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Displaying items by tag: Howth Yacht Club

With official club racing only permissible since last Monday, June 7th, and many fit-out schedules delayed through May's atrocious weather, the realists had been hoping for a turnout of maybe around 40 boats for Howth YC's opening major event of this "make it up as you go along" 2021 season, the time-honoured annual Lambay Race on Saturday which was further restricted in numbers by being billed as a club-only event.

Yet a little miracle took place at the Fingal peninsular port. The weather became summery as the week went on, the mood improved with it, and with the inspiration of five of the venerable Howth 17s staging the club's first "official" race for some time at 10:30hrs on Bank Holiday Monday June 7th, clearly it behoved anything which moved and floated and set sails to get out there and celebrate with the Lambay circuit.

The Howth 17s mustered 12 boats and found a flash of sunshine for their start, with Peter Courtney's Oonagh (17) and the Turvey brothers' Isobel getting the best of it at the far end of the line. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe Howth 17s mustered 12 boats and found a flash of sunshine for their start, with Peter Courtney's Oonagh (17) and the Turvey brothers' Isobel getting the best of it at the far end of the line. Photo: Annraoi Blaney  

Orla and Isobel crossing tacks north of Lambay. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyOrla and Isobel crossing tacks north of Lambay. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

This was only slightly hampered by the wind managing to blow from every direction between southeast and west during the course of the race, while – apart from the occasional flash of brightness – the sun stayed behind cloud until most of the racing was over. But at least there nearly always was wind, and it was a warm breeze at that, making the intricacies of getting round the island – in addition to many other set course challenges – a gentle business even when you were making to wind.

IRC 2 on the wind with Half Tonners King One and Mata trying to find their way past the X302 Xebec. A long time ago, King One was Half Ton World Champion in the ownership of four times Olympic Gold Medallist Paul Elvstrom of Denmark, and now - as part of the Kelly stable - she was class winner round Lambay. Photo: Annraoi Blaney.IRC 2 on the wind with Half Tonners King One and Mata trying to find their way past the X302 Xebec. A long time ago, King One was Half Ton World Champion in the ownership of four times Olympic Gold Medallist Paul Elvstrom of Denmark, and now - as part of the Kelly stable - she was class winner round Lambay. Photo: Annraoi Blaney.

Not surprisingly, the largest single turnout – 19 boats – was in the non-spinnaker class, where some cruising boats which hadn't raced in years were caught up in the mood of the moment to display amazingly sharp performances.

Among the One-Design Classes, the Puppeteer 22s had shaken off enough of the cobwebs to have a turnout of 13, with the Howth 17s next in line with the round dozen, while the three hot IRC Classes all mustered good quorums with a set of results which will keep the directors of J Boats Europe purring with content.

The Half Tonner Mata (Wright brothers & Rick DeNeve). If you want to do well in the Lambay Race, exclude all marine ornithologists from your crew, as their concentration will al most immediately be elsewhere. Photo: Annraoi Blaney   The Half Tonner Mata (Wright brothers & Rick DeNeve). If you want to do well in the Lambay Race, exclude all marine ornithologists from your crew, as their concentration will al most immediately be elsewhere. Photo: Annraoi Blaney  

The Half Tonner Mata (Wright brothers & Rick DeNeve). If you want to do well in the Lambay Race, exclude all marine ornithologists from your crew, as their concentration will al most immediately be elsewhere. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

All the results are here in detail, while the headline placing were:

  • White Sail HPH: 1st Zarquon (M & J Wenski) 2:33:16; 2nd Spellbound (Burrows/Skeffington) 2:38:13; 3rd Blue Extra (M. Carroll) 2:20:46.
  • White Sails IRC 1st Bite the Bullet (Elan 333, Colm Bermingham) 2:31:37; 2nd Toughnut (MG 34, D Skehan) 2:36:46; 3rd Spellbound (Burrows/Skeffington) 2:38:33
  • IRC 1: 1st Lambay Rules (J/97, S Quinn), 2:59:10; 2nd Snapshot (J/99, M & R Evan, J/99) 2:59:31; 3rd Outrajeous (J/109, R Colwell & J Murphy) 3:01:48.
  • IRC 2: 1st King One (Elvstrom Half Tonner, D.Kelly) 2.55.27; 2nd Mata (Classic Half Tonnner, Wright bros & R DeNeve) 2:56:12; 3rd Checkmate XV (Humphreys Half Tonner, D Cullen) 2.59:17
  • IRC 3: 1st Legal Alien (Sommerville & Kavanagh) 2:39:44; 2nd Insider (S & D Mullaney, Sigma 33) 2:39:39; 3rd Animal (G O'Sullivan, Formula 28) 2:40:23
  • J/80: 1st Jeannie (R Dix, 3:15:04; 2nd Red Cloud (N Reilly) 3:16:22; 3rd Jammy (D O'Grady, 3:16:50
  • Howth 17: 1st Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny) 3:47:17 2nd Aura (I Malcolm) 3:48:52; 3rd Anita (D Massey) 3:51:36
  • Puppeteer 22: 1st Gold Dust (Walls/Brown) 3:26:35; 2nd Trick or Treat (A Pearson & A Blay) 3:28:35; 3rd Yellow Peril (N Murphy & C Costello) 3:31:46
  • Squibs: 1st Crackertoo (S Kay) 3:42:04; 2nd 3point9 (F O'Kelly) 3:42:57; 3rd Tears for Fears (N Monks) 3:45:19.

The Lambay Lady Trophy goes to the boat with the biggest margin between her first place and the next in class, and initial assessments suggest that Colm Bermingham's Elan 333 Bite the Bullet (White Sails IRC) wins it by 11 seconds from Zarquon (M & J Wenski), but some classes using the Orthodox Coptic PH system may yet come up with a larger margin.

Storm is back in town……the Kelly family's successful J/109 Storm getting back in racing trim, with the unmistakable and unemployed Ringsend smokestacks very visible across the Sutton isthmus. When the stacks were first built in 1974, everybody objected to "these eyesores". Now that they're redundant and the powers-that-be expect to take them down, everybody is objecting to the "wanton destruction of these much-loved landmarks". Photo: Annraoi BlaneyStorm is back in town……the Kelly family's successful J/109 Storm getting back in racing trim, with the unmistakable and unemployed Ringsend smokestacks very visible across the Sutton isthmus. When the stacks were first built in 1974, everybody objected to "these eyesores". Now that they're redundant and the powers-that-be expect to take them down, everybody is objecting to the "wanton destruction of these much-loved landmarks". Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Published in Howth YC

With so many people now gaining their first experiences afloat in alternative ways to sailing such as kayaking and paddleboarding, Howth Yacht Club is developing and expanding its Come Sailing initiative with the recruitment of a full-time On-the-water Coordinator to assist and support these newcomers in their chosen activity, while additionally offering them the opportunity to avail of the Club's Go Sailing initiative, which builds towards more advanced sailing in the HYC flotilla of J/80s.

The Coordinator is also seen as being able to provide encouragement for HYC members who may have stopped sailing for the entire duration of the pandemic, and thus feel that their skills in a boat may have become slightly rusty.

Paddleboarders on a learning curve under safe conditions at Howth YC. Photo: HYC   Paddleboarders on a learning curve under safe conditions at Howth YC. Photo: HYC

With the attractive island of Ireland's Eye right on its doorstep, and beaches and the cliffs of Howth Head nearby, the Howth area is proving to be a magnet for those availing of the newest international ranges of affordable self-propelled watercraft of all types and sizes. Howth Yacht Club's position of having been at the heart of the harbour for 126 years gives it unrivalled experience in the introduction and training of beginners, and ensuring the quiet but effective regulation of safety measures as a natural feature of life afloat.

Details of the new position – for which applications close on 26th May - are here

Next step up – the basics of sailing are outlined for beginners aboard one of the Howth YC J/80s. Photo: HYCNext step up – the basics of sailing are outlined for beginners aboard one of the Howth YC J/80s. Photo: HYC

Published in Howth YC
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Under the current lockdown-easing programme, Saturday, June 12th will mark the first weekend when full-scale in-club officially sanctioned races will be possible. The latest word on the waterfront is that last night (Monday), the monthly meeting of Howth Yacht Club’s General Committee gave their support to the HYC Sailing Committee’s proposal of last Friday, suggesting that the Club stage its traditional weekend Lambay Race just as soon as legally possible, which is Saturday, June 12th. The oldest Lambay trophy dates back to 1899, but the earliest record of the race actually taking place is 1904, which still gives it special antiquity, such that racing round Lambay at least once a year is seen as integral to a proper Howth sailing season.

Howth Harbour

Meanwhile, Howth Harbour has been springing back to tentative life. There are two days in the year when the Harbour will see at least three cranes in action transferring boat between land in seas. The two standing cranes at the Howth YC marina are available on a year-round basis, though usually, only the main one is in frequent use. But on two set days in Spring and Autumn, the Howth Boat Club fleet - which lays up ashore at the lighthouse end of the East Pier, where the club has its HQ in the former Howth Sailing Club premises - becomes the peak focus of activity.

Howth YC training session Oppies get round-the-mooring-buoys slalom action while the Howth Boat Club fleet - berthed end-on to the East Pier beyond - moves steadily towards full numbers. Photo: HYCHowth YC training session Oppies get round-the-mooring-buoys slalom action while the Howth Boat Club fleet - berthed end-on to the East Pier beyond - moves steadily towards full numbers. Photo: HYC

HBC members recently organised upwards of two dozen of their fleet to get splashed in one neatly co-ordinated programme with a hire crane. But as most of them have their berths end-on to the East Pier, the newly re-commissioned moorings in the Outer Harbour will remain unoccupied for a while as people get used to the idea that the officially-sanctioned sailing season is only weeks away. In last weekend’s stronger winds, the HYC training fleets - mainly in Laser 470s and Optimists - found space for plenty of action in the Outer Harbour’s convenient shelter, with the mooring buoys giving extra options for slalom manoeuvres. And all the signs are that training fleets are going to increase in size until “Freedom Day” on Monday, June 9th releases everyone into the world of full-blown racing action.

Action stations - the fleet is growing for HYC’s junior Laser training. Photo: HYCAction stations - the fleet is growing for HYC’s junior Laser training. Photo: HYC

Published in Howth YC

When Muriel Simpson married Alistair McMillan of Howth, she knew that boats and sailing would become a significant part of her life, as he had become a Junior Member of Howth Sailing Club in June 1941, while by 1967 he was so active in club affairs afloat and ashore that he was one of the energetic group in HSC – led by the legendary Howth 17 sailor Norman Wilkinson – who were working for the amalgamation of Howth SC with Howth Motor Yacht Cub to create Howth Yacht Club.

This was successfully achieved in 1968, and thus Muriel's widely mourned death has severed another direct link with a busy time in Howth's sailing and harbour development. But her passing has much greater significance than that, as she celebrated her Hundredth Birthday in May 2020, and so Howth Yacht Club is marking the loss of its oldest member.

She had lived a full life, alert to the end. Alistair was into all forms of sailing – racing and cruising, inshore and offshore, and in boats of all sizes from dinghies and Howth 17s up to Ian Morrison's Robert Clark-designed 47ft Querida (ex-Moonduster). But when the McMillan family acquired firstly a Folkboat and then a Shipman 28 for a busy racing and cruising programme, Muriel soon concluded that going racing was the most effective way to spoil a pleasant sail, and thus her involvement was exclusively for day sailing and cruising.

This was something which they expanded as a couple after Ian and Sheila Morrison bought the new Hallberg Rassy 42ft ketch Safari of Howth, and the McMillans were aboard for many Mediterranean ventures.

By this time they had raised their family of three sons John, Murray and Russell, and while the boys were of an age to be sailing the family's Heron dinghies, the horizons weren't so wide. But though the parents were later to enjoy foreign cruising, while life was at the stage of being largely centred around the Howth peninsula they were much involved in community affairs, with Muriel being a leading light in the Howth & Sutton horticultural society, while with Alistair she formed one of the most formidably successful "Collecting Couples" for the Howth RNLI, a role they filled with energy and devotion for 44 years, while Muriel was also a pillar of the HYC Bridge Group.

Although Alistair pre-deceased her by several years, Muriel had much to interest her, with five grand-children and four great-grandchildren, and hers was indeed a fulfilled life with a wider family circle, and many friends. Our thoughts are with them all.

WMN

Published in Howth YC
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The J80 National Championships returns this autumn to Howth Yacht Club.

A fleet of 14 boats contested the 2020 Championships at Dun Laoghaire with Howth's Pat O'Neill emerging as Irish Champion.

Previously the fledgeling championships sailed at Howth in 2019 and 2018 as part of the club's Wave Regatta.

This October 2/3, O'Neill can expect competition not only from his own HYC Club Mates Dan O'Grady and Robert Dix but also 2020 runner up Jonny O'Dowd of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

There was a Wicklow tint to the O'Neill winning team with Shane Hughes, Aaron Jones and Conor Cleary all active Greystones SC members teaming up with former Class President O'Neill for the 2020 challenge.

 The Irish J/80 Class Association is a relatively new class and formed in 2017 to represent owners, sailors, associated clubs and to help develop J/80 racing here.

Published in Howth YC
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How quickly can we hope to return to the carefree style of sailing sociability which reflects the mood displayed above, as seen in the officially-accredited Sporting & Cultural Mission from Howth Yacht Club on its traditional biennial visit to the Sovereign's Cup in Kinsale?

Naturally, we can't go into any personal details or identification - what happens in Kinsale stays in Kinsale. But any contemplation of this display of dynamic camaraderie is a forceful reminder of how the past fourteen months have seen us pushed further and further from everything that makes Irish sailing so effortlessly sociable.

And "effortlessly" is the keyword here, for as you'll deduce, the HYC modus operandi includes taking a block booking in the hotel which is as close as possible to Kinsale YC and its marina, without actually putting the group on conspicuous display in a waterfront establishment.

As various commentators have already pointed out, the official Lockdown Easing pronouncements of recent days seem, on closer examination, to be a series of "definite maybes". But after everything that has been experienced, not to mention what may be yet to come, the sailing community does not at this stage expect its leaders to be setting completely finalised dates.

Ann Kirwan – seen here racing with co-owner Brian Cullen – may be noted for campaigning a Ruffian 23 called Bandit. But as Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, it is the Bandit skipper who will be clarifying the law-keeping for her many membersAnn Kirwan – seen here racing with co-owner Brian Cullen – may be noted for campaigning a Ruffian 23 called Bandit. But as Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, it is the Bandit skipper who will be clarifying the law-keeping for her many members

Thus Ann Kirwan, Commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club and thereby the actual and spiritual leader of the largest yacht race organisers in Ireland, got the tone just right when she expressed a hope for starts of sorts in mid-May, but made it clear to any thinking sailor that these things are being monitored on a day-to-day basis while we all hope for the best, and of course at every turn social distancing will continue for some time to be a major consideration.

TRAINING ELEMENT PLAYS SIGNIFICANT ROLE

Where training is involved, there is a significant element of school opening allowances in the equation, and Howth YC Commodore Paddy Judge has expressed the hope that training courses will be underway at or soon after April 26th, which brings a resumption of sorts within the almost foreseeable future.

When it was good, it was very, very good. The season of 2021 may have been truncated, but it provided some superb memories before lockdown returned, and one of the best was Howth's last keelboat race is notably warm weather on Sunday 13th September, with Simon Knowles' J/109 seen here chasing down three of the hot HYC Half Tonners. Photo: Judith Malcolm.When it was good, it was very, very good. The season of 2020 may have been truncated, but it provided some superb memories before lockdown returned, and one of the best was Howth's last keelboat race is notably warm weather on Sunday 13th September, with Simon Knowles' J/109 seen here chasing down three of the hot HYC Half Tonners. Photo: Judith Malcolm.

On the more complex question of sailing for everyone, the feeling was that DBSC got it pretty much spot on in the amount and timing of the racing it organized through 2020's truncated season. But if anything, the controlled success of last year puts even greater pressure on the organisers to make the right call and provisions as the new season approaches. For the background factors keep changing.

After all, every day we hear of increased Brexit-induced ferry connectivity with France, yet France has recently seen Pandemic levels rise to such dangerous numbers that they're now into a three-week lockdown in France, and especially in Paris.

April in Paris, yet the City of Light is closed? But in Paris, not all is as it seems. Once upon a time a long time ago, I met a guy in Paris, an American, who was still living off the regular royalties he'd inherited from the fact that his father had, among other popular works, written the song April in Paris.

Yet April in Paris can feel like winter, as is the case at the moment. However, it's nothing new – this man in Paris admitted that the romantic events in Paris which inspired the song that continued to keep him in such comfort had actually occurred in May. But all his father's skills as a songsmith simply couldn't get May to scan with the rest of the lyrics, so he shifted it to April, and blushed all the way to the bank.

April in Paris – rainy but romantic. The outcome of the current three week April lockdown in France may well play a pivotal role in some important aspects of the 2021 sailing season in Europe.April in Paris – rainy but romantic. The outcome of the current three week April lockdown in France may well play a pivotal role in some important aspects of the 2021 sailing season in Europe.

FRENCH LOCKDOWN MAY AFFECT FASTNET RACE 2021

This may all seem irrelevant to the opening or otherwise of the 2021 sailing season. But in fact what happens in Paris over the next three weeks will be of real importance to the sailing hopes of at least eleven Irish offshore racing crews with a taste for the international competition, as this August is scheduled for the first of the new-look RORC Rolex Fastnet Races finishing in France at Cherbourg, and they're entered for it.

But if the supposedly total three week lockdown in France, which started yesterday, goes astray by being ignored with extensive social unrest to compound the problem, and yet another massive COVID surge results thereafter, then events in August will experience a damaging knock-on effect.

It might even see the Fastnet Race organisers forced to revert to the historic finish port of Plymouth in order to keep all the shoreside activity within one national jurisdiction. And we hasten to add that this is not a belated April Fool notion.

The traditional Fastnet Racecourse in gold, with the planned 2021 extension to finish at Cherbourg in red. If the current newly-introduced Three Week Lockdown in France fails to curb the latest major surge of COVID-19, it's possible that the RORC may have to revert to the Plymouth finish in order to keep all shoreside activity connected to the Fastnet Race restricted to one relatively pandemic-free jurisdiction.The traditional Fastnet Racecourse in gold, with the planned 2021 extension to finish at Cherbourg in red. If the current newly-introduced Three Week Lockdown in France fails to curb the latest major surge of COVID-19, it's possible that the RORC may have to revert to the Plymouth finish in order to keep all shoreside activity connected to the Fastnet Race restricted to one relatively pandemic-free jurisdiction.

As it happens, we don't have to look to France for the need for restrained behaviour. Easter in Ireland with imposed social limitations will seem particularly irksome to a people accustomed to make this their great traditional Springtime get-together, especially so after the cancellation for a second year of St Patrick's Day.

Let us hope that it is not blind optimism to expect that the population generally will be carefully regarding the regulations over this long weekend. The nation has barely got things back in an even keel after the huge post-Christmas & New Year surge before this new threat is upon us. And vaccinations are still running at a worryingly low level, yet we find ourselves thrust back into a pressure-cooker situation to keep the virus-spread under control.

APRIL 20TH WILL BE DATE WHEN SITUATION CLARIFIES

All of which means that while we may talk of a significant easing of restrictions around April 26th, it won't be until the days around the 20th April – 14 days after Easter – that we'll have the actual figures and the accurate graphs to tell us the real story about the level of after-effect from any illicit Easter socialising, and what expectations can be realistically expressed about various levels of resumption of activity.

We'll have to accept that it must start quietly and in a restrained and socially distanced way, and all strictly at club level. Admittedly our clubs are of such variety in size and character that "at club level" will have different meanings at different sailing centres. But any sailor of responsibility and goodwill will know the limitations without them having to be rigidly enforced, for as we learned last year, the strength of the Irish sailing club tradition is such that the Commodores and Admirals are expected to quietly clarify the developing situation for their members, and this was done at all main sailing harbours through 2021, with a reassuring level of both thoroughness and rightness.

A moment of real hope. Proper and officially-sanctioned club keelboat racing finally gets underway on a glorious sailing evening at the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven on July 9th 2020. Photo: Robert BatemanA moment of real hope. Proper and officially-sanctioned club keelboat racing finally gets underway on a glorious sailing evening at the Royal Cork YC in Crosshaven on July 9th 2020. Photo: Robert Bateman

The Pilot. Colin Morehead, Admiral of the Royal Cork YC. In January 2021 he was acclaimed as Cork's "Person of the Month" for the skilled way he had guided his club through the incredibly difficult experience of effectively cancelling his club's long-planned Tricentenary, and then being involved in arranging regulation-compliant events which included the offshore Fastnet 450 Race to optimize his members' severely constrained 2020 season.The Pilot. Colin Morehead, Admiral of the Royal Cork YC. In January 2021 he was acclaimed as Cork's "Person of the Month" for the skilled way he had guided his club through the incredibly difficult experience of effectively cancelling his club's long-planned Tricentenary, and then being involved in arranging regulation-compliant events which included the offshore Fastnet 450 Race to optimize his members' severely constrained 2020 season 

However, the very nature of sailing as a vehicle sport, where crew numbers can quickly rise to threaten the limitations of family or bubble numbers, means that each situation may have to be decided on its own merits. We're told that in the current circumstances, sailing as a sport is grouped in with tennis, golf and cycling, but that obviously creates problems of interpretation.

Naturally the solo-sailing brigade are in something of a category of their own, but there's no escaping the fact that the invisible but very real on-water camaraderie of a fleet of solo sailors can very quickly translate into shoreside social-distancing problems as the group comes ashore in a wave of banter at race's end.

You can of course have two folk from the same bubble racing Lasers of Aero RSs or whatever in match events to their heart's content, though I suppose they'd have to make some sort of allowances for having a rescue boat. But if you want to push the fleet numbers out, it can always be designated as a training and coaching session, for once a certain level of competence has been attained, there is simply no better way of improving someone's solo sailing ability than through racing.

Now there's a real start……In pandemic circumstances, there are few healthier group sporting activities than big-fleet Laser racing – but problems arise when the fleet tries to get organised ashore.Now there's a real start……In pandemic circumstances, there are few healthier group sporting activities than big-fleet Laser racing – but problems arise when the fleet tries to get organised ashore.

Certainly, the charms of match racing can soon wear off, with it becoming a reminder – and here's something you mightn't have known – of the fact that in Scotland, there has never been a complete ban on playing golf throughout the pandemic. But since January 1st, it has been limited to a maximum of two players (and presumably a minimum of one), with the players regulation-compliant in every way, a dour enough situation perhaps, but it must have seemed like a relative paradise to unnecessarily restricted golfers in Ireland.

It's something to think about as we wait to see what the graphs and numbers are like on April 20th. Anyone who thinks otherwise has clearly forgotten about how the balloon went up in the second and third weeks of January. Meanwhile, it's arguable that there's currently no justification for prematurely cancelling any planned local events scheduled from mid-May onwards provided their local credentials are impeccable, and by June who knows, but we may indeed see the national season of 2021 get underway in style with the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race of Wednesday, June 9th, even if it is slightly subdued by shoreside restrictions.

Sacred activity. With the addition of face-masks, these two would have been allowed to continue their sport in Scotland through January, February and March.Sacred activity. With the addition of face-masks, these two would have been allowed to continue their sport in Scotland through January, February and March.

Published in W M Nixon

Howth Yacht Club Commodore Paddy Judge says currently the 'only certainty' following yesterdays announcement of the easing of lockdown restrictions is that junior sail training can recommence from the 26th April with more general sailing probably in May.

‘We welcome the relaxation of the 5km travel restriction from the 12th April', he told Afloat. 'It will result in our cruising sailors being the first to get an advantage of the improving situation', he said.

The north Dublin club is the largest sailing club in Ireland, with over 1,700 members and the biggest employers in Howth Village.

The Government has announced the phased easing of some Covid-19 restrictions during the month of April.

Judge says Howth Yacht Club is planning for a phased resumption of activity subject to Government restrictions later this season.

Howth Yacht Club Commodore Paddy JudgeHowth Yacht Club Commodore Paddy Judge

The Government plans to continue its cautious approach, gradually easing restrictions, while a substantial level of the population is vaccinated during April, May and June, after which, it should be safe to reopen society more widely.

"Time will tell how quickly sailing events will happen, ' Judge added.

As Afloat reported previously, among the changes being considered at HYC are the purchase of more paddleboards and kayaks for members’ use, as well as more flexible coaching sessions and extra opportunities to get afloat on the club’s fleet of dinghies and J80s.

Published in Howth YC
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Paddy Judge, a long-serving committee member and flag officer with Howth Yacht Club, succeeded Ian Byrne as Commodore as the members were asserting the club spirit with an impressive entry in the competition for the best Christmas Festive Lights display, which has been much in evidence both on boats in the marina, and ashore.

Outgoing HYC Commodore Ian Byrne (left) and his successor Paddy Judge demonstrating the Two Metre Rule on HYC's popular "cleat seat".Outgoing HYC Commodore Ian Byrne (left) and his successor Paddy Judge demonstrating the Two Metre Rule on HYC's popular "cleat seat".

The new Commodore, a former Aer Lingus captain originally from Mayo who subsequently served in a senior role with the National Air Accidents Investigation Unit, has long been noted as a willing volunteer in many areas of club life. For a significant period recently when HYC was re-structuring its entire administrative system, he was the Club Manager on a pro bono basis.

A willing helper in providing support for race organisation afloat and ashore, his own main interest in sailing is in cruising, undertaken with the Dubois-designed Liberator 35 Si Gaoith which he completed himself from a bare hull to professional standards in an impressive one-man project. 

Howth Marina in festive moodHowth Marina in festive mood

Thus he brings a special range of skills and administrative experience to Ireland's numerically-largest sailing club. But although at Christmas in sending greetings to members he was able to confirm that the Club was in good shape thanks to the thorough utilisation of all governmental and local authority pandemic support schemes, he also expressed the expectation that training-based sailing could continue with a special socially-distanced event scheduled for New Year.

Lockdown and its effects on Howth Yacht Club

However, this morning (December 31st) he has issued a new and clearly serious bulletin on the return of total Lockdown and its effects on HYC:

Access to the Club premises is only allowed between 09.00 and 17.00 hrs. Outside these times the Club premises, hardstand and marina, are closed.

Boat owners or their designated representative are permitted to access their boat, whether ashore or on the marina, during the above times. An owner wishing to have a representative look after their boat must advise the Marina Office who will be visiting prior to them accessing the Club. Other visitors to the premises are not permitted.

Access to the Clubhouse is closed until further notice. Take away refreshments will be available between 12.00 and 16.00 hrs.

All sailing and training events are cancelled.

Whilst single household and single-handed sailing are permitted by the new Government restrictions, members are asked to stay ashore until January 11th to minimise the risks to others – an emergency whilst afloat will endanger those called upon to provide assistance.

Non-essential marina services are suspended.

Members must wear masks everywhere on the Club premises, including on the marina.

One staff member will be rostered daily for the Marina Office from 1st January. Routine checks of the marina and boats will be conducted. Owners who live beyond 5 km from the Club can request the Marina Office personnel to check their boats – contact them either by phone at 01-8392777 or email at [email protected]

The Administration Office from 4th January will have minimum staff and staff members who can work remotely will do so. Contact the Office either by phone at 01-8322141 or email at [email protected]

So for now, HYC activity is largely in limbo. But meanwhile, Commodore Judge salutes the 18 boats which entered the Festive Season Decorative Lights contest, and acclaims the outright winner, Simon Knowles' J/109 Indian, which was given the full decorative treatment by Rima Macken.

But the effort put in by the other 17 was so impressive that it was decided to draw four runner-up prizes, and they went to Diabolo (Eddie Stowe & Michael Heather), Sunburn (Ian Byrne), Valella 2 (John Boardman) and Equinox (Ross McDonald).

Howth Yacht Club faces the unique uncertainties of 2021 with a bright spirit.Howth Yacht Club faces the unique uncertainties of 2021 with a bright spirit

Published in Howth YC
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November sunshine plays tricks with how we see things. Maybe it's because it's so rare. But at the weekend at Howth – with just a month to go to the shortest day of the year – a special coaching course being run in Lasers by international champion Aoife Hopkins was taking place with a low-slung sun so powerful – under a sky of a blue so utterly blue that it hasn't got a name yet – that an educational circuit of Ireland's Eye under the watchful Hopkins' eye did strange things to vision.

Be careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctlyBe careful in looking at this photo – when you get hold of the thought that the boat is going away and the sail is coming back again, the brain just won't let itself be re-set correctly

Maybe it's just us, and maybe it's time we re-visited the pioneering HYC Brass Monkey Winter Series creator Pat Connolly in his day job as an optician. But if you look at the pic above of the trainee flotilla of Abby Kinsella, Una Connel, Fiachra Farrelly and Charlie Keating heading eastward towards the Martello tower and the cliffs along the north coast of Ireland's Eye, there's no doubt that the nearest boat is going away, but the strong low light somehow makes it look as though the sail is coming back again…….

Either way, in the idyllic circumstances a circuit of Ireland's Eye provided an ideal opportunity for a multi-layered day of training, as there was pilotage, navigation and useful wildlife observation added to the mix, even if The Stack on the northeast corner – a summertime Gannet Central since 1989 – was winter silent, with just one gannet watchman left behind.

Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...Closing in on The Stack on Ireland's Eye. In summer, it's Gannet Central...

……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird……..but off season, just one lone gannet has drawn the short straw to be The Winter Watchbird

It was difficult to imagine the place in a harsh grey easterly, which in some Novembers is the default weather condition around Ireland's Eye. But in Howth, nothing is allowed to go to waste – as Aoife observed after winning the Laser U21 Euros 2017 at Douarnenez in Brittany in a week of extra-fresh westerlies, determined days of sailing in strong easterlies off Howth will set you up for anything, Breton westerlies included…..

Aoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in BrittanyAoife Hopkins winning the Laser Euro U21s in strong westerlies at Douarnenez in Brittany

Published in Howth YC

Howth Yacht Cub announced this evening that under the Level 3 Restrictions, HYC is suspending Club Racing and Training for the next three weeks, when the situation will be re-assessed.

The Club’s six weekend End-of-Summer Series – due to run until October 18th – had got off to a flying start last weekend with 79 boats taking part in nine classes.

With good sailing conditions expected this Saturday and Sunday, the absence of further competition, for the time being, will be a disappointment for racing-starved sailors. However, individual boat sailing is still permitted in household crews, but that too will be kept under review on a regular basis.

Published in Howth YC
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