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Displaying items by tag: Howth Yacht Club

It will be J Boats every which way at Howth this weekend with events of national standing for both the J/24s and Howth YC’s training flotilla of J/80s writes W M Nixon.

Once again the J/80s are being utilised to select the Irish college crew for the Student Yachting Worlds 2018. These aren’t being held in France until the Autumn, but the realities of university scheduling and the timing of exams means the national selection trials have to be held in April.

Last year, University College Dublin - captained by Will Byrne – were winners. But with 24 university crews entered for this important selection, 2018’s victors may come from further afield.

Once again the J/80s are being utilised to select the Irish college crew for the Student Yachting Worlds 2018

University College Cork are on a roll after winning the Intervarsity Team Championship raced in dinghies at Kilrush last month. But the Howth event tests a different set of skills with keelboat emphasis, although experience with J/80s indicates that a good dinghy sailing technique transfers well to these popular sportsboats.

NUI Galway – one of the hosts at Kilrush last month – is making a particularly determined pitch for the title, with two crews travelling across country to Howth. NUIG Captain Aaron O’Reilly is at the centre of a longterm project to send an experienced university crew in the 2020 Volvo Round Ireland race, which in turn will be linked in with Galway’s year as European Capital of Culture, and the Galway sailing challenge was formally launched this week.

The NUIG challenge is receiving widespread support, and the reception in Galway Docks Marina, hosted by Harbour Master Captain Brian Sheridan to wish the NUIG teams well, was attended by representatives of Galway Ocean Sports Club, City of Galway S, Galway Bay SC, the Port Sea Scouts, and West Sails.

galway docks reception2Good luck to NUIG. Galway Harbour Master Captain Brian Sheridan launches the two year campaign towards having a Galway University crew in the 2020 Volvo Round Ireland Race, with the programme starting at this weekend’s Student Selection Trials at Howth. Photo: Pierce Purcell

Fortunately Howth YC have two Committee Boats, as the club will also be hosting the J/24 Easterns, and two completely separate course areas have to be provided to keep the J/80s and the J/24s apart.

The host club is proving to be a happy hunting ground for bringing J/24s back to life, but there are strong levels of interest at Foynes and on Lough Erne as well. The J/24s are the very first J/Boats of all – they go back to 1977 – but they’re proving to be an enduring species at national level. In 2017, the national champion was J P McCaldin of Lough Erne YC, while in 2016 the title was taken by Howth YC’s U25 squad with Ireland’s Eye Kilcullen.

Published in Howth YC
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With under a week remaining before the early bird entry deadline for Howth Yacht Club's Wave Regatta 2018, the latest entry for the June Bank Holiday weekend regatta at the north Dublin venue is planning a highly competitive campaign including several weeks of advance preparation.

Rob McConnell's Fool's Gold from Waterford Harbour SC is the latest of a number of high profile entires to sign up for the Dublin event. Earlier, Jamie McWilliam’s Signal 8 from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club was confirmed for the three-day series in Howth. The Ker 40 is one of four high-profile entries named here.

McConnell, a Welsh IRC and Sovereign's Cup champion, will be moving to Howth before June to begin training for the IRC European Championships at Cowes and Wave Regatta will be their final event before heading south.

"Wave Regatta fits in well with our season and preparation for the European Championships just one week later," said Rob McConnell, Fool's Gold skipper. "We'll be based on the East Coast and looking forward to good, competitive racing at Howth on the June Bank Holiday weekend."

With deep water berthing for big boats, Sailors for the Sea environmental programme, a range of accomodation solutions plus three days of racing afloat including an option to sail only in the one day Lambay Race, Wave Regatta is aiming to be the most memorable event on the East Coast this season.

Published in Wave Regatta

This year’s inaugural J/80 Irish National Championships will run back-to-back with Howth Yacht Club's Wave Regatta, Ireland’s largest keelboat sailing regatta this year.

Some convenient scheduling at HYC means that the Irish Championships take place at the North Dublin club during the UK May bank holiday weekend (24-26th) followed by an invitation to the class to take part in Wave Regatta on the following weekend and coinciding with the Irish bank holiday. This will provide competitors with an opportunity to savour the famous hospitality at Howth and to enjoy two weekends in one of the worlds top keelboat racing venues.

Event chairman Ross McDonald explains ‘scheduling the J/80 championships on the weekend of the 25th of May was always going to be a winner. It will allow many of the enthusiastic UK teams to participate and compete with the emerging Irish fleet at at top quality venue. Significantly, we are also offering a combined entry option, to entice teams to stay on for the huge ‘Wave Regatta’ taking place in Howth on June 1-3. With a special launching, lift-out and trailer storage deal, a special concession deal with Irish Ferries together with free berthing for the week as well as a second weekend of racing within what will be a showcase regatta for Ireland (see:, this will be and unmissable and unforgettable week!’

The Irish J/80 Championships will be run over three days and as part of the ‘Sportsboat Cup’ which incorporates racing for other one-design keelboat divisions, including 1720s and SB20s.

For Wave Regatta, the J/80s have been invited to take part in three days of racing under IRC rating with additional prizes for their own one-design class also. The schedule includes two days of windward/ leeward and round-the-cans races and a coastal race around local islands ‘Lambay’ and ‘Ireland’s Eye’.

The notice of race and online entry to the Irish Championships with discounted option to enter Wave Regatta also can be accessed here.

Published in Howth YC
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In Howth, sailing life goes on after the destructive shock of Storm Emma on Friday, with its Force 12 onshore east to northeast winds, and the serious damage to the roof of the end-of-pier shed in which the classic gaff-rigged Howth 17s have been stored since their foundation in 1898 writes W M Nixon.

In that first winter of 1898-99, there were just five boats in the Long Shed, but as the long-lived class have now expanded to a fleet of 20, there was only space for seven down the pier, while the rest are wintered elsewhere. But fitting-out together in the Long Shed was in itself one of the ancient and much-loved rituals of the class. Yet whether it will ever be enjoyed again remains to be seen.

However, the spirit of the class and of Howth sailing in general is such that there’s no doubt the fleet will soon be back to full and growing strength afloat, as new boats are being built to the 121-year-old Walter Boyd design.

As for the seven boats damaged in Friday’s mayhem, this morning Class Captain (and HYC Vice Commodore) Ian Byrne quietly confirmed that five of them will be sailing again this year, and of the other two, Rosemary (built 1907) may make it afloat again before the 2018 season is finished, though the worst-damaged boat, Anita of 1900 vintage, will take a little longer.

howth shed damage2The Long Shed on Howth Pier after Emma had come to call. Rosemary (blue hull) is one of two Howth 17s which have been seriously damaged. Photo: Brian Turvey

No-one is in any doubt about the amount of work involved in some cases, but he concluded by saying that there’s a very positive will to get those boats back on the water, encouraged by the community spirit in Howth, and the messages of goodwill and offers of assistance from classic yacht enthusiasts all over the world.

That mood was already abundantly in evidence on Saturday, so as Sunday was scheduled for the final series race in the annual Howth Laser Frostbite Challenge (it dates back to 1974), Race Officer Neil Murphy reckoned life should go on - they could get one race in before the growing ebb Spring tide and the persistent easterly swell made Howth Sound untenable once more. All boats came to the line with Standard rigs, the winner (for the fifth time in the Spring series) being Ronan Wallace of Wexford - the Wallaces of Wexford have been making the weekly winter trek to the Howth Frostbite Lasers for more than forty years.

lasers march4 2017 howth3Life goes on. Howth Sound on Sunday morning, with the long-established Laser Frostbites sailing the final race of the their annual series. Winner of the race (and the series) was Ronan Wallace of Wexford, and it all concludes this Saturday (March 10th) with the time-honoured Round Ireland’s Eye Race, in which you can go whichever way you like. Photo: Neil Murphy

In fact, Ronan Wallace has been so consistent he was able to discard a second place for the final tally. Runner-up was Darrach Dineen (RIYC) with David Quinn of the host club third, while T. Fox of Rush won the Radials and Dylan McEvoy of Howth took the 4.7s. The Howth Lasers conclude the Winter/Spring series this Saturday with their annual Round Ireland’s Eye race, whose USP is the fact that you can go clockwise or t’other, just as you wish - it’s always a popular event, followed by a spectacular party

Published in Howth YC
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The Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race Winner, a top Dublin Bay J109 as well as a leading overseas entry hve sign up for Howth Yacht Club's June Bank Holiday Wave Regatta. 

As entries for the inaugural event continue to build, Jamie McWilliam’s Signal 8 from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club has been confirmed for the three-day series in Howth. The Ker 40 is one of four high-profile entries received over the past week.

Jump Juice yacht conor phelanRoyal Cork yacht Jump Juice is heading for Howth in June. Photo: Bob Bateman

Also entered is Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice from the Royal Cork YC, D2D victor, Paul O’Higgins Rockabill VI and Ronan Harris on Jigamaree, the first of the Dublin Bay J109 fleet to enter from the Royal Irish YC.

An early-bird discount scheme is in operation until and a further incentive is a fortnightly free-entry draw. The Wave Regatta organisers have a range of accommodation options available in addition to a special morning ferry service on each day of racing from Dun Laoghaire direct to Howth.

“The Wave Regatta concept aims to deliver the best racing afloat and an unforgettable hospitality experience ashore so we’re very pleased that these top crews will be competing in our inaugural year,” said Brian Turvey, Wave Regatta Organising Chairman. “This is going to be an unmissable event!”

The Wave Regatta offers competitors a choice between a three-day series from Friday to Sunday or a single day event that is the traditional Lambay Race fixture.

Published in Howth YC

With just under four months to go before the inaugural Wave Regatta at Howth Yacht Club, organisers have announced details of the facilities available to visiting sailors and their friends over the June Bank-Holiday weekend.

For the most dedicated crews that prefer a bed ashore rather than live-aboard, a mini-accommodation village will be created on Howth’s middle-pier within a three-minute walk of the clubhouse and marina. With 24-hour security, the regatta village will feature a fleet of luxury motorhomes each with six berths so crews can enjoy a seaside location without missing any of the extensive shore-side social programme. Prices per person, per night are expected to be approximately €60 based on crew sharing a single booking.

Wave regatta Howth yacht club
Wave Regatta committee-member Melanie McCaughey is co-ordinating house rentals and a limited number of B&B options on the Howth peninsula for those preferring more conventional accommodation.

For Dublin-based sailors preferring to commute to Howth each day, the Wave Regatta has partnered with Dublin Bay Cruises for a morning ferry service leaving Dun Laoghaire at 08.15 on each day of racing arriving directly into Howth harbour. A special Wave Regatta price of €11 per day will apply.

Overseas visitors trailing sportsboats are being encouraged to email [email protected] to avail of exclusive ferry discounts for travel from both the UK and France.

“Our goal for the Wave Regatta is to deliver as many options as possible for visiting crews to take part,” said event chairman Brian Turvey of Howth Yacht Club. “With great racing afloat and an unmissable social programme ashore courtesy of Michael J. Wright Hospitality, this is going to be a regatta to remember!”

Online entry is open here including links for the accommodation and travel deals.

Published in Howth YC

The annual RORC Caribbean 600 in late February is now a pillar event of the international offshore racing programme, despite the fact that it was only first sailed – and on a rather experimental basis at that – as recently as 2009 writes W M Nixon

From the very start, it has had a special place in Irish sailing hearts, so it seemed entirely appropriate that last night should see a convivial party in Howth Yacht Club to celebrate the efforts of two crews from the club who will be taking part when this year’s race gets going on Monday 19th February from Antigua.

They were joined by a third crew who will represent a combined operation by the National YC and Malahide YC, which means that there’ll be at least four Irish-crewed boats taking part in the annual sail-in-the-sun festival

You might think that with logistics demanding a minimal week-long countdown to getting all of your crew positioned on the other side of the Atlantic, the right time for the send-off party would be on Friday 9th February.

But as that’s the date for this year’s “Sailor of the Month” and “Sailor of the Year” awards at the RDS in Dublin - for which there are no less than seven Howth YC awardees, with several of them in the club last night - Friday 2nd February was the only slot, and “Caribbean Co-ordinator” Brian Turvey and his fellow members in HYC, together with Caribbean 600 enthusiasts from several other ports, went for it with gusto, celebrating a race which raises the spirits at a time when February in Ireland can’t make up its mind whether it’s the last month of winter, or the first month of Spring.

In the Caribbean by contrast, it’s usually idyllic sailing conditions with good breezes, warm seas, lots of sunshine, and a crazy cat’s-cradle of a course taking in picturesque islands large and small until finally the total of 600 miles is reached as they return again to Antigua, arguably the sailing party capital of world sailing.

rorc caribbean2A real cat’s cradle of a course – the RORC Caribbean 600 starts and finishes off the south coast of Antigua

So in many ways, while now being part of mainstream sailing, it’s a race like no other, and Irish commitment began from the start in 2009 when Adrian Lee of the Royal St George YC came to the line with his re-furbished Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners, and won overall. As LOP had previously been Ger O’Rourke’s Chieftain from Kilrush which had been overall winner of the 2007 Rolex Fastnet Race, clearly here is a boat which has an unrivalled position in Irish international sailing history.

Lee Overlay Partners will be there again on February 19th, and she has done a couple of other Caribbean 600s since taking the top of the leaderboard in 2009. But it is Ron O’Hanley’s sister-ship Privateer – close runner-up in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race – which has tended to fly the Cookson 50 flag the highest in the Caribbean, though Lee Overlay Partners has logged some other extraordinary overall victories, including the decidedly exotic Dubai to Muscat Race of 2013.

lee overlay partners3The Cookson 50 Lee Overlay Partners (Adrian Lee, RStGYC) making an effortless 16 knots on her way to overall victory in the 2013 Dubai to Muscat Race

It took a year or two for the appeal of the new race in the Caribbean to gain real traction in Howth. There, those who would normally have been in the forefront of national and international offshore racing, in a port which sent out two of the three boats in the 1973 Irish Admiral’s Cup, were of the cohort which most suffered from the onslaught of the economic recession.

But life on the peninsula has picked up, Howth Yacht Club has a heartening new spirit of energy and enterprise, and the fact of being isolated on a peninsula only slimly connected to the East Coast of Ireland (Howth is Eastside Dublin, not Northside) is seen as a real advantage, giving concentrated focus to club campaigns and projects.

bam spinnaker4No doubting the nationality here….Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! on target for a class win in the 2016 RORC Caribbean 600.

With the Caribbean 600, this reached a new heights for Howth in 2016 with Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 3600 Bam! winning her class, while another Howth crew, led by Kieran Jameson and Darren Wright, took third in class in the chartered First 40 Southern Child.

In 2017, they paused for breath, but Ian Moore kept the flag very high for Ireland as he navigated the 2017 Caribbean 600 overall winner, the Maxi 72 Belle Mente. Conor Fogerty meanwhile had gone the solo route after 2016’s race, returning to Ireland on his first single-handed crossing in order to position himself for the 2017 east-west Single-Handed Transatlantic race from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island, which he duly won to return home with the Gipsy Moth Trophy. Bam! had remained on the other side of the Atlantic, and was eventually re-positioning back in Antigua to be ready for the up-coming Caribbean 600.

bam crew5Bam’s crew celebrate after their 2016 win in the Caribbean with (left to right) Aidan Doyle, Daragh Heagney, Conor Fogerty, Simon Knowles, Roger Smith, Phyllis Boyd (wife of RORC Commodore Michael Boyd) and Paddy Gregory.

As for Kieran Jameson, he focused in another direction with the Wright brothers on the Giraglia Rolex Cup 2017 in the Mediterranean, finishing in the frame in the chartered Spanish-owned Mark Mills-designed DK46 Maserati Hydra. But in the background to all this was a developing campaign to secure the charter of a very special boat for the 2018 RORC Caribbean 600.

We live in an era of unusual-looking offshore racers, but even in this colourful gallery, there’s something specially attractive and all-of-a-piece about the IRC 46 Peta Negra designed by Marc Lombarb of La Rochelle for English owner Giles Redpath. Yet she’s a “horses for courses” boat. In light airs with a lumpy sea, you’d guess that she might occasionally feel like she’s glued to the water. But it doesn’t take much heeling to reduce her wetted area by something like two-thirds, and she becomes a flyer, while offwind in a breeze, you better look quick, for she’s gone.

pata negra6A boat of a certain style – the IRC 46 Pata Negra designed by Marc Lombard

pata negra7Once she heels, Pata Negra greatly reduces her wetted area

Part of the attraction of Peta Negra is that she works for her living. Much of the time, she’s very much available for charter. And also for much of the time, she provides a winning combination for the RORC Caribbean 600’s mixture of offwind legs. So by the time the Rolex Fastnet Race 2017 came up when Pata Negra was chartered by a Dutch crew, the Wright-Jameson team were very interested in the boat for the 2018 Caribbean 600 Race, and had taken an option on her charter, pending on lodging a deposit.

Kieran Jameson was tracking the boat in the Fastnet, and wasn’t too surprised to note that with so much rugged windward work, at the Fastnet Rock itself, Pata Negra was lying back in 59th overall. But like eventual overall winner Lann Ael 2, which had been lying 29th overall, Pata Negra’s Fastnet Race was only beginning.

She’d picked up places by the bucket-load on the swift broad reach to the Isles of Scilly, and even while the race was still on, Kieran Jameson activated the deposit payment on behalf of Michael Wright. His judgment was borne out. Despite being sailed by a charter crew, Pata Negra had shot up from 59th overall at the Fastnet up to 5th overall at the finish. Here indeed was a boat made to do well in the Caribbean 600.

pata negra fastnet8Pata Negra closing in on the Bishop Rock lighthouse on the Isles of Scilly in the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race, sailed by a Dutch charter crew, and picking up places by the bucket-load. It was at this return stage of the Fastnet Race that Kieran Jameson ensured that the Howth charter of the boat for the 2018 RORC Caribbean 600 was secure. It was a shrewd move - by the end of the race Pata Negra had moved up from 59th overall at the Fastnet to 5th overall at the finish. Photo Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

When Kieran contacted the management company, there was a certain pause, a thoughtful intake of breath.

“After that Fastnet performance” said they, “we now have seven different potential charterers for Pata Negra in the Caribbean 600”.

Jameson replied quietly: “I think if you take a look at your bank account, you’ll find she’s chartered already, to the Howth crew”.

So that very neat bit of business provided something further to celebrate last night. But equally, it raises the stakes. Pata Negra clearly has the potential for a class win, made more so by the fact that she’s below the level where the souped-up TP 52s will be doing battle, so big things in the class results will be expected of boat and crew.

Optimism is growing after last weekend’s sailing in the Caribbean, in which Pata Negra broke the record for boats under 50ft in the 82nd Mount Gay Round Barbados Race. It’s a 60 mile sprint, and it was blowing old boots out of the northeast, but the Lombard design revelled in it to get round the clockwise course in 6 hours 19 minutes and 53 seconds, with an average of nearly 20 knots being set for the exposed stage down the Barbados east coast.

The Irish crew going aboard in a fortnight’s time will be Michael Wright, Kieran Jameson, Darren Wright, Colm Bermingham, Johnny White, Karena Knaggs, Sam O’Byrne, Ronan Galligan, Emmet Sheridan and Richard Cullen.

As for Bam!, in addition to skipper Conor Fogerty she’ll have Simon Knowles and Anthony Doyle from her 2016 win, and the other three will be Rob Slater, Robert Rendell and Damian Cody.

howth party9January is over at last, and it’s time to think of racing in the Caribbean – Irish crews for the RORC Caribbean 600 and their family and friends celebrate in Howth YC last night. Photo: Brian Turvey

The combined National YC/Malahide YC team, racing the J/122 Noisy Oyster (one of three J/122s in the race) includes veterans of Middle Sea, Round Ireland and Dun Laoghaire to Dingle success, and they’ll be led by Bernard McGrenahan of the National YC, with Dermot Cronin of Malahide as navigator. Others in the lineup include Mairead Ni Chellachain (NYC), David Greene (MYC), Francoise Pean (NYC), Aileen Kelleher, Antonia O’Rourke, Nick Lowth, and Matt Patterson, a formidable array of talent which has also logged ISORA success.

However, the calibre of the fleet is formidable. George David’s 2016 Round Ireland dominator Rambler 88 must be favourite for line honours and another good handicap placing as well, while in the bigger picture Eric de Turckheim’s new 54ft Teasing Machine – which won December’s RORC east-west Transatlantic race to the Caribbean - is increasingly a force to be reckoned with.

howth party10Kieran Jameson and Conor Fogerty were friends and clubmates in HYC last night, but in a fortnight’s time they’ll be meeting in serious competition off Antigua. Photo: Brian Turvey

As for the 2017 winner, the Maxi 72 Bella Mente, she isn’t going this year, but her very close contender Proteus is, and meanwhile Bella Mente’s navigator Ian Moore has transferred to the canting-keel New Zealand-designed Elliott 52 Outsider, now in American ownership and a contender every which way.

The entry list currently stands at 84, and includes some seriously hot stuff. Yet as Conor Fogerty conceded last night, when a crew arrives in Antigua straight from the tail end of the Irish winter, it can be an uphill struggle to get them to focus on acquiring that necessary competitive edge.

“Give them half a chance, and they’re into lotus eating rather than determined training” says he. “But as usual, we’ll get it all together somehow or other…”

Published in W M Nixon
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Howth has long been a popular gathering port for the fishing fleet from near and far as they berth their craft securely for the Christmas-New Year break, as it has all facilities ashore, and full protection in the fish dock from storms from any direction writes W M Nixon.

With 2017 drawing to a close, the fleet was expanded by an incursion of boats which had intended to berth at Rosslare, but the ten day forecast was so bad that Howth was the only option.

New Year’s Eve is traditionally the day when Howth’s locals and visitors alike take a look at what’s in port. And the last day of 2017 was vintage, with many fine boats looking better than yachts, a bigger and more handsome fleet in port than anyone can remember, and unusually strong sunshine to give every promise of a good year to come.

Alas, since then Storm Eleanor has decided otherwise for many parts of the country, though the craft remaining in Howth continued in security. But fishing time lost is money lost. As winds ease today, getting to sea becomes a priority.

howth new years eve2The Howth fleet aren’t all big ones. The boats on the small craft pontoon at the head of the dock include Frank Carty’s Loch Omna (right foreground), which is a perfect example of the classic shape of the Greencastle Yawl, though as it happens, she was built on the West Coast. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Howth YC
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15 boats are expected to enter the inaugural J80 National Championships when it features as part of the line-up of Howth Yacht Club's Sportsboat Cup next May.

The event will run over three days at the end of May, Friday the 25th thru Sunday the 27th. Download the Notice of Race document below.

Eight classes are invited to race with two classes choosing this regatta for their headline events for the 2018 season; as well as the Irish J80 Nationals the event will serve as the 1720 Europeans for a second time.

J24s Return to Worlds Venue

The resurgence of the Irish J24 fleet means they are expecting their best turnout in Howth since the the Worlds were here in 2013.

Half Tonner Big Picture 0560Half Ton racing will be part of the Sportsboat Cup Photo:

Half & Quarter Tonners

The Half and Quarter Tonners will be combining their resources to reach the critical mass for racing boats of their time and ilk without having to contend with some heavy cruisers as is their usual expectation under IRC.


SB20's are no stranger to Howth so with their fleet growing and becoming more active due to the Europeans being in Dun Laoghaire at the end of the summer expect to see crews use this opportunity to get plenty of race practice under their belt.

RS Elite 1287The Belfast Lough based RS Elite fleet are heading for Howth Photo:

RS Elite

'With the demise of the Royal Alfred Yacht Club Baily Bowl One Design event in Dun Laoghaire, it is hoped that there will be strong showing from the North on their bank holiday weekend and they will travel south again with their RS Elites to a new venue in Howth, says event organiser Ross McDonald.

Flying Fifteen

Another class new to HYC will be the Flying Fifteens who's sizeable Dublin Bay Fleet won't have far to come to get involved at  what HYC is promoting as 'Ireland's Premier Sportsboat Regatta'.

While not a new venue, it has been a long time since an International Dragon graced the north-side waters between Ireland's Eye and Lambay Island for some competitive racing, it will be the right weekend for them to rediscover what the racecourse and hospitality have to offer after a long absence.

To cater for up to eight classes racing and aiming to get in the full compliment of nine races planning is well underway for multiple race courses. The race management teams have excellently run all the windward-leward race, losing only one race over the previous events in challenging conditions. 'We are due for some good breeze this year to get the heart rate up with some downwind blasts', McDonald says.

There could be up to 100 boats racing and that will lead itself to plenty of action and a bustling atmosphere ashore. It is a great support that the two previous overall event winners - Flor O'Driscoll with Hard on Port, 2014 and Tom Durcan & Clive O'Shea with T-Bone, 2016 will be bringing their crews to compete again in 2018 hoping to regain and hold on to their title for another two years.

Enter online here to avail of the early bird discounted rate of €155.

'If your class wants to be involved get in touch and we will see how we can fit you in! We would love to have a mixed fleet class to bring together similar boats that don't have a big enough fleet to race one-design, McDonald says.

Published in Howth YC

A successful new development in the national sailing programme will inevitably be something of a revolution. Yet if those managing the event handle it in the right way, the changeover can take place without people thinking that anything really revolutionary – in the sense of a sudden and complete change – has taken place. W M Nixon takes a look at the successful unveiling of the new-style Wave Regatta planned for his home port of Howth for next year’s June Bank Holiday Weekend.

Preparation is everything. Quiet work behind the scenes in trying to visualize every practical and administrative glitch which might arise, and how best to deal with it well before it becomes a problem, is essential. Getting key people – decision-makers and can-do people, local, regional and national – firmly on side, is absolutely essential.

Testing the waters of consumer opinion with trial announcements and proposals, and the occasional test run maybe disguised as something else, is also part of the process. Yet revealing too much of what is taking shape before it is really ready to go public can do more harm than good.

Thus when Howth Yacht Club’s Wave Regatta 2018 was unveiled after a crisp and businesslike Annual General Meeting in the clubhouse on Thursday night, not only was it a very complete and appealing concept in itself, but it emerged fully formed, and in a style well presented to an audience filled with fresh enthusiasm.

howth wave2Howth’s modern marina/clubhouse complex (above) is in stark contrast to the situation pre-1987 (below) when the ISORA racers and the fishing fleet had to share the same small space. The boat at centre is the famous S&S-designed Sunstone (Tom & Vicky Jackson) which in her racing days with ISORA was known as Dai Mouse III.

howth wave3

After all, Commodore Joe McPeake had just finished chairing an AGM whose mood was enthusiastic after the publication of a set of figures which showed that the huge extra voluntary effort and support which the club has received from many of its members during the past 18 months has paid real dividends. While the improving mood had become increasingly apparent as the season progressed, by Thursday night if you could somehow have linked it to the National Grid, you’d have lit the village with it.

Inevitably, Howth gets compared to the big southside clubs of Dun Laoghaire, and the way their huge reservoir of personnel resources - further augmented by the overall administration of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, and with the large marina run as a commercial venture – frees up a enormous pool of talent to keep a high-powered show on the road. For when all is said and done, only Dun Laoghaire - with its unique selection of stately shoreside facilities - could stage an event like the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

But in Howth, the one club has to do everything. So instead of trying to rival Dun Laoghaire, today’s Howth sailors see their strength in being themselves in their own special peninsular port, which is neither Dublin nor northside nor remotely southside. On the contrary, it’s emphatically part of Fingal. And it’s indisputably Eastside. On top of all that, as its basic geology is twice as old as anywhere nearby, it is Ireland which is the add-on to Howth, rather than the other way round.

However, that’s not in anyone’s mind in Howth at all this weekend, as we realize the leap of the imagination which has transformed some long-established Howth events by combining them with new concepts, and then steering the whole package into a significant gap in the market which had been hidden there in plain sight for all to see.

For the overall shape of the 2018 National Sailing Programme is unusual. The biennial Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been shifted to the last weekend of June, presumably because its time-honoured slot right on the mid-summer weekend around June 23rd would have clashed with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself in The Hague at the same time.

So with the Volvo Round Ireland on June 30th, Volvo Cork Week in its turn was moved back to July 16th to 21st. And while those who seek a fun regatta with holiday overtones have Calves Week in Schull from August 7th to 10th, those in pursuit of racing with recognised national titles at the end of it have the ICRA Nationals at Galway from 15th to 18th August.

What it meant to those in Howth was that there wasn’t a major cruiser-racer championship on Ireland’s East Coast for the entire season, and particularly not in June and early July when the heavies generally expect an event of this type. But that realisation came after they’d already set in motion a project to re-invigorate their traditional Lambay Race, which has been staged annually since at least 1904 and maybe earlier.

howth wave4The classic Lambay Race. Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing along the coastline of Ireland’s most unspoilt island. Photo John Deane

In times past, with smaller craft such as the 1898-established Howth 17s (happily still with us, and stronger as a class than ever), simply racing round the island of Lambay from Howth was enough for a long day’s race. But with newer and much bigger craft joining the mix, all sorts of ways had to be found to increase the length of the Lambay Race for the big boats, while retaining its character. Yet by this stage, the programme generally was becoming crowded, with the revival of ISORA posing new problems of rival events.

cruiser racers lambay5Cruiser-racers in the Lambay Race. Todays faster boats expect a longer race than the traditional 16-mile course

A partial solution was reached this year when the ever-obliging ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan agreed to incorporate the annual Lambay Race as the main section of an ISORA Race which would start with the Lambay fleet and sail through its course and finish line, but then race on to a finish in Dublin Bay to provide the kind of distance ISORA expects.

However, for 2018, the Lambay Race on Saturday June 2nd will be a fully-fledged ISORA event in its own right. But it will literally be a Lambay-Race-With-Knobs-On for the Cruiser-Racer classes, as the organisers are planning a morning start and probably taking in Rockabill and the Kish to provide a perfect miniature offshore course.

dave cullen6Dave Cullen, Director of Racing for the Wave Regatta, on the tiller of his classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: O’Brien

Having the full ISORA imprimatur on this extended Lambay Race provides the new Wave Regatta with the massive corner-stone which enables the Organising Committee, chaired by former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, to build a full three-day programme around it, for they can be confident that local One Design Classes such as the Puppeteer 22s and the Howth 17s will already be doing the Lambay Race in its traditional form. As well, Sportsboat Classes like the SB20s and the 1720s will also have the option of a start. And if the IRC Class divisions are made in the right way, we’ll have the J/109s, the J/80s and the J/24s racing as classes-within-classes to add that bit of extra zing.

As the possibilities became clearer, one extra bit of information encouraged the Howth group to go for it big time in promoting an event with three days of solid racing as a viable biennial alternative to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. This was the news that, in future, in every even year the annual ICRA Nationals will be staged at a non-Dublin venue – August’s Galway venue is the start of this process.

This meant that the Howth team really had to get their skates on in order to have a realistic proposition and programme in place in time for an official unveiling at Thursday’s HYC AGM on December 14th. Even with test runs on various aspects of the main idea during the past couple of seasons, the actual countdown time was short enough, but by Thursday night such a complete package could be put on display that they were able to tell us that Fingal County Council were giving major support, there was every encouragement from the Harbour Authority, and HYC member Michael Wright had come on to the Committee to act as shoreside hospitality director, while also bringing in the support of his Wright Hospitality Group.

j80 howth sound7One of HYC’s club-owned J/80s in Howth Sound. With an additional club-owned flotilla from the Royal St George YC, the IRC-compliant J/80s will have a choice of options for Wave Regatta
In fact, these days with its proliferation of characterful restaurants and hospitality hotspots, Howth’s shoreside entertainment is soon in place. So it’s the programme afloat which has to match it, and here the organisers have hit the target by having Irish Sailing President Jack Roy take on the role as one of the senior Race Officers, another being former President David Lovegrove. Howth-based Race Officers such as David Lovegrove and Harry Gallagher have long made a major input into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, so all these top men afloat are accustomed to working with each other in the most demanding situations.

They’re also accustomed to inter-acting with the “customers” after racing, and it was their reports of overseas visitors to the Dun Laoghaire Regatta expressing a wish to take part in some sort of major event in the Greater Dublin area every year which encouraged the Howth team to think that, with proper planning, they could provide an alternate biennial regatta which would be different from Dun Laoghaire, yet express the same mood of good but not too serious sport afloat, and high-powered entertainment ashore, with an emphasis on attracting younger participants.

jack roy8Irish Sailing President Jack Roy will be a Race Officer at Howth’s new event

Flexibility is the approach. For those who wish to do just the Lambay Race on the Saturday, that’s fine. But for those who want the Full Irish of a really good programme of sport, there’ll be three races on Friday 1st June, and three more on Sunday June 3rd, while the Bank Holiday Monday will be given over to a Family Day which was very popular in 2017, and will be further developed next year.

As with everything to do with sailing in Ireland, the weather factor will be considerable. But for those of us who have done more than a few Lambay Races, the good memories linger best, and they’re of an effortless regatta atmosphere with an element of local pride, for it’s the coast of Fingal we’ve been racing along, one of all Ireland’s finest islands we’ve been racing round, and it’s our own home port under the hill that we’ve raced home to.

Which makes it fine for those who live locally. But the Wave Regatta Committee, in which Dave Cullen plays a key role as one of the leading ideas experts while officially he’s called Director of Racing, realise that the fact of Howth being on a peninsula and the village being largely residential, with a shortage of hotel bedrooms, can provide a challenge for those who live elsewhere, but want to keep their boats race-ready rather than as floating caravans.

So HYC have hired 30 campervans which will be available for rent in the car-park beside the club, and as well local sailors have made it clear they’ll be more than hospitable in providing accommodation. As for the problem of the DART from Dun Laoghaire not starting until late on a Sunday morning, they’ve swung a deal with Dublin Bay Cruises whereby the familiar blue-hulled St Brigid will depart her berth in Dun Laoghaire at 08:15 Sunday morning, bound for Howth and the final day of racing.

st brigid9The Dublin Bay Cruise vessel St Brigid will run a ferry service from Dun Laoghaire to Howth on the Sunday morning

It’s that sort of off-the-wall yet actually very sound idea which gives us some idea of the thought which is going into this new Wave Regatta at Howth. You can do a lot of sailing in three days if everything is in place, and this team is determined that it will be.

Meanwhile, let’s hear it for the home squad, the new HYC Club Officers who were elected on Thursday night, and will have their agenda will filled throughout their time in office, as plans for 2018 include the establishment of a fully-fledged Sailing School within the club. They are: Commodore: Joe McPeake; Vice Commodore: Ian Byrne; Rear Commodore: Paddy Judge; Rear Commodore: Ian Malcolm; Hon. Secretary: Bernie Condy; Hon. Sailing Secretary: Caroline Koster; Honorary Treasurer: David Mulligan.

joe mcpeake10HYC Commodore Joe McPeake

Published in W M Nixon
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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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