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The delayed 2020 racing programme at Howth Yacht Club had a boost last weekend with a 20-boat fleet for Saturday’s inaugural race for the Fingal Cruiser Challenge, while the Puppeteer 22s, Squibs and Howth 17s mustered viable turnouts for their regular club event. But since then, the slack wet weather of mid-week has put everything on hold, with Tuesday’s utterly flat no-race evening in particular so damp and windless you couldn’t tell where sea and sky ended or began.

Thus although Saturday’s forecast had not been too hopeful, it is already a memory to be cherished, as the westerly breeze held up, and the Race Officer’s courageous decision to send the cruiser fleet round Lambay saw them finished within a reasonable time, despite the course being a dogleg to the Portmarnock mark for some uphill work before they took in Lambay to port and back to a pier finish in Howth.

The special challenge of a close-reaching pier start as the fleet goes off in the first race of the Fingal Cruiser Challenge from Howth round Lambay. Video by Emer Quinn.

The Evans brothers’ Half Ton Classic The Big Picture found things to her liking to take line honours and the IRC win from Paddy O’Neill’s J/80 Mojo, while in Class 2 the Gore-Grimes team in the X 302 Dux also had the line honours and win, this time ahead of the Corby 25 Impetuous (Noonan /Chambers) and another X302, the Darmody/Patterson crew with Xebec, while the Mullaney brothers with the Sigma 33 Insider made the running in Class 3, and once again Dermot Skehan was there in front in the White Sails division with Toughnut.

Scorie Walls was back in top form for 2020 with the Puppeteer win on Gold Dust from Terry Harvey’s No Strings second, with Ghosty Ned getting third, while in the Howth 17s it was the familiar shape of Deilginis (Massey, Twomey, Kenny) out in front, with the Squibs (which will muster a fleet of 14 when all are in action this year) saw Fergus O’Kelly’s 3point9 take the bullet. The possibility of better weather this Saturday is encouraging others into socially-distanced action, and then after a full midweek programme, Saturday 18th July sees the all-keelboat-classes Aqua Two-Handed Challenge.

Published in Howth YC
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There were by no means full fleet affairs, but the 2020 racing season has definitely got underway at Howth where the One Designs raced in a good breeze on Tuesday evening, while last night (Wednesday) the cruisers found themselves battling with a floatathon, gliding along under barely-filling spinnaker with a change of tide at mid-race to add to the sport. Those who may have amused themselves since March with games of snakes and ladders were probably best prepared for the evening's racing, with the light south easterly breeze and a tide that changed from flood to ebb set plenty of challenges for those hoping for a straightforward intro to the 2020 calendar with pier starts.

There were gliding and tide-dodging conditions for the 20 cruisers which turned out on Wednesday nightThere were gliding and tide-dodging conditions for the 20 cruisers which turned out on Wednesday night

The early cruiser leaders, reaching up the middle of Howth Sound ahead of a fleet of 20 to take advantage of the tide, found themselves in snake mode as the flow reversed and the wind faded. The canny chasers headed for the East Pier, daring each other as close to the evening strollers as their depth sounder alarms and willingness to risk fresh antifouling allowed. The shortened course signal after a single lap of the Sound ensured a finish for most before the wind disappeared and the mist rolled down off Howth Head.

Maximus, Paddy Kyne's X302, took best advantage of the conditions, to grab line honours. Regardless of result, just being afloat.and having their first race sailed was success for everyone and good reason to head ashore for socially-distanced food and refreshments, along with tales of what might have been.

We’re back! Howth's reviving Squib fleet where in jaunty form on TuesdayWe’re back! Howth's reviving Squib fleet were in jaunty form on Tuesday

Published in Howth YC
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The effective full return to sailing announced last week is good timing for Howth’s Wave Regatta team who continue to work towards what is now likely to be the key sailing regatta of this very short sailing season.

Wave Regatta chairman Brian Turvey enthusiastically welcomed Irish Sailing’s news last week, which effectively allows a return to full sailing activities from this today, explaining ‘This confirms that our decision to postpone Wave Regatta until September 11th was both timely and correct. The fact that sailors can now return to racing with full crews means that they will enjoy 10-weeks of racing before the event and should have time to get boats and crew prepared. We are also delighted with the organisation team’s experience and work in respect of preparation for a ‘safe regatta’ and in line with sport and hospitality guidelines.’

In addition to their plans to make Wave 2020 the safest and most attractive regatta of the year, the team has advised of some further improvements to their original hugely successful regatta in 2018.

The format for this year’s event has been further modified to provide an additional ‘round-the-cans‘ race on the Saturday morning before Howth Yacht Club’s famous Lambay Race. Similarly, scoring has been modified, whereby the Lambay Race will score single points for those competing in the ICRA National Championships and will be discardable - whilst it will be non-discardable and carries a 1.5 weighting for boats competing for Wave Regatta prizes.

Early entry discount concludes this coming Friday (July 3rd) and it is expected that this week will draw many more entries, all availing of the reduced early-rate.
As plans evolve for the ‘shoreside’ set-up, the latest news is that a more complete hospitality offering will be in place, albeit carefully managed in respect of pandemic precautions. A huge outdoor lounge is to be built on Howth Yacht Club’s large forecourt, with extensive menus and top-class food available morning until night-time.

Online entry and Notice of Race can be accessed at and a discount is still available until next Friday.

Published in Wave Regatta

If you’re having trouble deciphering what you can do and can’t do as Lockdown lifts, well, welcome aboard. But at least Howth Yacht Club have realised that their annual Aqua Two-Handed Challenge may simplify things for locals and visitors alike, with its inbuilt people limitations and provision of some safe space between those involved.

That said, until now it has tended to be a down-home affair with the prize a dinner at Aqua Restaurant. It used to be the Howth Yacht Club building, and thus carries very special peninsular memories, so it really has all been rather cosy. But in those abnormal times, it could well be that the set date of Saturday, July 18th is as good as many are going to get in resuming competitive sailing, so HYC are sending out the news that it definitely is open to everyone, they very much hope to see boats from Dublin Bay and south of it too for that matter, and also from along the Fingal coast.

In the past, this race has been for cruiser spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes. But this year they’re including separate starts for J80’s, Puppeteer, Squib and Howth 17’s, with starts under way by 10.0am, and the finish is planned for a civilised afternoon hour.

With the current restrictions, this event offers organised racing, a great day out on the water, and a chance to work on two-handed skills. Crews can be household members or those that can accommodate the social distancing recommendations set by Government for July 18th.

Entry fee is just €25 with Howth's easy online entry here. The Notice of Race is posted here and sailing instructions will be added closer to the date. Aqua and Howth Yacht Club plan to give you a great day on the water and ashore, so phone a friend and enter now.

Published in Howth YC
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The entry of a Howth Yacht Club XC 45 and J109 brings August's Round Ireland Yacht Race fleet to 45.

The stand-out result is made all the more impressive as the Wicklow Race has achieved the numbers in the middle of a pandemic and there are still eight weeks left to the first gun.

Robert Rendell's XC 45 'Samatom' and Simon Knowles' J109 'Indian' now bring to three the number of entries from Howth.

They join clubmate John Murphy's early J109 entry 'Outrajeous' for the 700-miler.

As Afloat predicted earlier, the Round Ireland fleet is building to be an international one for its 21st edition.

Among the fleet are five Jeanneau Sunfast 3600s as well as Cian McCarthy's new 3300 from Kinsale and a French class 40. Also from Dublin Bay is Andrew Algeo's J99 from the Royal Irish Yacht Club.

Simon Knowles J109 from Howth Yacht ClubSimon Knowles' J109 from Howth Yacht Club Photo: Afloat

Published in Round Ireland

When Howth Yacht Club Junior Organiser Sara Lacy posted a notice on the club website on Wednesday about a controlled post-COVID-19 resumption of Junior Sailing at the club scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th, she was swamped with enquiries as the proposed re-introduction – initially on Tuesdays and Thursdays – will be supervised sailing sessions for groups of ten who have successfully completed their Improving Skills Level, while also having a general level of competency as specified in the online booking form.

It sounds as though she could have filled ten of these groups within minutes, so keen are the juniors to get back afloat after the Socially-Distant-Compliant HYC Seniors led the way seaward, headed by Commodore Ian Byrne, on Sunday, May 24th. The special junior supervised programme initially won’t involve racing, and will run from 6.0pm to 8.0pm. But with the emergence from the Lockdown now accelerating on practically every front, we can surely expect that the first races are already almost within sight.

Sara Lacy, HYC Junior Organiser, is faced with a welcome “Problem of Success” in bookings for her planned resumption of supervised junior sailing Sara Lacy, HYC Junior Organiser, is faced with a welcome “Problem of Success” in bookings for her planned resumption of supervised junior sailing at the club next Tuesday (June 9th)

Published in Howth YC

With the complex COVID-19 regulations, many sailors with boats to fit out and get into commission had difficulty in assessing just what they could and couldn’t do. But Ian Byrne, Commodore of Howth Yacht Club, made it his business to analyse the national and local regulations and limitations. And then, as various stages were passed, he led his members afloat for a first sail, fully compliant with social-distancing, on Sunday May 24th. This has resulted in a gradual resumption of day sailing, with family and household crews becoming accustomed to the “new normal”.

This is 2 metres-plus…….HYC Commodore Ian Byrne on the genoa winch, and Lea O’Donoghue on the helmThis is 2 metres-plus…….HYC Commodore Ian Byrne on the genoa winch, and Lea O’Donoghue on the helm, successfully demonstrating the two-metres-plus social distance requirement in order to get sailing again aboard Ian’s Sunfast 32 Sunburn

Published in Sailor of the Month

Howth Yacht Club, in County Dublin is one of Ireland’s premier yacht clubs, wishes to recruit a Club Manager. Although previously advertised last March, the recruitment process was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. The position is now being re-advertised. Previous applicants who still wish to be considered for this position do not need to reapply.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is 125 years old, has over 1,700 members and an annual turnover of €2.2m. It operates from its award-winning building overlooking Howth Harbour that houses office, bar, dining, and changing facilities. Apart from the Clubhouse, HYC has a 250-berth marina, two cranes and a boat storage area. In addition. its moorings in the harbour are serviced by launch.

The Club employs up to 31 staff during the summer and is the largest employer in Howth village. HYC normally provides an annual programme of club racing on a year-round basis as well as hosting a full calendar of International, National and Regional competitive events. It operates a fleet of two large committee boats, 9 RIBs, 5 J80 Sportboats, a J24 and a variety of sailing dinghies that are available for members and training. The Club is also growing its commercial activities afloat using its QUEST sail and power boat training operation while ashore it hosts a wide range of functions each year, including conferences, weddings, parties and the like.

Details of the Club Manager position are as follows:

The Club Manager, reporting to the Commodore, will be responsible for implementing decisions as directed by the Commodore and General Committee, the overall operation of the Club, ensuring compliance with all legislation, overseeing services provided and ensuring customer service is to the standard that positively reflects on the Club.

The successful candidate will be dynamic and customer focussed, have an appropriate third level qualification or suitable experience in Finance, Engineering or a Marine related activity, a proven track record in management, good interpersonal and social skills coupled with a practical and pragmatic approach to problem solving. A genuine interest in marine activities and the environment is needed.

If you believe that you have these attributes and would enjoy using your skills and expertise in one of the busiest sailing clubs in Ireland, please submit your application by 29 June 2020, in writing or email, with your CV to:

The Commodore, Howth Yacht Club, Middle Pier, Howth, Co Dublin, Ireland. D13E6V3
[email protected]

A Job Specification and Description can be found here

Published in Howth YC
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The J80 class will join Wave Regatta this September for its national championships in the latest details just announced by Howth Yacht Club.

Given the seismic shake-up to the sailing calendar this year, Wave Regatta will certainly be a focal Irish sailing regatta for 2020, not least by incorporating the Irish Cruiser Racing Association National Championships and as such the event will focus on delivering an excellent championship for all the competing sailors over the 3 days from September 11th.

Howth Yacht Club is preparing with a ‘front-up’ focus on safety in respect of COVID-19. They will be ensuring that we fully comply with the protocols and guidelines as outlined by the HSE and also in conjunction with Sport Ireland and Irish Sailing.

Plans are already in place for controlled access to the club, along with an innovative self-assessment protocol for all competitors. Much of the live entertainment will be replaced by a creative offering, including food and drink service to ‘crew pods’ onshore and also a service direct to boats on the marina.

Race Director Dave Cullen was delighted to confirm that Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 43 ‘Signal 8’ competing in the event as part of it’s slightly delayed 2020 regatta programme. ‘It’s great to see Jamie and team back in Howth for Wave Regatta’ and Dave added ‘we’re looking forward to giving all the competing sailors an event to remember. We’re also delighted to confirm that the J80 class will join other one-design and ICRA classes that will enjoy their national championships within Wave Regatta’.

Jamie McWilliam's Ker Signal 8 will race at Wave Regatta in SeptemberJamie McWilliam's Ker Signal 8 will race at WAVE Regatta
Wave Regatta’s Brian Turvey understands the anxiety that sailors are feeling ‘We’re delighted to be rolling on with the event and plan to deliver a superb regatta for everybody who comes to Howth. Whilst we’re scaling back on the original hospitality offering and we’ll be concentrating on delivering the very highest quality racing event and providing a safe shoreside experience. The committed support from our sponsors has enabled us to proceed with the evolution and roll-out of Wave Regatta, ensuring that the rescheduled dates could be firmly secured.’

Event details and online entry are available here with a special discount in place for entries before the fast-approaching July 3rd. All entries are refundable as per the normal prescriptions.

Published in J80

We'll put aside for the moment the fact that Bono's father, the late Bob Hewson, lived out his days in Howth, a place he adored. We'll let it go for now that U2 drummer Larry Mullins lives in an elegantly-restrained modern mansion along Howth's Burrow Beach, and is seen in a boat from time to time. We'll overlook, too, the fact of the peninsular port's renowned connections to James Joyce and WB Yeats and J P Donleavy. Because, as of the weekend, Howth's favourite minstrel is the Tartan Troubadour Rod Stewart.

The Plaid Pixie's battered anthem "We Are Sailing" may have passed its sell-by date a dozen times and more. But as Noel Coward observed: "It's strange how potent cheap music is". Yet maybe "We Are Sailing" isn't cheap. Maybe it is just extremely good value. And that is something else altogether, for it's one of those songs which anyone can sing, and in three words it captures the mood of the moment.

Certainly, it captured the mood of Howth this past weekend, when sailing tentatively resumed after Howth YC Commodore Ian Byrne had put in some time working out the ramifications of the Irish Sailing policy document on the various permitted stages and phases in the post-Covid19 resumption of our much-missed sport.

2 howth sailing moth2You can't be more socially-distanced than with a Moth, and Alistair Kissane takes his for a lone spin at Howth on Sunday with some winter covers still in place

The Irish Sailing document was presented in such a professionally-finished way that it reminded too many people of an Income Tax Returns Form. It brought some out in a rash, while others perspired and put it away for consideration later. But Ian Byrne stuck at it, he posted his encouraging and clearcut conclusions on the HYC website at around 10pm on Thursday night, then his interpretation was up on soon after, and by Friday night although gales were in the offing for Saturday, it was all systems go to get some boats sailing by Sunday in Howth, with due observation of bubble groups and family familiars and social distancing and whatever you're having yourself including being within five kilometres of home.

So even though Saturday came in with a Mistral-like westerly gale out of a clear blue sky, things were moving afloat with boats being kitted out in their marina berths and sails put on, while ashore Demelza was being launched as a hugely appropriate flagship for the entire enterprise.

3 demelza launches3The classic and historic Club Shamrock 30 Demelza, absolutely immaculate at 44 years old, and launching with total compliance on social distancing. Photo: Steph Ennis

For Demelza isn't any just any vintage 30-footer. The 1976 Ron Holland-designed and Cork Harbour-built Club Shamrock is the boat on which Mark Mansfield cut his offshore racing teeth when his father Stafford was the first owner. Then she went to Neville Maguire of Howth, who had her for very many happy and extremely successful years, with his son Gordon frequently honing his skills on board both inshore and offshore, a special family peak of achievement being reached in August 1984 when Neville with a largely family crew on Demelza won the ISORA Championship with the Abersoch-Howth race, and on the same day down in Kerry, Gordon won the Irish Windsurfing Nationals.

For some years now, Demelza has been owned by Steph Ennis and Windsor Laudan, and they keep this 44-year-old veteran in an immaculate condition which belies her age and reflects great credit on the Corkmen who built her, while on the sailing front Demelza continues to win top prizes in major national events at several Irish sailing centres.

4 wright optimist4Family group – Sydney-Hobart Race star skipper Darren Wright in the support RIB with his Optimist champion kids Rocco and Sienna back in their home waters of Howth Sound on Sunday. Photo: Paddy Judge

So when Marina Superintendent Fred Connolly (who is also the Howth lifeboat cox'n) and his team swung Demelza aloft for launching at HYC in such a restriction-compliant style that it seemed no human agency was involved, it was an eloquent signal that it was time and more for sailing to begin, time and more for people to come out of their cocoons.

Although Sunday started raw enough, it became a perfect day of early summer, and the boats were out, all sizes from the Wright family with Optimists to cruiser-racers, tentatively enough at first perhaps, but they definitely were out with cloth aloft, and "We Are Sailing" became the anthem of the day.

It is a time of rising hope. Here in on 18th May in another context, we were stubborn enough to suggest that the current wave of COVID -19 would be gone by the end of May "like snow off a ditch", whatever the Autumn might bring. Let's stick by that.

5 indian sailing5Are we in the Greek Isles with their virus-eliminating climate? No, it's Howth on Sunday, May 24th, and we're within 5 kilometres of home with the Knowles family of Simon, Christina and their son Matthew on the helm of the J/109 Indian, celebrating the re-birth of sailing as the Lockdown eases off

It seems to be the case that in addition to possible genetic factors, there's a major climatic input in the combatting of the virus. Thus we note that one of the lowest rates of occurrence has been in Greece, which has a largely European population, but then so too has plague-stricken Lombardy in Italy. However, in Greece, the virus was trying to take hold just as the sometimes miserable Greek winter was being transformed into the radiant Greek spring, with the total warmth and brightness of the early Greek summer soon after.

For sure they'd had a lockdown like everyone else. But that glorious Greek weather must have played a key role, and now that we have what passes for summer in Ireland, Covid-19 is in the departure lounge, heading away for at least three months, and maybe for good.

So let the people sail, and let us accept that there have been quite enough cancellations. The truncated season which the various event, club and association officers have devised will do fine well in light of what we know now. And while we're at it, it's high time the rule for a social gap of two metres gets reduced to one.

Published in Howth YC
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