meanwhile, having been touched by the stardust of the ISORA fleet in their midst, the rest of the large Lambay fleet (report on their race HERE simply went into Howth Harbour and continued with a busy weekend which had started with a round Ireland’s Eye event on the Friday, continued with some serious partying on the Saturday evening by which time local boats racing on with ISORA to Poolbeg had re-joined them, and then on Sunday it was rounded out with a family day which left Monday for welcome recovery.

Certainly the Howth club had much to celebrate, as their Lambay fleet included the half dozen of the 1898-vintage Howth Seventeens which had thrown themselves into total involvement in the previous week’s Sail Festival at the Morbihan in Southern Brittany, something which involved the old boats enduring around a thousand kilometres of road trailing in Ireland and France in order to make ferry connections.

howth seventeens home2Howth Seventeens home again to Howth YC after more than a thousand kilometres of road trailing to the Morbihan and back. Yet after only a couple of days for recovery, they were out again competing in their annual Lambay Race. Photo: W M Nixon

Thus the simple fact that all six had returned safely was something to celebrate, and the fact that they further bestirred themselves to do the Lambay Race was evidence, were it needed, of their shared enthusiasm.

As for the results, Conor Turvey sailing Isobel won the Seventeens, while the provisional results for the winner of the Lambay Lady for the boat winning her class by the largest margin show it going to Robert & Rose Michael’s Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide, but we gather that may be adjusted after a protest in a different class entirely is resolved.

It was a complex weekend with al sorts of potential for snafus, but fortunately in a period of exceptionally unsettled weather, the weather held up on the big day, and most things went reasonably according to plan.

In fact, so chuffed is HYC Commodore Joe McPeake that he is contemplating setting the future date of the Lambay Race permanently in the June Bank Holiday weekend. That, however, is very definitely another day’s work.

howth seventeen isobel3The Howth 17 Isobel, helmed by Conor Turvey, sails into her home port. She’d a good win in the Lambay Race 2017. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Howth YC

Conor Fogerty's BAM Team report that the Howth Yacht Club Ostar sailor looks to have had a frustratingly slow night last night despite holding first in the Gipsy Moth division, third in line honours and second in the Ostar line.

Hopefully it was as a result of the eye of the low pressure being wider than expected and not anything else. His local competitors were also slow so probably the former. However, these rules didn't seem to apply to the two-hander Open 40 'Rote 66' who has taken a hefty jump.

BAM is up to speed again on a fast reach and has done a long term job on her sister 'Mister Lucky'. She is way down in the bottom of the low, will have large headwinds and will be feeling the pain of the southern route. Further up the track, 'Vento' the Open 50 has born off to round the Iceberg Limit.

She had been looking like she was going to go through some of the ice but clearly has decided safety first. She has put huge distance on her own race by going so far North. To put the ice in perspective, down on the bottom left you can see Titanic's last position and resting place. Remember, she sank in April, a mere two months earlier than the Ostar schedule.

Tracker here.

Published in Solo Sailing

Sailing is a vehicle sport. No matter how well we may succeed in spreading the cost of buying and running a boat through group ownership and other schemes, inevitably it has an inbuilt level of expenditure which other sports that require much less equipment - or even none at all – do not have to take into consideration.

In the event of a serious economic recession, not only do vehicle sports like sailing experience an immediate downturn in activity, but it takes them longer than other sports to recover. Thus although some would claim that the worst of the recent economic recession was over by 2012, in sailing there was still a very perceptible downturn long after that. It’s only in the past year, buoyed up by a successful season in 2016, that a real buzz has come back into Irish sailing. W M Nixon reckons the mood in his home club of Howth Yacht Club has perceptibly changed for the better as the 2017 season swings into top gear.

The plan was that we’d title this piece “Howth sailing gets its mojo back”. But no sooner was it aired than it was pointed out by former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey - a very shrewd observer of the entire Irish scene - that one of the many signs of a revival in sailing on our peculiar peninsula is that Pat O’Neill has changed from his trusty old E-Boat Octopussy. He has replaced her with a sparkling newly re-furbished J/80 which looks gorgeous in dark blue. And of course her name is Mojo, clearly there for all to see.

But more power to Pat. His move into the J/80s is one of the signs of the new mood of optimism about the place, which was still distinctly sticky last year in July when Kieran Jameson led a purchasing team to the Solent to snap up competitively-priced but good quality J/80s in order to build up Howth’s club-owned keelboat-training flotilla.

howth harbour dublin2As a busy sailing and fishing port, Howth Harbour provides a special visitor attraction within easy reach of central Dublin

It was something of a leap in the dark. But with the 2017 season fully upon us, the word is the J/80s are booked solid for training, club racing and corporate events, and the club will be sending five of its own fully-crewed J/80s across the bay next month to compete in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. And yes, instead of sitting back on their laurels, those involved are looking at ways of developing the scheme, while being very wary of the dangers of over-rapid expansion.

For those whose main interest is in dinghy sailing, all this must seem a little strange. After all, Howth’s young dinghy sailors have been on an impressive roll of success for some time, with major scores at the highest levels being obtained by the likes of Ewan McMahon, Aoife Hopkins, Dougie Elmes & Colin O’Sullivan, and many others.

douglas elmes colin osullivan3Successful dinghy racers – HYC’s Douglas Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan return to Ireland after winning the Bronze Medal in the 420 Worlds. Photo: W M Nixon

But a successful yacht club has to be much more than just dinghy racing, even when that dinghy racing brings home major international prizes. In Howth YCs case, it is offering the complete package, and it must look after the needs of a large keelboat sailing sector in the membership. A full-scale clubhouse with all facilities, extensive keelboat and dinghy parking space, a 250-berth marina, two fixed lift-out cranes and a drying pad, together with swinging moorings served by club launches – in Howth, that has become the expected standard.

Keeping a complex of this nature running smoothly is a huge day-to-day challenge, and there have been ups and downs in the thirty years since the “new” clubhouse was opened. In a way, its early success contributed to its difficulties. With this glamorous building in the midst of the harbour, the Howth area acquired a new image. Initially, the club had the scene almost entirely to itself in providing catering. But its attractions meant that characterful little restaurants were soon popping up all around a working fishing and sailing harbour which somehow had to cope with becoming a visitor magnet at the same time.

howth yacht club4Howth Yacht Club is able to provide the complete package, but its success in bringing new vitality to the harbour has led to the establishment of a wide variety of local restaurants which rival the club’s own catering facilities.

Thus where members of the club would formerly have done their eating-out in the club, now they found themselves tempted into ringing the changes among the multiple choices available in a village which was being transformed into something verging on the trendy, while around its harbour it was almost Breton in character

Equally, behavioral patterns were changing. Modern families were becoming much more demanding of parental attention with shared activities and interests. People simply didn’t have the time available to give total dedication to sailing as they had in times past, while for newcomers to the sport, rival attractions and activities were always tempting, with sailing becoming just another item on a menu of leisure choices.

Through these changing circumstances, Howth YC had to adjust while remaining true to itself, a club catering for every sort of boat from the 1898-founded Howth 17s and other One-Design classes through a wide variety of offshore racers and cruisers (the Cruising Group is the largest section in the club), and on to the extremes of exotica, with the most modern dinghies and a devoted group into the foiling Moth.

howth seventeens5All part of the mix – the Howth Seventeens, founded in 1898, are part of a club which also provides racing for foiling International Moths

All that’s before you add in the thriving junior section with its many Optimists and other junior boats, the substantial fleet of winter-sailing Lasers, and an extraordinary class which – like the Howth 17s – is to be found nowhere else as a class, and that’s the Puppeteer 22s. They are so Howth-centric that you’d think them slightly off their rockers were it not for the fact that throughout the season they’ve mustard-keen turnouts of 18 to 19 boats for every race, and it’s tremendous racing at that.

puppeteer twentytwo6Close racing in the Puppeteer 22s, which exist as a class only in Howth, and seldom stray far from their home waters. Photo: W M Nixon

Even at the very depths of the downturn, it was clear the potential was there, but what was lacking in the trough was that vital economic component - consumer confidence. The Howth YC demographic with its preponderance of young couples was particularly hard hit. It’s difficult to get the full enjoyment out of sailing when you’re worn down by thoughts of negative equity. Pessimism is not the spirit in which to keep such a complex social and sporting structure functioning successfully.

By the time the tide finally turned, numbers had definitely declined. But there were still enough people left for whom sailing was if anything more important than ever. They were there to have things ready for any improvement in potential interest. “Try Sailing” initiatives were run with infectious enthusiasm, and far from being exclusive in its outlook, the club went out of its way to encourage involvement in sailing in any shape or form.

This was all going on in the background until this past weekend, when we suddenly realized that Howth was putting itself on the line on the big screen. We’d a significant presence at the Scottish series. And two of our leading offshore sailors, noted two-handers Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles, were making their fully-crewed debut with their newly-acquired J/109. She’s called Indian after the motor-cycle brand which preceded Harley Davidson as the height of style in America, for Colm is a bike-nut when he’s not sailing.

indian motorcycles7There’s class for you. The J/109 Indian is named in celebration of an early American motor-cycle which, we’re told, was all the rage until Harley Davidson came along

They were in the ISORA Dun Laoghaire to Arklow race in a fleet which included the two hottest offshore racing J/109s in the Irish Sea, Sgrech and Mojito. Meanwhile in Plymouth, Howth’s one and only Conor Fogerty was making final preparations to start the OSTAR in his Sunfast 3600 Bam!, after being sent on his way with a fund-raising dinner organized by Aidan MacManus of Howth’s King Sitric Restaurant. The King Sitric long pre-dates today’s HYC clubhouse, where in any case Aidan is a popular member, having more than done his duty inshore with the Howth 17s, and offshore in many boats both as owner and crew – he was aboard with the great Roy Dickson when Imp won the Philip Whitehead Cup in the 1987 Fastnet Race.

conor fogerty aidan macmanus8OSTAR skipper Conor Fogerty with Aidan MacManus of the King Sitric
The Club’s lines of communication were becoming ever-further extended, with the ancient Howth 17s far away in France. Under longtime owner Ian Malcolm’s inspiration, they had managed to get six of their boats to southern Brittany for Morbihan Week with 1500 other boats of varying levels of strangeness. Even in such company, the old Seventeens still stood out. But they were a long way from home with road trailers of varying quality, and the route home was the extra-long one via Cherbourg. It took very little morbid imagination to visualise some corner of a foreign field becoming for ever a Howth Seventeen.......

aura in morbihan9Ian Malcolm’s Howth 17 Aura in the Morbihan Festival. She is now safely home. Photo Judith Malcolm

lambay rules crew10The crew of Stephen Quinn’s successful J/97 Lambay Rules at the prize-giving in Scotland are (left to right) Peter Kingston, Stephen Quinn, William Lacy, Stephen O’Flaherty, Carla Fagan, Dave Cotter, David Cagney, and Sinead Harte.

Yet by and large, it has all come good. Admittedly Conor Fogerty is still out there in the Atlantic, and will be for some time yet, battering into an ocean which is in a foul mood. But the boats are back from Scotland with prizes won, Stephen Quinn’s J/97 Lambay Rules and the Kelly family from Rush’s J/109 Storm both topping their classes. In the ISORA Race, Indian won overall by two minutes from Mojito, which is quite a debut and then some. And finally on Wednesday the wandering Howth 17s rolled back into the club yard as cheeky as ever, and keen to get themselves re-launched and sailing again in time for today’s Lambay Race, which has been a pillar of Howth sailing since at least 1904.

In fact, under Commodore Joe McPeake’s energetic leadership, Howth is having an entire Lambay Weekend over the Bank Holiday, starting off last night with a short shared jaunt around the nearest island of Ireland’s Eye. But the Lambay today is the big one, as it incorporates an ISORA event which will swell Class I to at least twenty boats, and the word is that Indian, having made such a successful debut last weekend using “older” sails, will be cutting a dash today with a completely new set of threads.

joe mc peakeHYC Commodore Joe McPeake aims to maintain the fresh momentum in his successful club.

It will all be in the context of this re-shaped Lambay Weekend for a club which has found itself anew:

“We have re-energised the spirit of the club” comments Joe McPeake. “The spirit was always there. A club which has survived through thick and thin for more than 120 years definitely has spirit. But for two or maybe even three years, that spirit was almost dormant. Yet it was always there, and now it burns brightly again.

My own ambition is to see our members and their family and friends looking on sailing as fun. Serious fun in some cases, but fun nevertheless. To achieve that, we’re looking at everything in a fresh way.

Certainly our sailing programme will be even more energetically implemented, and we’ll give every encouragement to those who carry the name of Howth Yacht Cub with success to other places.

But ultimately a club’s success lies in its being seen as the true home of sailing in its neighbourhood, and a vital part of the larger community. With a new emphasis on voluntarism, we’re working towards a sailing club with broader vision, and a sense of involvement for all members. A lot has happened already. But believe me, a lot more is going to happen”

Published in W M Nixon

Solo sailor Conor Fogerty of Howth Yacht Club attended this morning's OSTAR skippers race briefing. John Forde, in Plymouth with Ireland's Team BAM!, updates on preparations for Monday's Transatlantic race start. 

Bam arrived safely in Plymouth to take her place amongst the fleet of solo and two handed sailors in this year's OSTAR.

Ten different nationalities are represented from as far apart as Australia and America to the usual European strongholds , one from Poland and Bulgaria and Howths own Fogerty on the intrepid Sunfast 3600 Bam.

An interesting delivery saw Bam slip her lines early Wednesday morning after a lateish send off from friends and family in Howth.

A flat calm Irish Sea shrouded in fog saw Bam on bare poles head for Tuskar and then South east to the turn. The wind filled and a sun soaked Thursday afternoon saw 30 knots of breeze on a nice angle of 55 apparent.

It also provided the crew with the opportunity to photograph the skipper against the backdrop of the disused Cornish tin mine shafts and Lands End.

However the breeze backed as we turned the corner and a lumpy sea accompaning saw a demanding last leg, A temporary glitch in the Auto pilot meant the two watches were stretched from 3 hours on to fully on for the last 12 hours from the Lizard Rock up the coast to Plymouth Harbour.

As Conor said a small taste of what awaits him on this 3,000 mile up wind race.

OSTAR Fogerty ConorThe Irish Jeanneau Sunfast BAM! is prepared for the Transatlantic crossing in Plymouth. Photo: John Forde

With the excitement now building amongst the skippers gathered , a round of briefings , drinks receptions and tales from past participants has begun in earnest. The Half Crown Club will meet this Saturday afternoon to commemorate the original race run in 1960 and the bet placed between the first corinthian competitors. Also this weekend sees the 50th anniversary of Sir Francis Chichester Clarke's global circumnavigation in 1967. The Gypsy Moth IV now held in trust and run by a lively female crew lies on the marina beside Bam with a series of talks and viewings of the famous old lady organised this weekend.

So now as a Skippers Briefing takes place and last minute jobs and tweaks are carried out, a more familiar south westerly has filled in bringing rain after glorious sunshine to the hosting club of the Royal Western.

The Starting gun goes at 12.00 hours on Monday the 29th of this Bank Holiday weekend.

Interested parties can track the race and hopefully Conor's successful passage on the Yellow Brick tracker.

We wish Captain Fogerty a speedy, safe and a hoped for successful Atlantic crossing and finish in Newport Rhode Island in approximately three weeks time.

Published in Howth YC

Once the ISORA fleet completes its fourth race to Arklow on Saturday, organisers have cooked up a novel and unique race five in the Averycrest sponsored series. Originally, it had been intended that ISORA would join with Howth Yacht Club in the Lambay Race but when the date of that race was brought forward it clashed with the ISORA race to finish in Dublin Port as part of the Dublin Port Riverfest. The solution was 'simple', according to ISORA's Peter Ryan, so they combined the two races into one event and will have two finishes!

There will be a special 'ISORA Class' in the HYC Lambay Race. Boats can enter both the ISORA Class of the Lambay Race and the ISORA Day Race. The start of both races will be provided by Howth YC and the course around Lambay will set by HYC.

The ISORA Class fleet will then proceed to the Lambay race finish off Howth where finish times will be recorded and prizes awarded. However, what is unique about this race is that the ISORA fleet will treat the finish line as a mark on the course and continue on the race toward the 'second finish' in Dublin Port.

The courses for both parts of this unique race will be circulated on the Thursday before the race.

This unique race will test the ability of the racing rules and the use of the YB trackers, but that is the challenge!

Published in ISORA

Ireland’s oldest keelboat class, the Howth 17s which were founded in 1898, saw six of their boats depart Rosslare at 1600hrs today writes W M Nixon. All six have safely covered the first road stage of their long haul from Howth to the week-long Festival of the Sea on the Morbihan in southern Brittany.

Irish Ferries is so taken with the venture that they have provided free return passages for four of the flotilla and their towing vehicles. The group sharing of the cost of the remaining two extra boats has made it all a very manageable financial proposition indeed.

However, there’s still a long way to go to Vannes once they’ve disembarked tomorrow morning in Cherbourg. And as two of the boats – Roddy Cooper’s Leila and Ian Macolm’s Aura – are true vintage, being of the first five built by John Hilditch in 1898, they are not so much boats now, they’re rather more in the category of sacred relics.

Published in Howth YC

The Cruising Association of Ireland is already well into a busy season in 2017, but it moves up a gear this weekend with the AGM at Howth presided over by Commodore Clifford Brown tomorrow (Saturday) at 1800hrs, and based around a rally of East Coast members and their boats followed by a dinner, with CAI folk from other parts of Ireland travelling overland to the venue writes W M Nixon.

Last year the CAI AGM & Rally in the Spring was used to mark the opening of the new Greystones Sailing Club with GSC Commodore Dave Nixon as CAI’s Guest of Honour. This year in the more mature marina at Howth, the home club are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their clubhouse – a winner of architectural awards when it was opened in 1987 – while the marina itself has been in action for nearly 35 years.

The CAI programme in 2017 is impressive, as they started with the Kish Muster in Dublin Bay on 8th April with the overnight at the hospitable National YC. This weekend of May 13th-14th, the focus swings to Howth, then on June 3rd to 5th a significant contingent will be at the Dublin Port festival, while they’re back to meet their old friends in Greystones on 10th to 11th June.

This year’s Cruise-in-Company is focused on Belfast Lough from July 3rd to 10th, then after a mid-season hiatus when many members expect to be doing individual cruises, they gather again on 12th August for an East Coast Rally at either Arklow or Carlingford, depending on the weather. Their East Coast season is rounded out by the traditional and popular Liffey 3 Bridges Cruise on 16th/17th September, when the opening bridges in the heart of Dublin are co-ordinated to allow the CAI fleet through for an convivial assembly which culminates in feasting aboard the Dublin Restaurant Ship Cill Airne.

cruising associationThe popular Cruising Association of Ireland 3 Bridges Cruise in September sees the Liffey bridges co-ordinated for a shared opening time to allow the fleet through. Photo : W M Nixon
While Saturday night’s AGM and dinner at Howth has a certain business-to-be-done emphasis to it, around a dozen boat think it’s only right and proper to sail there, none more so than the renowned Charlie Kavanagh of Wicklow. His Sadler 34 Stravaiger was wintered in a berth in Kilmore Quay, and he was keen to sail to the Howth AGM. But with a period of cold nor’easters threatening, he grabbed a brief weather window on Sunday night by press-ganging shipmate and Wicklow SC Hon. Sec. Peter Shearer into an overnight passage, and they were rewarded with fair easterly winds for a dream sail to Wicklow, admittedly in decidedly crisp temperatures.

So now Stravaiger is conveniently poised to sail north to Howth either this evening or tomorrow morning, and with his new season properly under way, Charlie Kavanagh’s plans for Stravaiger in 2017 include a leisurely Round Ireland cruise.

Published in Cruising
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