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#HYC - Howth Yacht Club is recruiting for the role of Sailing Development Officer.

The successful applicant will help create and implement a programme that will increase participation in sailing and other marine activities, devise marketing initiatives to promote/fund the sport of sailing, and increase club membership.

The skills required for this role include a passion for sport and an ability to devise and implement programmes to specific objectives which will be set by the successful applicant in conjunction with the club co-ordinator.

Applicants must have a proven ability to plan and successfully implement such programmes, and previous involvement in this type of role would be a positive attribute.

It should be noted that the club already provides sailing courses for all ages, including a world-class youth performance programme, all of which will be reviewed and enhanced.

The club also wishes to target new activities and markets, including large corporate organisations that wish to be linked with a facility that can provide an attractive and enjoyable lifestyle for their employees.

Applicants should have the skills to be innovative and self-motivated to achieve the set objectives, and should also have strong communicative and IT skills.

The Sailing Development Officer will report to the Commodore of Howth Yacht Club or another nominated officer. It would be expected that the successful applicant will report on a defined basis every two weeks to the nominated officer. Renumeration will be negotiated with the successful applicant and will be performance-related.

Applications should be sent by email to [email protected] or by post to:

The Commodore,
Howth Yacht Club CLG,
Middle Pier,
Howth Harbour,
Howth,
Dublin D13 E6V3

Published in Jobs

Talented Howth Yacht Club sailor Ewan McMahon received his club's top award at an Achievers Ceremong in the North Dublin Club last weekend. McMahon (17) won silver at the KBC Laser Radial Youth World Championships in Dun Laoghaire, in a fine display of consistent sailing across the wind range on Dublin Bay.

Read more about his performance in today's Irish Times Sailing Column here and from Howth Yacht Club here.

 

Published in Howth YC

The 121-year-old Howth Yacht Club, which has one of the largest yacht or sailing club memberships in the country, saw Joe McPeake succeed Berchmans Gannon unopposed as Commodore at a very well-attended Annual General Meeting in the club on Thursday December 8th writes W M Nixon.

What may well be a record AGM turnout of 275 voting members gave strong support to the new management team, which retains former officers Emmet Dalton as Vice Commodore, Ian Byrne and Jonathan Wormald as Rear Commodores, and Bernadette Condy as Honorary Secretary, while the new Honorary Treasurer is David Mulligan. He is an experienced financial administrator while also being a sailor’s sailor who actively campaigned a classic Howth 17 and then an Etchells 22, following which he has been a stalwart as an owner-skipper in the white-sail cruiser class.

New Commodore Joe McPeake – who was formerly Rear Commodore – is a lawyer and property developer who has been an HYC member for 26 years, and is a boat owner who has recently concentrated on cruising under both power and sail, his ventures including reaching the Arctic Circle along the Norwegian coast in a Contest ketch. But he has also raced locally, and in national regatta weeks, as well as racing round Ireland.

A strong committee moves into place combining much new talent with many experienced long time voluntary workers for sailing and HYC. While - like many clubs - Howth has gone through difficulties during the lean years, the meeting concluded in an optimistic mood, as the good news included the fact that a much-needed roof replacement project has come in on time and within budget.

HOWTH YACHT CLUB J80Some of the record fleet in the current Brass Monkeys series at Howth competing their final race of the first half on Sunday, with an HYC-owned J/80 foreground .

As though to emphasise the spirit of can-do optimism which became the HYC mood around mid-meeting, next day saw the annual and decidedly convivial charity lunch organized by top offshore skipper Dave Cullen. It featured a presentation by Marcus Hutchinson (originally of Howth) about the Vendee Globe and Enda O’Coineen’s participation in it, including a live interview with the gallant man himself deep into the Southern Ocean, while the event raised €27,000 for Children’s Liver Disease Research.

Then next day the annual HYC Brass Monkeys Winter League – now approaching its 30th year of organisation by Pat Connolly – concluded its first half with a record fleet racing including J/80s from HYC’s own training fleet.

Following that, the noted toy distributor S Claus of North Pole Enterprises came to call on Sunday (yesterday), and then this Thursday (December 15th) sees perhaps the most legendary annual event in the HYC social calendar, the Ladies Lunch organised by Martina Gannon and her team, this year in support of The Ross Nugent Foundation. Guest speaker this year is Howth’s own Susan Whelan, who is CEO of Premiership champions Leicester City Football Club. Needless to say, the event has long been a sell-out.

santa yacht reindeerComing to a club near you – the noted Toy Distributor S Claus of North Pole Enterprises has been using some novel ways of going about his business this year

Published in Howth YC

Howth Yacht Club's Diana Kissane, Jane Butler, Clara Hynes, Tara Flood and Jennifer Andreasson were tenth overall at the Busan Cup Women's International Match Race at the weekend. As Afloat.ie reported previously it means the sole Irish competitors in the Womens International Series now lie 15th from 25 after four events out of five sailed. 

As one of the most experienced match racing skippers in the world, Australian Katie Spithill has been to every Busan Cup Women's International Match Race since the inaugural event in 2008, except for the single year she had her daughter. But not until Saturday the 29th of October 2016 did she go all the way through to winning in Korea; over previous two-time

In Korea, the waters just outside the beautiful Haeundae Beach of Korean city Busan offered the most challenging of sailing conditions, as the Busan Cup Women's International Match Race came down the wire with semi finals and final Saturday. In incredibly shifty, puffy and gusty winds, Spithill won her semi 3 - 1 over round-robin winner Claire Leroy.

Previous double World Champion and 2007 World Sailor of the Year, Claire Leroy, defeated Ostling 2 – 0 to take the petite final

Results in the Busan Cup Women's International Match Race, the 4th and penultimate event of the 2016 WIM Series are below:

1. Katie Spithill, Alessandra Angelini, Jessica Eastwell, Kate Lathouras and Stacey Jackson, AUS, 25 points
2. Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush, Mariana Lobato, Elodie Mettraux and Mary Rook, GBR, 22
3. Claire Leroy, Marie Riou, Claire Pruvot, Julie Gerecht and Morgane Gautier, FRA, 20
4. Anna Ostling, Hanna Klinga, Linnea Wennergren, Marie Berg and Annika Carlunger, SWE, 18
5. Trine Palludan, Lea Richter Vogelius, Josefine Boel Rasmussen, Laerke Ilso Norgaard and Joan Vestergaard Hansen, DEN, 16
6. Stephanie Roble, Maggie Shea, Aimee Famularo, Elizabeth Shaw and Janel Zarkowsky, USA, 14
7. Pauline Courtois, Maelenn Lemaitre, Berenice Delpuech, Sophonie Affagard and Juliette Le Friec, FRA, 12
8. Caroline Sylvan, Malin Holmberg, Anna Norlander, Frida Langenius and My Karlsten Sfiris, SWE, 10
9. Renee Groeneveld, Annemieke Bes, Lobke Berkhout, Claire Blom and Marcelien de Koning, NED, 8
10. Diana Kissane, Jane Butler, Clara Hynes, Tara Flood and Jennifer Andreasson, IRL, 7
11. Milly Bennett, Alice Tarnawski, Rosie Lee, Stephanie Doyle, Carrington Brady and Tara Blanc-Ramos, AUS, 6
12. Gyeong Jin Lee, Ji A Kim, Min Ju Kim, Da Eun Yang and Da Som Park, KOR, 5

Results in the final:
Katie Spithill, AUS - Lucy Macgregor, GBR, 3 - 2

Results in the petite final:
Anna Ostling, SWE - Claire Leroy, FRA, 0 - 2

Semi final results:
Katie Spithill, AUS - Claire Leroy, FRA, 3 - 1
Anna Ostling, SWE - Lucy Macgregor, GBR, 0 - 3

Standings in the 2016 WIM Series after four events out of five (skipper, country, WIM Series points):
1. Anna Ostling, SWE, 93
2. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 60
3. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 58
4. Stephanie Roble, USA, 54
5. Camilla Ulrikkeholm Klinkby, DEN, 54
6. Renee Groeneveld, NED, 49
7. Katie Spithill, AUS, 25
8. Lucy Macgregor, GBR, 22
9. Anne-Claire Le Berre, FRA, 22
10. Marinella Laaksonen, FIN, 21
11. Claire Leroy, FRA, 20
12. Lotte Meldgaard, DEN, 18
13. Samantha Norman, NZL, 14
14. Sanna Hager, SWE, 14
15. Diana Kissane, IRL, 14
16. Alexa Bezel, SUI, 12
17. Rikst Dijkstra, NED, 12
18. Nicole Breault, USA, 10
19. Johanna Bergqvist, SWE, 10
20. Antonia Degerlund, FIN, 10
21. Elizabeth Shaw, CAN, 8
22. Susanna Kukkonen FIN, 8
23. Milly Bennett, AUS, 6
24. Gyeong Jin Lee, KOR, 5
25. Sanna Mattsson, SWE, 5

Published in Match Racing

In an event and at a time of the year that always promises to challenge the skills of keelboat sailors, the 37th consecutive year of Howth Yacht Club’s Autumn League didn’t disappoint the hundreds of competitors who entered and completed the six-week series this weekend. Losing two of the race days due to the contrasting weather conditions that are to be expected in September and October in these latitudes, only demonstrated that those who emerged as winners in the eight competing classes (and 15 divisions) could rightfully boast about having the ability to succeed in a variety of weather conditions, sea states and in a mix of ‘round the cans’ and ‘windward-leeward’ race courses.

The final day gave the competitors a light breeze of 10-12 knots from the southeast, increasing steadily over the 90 to 120 minutes that they would take to complete their last race of the series. The race management team cleverly utilised the race schedule to ensure that the event would be completed having given the competing teams 5 races, including two windward-leeward on one of the days – this despite having to cancel two race days as mentioned above.

HYC’s Commodore Berchmans Gannon praised the race management teams for their skillful work and relayed the thanks of the 600 competing sailors. He also thanked event sponsors MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz for the huge added value that they were able to bring to the event, observing how they have become an integral partner to the club and their support is greatly appreciated by the members, guests, event competitors and visitors.

The final prizegiving is always a lengthy affair and this year’s presentations were no exception with over 40 different prizes awarded, including presentations to the ‘Team Event’ winners – Howth 17 ‘Aura’, Puppeteer ‘Gold Dust’ and the Half Tonner ‘Harmony’. David Cullen’s ‘Checkmate’ won the overall event and Heineken Trophy and the trophy was presented to crew Aidan Beggan.

A special presentation was made to Howth RNLI and Rupert Jeffares by event sponsors Brendan Grace and Dean Fullston from MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz, with a cheque for €1000.

Competitors and their guests enjoyed the post event celebrations at the event dinner in HYC and in the very many local restaurants that were booked out everywhere in the village and then returned back to the club for the live entertainment and late DJ.

The other winners:

IRC 
Class 1 Storm (Pat Kelly) 

Class 2 Checkmate XV (Cullen/ Biggs)

Class 3 Alliance II (Vincent Gaffney)

Class 4 Tiger (Harris/ Hughes)

Class 5 Demelza (Steffi Ennis/ Windsor Lauden)

ECHO

Class 1 Sourfiere (Stephen O'Flaherty) 

Class 2 Kodachi (Wright/ DeNeve)

Class 3 Kahera (R Camier)

Class 4 Splashdance (Howard McMullen)

Class 5 Mary Ellen (Kevin O'Byrne)

Scratch Handicap

Puppeteers Harlequin (David Clarke/ Liam Egan) Flycatcher (Frank Dillon)

Howth 17s Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey) Silver Moon (Susan Morgan)

Taste of Racing Leahanne McHenry

Published in Howth YC

Howth Yacht Club crew man Anthony Doyle reports from Conor Fogerty's Jeanneau 3600 BAM! on the second day of the Middle Sea Race Race.

'We're just through the straits of Messina at approx 1530, we have what you can only call a mixed bag of a race.

Following a very light wind start in Valletta Grand Harbour we found ourselves with plenty of time to make up after the beat to Mark 2. Then the course brought us north to the South eastern side of Sicily where BAM! started hauling and passing out the competition.

Unfortunately we snagged a very complex lobster pot off Sicily which cost us at least an hour and one of the crew had to dive down to untangle the mess.

This meant that our competitors got away on different breeze but we are now reaching towards Stromboli with the A2 up doing 10 knots and a course of 330 magnetic and hope to make up some lost time.

Hopefully this is a race of many starts, and we have had ours... The skipper and crew are in great spirits and already looking forward to the next one pot wonder Paddy Gregory will rustle up for dinner this evening.

BAM Middle sea raceConor Fogerty's BAM! crew have the wind behind them on day two of the Middle Sea Race. The Irish Jeanneau 3600 is racing in division IRC six with a full Howth Yacht Club crew including Simon Knowles, Paddy Gregory, Sam O'Byrne, Rob Slater and Anthony Doyle

As Afloat.ie reported previously, Fogerty's is racing in division IRC six with a full Howth Yacht Club crew including Simon Knowles, Paddy Gregory, Sam O'Byrne, Rob Slater and Anthony Doyle. As Afloat.ie readers will recall, the doughty Irish offshore campaigner took a class win in February's RORC Caribbean 600 race.

Fogerty arrived into the Grand Harbour in Valletta last Tuesday. In the last 12 months, Bam has been sailed from Howth to the Canaries, then did the ARC race to St Lucia, then the Caribbean 600 race in February, then Conor sailed solo to the Azores, delivery from Azores back to Howth, then the Round Ireland Yacht race in June, then to the Solent for the Fastnet solo race, then the new RORC IIe D’Ouessant Race, then the Cowes to Cherbourg race and just now a delivery from Southampton to Malta. After the Middle Sea race, the boat will be wintered ashore in Malta until next spring year when she returns home.

Organised by the Royal Malta Yacht Club, the 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race will start at 11:00hrs (CET) on the 22nd October in the spectacular Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta.

ISORA sailors Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive are back onboard the Maltese J122 Otra Vez skippered by owner Aaron Gatt Floridia, who has sailed in Ireland's Dun laoghaire to Dingle race. It will be Coyne's fourth Middle Sea on Otra Vez. 'This will be my seventh Middle Sea race and really feeling good about this one' Coyne told Afloat.ie. Coyne managed a class win in 2014 and has previously been sixth time overall.

Also racing is INSS sailor Kenneth Rumball as part of a Maltese crew onboard the Xp44, Xpact. Rumball previously raced on Xpact in 2014 with other Irish sailors Andy Boyle, Philip Connor and Barry Hurley to second overall and first in class three onboard this X-Yacht. Hurley is back on board this year and joining them is Shane Divney of Howth Yacht Club coming back from GC32 Circuit. Laura Dillon of HYC is on Winsome. Dublin's Conor Kinsella, a co-skipper on Lynx in this year's Round Ireland, is sailing on Xpedite.

London–based Royal Irish Yacht Club sailor Niall Dowling is listed on the crew of Pata Negra, the Lombard 46 skippered by Giles Redpath

Published in Offshore

Following the cancellation of two days racing in mid-series due to adverse weather, this year's MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz Autumn League competitors enjoyed two races this Saturday, affording the competing teams a real opportunity to challenge the leaders in all 8 classes. Aided by an ever-increasing wind forecast, the race management teams chose to run two windward-leeward courses for both inshore and offshore fleets. Multiple windward-leeward race starts are always a risky undertaking, but the HYC teams used their considerable experience to manage two races for each fleet within the time limit.

Having now completed 4 races, a discard now applies and allows competitors to accumulate their best 3 results before including next Saturday's last race of the six week series. The limited time to complete this week's two races made for very close and exciting racing with short legs and very busy mark-roundings. Boat handling was crucial as only seconds separated many of the classes in each race.

It was business as usual on the 'Offshore' course, with Pat Kelly's Storm winning the first race but their DNC (Did Not Compete) in the second race leaves it all to play for in Class 1 IRC. It would appear that Stephen O'Flaherty's immaculate Spirit 54 Soufriere will certainly be a contender for the ECHO prize in that class next week.

A first and second place for Dave Cullen and his team on Checkmate guarantees that the Cullen/Biggs Half-Tonner will collect the Class 2 IRC trophy next week and meant that they could pack the boat into its winter storage a week earlier than anyone else. Second place will certainly go the last race, with two other Half-Tonners The Big Picture and King One along with Richard Colwell and Ronan Cobbe's Fusion all contending for the remaining spoils. A late-season run of form sees Darren Wright and Rick DeNeve's Kodachi 'neck-and-neck' with Dux and Harmony for next week's overall ECHO result.

The application of discards certainly condenses the leaderboard in Class 3, which presents itself as anyone's game with one day to go. Always prominent at the top of the Autumn League scoresheet, Vince Gaffney's Alliance II will race the two K25 teams on their J24s Johnny Bravo and Scandal as well as Kahera and Fulmar Fever for the top prize. The fact that a 4th place IRC prize will be presented means that Fulmar Fever is also likely to be jousting for the ECHO trophy with Jonathan Wormald's Formula 28 Starlet.

The Harris/ Hughes team on their Beneteau Tiger are being hunted down by Dermot Skehan's Toughnut in Class 4, with Harry Byrne's Alphida only 2 points behind. This class is notable for the pedigree of its 'senior' racers, proving that skill and determination are more than a match for youth and enthusiasm in our sport! The ECHO prize might go to either Howard McMullen's Splashdance or Kieran Jameson's Changeling in a result that might replicate the event statistics of many previous decades.

An impressive string of wins in Class 5 means that Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis's Shamrock 28 Demelza is already guaranteed the trophy while Declan Gray's Sapphire and Vincent Lundy's Cheyenne lead the class for the ECHO prize and the Denis Wickham Trophy.

Nothing separates Gold Dust and Harlequin in the Puppeteer Class and it's very unlikely that the chasing boats (Trick or Treat and Yellow Peril) will manage to make an impression on the leaders, whose impressive results show them tied on 4 points each after 4 races. However in the Handicap division, the bookies won't be taking any money on Frank Dillon's Flycatcher whose results suggest a remarkable improvement in form within the 17-boat fleet.

Never a class to sit quietly, the Howth Seventeens emerged from a protest that saw just 6 boats scored in a race 2 weeks ago, and consequently many must have been glad to be able to apply their discard following the races this weekend. Two wins by the Turveys' Isobel puts their team at the top of the leaderboard, just ahead of Peter Courtney's Oona and Michael and Jane Duffy's Hera is a further 3 points behind. An effective class handicapping system means that the improved performances of Silver Moon and Eileen affords them the opportunity to compete for the Alphida Cup next week.

One of the most remarkable successes of this year's Autumn League has been the popularity of the 'Taste of Racing', a formula devised by Fergus O'Kelly and utilising the four ISA Sailfleet J80s with a selection of experienced HYC keelboat racers offering a tutorial to keen and prospective racing sailors that are new to the sport. Four of the clubs new J80s are also being chartered by members and are competing in Class 2.

The race management team have confirmed that they will be running a single final race next week and remind competitors of the earlier first warning signal time of 13:00. There are still limited places available at the event dinner and bookings can be made by contacting the office at 01 8322141.

Published in Howth YC

North Dublin actor Brendan Gleeson was at Howth Yacht Club last Thursday (6 Oct 2016) for the annual RNLI Ladies Lunch in aid of Howth RNLI. The sold-out charity event was attended by 150 local ladies and raised over €8,000.

When asked what motivated him to support the RNLI he responded, ‘The RNLI is an incredible organisation. I’m full of admiration for the work that they do. Many years ago I spent time filming on an RNLI lifeboat in South Wales, and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to get to know the crew well. Last year Howth RNLI was the busiest lifeboat station on the coast of Ireland. It’s an honour to be here today, and it’s great to live in Howth among a bunch of heroes’.

Mr. Gleeson, who is one of Ireland’s most prolific actors on stage and screen, is best known for his roles in The Guard, the Harry Potter films and Braveheart, happily mingled with the guests at the sold-out event, and patiently posed for numerous photographs and selfies.

He gave an insightful and thought-provoking speech about the life-saving work of the RNLI, and how the volunteer crewmembers and the people they rescue are so interlinked with local communities. He spoke about the lessening of anxiety and sense of reassurance a community has, knowing that the lifeboat will come to their aid if needed. Mr. Gleeson also mentioned a line from a Seamus Heaney poem about the economy of kindness, and remarked on the dignity the lifeboat crews show to those in their care. He praised the life-saving volunteers and described them as noble, selfless, strong minded and compassionate, who exhibited Navy discipline with maximum efficiency and safety while maintaining a sense of mutual respect and comradeship for their crew mates.

Rose Michael, Howth RNLI Fundraising Chairperson, commented, ‘

We are thrilled to have Brendan here today. He has a deep respect and genuine understanding of the sacrifices and challenges that our volunteer lifeboat crewmembers face every time they are called out on a rescue. We greatly appreciate that he has taken time out of his very busy schedule to be here with us. The funds today raised will go towards the costs of on-going training and crew kits for the lifeboat crew ’.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Whatever about all the other sailing around Howth Yacht Club, there are few who would dispute that one of the biggest HYC stories this year is the success of this J24 team.

Following their unprecedented success over the past months and years, the Ireland's Eye Kilcullen team threw a typically 'understated' celebration in Howth Yacht Club last Saturday night. Many of this team were founder participants in the K25 (under 25) programme when it was initiated in 2009 and now see themselves not only as successful graduates, but they've also developed and set the standard at the very highest level for those youth sailors from Howth following behind them.

In an extraordinarily short few years to the end of August this year and in addition to their numerous regional titles, the Ireland's Eye Kilcullen team held J24 National titles, ICRA National title, Match Racing National title (with former team member Ryan Scott), twice J24 European Under 25 winners, European IRC silver medal and won J24 European Championship bronze recently. Their last spectacular accomplishment in retaining their J24 National title in Dun Laoghaire recently seemed to slip past most of the sailing press's notice, where they sailed a flawless national championship series to win the title with seven straight race wins.

Most of this team will now be stepping down to make way for the next aspiring group of teenage and youth sailors motivated to replicate their success. As the remainder of the team now reaches 25 years of age, the youngest team member (Cian Manley) is empowered with forming and bringing one of the next teams through.

J24 Irelands eye HowthCian, Gordon, Sam and Cillian presenting Brendan and Paul O'Sullivan of Ireland's Eye (2nd and 4th from left) with a framed momento from their highly successful year Photo: HYC

So what happens in the lives of these guys next? It was always possible that the K25 initiative would seed opportunities for those wishing to join the professional sailing circuit and Luke Malcolm seems to have relished this prospect, as he's currently spending the remainder of this year doing many of the RYA accreditation modules in the south of England. In tactician and sport science graduate Gordon Stirling, the K25's loss is Ulster Rugby's gain, because 'Gordo' is now working with them as Strength and Conditioning Coach. Having been one of HYC's youngest Senior Instructors just a few short years ago, helmsman Cillian Dickson will now be applying his time to concentrate on studying for his Actuarial Science Degree. The final member of the 'retired' team is Sam O'Byrne, who's own 'DropChef' business with another former K25 member (Ryan Scott) will undoubtedly flourish under the Howthman's relentless energy.

Acknowledging the support given to the squad since it's inception, the guys were quick to thank The gift to Ireland's Eye Knitwear included gold, silver and bronze medals won by the team. The gift to Ireland's Eye Knitwear included gold, silver and bronze medals won by the team their sponsors including local knitware company 'Ireland's Eye' - presenting Brendan and Paul O'Sullivan with a specially framed photo set integrated with gold (ISA National J24 title), silver (IRC Europeans) and bronze (J24 European) medals. In addition to hosting dinner in the club for the sponsors, they invited K25 mentors Brian McDowell and Fergus O'Kelly and former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, to thank them and the club for their support of this hugely successful youth initiative. The team was also quick to thank coach Graeme Grant and others such as Paddy Gregory and Ian Malcolm for their help with logistics.

Brian Turvey praised the team for the way in which they applied themselves and developed as an extraordinarily capable force not just in terms of race results but also as ambassadors for Howth Yacht Club.

With the provision of three J24 keelboats (by Enda O'Coineen and Brian McDowell) and access to the HYC's five new J80s, the K25 initiative continues to build and young sailors interested in developing their sailing skills in a team-focused environment with a view to high-performance achievement should contact [email protected] for further information.

Published in Howth YC

While today’s galaxy of our top international sailing talent draws in its stars from many parts of Ireland to focus their energies and campaigns through a relatively few major centres, there was a time when one charming little estuary village north of Dublin produced much more than its fair share of exceptionally talented sailors. These included four Olympic sailing representatives, one of whom became a Silver Medallist. W M Nixon finds himself musing on Malahide while savouring the first race of the MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz Autumn League at Howth Yacht Club.

A good Autumn League race is sailing at its best, and last Saturday’s Mercedes-Benz League opener at Howth was vintage stuff, with 103 boats shaping up to their various starts on two course areas to round out a season of mixed weather and great achievements.

It was a classic ridge day between Friday’s heavy rain and Sunday’s rising gales, and it started as such a total meteorological punctuation mark between two vigorous weather systems that the more pessimistic anticipated an all-day calm. But with racing beginning at the very civilised time of 2.30 pm, a building south to southeast breeze was able to fill in sufficiently to provide excellent racing without continuing to strengthen or become cold to an uncomfortable level. And while clouds tried to develop, in time they melted away to enable that extraordinary September sunlight to work its magic again.

There’s such a variety of craft taking part in the Howth event year after year that, to do it justice and get the full flavour, Sailing-on-Saturday tries to bluff its way on board a completely different boat for the first race each September. So having done it last year with Algy Pearson on the Puppeteer 22 Trick-or-Treat for a classic One Design ding-dong, and the previous year with Stephen O’Flaherty with his exquisite Spirit 54 Soufriere and his energetic crew with their many permutations of asymmetrics and whatever, for 2016 everything pointed to a seriously veteran cruiser racing in one of the non-Spinnaker classes, and we struck gold with a quick phone call to Robert Michael.

He and his wife Rose have owned the Jeanneau Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide since 1989, and their 27 happy years with this very sensible Philippe Briand-designed sloop could provide a useful case study of how to organise and make best use of a good all round performance cruiser based in Ireland.

Sun Fizz 40 Mystique Malahide 2Malahide may be her spiritual home, but it’s at Howth she does much of her sailing. The successful Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide sails sweetly past the gannetry on The Stack at Ireland’s Eye off Howth. Photo: John Deane

In her day, with production at a peak in Europe from 1980 to 1984, despite her relatively sedate looks the Sun Fizz 40 was deservedly a best-seller. So much so, in fact, that with her manageable size incorporating really good accommodation, it was said that when Jeanneau stopped building her, the moulds ended up in the US for another production run with some local mods for the American market.

That used to be dismissed as a waterfront myth. But a brief research session will reveal the existence across the Atlantic of the very familiar-looking O’Day 39 and O’Day 40, rendering further denial pointless. So those who were in on the early days of the Sun Fizz 40 were trend-setters in a trans-European trans-Atlantic movement, and when the first ones finally arrived in Ireland in 1982, delayed not by a lack of enthusiasm but by a sluggish economy and outrageous VAT rates on new boats, we eventually managed a boat test for Afloat Magazine.

But that wasn’t until September 1983, when there was no doubting the recently-acquired boat was second-hand. Yet it was worth the wait, for we liked this attractive “soncey big boat”. That favourable view came from Dick Brown of Weatherly Yachts in County Down, who had taken fifth overall in the 1982 Round Ireland Race in a new Sun Fizz 40 which had been the first one on the island, but had come into Northern Ireland ownership as the tax rates there weren’t so punitive.

As it happens, I did the Sun Fizz 40 test (it appeared in the magazine in November 1983) with the late Brian Hegarty, a leading example of those highly-accomplished offshore racing and serious cruising people who emerged from the sail training school which was Malahide. So it seemed entirely appropriate that when the actual boat we’d tested joined mainstream sailing in 1989, she became Mystique of Malahide, owned by Robert & Rose Michael.

Sun Fizz Yacht 3The Boat Test for the Sun Fizz 40 which eventually became Mystique of Malahide, published in the November 1983 Afloat magazine

Those who are strangers to the ways of Fingal will find it curious that people whose sailing is so totally related to Howth seem to be completely intertwined with Malahide as well. Yet Robert was HYC Commodore in 1996-1997, while Rose is lead fund-raiser for the Howth Branch of the lifeboats to such good effect that she has twice been awarded the RNLI Gold Badge.

But their boats have long had “of Malahide” as an integral part of the name, and they wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else other than in their childhood home of Malahide, a place which has its own distinctive and distinguished sailing history.

However, as Malahide was a very small village within living memory, it took a while for its sailing infrastructure to catch up with the rest of Ireland. Initially it was just a boatyard with motley craft anchored off, including a couple of locally-based cruisers which sometimes found negotiating the very shoal sand bar at the entrance a trying business, for if you got it wrong there was no way of disguising the fact from your friends and neighbours.

Then a flotilla of Mermaids – some of them very successful - began to put Malahide on the sailing map, and in 1958 Malahide Sailing Club –now Malahide Yacht Club - came into being, one of the reasons being that the damming of the arches under the railway embankment across the upper estuary of Broadmeadow Water in order to prevent pillar erosion had given the local sailors an entirely new permanent sailing nursery to match the estuary and open sea sailing they could access below the embankment.

This facilitated the very rapid growth of a class of Enterprise dinghies – mostly home built - which provided another outlet for Malahide’s prodigious reserves of potential sailing talent, which had already put down a marker when the young Burrows brothers Richard and Johnny, with local lad Robin Hennessy as crew, had sailed their Mermaid the long haul to Wexford on a camping cruise in order to take part in the Mermaid Nationals, and duly returned with the trophy.

In fact the Burrows family – the children of noted Malahide-resident environmentalist, ecologist and extremely hard-working journalist George Burrows – exploded on the Irish sailing scene, and it was altogether typical of their style that Richard and Johnny did the Round Britain and Ireland Race in a little Shipman 28, newly-built in Limerick, at a time when they were also devoting much energy to building their working careers.

That was the Malahide way: work hard and sail hard. In a relatively short period it produced people like Robin Hennessy who won the Dragon Gold Cup in 1972 with such style that he was odds-on favourite for a Medal at the 1972 Olympics, only for a key crewmember to be struck down by a debilitating virus, and Robert Dix, who at 17 became the youngest-ever winner of the Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland in 1970, and represented Ireland in the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

However, it was 1980 when an Olympic Silver Medal finally came the way of Malahide with David Wilkins hitting the target in Tallinn. But while that is inevitably most remembered in this year of all years, there were many other outstanding achievements for the by-now rapidly growing estuary village, with another formidable talent emerging with the many successes – both inshore and offshore - of sailmaker Philip Watson, who like many others of Malahide, had first made his mark in Enterprise racing.

A remarkable pace had already been set when Robin Hennessy, crewed by Malahide clubmate Robert Michael, won the “British Helmsman’s Championship”, the Endeavour Trophy, in 1968 when it was sailed in Enterprises. Crewman Robert Michael – “Micko” to everyone – had learned his sailing in an unusual way. For though his family lived in the heart of Malahide, as a hospital doctor his father had a month’s clear leave every summer. Thus the family high-tailed it for the peak of the summer to the family place in Sneem in County Kerry, where young Robert learned about sailing through trial and error with a well-worn International 12 dinghy.

But by the age of 15 back home in Malahide, he was skippering a loaned Mermaid and that in turn led on to a stellar competitive sailing career that included racing with Sean Flood when they won the Irish Dragon Championship with Aletta.

The trouble with an idyllic sailing childhood such as Malahide provided in its developing days is that, in due course, adulthood intrudes. In time, Micko found himself becoming an item with near neighbour Rose Burrows, who had herself been a top achiever in Enterprises before taking off for a spell working in the big yachts in the Mediterranean. Having got together again, in order to make a living they each started complementary businesses in the security industry.

Robert found himself running his own company called Security Wardens. But as that was a 24/7 occupation, he needed the outlet of brief but guaranteed sailing relaxation, and it was provided with the winter-long Sunday morning Laser Frostbite series which had been inaugurated in Howth in 1974. It has been running every winter ever since, thereby giving the Howth club a continuous sailing programme since Opening Day in April 1974.

Malahide 4Malahide (above) has its own distinctive sailing history, yet many of its leading enthusiasts prefer to berth their boats at Howth seven miles away (below)

Howth Harbour Aerial

However, for the increasingly over-worked Robert Michael, inevitably he took on board the notion that Malahide was for living and shore life and going to work, but Howth was for sailing. So in 1982 – by which time he and Rose had a family with two daughters Lucy and Cathy, but they also had a new Moody 29, Mystique of Malahide – they naturally put their names down for a berth in Howth’s proposed club marina, for this was a clear ten years before anything like a marina was developed seven miles away at home in Malahide.

There were many other Malahide boat owners who did the same, so in that exciting but tricky time in the 1980s when Howth was in the process of transforming itself from a small local organization into one of the biggest clubs in the country with its own state-of-the-art marina, HYC Commodore Tom Fitzpatrick sensibly decided that the significant Malahide group in the club should be properly represented in its administration. He invited Robert Michael to let his name go forward for election to the committee, and the rest is history, as the Malahide man became a popular Commodore in 1996, while Rose in turn was taking over her mother Daisy’s key role in running the fund-raising for Howth Branch RNLI.

And although Malahide has had its own marina for 24 years now with the entrance channel marked and dredged, most of those Malahide sailors who took the big step of signing up for Howth marina back in 1982 have stayed on, and it would be impossible to overestimate the positive contribution the “Malahide crowd” make to Howth sailing.

In fact, they’re maybe getting the best of it, as their lives are more clearly defined. Leafy comfortable Malahide is for civilised day-to-day living, but rugged workaday fishing-minded Howth – only about twenty minutes away - is for boats and sailing. The Malahide folk know where they stand, whereas those of us who live on the Howth peninsula itself, and particularly right beside the harbour, can sometimes be a bit confused.

Certainly a sense of orderly progress and personal development is the abiding impression of the way things have worked out for Robert and Rose Michael. With the Moody 29 Mystique of Malahide, they not only day-sailed and cruised this comfortable boat, but they raced her with vigour in club and regional events with considerable success, which would have delighted designer Bill Dixon, for he knew the Moody 29 was a good ’un, but he didn’t realize she was quite that good.

Early each season with a pack of the lads, Robert would take the little Moody for a successful foray to the annual Scottish Series in Tarbert, but once he and Rose had moved up to the Sun Fizz 40, this pattern became modified. While the bigger Mystique of Malahide was fine for club racing and series like the Autumn League at Howth, and also added an overall win in the Lambay race to her CV, the fact that she likes a decent and preferably steady breeze hampered her performance at Tarbert, yet each passage up there reminded her crew of just what a super boat she was for comfortable fast cruising.

Sun Fizz 40 6The Sun Fizz 40’s roomy accommodation can sleep six, but she’s an ideal cruising boat for up to six. The galley may seem decidedly compact, but as the large chart table has a level rather than desk-type top, it is used as an extension of the galley in port.
So while Robert and his old mates still took off for ten days towards Scotland at the end of May each year, they now went outside the Mull of Kintyre for a busy cruise of the nearer Hebrides, and this proved such a successful seasonal opener that other Malahide-yachts-from-Howth would join with them in some years for a mini cruise-in-company.

Aboard Mystique of Malahide, they enjoy a club-organised Cruise-in-Company provided it leaves them with plenty of space to do their own thing, and their furthest south cruise found them in the wonderful Morbihan on France’s Biscay coast after an Irish Cruising Club cruise-in-company in Brittany.

This year, the 150th Anniversary of the Royal Ulster YC on Belfast Lough provided provided a Cruise-in-Company to Scotland with the ICC and the Clyde Cruising Club, but that only got the fleet as far as Tobermory. For many this was far enough, as Scotland was experiencing it rainiest summer in many years. But the folk on Mystique of Malahide were determined to get to Skye, and though they didn’t get clear of the rain completely, they managed a clear day when anchored in the wild and mysterious Loch Scavaig in the heart of Skye’s Cuilin Mountains, and they’d another unexpectedly perfect summer’s evening at the enchanted Skye anchorage of Isle Ornsay.

Loch Scavaig 7Mystique of Malahide anchored in Loch Scavaig among Skye’s Cuilin mountains which, as legend would have it, are named for Cuchulain. Photo: Lucy Michael

The charm of cruising is its unexpected delights, and heading south again after three days of continuous rain, a pet day came through to provide a weather window for photographer daughter Lucy to record the puffins on the Treshnish Islands west of Mull. The only other place I’ve ever seen puffins in such profusion is among the Shiant Isles up in the North Minch, yet there they seemed very wary of our little boat (she was only a 25-footer), so much so that I commented on their shyness, to which the sardonic shipmate responded that if you’d a nose like that, you’d be shy…..

Yet the crew of Mystique of Malahide found that the many puffins of Treshnish weren’t at all shy of people, as their presence meant the puffin population was temporarily protected from the usual predators such as gulls and crows. After three days of rain, the place was a hive of activity with the entire puffin population busy cleaning out their burrows, so much so that Rose was reminded of the spring cleaning season in Malahide in the old days. And now, she remembers that enchanted day with the puffins of Treshnish as the highlight of the cruise, despite the other recollections of the entertaining camaraderie of the cruise-in-company, the sheer majesty of the Cuillins, and the joys of a good sail when the weather relented.

So in joining Mystique of Malahide for the first race of the Mercedes-Benz Autumn League last Saturday afternoon afternoon, I was stepping aboard a well-loved boat which was hoping to round out a very complete season with a good final racing series. Although we raced against this Mystique with our 35-footer for many years just as previously we’d raced against the Moody 29 with our former 30-footer, it was probably the first time I’d sailed with Robert & Rose, and it was certainly interesting to see what had happened to the boat since I last examined her in detail in 1983.

Robert Michael is one of those handymen who is never happier than beavering away in his workshop at home making or improving little bits and pieces for the boat, all of which make her more comfortable, but she is still basically the same boat which, in the French style of the 1980s, can sleep ten if you really wish it, but mercifully she is provided with two toilets, so she’s an extremely civilized and comfortable boat for up to six people to go cruising, knowing that you can take more from time to time if need be.

Her rig is compact and attractively seamanlike – she has one of those forestays attached about half a metre from the masthead which very usefully prevent any tendency to spar inversion - while the lengths of her double spreaders has been carefully calculated so that they really do the job they’re required to do very well, but aren’t overlength, enabling the genoa to be set to perfection.

Philippe Briand got it right in 1980, it still looks very right, and when the breeze freshened in to the perfect strength for Mystique, our crew were determined to give of their best in the up-coming race against sixteen boats, a goodly turnout which, despite it being a non-spinnaker division, included some talented and determined helms whom we knew wouldn’t give an inch.

Stephen Flaherty Spirit 54 Soufriere 8Long and lean and lovely – Stephen O’Flaherty’s Spirit 54 Soufriere shaping up for her start. Photo: W M Nixon

Nowhat from Galway Bay Sailing Club 9The men from the west. Nowhat from Galway Bay Sailing Club has come over to the East Coast for the Mercedes-Benz Autumn League at Howth, in which her predecessor Joggernaut (Donal Morrissey) used to race regularly. Photo: W M Nixon9
But before the start, there was the usual pre-race sociability of sailing among the fleet and saluting friends old and new, including the Galway crew with Nowhat who’d come across country to do the Howth series just as, in times past, Donal Morrissy and his Galway crew with Joggernaut contributed to so much to the East Coast’s Autumn festival

With the President of the Irish Sailing Association, no less, as Principal Race Officer on HYC’s highly individual Committee Boat, there was a sense of occasion, but the imperatives of racing took over. It could have been any start in any venue, it was the here and now that mattered, and with Colm Bermingham with his successful Elan 333 Bite the Bullet not giving us an inch of spare space, the hefty big Mystique of Malahide found herself right at the Committeee Boat very close on the line as the start sounded.

First 40.7 Tiger 10The First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen Harris & Frank Hughes) calmly keeping things under control before the start of a race she was to win convincingly.

Bite the Bullet 11 They didn’t give us a square inch to move about in. Colm Bermingham’s Bite the Bullet gives Mystique a hard time with 17 seconds still to go and the space evaporating in at the committee boat. Photo: W M Nixon

It was a start so good it was surely too good to be true, and almost immediately the recall sounded and the radio squawked: “One boat over the line”. It was something which could have been debated on board Mystique, but being minimally crewed we’d had no-one at the stemhead. The only option was taking the medicine. There was soon a gap through which we could make our escape and gybe back round the Committee Boat to re-start. Not a doddle by any means with a hefty big boat like a Sun Fizz 40, but here we were, starting again, but this time lying very sixteenth with an awful lot of work to do to get back in the races.

mys tique12Mystique starts to mix it again with the rest of the fleet after losing out with a recall. Photo: W M Nixon

mark rounding 13Anticipating what’s going to happen in a mark-rounding makes up about 50% of racing success. Micko looking remarkably calm on the helm after picking up four places with one particularly good rounding. Photo: W M Nixon

But Mystique and her helmsman did themselves and us proud. Gradually we started picking off the other boats, and in one memorably perfect mark-rounding, we took four places at a stroke. The pace intensified towards the finish as we began to get among boats we should have been racing with throughout - it was real racing with the Howth and Ireland’s Eye coastline looking its best in the returned sunshine. As we squeaked across the line to snatch sixth on the water by three seconds from Richard McAllister’s Force Five, it was with a feeling we might even be in single figures on corrected time.

Mystique of Malahide YachtThe final stages of the race provided a proper ding-dong with another Malahide owner, Richard McAllister with Force Five……..Photo: W M Nixon

Richard McAllister Force Five yacht …..and at the finish, Mystique was three seconds ahead. Photo: W M Nixon

Later in the evening, we learned it was rather better than that. Although there was no way we were going to challenge Stephen Harris with the all-conquering First 40.7 Tiger which had sailed a wellnigh perfect race to win every which way from Harry Byrne’s Sunrise 34 Alphida with Dermot Skehan’s MG 345 Tough Nut third, it turned out we’d the three three sixes – sixth on the water, sixth on IRC, and sixth on ECHO.

More than reasonable in the circumstances. But as our day generally had been more than reasonable in terms of sailing enjoyment, we were in no particular hurry to get ashore to find out the actual results, and lingered over the traditional post-race sausages in the cockpit in more summery conditions than Howth has experienced for most of the supposed summer.

mystique of Malahide Yacht CrewOnly five to race a forty footer – Mystique’s crew are (left to right) Lucy Michael, Rose Michael, Robert Michael, John O’Reilly and John Derham. Photo: W M Nixon

Ian Malcolms 1898 built Aura16aIt wouldn’t be Howth without the Seventeens….The Harbour’s oldest class return to their moorings after Ian Malcolm’s 1898-built Aura had won from Peter Courtney’s Oona with Hera (Michael & Jane Duffy) third. Photo: W M Nixon

Post Race Sausages17Summer comes to Howth at last, but in September. The Post Race Sausages are a Mystique tradition, but you can’t always enjoy them in the cockpit. Photo: W M Nixon

Up in the club the joint was heaving within and without, as they’d to get through all the post-race business of the first contest of the Mercedes-Benz Autumn League, and then re-focus the place entirely for the black tie ball which was to mark the final rounding out of Gary “Ted” Sargent’s epic One Wild Ride sail round Ireland in a Laser during the first part of the season, a project which has raised a truly remarkable €27,000 for ChildVision.

So with one thing and another it was Sunday evening by the time I phoned the skipper of Mystique to thank him again for Saturday’s sport and the sheer pleasure of sailing with good shipmates on a properly-used boat. We yarned of this and that, and then he closed the conversation in typically Micko style.

“Just one final thing before you go” says he. “I think you should know we weren’t actually over the line at the start. It was Terry McCoy who was OCS……”

Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide18The gallant war horse rests up after busy day. The Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide has been giving exemplary service for 33 years now, and is very well with it. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon
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