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No Way to Treat a Lady

9th June 2012
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No Way to Treat a Lady

#HYC – When you've been staging a successful sailing race annually since 1899 or thereabouts, it's something which has will have acquired its own momentum with a significant amount of baggage in the nostalgia stakes. And its enduring popularity inevitably means that anyone minded to donate a trophy to the hosting club will want to get aboard the high-flying bandwagon of the big one.

Today's annual ITC Lambay Race at Howth looks to have everything going for it, not least an improvement in the ghastly weather which has dominated this past week. The race's prestige is such that it seems to have accumulated more silverware through its various divisions and classes than any other single race on the east coast – and perhaps the entire country, for that matter.

Taking in courses round the handsome Lambay and its quirky little sister island of Ireland's Eye, the Lambay Race is a celebration of the coast of Fingal which - during the ICRA National Championship a fortnight ago - showed how it can provide good sailing breezes when Dublin Bay is serving up windless frustration.

For this classic, they seem to have found a trophy for just about everything except being dog last, and even that must be only a matter of time. The supreme award is the Lambay Lady (think Little Mermaid of Copenhagen), and it goes to whichever winning boat in any of the myriad classes has the greatest margin ahead of the runner-up.

You might reasonably think this inevitably means whoever wins it sails in the most uneven and uncompetitive class of all, but somehow this never seems to happen, as it all often comes down to split seconds. And as they try to run the prize giving a short time after the very last boat has finished, the calculators are over-heated to come up with a result.

Last year, Dun Laoghaire's Ken Lawless and his team with their very competently up-graded vintage Quarter Tonner Supernova were initially declared the winners. The Lawless crew were well on their way back across Dublin Bay with their boat groaning under a load of silverware when some enthusiast in HYC ran a computer check on all the results and came up with the news that the host club's David Clark with his Puppeteer 22 Harlequin should have been awarded the Lambay Lady.

Dave Clark being the man whose day job is keeping the vintage dishwashers of Howth in working order through these stringent times, this just had to be put right, and Howth YC handled it with some style. They have experience of being on the receiving end of this kind of error. Five years ago, when local boats were scoring big internationally, Howth's Roy Dickson with the Corby 36 Rosie was announced as the initial overall winner of the British IRC Championship in the Solent, a big deal by any standards. The trophy had been back in Howth for 24 hours, and well celebrated, when Royal Ocean Racing Club CEO Eddie Warden-Owen made a sheepish phone call asking for their cup back – Rosie had actually been beaten for first overall by a fraction of a point.

So HYC's Brian Turvey handled the Supernova imbroglio with exemplary diplomacy, offering Ken Lawless dinner for two in Howth YC with all the trimmings if he could just see his way to bringing the Lambay Lady over with him, though of course keeping all the other cups. Today, we'll expect a double run on the results before making the final award. But even then, if you do win the Lambay Lady but subsequently have to give it back again, don't mess about - hold out for free dinner for all the crew.

W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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