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Displaying items by tag: Howth 17

With a rising westerly of notably dense air today (Saturday), Race Officer Scorie Walls did well to get three contests completed for the vintage Howth 17s annual championship at their home port, with the fleet benefiting from the class having already completed a sedate mid-week style race without topsails on Friday evening, sailing under a picturesque but pessimistic sky whose indications of stronger winds were borne out as Saturday progressed.

“A picturesque but pessimistic sky” – Friday evening’s race was sailed with an ominously watery sunset. Photo: Brian Maguire“A picturesque but pessimistic sky” – Friday evening’s race was sailed with an ominously watery sunset. Photo: Brian Maguire

In such conditions, the Debate of the Day with these venerable boats is whether to race with topsails or not. And though a significant number sallied forth with full cloth early on Saturday morning, it was notable that Deilginis utilized a clear OCS in Race 3 to take time out to become bald-headed, thereby enabling her to get a convincing win in the final race and ensure that the title moved on from 2020 champion Pauline (Shane O’Doherty and partners), which had raced without the topsail from the start, yet had logged two useful seconds to keep her in the frame.

Deilginis and Isobel persevering with topsails while Rita and Pauline show that bald-headed was ultimately the way to go. Photo: John DoranDeilginis and Isobel persevering with topsails while Rita and Pauline show that bald-headed was ultimately the way to go. Photo: John Doran

However, although topsail or not was just one of several Issues of the Day, Brian and Conor Turvey kept it centre stage with Isobel by masterfully managing the special trick of a double gybe, ending up with topsail on one side and mainsail on the other - something which newcomers to the class had thought was in the realms of mythology. Fortunately, a photographer was on hand to show it can be done, but he failed to capture the bonus of the helmsman going over the side and being hauled back by the brother grabbing his ankle – “It was only a footnote, really,” we are told.

After a spectacular gyration, it was thought that Isobel had broken her gaff boom………..Photo: John DoranAfter a spectacular gyration, it was thought that Isobel had broken her gaff boom………..Photo: John Doran

…..but it emerged that she had managed the Five Star trick of the Double Gybe – topsail on one side, and mainsail on the other. Photo: John Doran…..but it emerged that she had managed the Five Star trick of the Double Gybe – topsail on one side, and mainsail on the other. Photo: John Doran

Inevitably there was some damage as the series went on – damage of a type unknown to modern sailors, as they seemed to feature various disconnections with the gaff booms, the most notable being Rosemary whose gaff was irretrievably fractured such that a diet of bread and dripping will be the order of the day in three households until the complete replacement cost is recovered.

When it was still all systems go – Rosemary (foreground) retired with a broken gaff, but once Deilginis (11) had discarded her topsail as the wind freshened - not as easy as it looks – she took the last race and the title in convincing style. Photo: John DoranWhen it was still all systems go – Rosemary (foreground) retired with a broken gaff, but once Deilginis (11) had discarded her topsail as the wind freshened - not as easy as it looks – she took the last race and the title in convincing style. Photo: John Doran

The ding-dong for the straight title continued, but freed of her topsail Deilginis had a scoreline - after the discard of her OCS - of two firsts and a third, while defending champion Pauline was on two seconds and a fifth, the third-placed Aura (Ian Malcolm) consistently logging two thirds and a fourth.

Under HPH, the Tom Houlihan partnership with Zaida won overall, but despite a rugged handicap, Deilginis was second, while Sheila (Dave Mulligan & Andy Johnston) was third in a championship which showed this venerable class to be in fine form. Details here 

The 2021 Howth 17 champions with Deilginis – wall-to-wall Masseys except for Mikey Toomey (second left). Photo: Brian TurveyThe 2021 Howth 17 champions with Deilginis – wall-to-wall Masseys except for Mikey Toomey (second left). Photo: Brian Turvey

Published in Howth 17
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For more than fifty years now, the 1898-founded Howth 17s have all been located at their port of origin, and the class has been thriving, so much so that serious damage to seven of the boats in winter storage in Storm Emma in March 2018 now seems like no more than a hiccup. The class recovered, with boats repaired or re-built and new ones added, such that assigned sail numbers have gone through the twenty mark. This may not seem such a big deal when international classes run into the thousands. But by local standards at any sailing centre, it's more than healthy, and the intriguing thing is how many locations internationally have contributed to this Howth growth.

With the port having only a limited local boat-building tradition - although two boats were built by the great John O'Reilly in a shed at Howth Castle in 1988 - the class's seemingly inexhaustible movers and shakers such as Nick Massey and Ian Malcolm have since had to cast the net wide for quality work, and this has used talent in Irish counties as diverse as Wicklow, Offaly, Meath, Fingal and West Cork in addition to availing of the subsidised boat-building schools of France.

A new Howth 17 being built at Skol ar Mor in South BrittanyA new Howth 17 being built at Skol ar Mor in South Brittany

Thus although they may be a one-place one-design, they've an international and forward-looking outlook. So it was an intriguing experience for eleven of the boat to go across to Dun Laoghaire last weekend to welcome home the first three restored Dublin Bay 21s to the National Yacht Club, and be greeted by some very senior sailors as "the Dublin Bay 17s from the noted northside club at Howth".

Fact is, DBSC had the use of the design for a sub-section of the class only from 1907 to 1964, by which time their crews had mostly moved into Glens, while the Dun Laoghaire Seventeens were all brought home to Howth and the TLC which has been lavished on them to varying degrees ever since.

The morning after…. Early on Saturday, July 31st at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, after eleven Howth 17s had sailed across to join the previous night's Welcome Home party for the three restored Dublin Bay 21s. Photo: David JonesThe morning after…. Early on Saturday, July 31st at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, after eleven Howth 17s had sailed across to join the previous night's Welcome Home party for the three restored Dublin Bay 21s. Photo: David Jones

As to Howth itself being northside Dublin, the reality is it is all actually east of the entire capital, and the sandy link (tombolo if you prefer) to Dublin's associated landmass is so tenuous that it's thought of as being "nearby Ireland".

But not to worry. The Howth-folk are generous of spirit, and in 2021 they've already visited Clontarf for the annual At Home – involving a sporty rounding of the Baily against a north-going tide with the race won by Deilginis – while going to Dun Laoghaire seemed right and proper even if some of the denizens thereof were confused about the type of boats they'd arrived in, and equally confused about points of the compass and relative geography.

Cutting the corner – with a fair wind but a foul tide, two of the Howth 17s try to find the weakest adverse stream right in on the pin of The Baily as they race into Dublin Bay, on course for the 2021 Clontarf At Home. Photo courtesy Howth Seventeen AssociationCutting the corner – with a fair wind but a foul tide, two of the Howth 17s try to find the weakest adverse stream right in on the pin of The Baily as they race into Dublin Bay, on course for the 2021 Clontarf At Home. Photo courtesy Howth Seventeen Association

This weekend it's back to local reality for the Howth 17 National Championship. It's officially designated as Friday, August 6th to Sunday, August 8th, but in time-honoured style, Sunday is very much the reserve day, they race on Friday evening and then pile on the races throughout Saturday until the quota is reached so that everything can be done and dusted by the Saturday night prize-giving dinner which - even in semi-socially-distanced times - will not be an event for shrinking violets.

As to results, the defending champions are the Shane O'Doherty team with the 1900-built Pauline. She is usually to be found in the middle of the fleet, but in the 2020 Championship, there were so many private battles going on between the more noted hotshots that Pauline was able to slip through the gaps into a popular overall win.

Back where they belong – Howth 17s racing in the Sound inside Ireland's Eye in July's drought conditions – Oona (foreground) is owned by Peter Courtney, whose family have been involved with the class since 1907. Photo: Jane Duffy

This year a noted pace-setter in club racing has been Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey), while other names featuring at the front of the fleet have included Deilginis (Massey, Toomey, Kenny), Rita (Marcus Lynch & John Curley), Orla (Marc Fitzgibbon/Gallagher), Sheila (Dave Mulligan & Andy Johnston), Oona (Peter Courtney) and Aura (Ian Malcolm), which is the most recent top scorer as she won on Tuesday evening.

But with a turnout this weekend pushing towards fifteen of these unique boats, if the private battles for which the Howth 17s are renowned develop in their usual way, who knows what new name might come to the fore by nipping through the gaps, like the hero in Jurassic Park……..

After making a perfect job of rounding the final gybe mark, Shane O'Doherty with Pauline was on his way to victory in the Howth 17 2020 Nationals.After making a perfect job of rounding the final gybe mark, Shane O'Doherty with Pauline was on his way to victory in the Howth 17 2020 Nationals.

Published in Howth 17
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The National YC's Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race of Wednesday, June 9th – just two days after such things became permissible on June 7th - may have been hailed here as "a spectacular pillar event to launch the 2021 Irish sailing season out of the pandemic penumbra". But the truth is that the season currently getting under way is more like a gentle tide flooding into a winding and shallow creek, rather than a sudden eruption of activity across a wide front.

As with the new tide, if you watch closely and persistently for things happening, you'll see little change. But if your focus switches elsewhere for a while, then look back again and you'll find real signs of things starting to happen, of development taking place and sailing centres coming more vibrantly to life with events which are in themselves a testing of the waters.

This sense of testing of the waters reflects a commendable maturity in the sailing community. Our sport manifests itself in so many ways afloat and ashore that it is simply impossible to devise rules about distancing and so forth which comply precisely with each and every requirement. Thus as each event takes shape, a substantial input of common sense is required to ensure that it optimizes the sport while minimising any infection hazard.

When the going gets tough….overall winner Nieulargo (Denis Murphy RCYC, left) and Pete Smyth's Sun Fast 3600 Searcher (NYC) getting their teeth into the early stages of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. Photo: Michael ChesterWhen the going gets tough….overall winner Nieulargo (Denis Murphy RCYC, left) and Pete Smyth's Sun Fast 3600 Searcher (NYC) getting their teeth into the early stages of the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race. Photo: Michael Chester

Of course we can claim that the hazard is decreasing on a daily basis. But no sooner is this assumed that some new twist arises, and having shared the battle for so long, it would be at odds with the remarkable overall cohesiveness of Irish society to flaunt the rules with blatant disregard, even if some very small sections seem to take a pleasure in doing so.

Thus although the D2D was indeed a spectacular event, it only impinged on landward life at the carefully regulated start and finish. For the rest of the time it was taking place in the very model of a healthy environment, sometimes with more fresh air than even the very keenest were looking for.

For those who don’t feel they have to spend nights at sea in order to get their necessary dose of fresh maritime air, mid-June also brought the Dragon South Coast Championship at Glandore for a cracking fleet of 19 boats, with Cameron Good of Kinsale and Neil Hegarty of Dun Laoghaire’s Royal St George YC on a tie break after six races, the break going in favour of the Kinsale skipper who saw his clubmate James Matthews taking third overall.

Meanwhile, in the upper reaches of Strangford Lough, Newtownards SC hosted the GP 14 Ulster Championship with Ger Owens of Royal St George, crewed by northern sailor Melanie Morris, winning overall, with second going to Ross and Jane Kearney while Shane McCarthy of Greystones was third, with the Silver Fleet topped by James Hockley while the Bronze went to Michael Brines.

Today (Saturday) sees the conclusion of the four day O'Leary Insurances Sovereigns Cup at Kinsale, and while inevitably there has been a shoreside element morning and evening, it has been happening with a manageable fleet – as ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell approvingly put it after considering the close Class 1 results: "It's great to be back in Kinsale, and there's a quiet buzz about the place - as it should be with the restrictions and the smaller numbers."

Jump Juice (Conor Phelan) and Freya (Conor Doyle) make a neat call on the start in Day 2 of the Sovereign's Cup at Kinsale. Photo: Robert BatemanJump Juice (Conor Phelan) and Freya (Conor Doyle) make a neat call on the start in Day 2 of the Sovereign's Cup at Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

This weekend sees the pace continue its incremental increase, with locally emphasized events on all coasts. Across in Connacht, the new popularity of the very ancient Cong to Galway Race down Lough Corrib hopes to see the recent day's better weather of the west continuing. And although defending champion Yannick Lemonnier was reported yesterday as being safe in Lampaul, that extraordinary bay on the west coast of Ouessant, with the mast of his MiniTransat boat down around his ears, it wouldn't surprise us at all if he somehow still turned up for the start, but in his absence his able young son and regular crew Sean might be making alternative arrangements under the radar.

EAST COAST SAILING

Currently, it's largely a question of keeping things local, and there's nothing more utterly local than the Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club's annual At Home on the north shores of Dublin Bay. It's an event that goes back most of the way to the club's founding in 1875, but last year's on-off lockdowns affected Clontarf more than any other club.

This is because their substantial and growing cruiser-racer fleet is entirely dependent on drying moorings in the Tolka Estuary, just across the main shore road from the club. Thus any activity afloat involves much communal to-ing and fro-ing in a decidedly busy neighbourhood. So CY & BC had to take it on the chin, and their cruisers stayed ashore for the entire season last year, even if a spot of dinghy sailing was possible in times of eased restriction.

Sean Langan, Commodore of Clontarf Y & BC, led his cruiser fleet afloat this year at the earliest permitted opportunity. In 2020's lockdown, the Clontarf fleet – all of which lie to drying moorings – had to stay ashore out of commission. Photo: Courtesy CY&BC)   Sean Langan, Commodore of Clontarf Y & BC, led his cruiser fleet afloat this year at the earliest permitted opportunity. In 2020's lockdown, the Clontarf fleet – all of which lie to drying moorings – had to stay ashore out of commission. Photo: Courtesy CY&BC)  

However, this year, as soon as the official signs were favourable, Commodore Sean Langan and his members heaved their fleet afloat in a choreographed operation involving two cranes, and today (Saturday, June 26th) is the Clontarf At Home, with the IDRA 14 dinghies launching into their 75th Anniversary Year, while the Howth 17s race round the Baily from their home port in a precisely-timed race to optimise the day's high water and provide good racing for an ancient class which is pushing towards having twenty boats in full commission.

The 1898-founded Howth 17s – seen here in the Lambay Race on June 12th - are gradually pushing towards their full number of 20 boats for the 2021 season. Photo: Patricia NixonThe 1898-founded Howth 17s – seen here in the Lambay Race on June 12th - are gradually pushing towards their full number of 20 boats for the 2021 season. Photo: Patricia Nixon

LOCAL SAILING CLASSES

In all, it's a celebration of local sailing in local classes, and time was when the Glens from Dun Laoghaire used to come across the bay to Clontarf as well. Who knows, it may happen again, as the 1947-vintage 25ft Mylne-designed Glens are having a revival with some boats undergoing very extensive restorations, a topic to which we'll return in the near future.

Meanwhile, one of the restored boats, Ailbe Millerick's Glenluce, made her re-vitalised debut last Saturday in some style to take a win. Admittedly it was with the formidable imported talent of John Duggan on the helm while the owner sweated away at working the pit, making the mistake of doing it so efficiently that it could well become a regular position……..

The newly-restored 25ft Glen OD Glenluce (Ailbe Millerick) on her way to winning her first race of 2021 last Saturday in Dublin BayThe newly-restored 25ft Glen OD Glenluce (Ailbe Millerick) on her way to winning her first race of 2021 last Saturday in Dublin Bay

Of course, when it comes to 2021's sailing revival, the sheer weight of numbers in the greater Dublin region means that significant fleets can quickly be assembled, and there could well be thirty boats gathering in Dublin's River Liffey today for the final meet of the Cruising Association of Ireland's pop-up East Coast rally, which has ranged between Skerries and Arklow.

The Cruising Association of Ireland rallying in the heart of Dublin. Photo: W M Nixon   The Cruising Association of Ireland rallying in the heart of Dublin. Photo: W M Nixon  

As for competitive sailing, weekly racing numbers in the Dublin Bay Sailing Club programme at Dun Laoghaire regularly chime in at comfortably more than a hundred boats and counting, but in the current climate, that's something to be carefully monitored rather than shouted from the rooftops.

Nevertheless, if you happen to be on a Dun Laoghaire rooftop, every Wednesday evening reveals an increasing fleet of Water Wags out racing. Their best turnout so far this year was 26 boats on Bloomsday, the 16th June, but with 50 boats now registered with racing numbers, it's surely only a matter of time before they manage an evening with 40 boats, as they topped the 30 mark turnout three years ago.

The Water Wag fleet blossoming for Bloomsday, June 16th, with 26 boats racing. They should top the 40 turnout in one race for the fist time ever in 2021.The Water Wag fleet blossoming for Bloomsday, June 16th, with 26 boats racing. They should top the 40 turnout in one race for the fist time ever in 2021.

FOYNES SHOWS THE WAY FOR WEST COAST SAILING

The quiet putting-through of a first racing event was seen last weekend at Foynes, where the J/24s assembled in socially-distanced groups for their seasonal starter, the Southern Championship. That said, trying to be socially-distant anywhere near the notoriously-hospitable Foynes Yacht Club is almost an impossibility – after all, even the family dog goes out on the big committee boat with visiting race Officer Derek Bothwell - but it seems to have been a largely health-compliant happening.

The J24s start their 2021 Irish season with last weekend's Southerns at Foynes, and overall winner Headcase (4547) narrowly getting the best of it. Photo: Foynes YCThe J24s start their 2021 Irish season with last weekend's Southerns at Foynes, and overall winner Headcase (4547) narrowly getting the best of it. Photo: Foynes YC

Thus when we suggested to Cillian Dickson - helm of the winning boat Headcase with all-Ireland crew of Ryan Glynn, Louis Mulloy and Sam O'Byrne - that they might have been over-celebrating on Saturday night with a scorecard of straight wins all through Saturday as against a couple of seconds on Sunday, he earnestly demurred, assuring us that the opposition was just a little bit less rusty on Sunday, and he expects them to be competition-honed by the Nationals in Sligo on August 6th-8th.

Truly, today's young sailors are a very serious lot. Time was when the Enterprise dinghy was all the rage throughout Ireland, and it was a fact of life in the class that the Saturday night leaders in any two-day regional championship simply wouldn't figure in Sunday's racing, so easily would they have been led completely astray by their attentive classmates in celebrating their initial points lead.

At Foynes, everyone rallies round to support the race team. Photo: FYCAt Foynes, everyone rallies round to support the race team. Photo: FYC

Published in W M Nixon

Although the 123-year-old Howth 17s are scheduled to start their fully-sanctioned club programme of weekly racing tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, five of the class’s most dedicated aficionados reckoned that the lifting of limitations - which had permitted only Training Races until today - was a pandemic-recovery milestone that should not go unmarked. So despite the fact that most reasonable folk reckon a Bank Holiday Monday morning merits a lie-in, at 1030hrs Race Officer Davy Jones had everything in place to set the starting sequence in motion at the HYC Starting Hut on Howth’s East Pier, and what is almost certainly the very first "real and official" race of Sailing Season 2021 anywhere in the Republic of Ireland got underway in a very pleasant and gently building south-east breeze.

Very properly, the winner was Ian Malcolm in the 1898-built Aura, a popular victory for someone who has done much to keep this ancient class in top competitive condition. And second was the Massey-Toomey syndicate’s 1907-vintage Deilginis, another boat whose owners have played a key role in the class’s continuing good health, which will see 20 boats afloat at full strength.

The First of the First - Ian & Judith Malcolm’s Aura winning the very first race of the 2021 season this (Monday) morning with an effective demonstration that optimum downwind performance in a light breeze is achieved by making sure the boat is trimmed by the head. Photo: David Jones   The First of the First - Ian & Judith Malcolm’s Aura winning the very first race of the 2021 season this (Monday) morning with an effective demonstration that optimum downwind performance in a light breeze is achieved by making sure the boat is trimmed by the head. Photo: David Jones  

Father of the Class - Nick Massey on the restored Deilginis, with which he has been involved for fifty years. When he first took over ownership in 1971, she was hidden in a yard in Dolphin’s Barn in Dublin, and covered in tar. Photo: Ian MalcolmFather of the Class - Nick Massey on the restored Deilginis, with which he has been involved for fifty years. When he first took over ownership in 1971, she was hidden in a yard in Dolphin’s Barn in Dublin, and covered in tar. Photo: Ian Malcolm

Published in Howth 17
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In times of stress like this, there is nowhere more soothing than a well-organised but not unduly fussy timber workshop where each day's harmonious effort shows a tangible result. And of all such workshops, there's nowhere so healthily absorbing – both mentally and physically - than a place where they build wooden boats. For not only is something of beauty being created in time-honoured style in a material for which we feel an instinctive affinity, but at the end of it all you have a work of practical art in which it is possible to sail away, and for a little while at least, escape the tedious everyday concerns of shore life.

That said, it is a fact that in Ireland the best of our classic classes continue to thrive, and have new boats built, not only because the owners are enthusiastic appreciators of ancient style, but because the boats provide excellent one-design racing. The importance of good and demonstrably fair sport should never be under-estimated, and thus at various stages of the building, the normal mood of calm creation is interrupted by the scheduled visit of the class measurer.

Happily, things are now at such a steady throughput of production that the Visit Of The Measurer is a social occasion of ceremony and well-formatted routine rather than a nightmare, as the secret is to have the measurer involved from a very early stage, which is easily achieved in a country the size of Ireland. 

the sweet interior of a new-built classic wooden hull at its best with Shindilla in AthloneJust inhale gently but steadily – the sweet interior of a new-built classic wooden hull at its best with Shindilla in Athlone. Photo: Cathy Mac Aleavey

Thus there are several timber boatbuilding or restoration projects underway at the moment, and while there are some we'll be looking at in due course, today it is intriguing to draw comparisons between jobs under way in Athlone, Howth and Kilrush.

Along the Shannon above Athlone, we recently lost one of Ireland's greatest-ever boatbuilders with the death at the age of 94 of Jimmy Furey of Mount Plunkett near Leecarrow in Roscommon. Busy to the end, in his later days he worked with several boatbuilding development projects with former Olympic sailor and round Ireland record-holder Cathy Mac Aleavey, together with another of those seemingly born-to-it boatbuilders who emerge in the Athlone region, Dougal McMahon.

Working with Jimmy, a project had been coming along to build a replacement for the well-worn Dublin Bay Water Wag Shindilla, a 1932 veteran originally built for Ninian Falkiner who was later a noted offshore cruiser and Commodore of the Royal Irish YC, while Shindilla stayed within the extended family as his daughter married into the Collen family, and it is the Collens who have ensured that Shindilla lives anew. The work has been completed in a shed provided by Dougal's father in Athlone, who may have been an engineering bridge-builder by profession, but he's no slouch at the wooden boatbuilding himself.

The 1963 Tyrrell-built Harklow is Dougal McMahon's current restoration projectThe 1963 Tyrrell-built Harklow is Dougal McMahon's current restoration project

With Shindilla completed, Dougal, is spending the rest of the winter on a restoration job in a bigger shed in Portumna on the classic Shannon cruiser Harklow, originally built by Jack Tyrrell of Arklow for sailing legend Douglas Heard (he won the first Helmsman's Championship in 1946) and now owned by Half Ton Racing ace Johnny Swann.

HOWTH 17 BUILDING

Johnny grew up in Howth, and just round the corner from his family home, recently-retired airline captain Gerry Comerford is building what looks like being the strongest Howth 17 ever constructed, the completely new Anna, which is named for his mother. With laminated backbone and frames, and king-size stainless steel floors make up by a steel-working genius in Clontarf, you might well be concerned that Anna will come out over-weight, but this doesn't seem to be a bother among Howth 17 folk.

The latest Howth 17 Anna is currently under construction by owner Gerry Comerford at his home in HowthThe latest Howth 17 Anna is currently under construction by owner Gerry Comerford at his home in Howth

For they well remember that many years ago when all the local cruisers had to be weighed to comply with Channel Handicap Measurement requirements, the Howth 17s got hold of the load cell for a day or two to weigh their own boats at launching time. They found that despite the mostly very old boats being only 22ft 6ns LOA (they go back to 1898), there was a half-ton range in their measured weights. Yet, to everyone's surprise, it was the class's most renowned light airs flyer which was the heaviest boat of all…

Howth 17 measurer Rupert Jeffares with new owner-builder Gerry Comerford and AnnaSinging from the same hymn sheet – Howth 17 measurer Rupert Jeffares with new owner-builder Gerry Comerford and Anna. Photo: Ian Malcolm

Regardless of weight, Anna will certainly have the correct dimensions, as class measurer Ruper Jeffares – for many years the Executive Secretary of Howth Yacht Club – lives close, just down the hill, and dropping by Gerry's house to see how Anna is coming along is always of interest, for in their long existence, only two other Howth 17s have ever actually been built in Howth, and that was way back in 1988.

Howth 17 Anna was going to be built extra-strongAt an early stage, it was abundantly evident that Anna was going to be built extra-strong. Photo: Ian Malcolm 

Thus although the building of Anna has been going on for four years, now that Gerry has retired from the day job he'd better get a move on. For as soon as the lockdown eases, current Howth 17 National Champion Shane O'Doherty (he won it in August with the 1900-vintage Pauline) will resume his popular guided Hill of Howth Hiking Tours, and "Traditional Boat-building with Gerry and Anna" could easily become a must-see stopover on the way over the hill, but a formidable distraction from Work in Progress….

DUBLIN BAY 21s BORN AGAIN IN KILRUSH

Meanwhile, across country in Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary, Steve Morris and his team - having launched the newly-built electrified Galway Bay gleoiteog Naomh Fanchea last week – have now returned to full focus on the latest pair of re-born Dublin Bay 21s, Maureen and Estelle, for the DB21 project by Hal Sisk and Fionan de Barra.

With boatbuilders of the enormous experience of Steve himself, together with Dan Mill and James Madigan (who is of Kilrush, but was much involved with the Ilen project in Limerick) the actual building has an educational element, and apprentice Kate Griffiths was working and learning today (Tuesday) with Dan on Maureen, battening off the new hull prior to laminating the light timbers (two per bay) between the main frames, while nearby James was fairing out Estelle's new deck, which is of laminated Douglas fir beams and carlins.

The 1903 Dublin Bay 21 Maureen continues to re-emerge in Kilrush with apprentice boatbuilder Kate Griffiths (behind boat) and master shipwright Dan MillThe 1903 Dublin Bay 21 Maureen continues to re-emerge in Kilrush with apprentice boatbuilder Kate Griffiths (behind boat) and master shipwright Dan Mill. Photo: Steve Morris

For sure, there are modern epoxies and other chemicals involved in this form of boatbuilding, just as there is with Anna across in Howth and also – though to a very much lesser extent - with Shindilla in Athlone. But nevertheless, in all cases, the abiding impression of the dominant material in use is wood, glorious wood. 

James Madigan at work n the new deck on the DB21 EstelleJames Madigan at work n the new deck on the DB21 Estelle. Photo: Steve Morris

Published in Historic Boats

The Olympic sailing dream is of competition on a sterile racing area with weak to non-existent tides, well clear of any special wind effects that a nearby coastline and an island or two might provide, while of course using a meticulously-set Committee Boat start line and a cleverly-designed course to test several points of sailing. That's the way they want it. Yet if that's their dream - their perfect ideal - then Howth Yacht Club's traditional sixteen nautical miles of Lambay Race must be Olympic sailing's stuff of nightmares.

The original Lambay Course – raced at least since 1904, and probably earlier - was simply though Howth Sound inside Ireland's Eye after a pier start from Howth Harbour, then nor' eastwards to the east point of Lambay. Officially, it's The Nose, but few remember to call it that, they just call it the East Point, as we've a Nose of Howth already, and that's quite enough to smell the coffee on any one day.

The classic Lambay course can serve up all sorts of conditionsSixteen miles of sailing perfection – the classic Lambay course can serve up all sorts of conditions, but on Saturday it provided record times

The north side of Lambay seems like the Far Side of the Moon for most sailors, even those from Howth which is only seven miles away. And as you head west to double the island, there are various impairments to ease of navigation, such as Carrickdorish Rock and Harp Ear.

These are matters of even more concentration if you're beating against a westerly. But concentrating purely on sailing along there is difficult anyway, as Lambay is a natural wonder where the abundant wildlife - some of it on surprisingly spectacular cliffs - is augmented by a troupe of wallabies (don't ask), and Ireland's only colony of black rats, a cute little fellow who nevertheless would make life difficult for your average gannet settlement.

Getting going for record times – Leila and Zaida (Tom Houlihan) with freed sheets, on course with a fair tide with Ireland's Eye put asternGetting going for record times – Leila and Zaida (Tom Houlihan) with freed sheets, on course with a fair tide with Ireland's Eye put astern. Photo: Annroi Blaney

However, the Fingal gannet seems a tougher proposition than those from elsewhere. Having established his first neighbourhood colony on the Stack at Ireland's Eye back in 1989, when that got crowded his descendants and relatives not only started spreading onto the main island itself regardless of its predators, but they set up an offshoot on a big rock close under the cliffs on the other side of Lambay six miles to the north.

That has prospered so much that they appear to have bludgeoned their way onto Lambay itself through being the Neighbours from Hell for poor little rattus rattus, who is now on the endangered species list. As for the wallabies, they can't be too pleased, as they used to top the Lambay attractions chart until these rock-star gannets came along.

Brian Maguire of Hyberno Droneworks follows the fleet.

All these interesting things are going on along the Far Side of the Moon, aka the north side of Lambay, making it difficult to think only of sailing - let alone racing tactics - in a locality notorious for its flukey winds and tricky tides. As a result, when the Lambay Race is on the agenda, the Howth sailing community is a bit thin on the community spirit, as the Single-minded Racing Purists think it's a very dodgy proposition in the first place, whereas the Broad-minded Historically-Concerned Philosophers think it's central to the very ethos of Howth sailing, an event which must be sailed in its traditional form each year as an Act of Worship .

Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) was first to LambayRita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) was first to Lambay, but was halfway down the fleet in the final reckoning. Photo: W M Nixon

With such contrary opinions, the Lambay Race race has sometimes been messed about over the years, with extra marks being added to make it look more like a modern course. But in the difficulties of our current situation, the 1898-founded Howth Seventeens saw an opportunity. They wanted to celebrate getting a dozen boats of their ancient 20-strong fleet finally afloat despite 2020's truncations, and the best way seemed to be a race the traditional straightforward 16-mile Lambay Course on Saturday 5th September, as the tides suited – flood going north and favourable ebb coming back - and they could do it as their own thing, without trying to make an all-comers regatta out of it. 

Gladys, owned by HYC Commodore Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris, finds a bright spot on the north side of LambayThe dark side? Gladys, owned by HYC Commodore Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris, finds a bright spot on the north side of Lambay. Photo: W M Nixon

It made for a busy day at Howth in the day's brisk westerly, as a race of the Fingal Series for cruiser-racers went off around 1000 hrs, the Howth 17s buzzed northwards towards Lambay – just able to carry their topsails – in a starting sequence beginning at 1130 hrs, and then towards 1430 hrs as the Puppeteer 22s and the Squibs were squaring up for their weekly Saturday afternoon race, didn't the Howth 17s come roaring back down the Sound again with the full ebb under them after probably the fastest Lambay Race the class has ever recorded.

Yet far from being left on their own to get on with it, in this most peculiar sailing season they'd had an escort fleet dominated by the local flotilla of dark blue Seaward 23s and 25s carrying various photographers and a film team from TG4. For the word had got out that in this bleak year, a dozen Seventeens racing round Lambay would be a sight to cheer anyone up. And it was vintage stuff throughout, with real power to the dense-air wind at times, and flashes of vivid sunlight interspersed with curiously rain-free passing clouds, one or two so black they had the look of The End of Days about them.

Close encounter. Rosemary (12) and Pauline in classic juxtaposition at the Taylor's Rocks buoy. Close encounter. Rosemary (12) and Pauline in classic juxtaposition at the Taylor's Rocks buoy. In March 2018, Rosemary had become the "flatpack boat" after her shed was smashed in during Storm Emma, while Pauline was almost lost in a fire. Yet in 2020 they're both fighting fit again, with Pauline winning the close-fought 2020 Nationals. Photo: W M Nixon

But for connoisseurs of Howth Seventeen sailing and the wonders of the Fingal coast, it was pure magic throughout. After an extremely fast and wet reach northward, appropriately it was the granny of them all, Howth 17 No 1 Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) which was first at Lambay. But the wind flattened almost completely at the Nose such that the eight leading boat concertinaed into a straight line abreast, and first out of the traps in a private breeze which took them very close to Carrickdorish were the Massey/Toomey/Kenny syndicate in Deilginis with Keith Kenny on the helm, and Dave Mulligan with Sheila.

Deilginis has taken the lead, and found her own flash of sunshine with it The going is good. Deilginis has taken the lead, and found her own flash of sunshine with it. Photo: W M Nixon

Thereafter, Deilginis played it very cool on the short but position-setting beat along the north coast on Lambay, not getting too far offshore where there was a boat-stopping sea running and the tides were all over the place, yet not getting too far into the alluringly smooth water inshore, where the wind might suddenly disappear completely.

They were first to reach the most northerly turn at the buoy marking Taylor's Rocks off Lambay's northwest corner, and had quite a decent gap on Sheila. But Dave Mulligan had to put in a virtuoso performance on the long reach back to Howth, as the pack were right on his tail.

Overall, they finished Sheila 2nd, Pauline 3rd and Rosemary 4thThe chasing pack are (left to right) Pauline, Sheila and Rosemary. Overall, they finished Sheila 2nd, Pauline 3rd and Rosemary 4th. Photo: W M Nixon

As it turned out, they were having enough in-fighting to let him build his lead a bit, but there was no way he could make any dent on the gap to the flying Deilginis, which was literally racing against time as her topsail – which had been setting perfectly on port tack heading north – was all over the place on starboard tack heading south, though enough of it stayed working for her crew to claim they'd been deploying a clever topsail-scandalising trick to de-power the sailplan in the stronger gusts.

With Lambay astern and the wind temporarily softening, Deilginis continues to maintain her lead on SheilaWith Lambay astern and the wind temporarily softening, Deilginis continues to maintain her lead on Sheila. Photo: W M Nixon

Whatever, they maintained their lead to finish in two hours 36 minutes and 14 seconds, which may well be a Howth 17 Lambay record. And as they tacked onto port to get into the harbour, lo and behold but wasn't the topsail suddenly setting perfectly again…..Sheila was just over a minute astern, then came 2020 champion Pauline (Shane O'Doherty, Ian McCormick and Michael Kenny) and Rosemary (George Curley, David Jones & David Potter, with the four leaders finishing within two minutes.

On handicap (a very import element in the continuing strength of the class) the winner was Echo (Bryan & Harriet Lynch) from Tom Houlihan's Zaida, with Sheila and Pauline re-appearing in the listings at 3rd and 4th. In a more complete season, it would be hoped that there would seldom be much overlap between scratch and handicap.

Deilginis storming home to win, with Portmarnock's Velvet Strand and the Pormarnock Hotel in the backgroundDeilginis storming home to win, with Portmarnock's Velvet Strand and the Pormarnock Hotel in the background. When Deilginis was being built by James Kelly of Portrush in 1907, the hotel was St Marnoch's House, home of renowned racing skipper Willie Jameson. Photo: W M Nixon

But in this weird year, the six Howth Seventeens which didn't appear in the top four under either system in the Lambay Race 2020 seemed happy to adopt the attitude of the New England whaling skipper who went clean round the world without so much as seeing a whale, let alone catching one. He said he'd had a helluva fine sail.

Howth 17 Lambay Race 2020 results (scratch)

1st Deilginis (Massey, Toomey & Kenny) 2:36:14; 2nd Sheila D.Mulligan) 2:37:18; 3rd Pauline (S.O'Doherty, I. McCormick & M Kenny) 2:37:44; 4th Rosemary (G.Curley, D.Jones & D Potter) 2:38:10. 

Handicap 

1st Echo (B. & H. Lynch 2:25:31; 2nd Zaida (T.Houlihan) 2:26:17; 3rd Sheila 2.37:18; 4th Pauline 2:37:44.

There were as many support boats as racers when the Howth 17s went round LambayWith sailing so restricted in 2020, every event attracted extra attention, and there were as many support boats as racers when the Howth 17s went round Lambay. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Howth 17

The Howth 17 Nationals 2020 saw five good races sailed – a pier starter on Friday evening, and four committee boat open water races on Saturday – with the sunny nor’east wind holding up enough for the four open water contests to provide some cracking racing, although it never developed into the hearty sea breeze which might have been expected.

But even with the gentler conditions, there was still just enough power for proper closely-contested sport, and the best competitive showing saw everyone in the fleet of eleven across the finish line within three minutes, with some private contests separated by less than five seconds.

Aura (1898, Ian Malcolm), Pauline (1900, Shane O’Doherty & partners), Gladys (1907, Eddie Ferris & Ian Byrne), Orla (2018, sailed by Gerry Comerford) and Deliginis (1907, Massey, Toomey & Kenny)At times the wind looked like it was on its last gasp instead of developing into a decent sea breeze, but always it returned with just enough strength for close racing. Age comparison in close quarters with (left to right) Aura (1898, Ian Malcolm), Pauline (1900, Shane O’Doherty & partners), Gladys (1907, Eddie Ferris & Ian Byrne), Orla (2018, sailed by Gerry Comerford) and Deliginis (1907, Massey, Toomey & Kenny). Photo: Conor Lindsay

Pauline, Rosemary and Sheila, with topsail of Deiliginis beyond Hazy days of summer – Howth may have developed since 1898, but the Seventeens remain resolutely unchanged. Photo shows Pauline, Rosemary and Sheila, with topsail of Deiliginis beyond. Photo: Trish Nixon

Overall winner, with the final race the decider, was Shane O’Doherty sailing the 1900-built Pauline. He’s known to some as The Mountainy Man, as he runs an outfit called Shane’s Howth Hikes, which in normal times (remember them?) takes visitors to the peninsula on quite energetic walking tours (there’s an electric bike option as well) of the Hill of Howth and its more extraordinary features, most of which the locals take for granted or don’t even know about.

Yet even in the busiest visitor times in non-lockdown years, Shane always keep Saturdays free for sailing while a colleague looks after the tours, for he regards racing with the Howth 17s as an essential part of the Howth experience, and it re-invigorates his love of the place.

HYC Commodore Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris with Gladys (14) look to have done well with the pin startHYC Commodore Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris with Gladys (14) look to have done well with the pin start, but others had taken over the lead by the finish. Photo: Trish Nixon

For now, that love is total and unquestioning, as conditions suited the Clancy of Kingstown-built Pauline to perfection for the Championship, and she finished two points clear – after that final race decider - of the defending champion Deilginis (Massey, Toomey, Kenny) of 1907 vintage, with Dave Mulligan’s 21st Century “new” boat Sheila third, and another 1907 boat from Kelly of Portrush, the George Curley, Davy Jones and David Potter-owned Rosemary, notching fourth with a scorecard which included the win in Race 4 and a third in Race 5.

Rosemary (George Curley, Davy Jones & David Potter) wins Race 4 from Sheila (Dave Mulligan)Rosemary (George Curley, Davy Jones & David Potter) wins Race 4 from Sheila (Dave Mulligan). Rosemary looked to be a write-off after Storm Emma’s shoreside damage in March 2018, but ace Fingal boatbuilder Larry Archer worked miracles to bring her back to life. Photo: Trish Nixon

Lambay beyond – as unspoilt as the most remote Hebridean island – while light-wind flyer Rita (No 1, John Curley & Marcus Lynch) tests an ultra-flexible topsail yardLambay beyond – as unspoilt as the most remote Hebridean island – while light-wind flyer Rita (No 1, John Curley & Marcus Lynch) tests an ultra-flexible topsail yard. Rita won the first race, but an uneven performance thereafter kept her out of the frame, and she was fifth overall on scratch. Photo: Conor Lindsay

While the Howth Seventeens may be the world’s oldest one-design keelboat class, particularly when it’s further qualified by still having the original rig and with the added restriction of all the boats being in the one harbour, nevertheless their personnel lineup is encouragingly supra-national and broad-minded in its outlook.

Thus Shane O’Doherty’s partners in the boat are Michael Kenny -who couldn’t be there as he’s based in Warsaw - and Sutton Dinghy Club Commodore Ian McCormick, who was away in West Cork on a Sportsboat campaign. But being The Mountainy Man, the skipper recruited on his hillside with some heather (Wayne Heather to be precise) and some holly (his daughter Holly O’Doherty). With Brendan O’Brien on the strength to add a surname of unimpeachable Irish sailing distinction, it was all systems go for success for Pauline, with the skipper revealing further insight at the outdoor prize-giving, as his T-shirt told us “Harbours rot ships and men”.

winning skipper Shane O’Doherty (left) with crew Wayne Heather, Holly O’Doherty and Brendan O’BrienThe Mountainy Man and his heather and holly……winning skipper Shane O’Doherty (left) with crew Wayne Heather, Holly O’Doherty and Brendan O’Brien. Photo Howth 17 class
One of the secrets of the Howth Seventeens’ longevity is their determined application of a parallel handicap system to ensure that other boats emerge out of the cannon fodder division to get their place in the sun. It was very well demonstrated this time round as the winner was another Clancy 1900 boat, Anita owned by David O’Connell (Phibsborough) in partnership with helm Muige Karasahin (she’s from Istanbul), with crewing by Elizabeth Jakobson (from Latvia) and Susan Morgan (Sutton).

Anita – re-built by Paul Robert and his team at Les Ateliers de l’Enfer in Douarnenez in Brittany in 2019 after being destroyed by Storm Emma in Howth in March 2018 – was certainly finding her feet as the series progressed, and logged a scratch second in the last race. But even with that, she was sixth overall on scratch in the final tally, yet that became a clear win with the handicaps in an interesting case of sailing for Byzantium within sight of a house where the family of W B Yeats lived for two years in the early 1880s.

Anita (D. O’Connell & M Karasahin) was overall winner of the handicap divisionSailing for Byzantium…..with Muige Karasahin of Istanbul on the helm, Anita (D. O’Connell & M Karasahin) was overall winner of the handicap division. Virtually a total loss after Storm Emma in March 2018, Anita was re-built by Paul Robert’s Les Atelier de l’Enfer (The Workshops of Hell) in Douarnenez in Brittany Photo: Conor Lindsay
The clear division between scratch and handicap continued down the listing, with Tom Houlihan’s Zaida taking second, though there was then an element of overlap as Rosemary (fourth on scratch) was handicap third while scratch winner Pauline was fourth, the double results give everyone at least one good race.

As for sailing enjoyment in a summer when travel is restricted, the weather was such that you could find whatever you wanted off Howth, as the view to the east was of Irelands Eye which looks like a piece of Connemara transferred to the Irish Sea, to the north Lambay would not look amiss in the Hebrides, to the west the dunes of Portmarnock are reminiscent of the Vendee, and to the south with a fore-shortened lens against the strong sunshine, you could be looking at the French Riviera as the narrowed eyes take in the flank of the Hill of Howth and the Wicklow Mountains beyond.

 
Howth 17s Nationals 2020 (Scratch) Results

1st Pauline (S. O’Doherty, I. McCormick & M. Kenny): (4),3,1,3,1: 8pts; 2nd Deilginis (Massey family, M.Toomey, K, Kenny) 3,1,2,4, (5): 10 pts; 3rd Sheila (D.Mulligan) 2,(7),4,2,6: 14pts; 4th Rosemary (G, Curley, D. Jones, D.Potter) 16pts.

Howth 17 Handicap

1st Anita (D. O’Connell & M. Karasahin), (2), 1,1,1,1: 4 pts; 2nd Zaida (T. Houlihan) 1,2,2,2, (3) 7 pts; 2rd Rosemary (Curley, Jones, Potter) (3), 3,3,3,2: 11 pts; 4th Pauline (O’Doherty, McCormick, Kenny) (7), 6,4,5,4.

Hill of Howth  and sailing Who needs to go away on holiday when the view southward, from the race area past the Hill of Howth and on towards the Sugarloaf in the Wicklow Mountains, could pass as the French Riviera? Photo: Conor Lindsay

Published in Howth 17

The Howth 17s have been racing in their “little piece of Connemara that’s somehow in Leinster” for 122 years. And when some years ago they decided to make their annual championship into something special, they re-titled it the Howth 17 Worlds. But within the powers-that-be - where a certain lack of light-heartedness is the default mode - it was decreed that they mustn’t do that again. So the following year the Howth 17 Galactic Championship was staged….

Thus for some years now a sort of truce seems have existed over the class’s determination to call its annual major the National Championship, and 2020's comes up this weekend, with the 1907-built Deilginis (Massey, Toomey & Kenny partnership) defending the title.

Howth 17 Deilginis (Massey, Toomey & Kenny partnership)The defending champions. The syndicate on Deilginis ensure maximum speed through total concentration, and the use of liquid adjustable ballast when needed

And for those who would claim to find some oddity in a one-harbour class having a Nationals, the Seventeen sailors will magisterially point out that not all the participating crews live in the village.

On the contrary, some of them reputedly come from the bandit country on the other side of the Hill of Howth at Sutton, while there are even a few from nearby Ireland in the trackless wilds to the west beyond the peninsula’s isthmus frontier. And unbelievably, the class’s racing is so good that it draws in one or two aliens from south of the Liffey.

With the word from the west in Connacht being something along the lines that all those who would normally go to Mallorca have descended on Roundstone, the shy creatures who sail Seventeens have put all thoughts of the crowded Atlantic seaboard out of their heads, and they’re focusing on racing in home waters which suddenly seem the most exotic in Ireland.

HYC Ian Byrne with a Howth 17 It goes with the territory….while Howth YC Commodores are permitted to sail in other boat types, they’re expected to have more than a passing acquaintance with the soul of the club through the Howth 17s. Current Commodore Ian Byrne, though best-known as the owner of the Sunfast 32 Sunburn, solves the problem through part-ownership of the Seventeen footer Gladys, which he regularly races and is seen here shining with the Commodore at her launching

Admittedly in current circumstances not all the boats have yet been put afloat, but they’ll muster a dozen or so for the big one, with a user-friendly programme of a first race in Friday night (August 7th), then it’s hard going on Saturday with four races scheduled, while Sunday morning is kept in reserve in case there’s any slippage. But the tradition is that it’s done and dusted by Saturday night, upon which everyone springs to the mainbrace, and great is the splicing thereof (within socially-distant compliance, of course).

Orla was built in 2018 in France using a boatbuilding school scheme. Owned by Ian Malcolm, she is currently raced by Gerry ComerfordOrla was built in 2018 in France using a boatbuilding school scheme. Owned by Ian Malcolm, she is currently raced by Gerry Comerford as he works on completing his own new Howth 17 in his personal Men’s Shed beside his house.

While Deilginis has been showing her traditional speed, Gerry Comerford in the Ian Malcolm-owned new boat Orla has had a much-celebrated win, while Ian Malcolm himself has found new speed in his 1898-built Aura.

The word is it’s all down to a change of topside colour. During what seemed like many decades (it was actually forty years), Ian perfected an attractive pale cream finish for his topsides, and black anti-fouling below. For those who asked, the answer was that this was the colour scheme of a pint of Guinness.

Yet everyone knows that the essence of Guinness is that it should be a slow procedure, and there were definitely times when Aura’s performance reflected this.

But last year, with things a bit hectic at launching time, Aura’s owner grabbed the nearest tin of topside enamel in his rather wonderful worshop/boatshed, and Aura emerged with topsides of a sort of orange colour, and it was immediately obvious she was faster.

Howth 17 Aura The secret ingredient. It’s reckoned Aura’s new speed in 2020 is due to a change of livery to this “go-fast blue” after forty years of “slow-is-best” Guinness colours.

So this year she has a new colour yet again, a rather stylish shade which has already been dubbed “go fast blue” by the rest of the class, as Aura has been in the frame many times, quite often with the bullet, in this truncated season.

Whether go-fast-blue works in a National Championship remains to be seen. But when you’ve managed to transpose a real sense of Connemara to Howth for the hollyers - rather than drag yourself there through thickening crowds - then all things are possible.

Published in Howth 17
Tagged under

After Storm Emma wrought extensive destruction through the seven Howth Seventeens stored in their much-damaged shed on Howth’s East Pier at the beginning of March 2018, it was feared that several of the boats – which since 1898 have been the very heart of Howth sailing – would be written off writes W M Nixon.
But in the end only one – David O’Connell’s Anita built in 1900 by James Clancy of Dun Laoghaire – was assessed as needing a complete re-build.

anita 2018 march2Definitely a re-build…….Anita as she was on 5th March 2018. Photo: W M Nixon

Anita is a very special Seventeen - for very many years from 1965 onwards she was the personal boat of the late Brendan Cassidy, the long-time Honorary Secretary of HYC. So the Howth Seventeen Association set about making resources available for her re-build, and the class’s action man Ian Malcolm negotiated a deal in France through the Government boat-building school scheme, whereby the customer has only to cover the cost of the materials, while the school provides the premises and the trainee labour under the direction of qualified instructors.

The boat-building schools like to test their pupils and staff through building a variety of boats. So although Skol ar Mor near the Morbihan has already built the new Howth 17 Orla, for Anita’s re-birth the Howth 17 Association went to Paul Robert’s Les Ateliers d’Enfer in Douarnenez in Brittany.

anita rebuild3 The re-born Anita taking shape in January 2019. Photo Ian Malcolm

Howth 17 AnitaSecond life. The re-born Anita emerges from the Workshops of Hell. Photo: Paul Robert
It is called the “Workshops of Hell” through its location in the midst of what was formerly the fish-smoking area of this ancient fishing port, where for centuries at least 25 massively malodourous smokeries used to make the place seem truly hellish. But today the boat-building school is a little piece of heaven, and when the re-born Anita emerged this week to spend a symbolic day afloat in the bay, she was clearly a divine bit of work.

The re-born Anita is to return to Howth via road trailing and ferry, and all being well she’ll be back in her home port by Saturday evening.

anita rebuild team5Anita would originally have been built by two men and a boy (at most) in 1900, but in 2019 it took this team of apprentices (Ian Malcolm on left) to do the job. Photo: Judith Malcolm

Published in Howth 17
Tagged under

It’s only two months since Storm Emma swept Ireland, with Force 12 Easterlies spreading havoc and blizzards and rumours and tall tales of total disaster along the East Coast writes W M Nixon. One such tall tale which began circulating almost immediately was that the 20-strong 1898-founded Howth 17 class had lost all of the seven boats which had been laid up for the winter in the time-honoured fashion in the Long Shed down at the end of the sea-swept East Pier.

The shed’s roof had been stove in by enormous breakers, and many of the first reports talked of “matchwood” within. But once the storm had moved on and some cooler investigation became possible, the word was more hopeful. Nevertheless it was soon clear that a real community effort would be needed to extract the boats – or the remains of boats - as soon as possible, as there was danger of more damage being inflicted by the next lot of bad weather, with the building expected to collapse even further.

howth rosemary2It didn’t look good – Rosemary as she was on March 1st

howth rosemary3With willing helpers, Rosemary is already looking saveable on March 3rd……Photo: W M Nixon

howth rosemary4…..and is carefully extracted from the remains of the shed, with her flattened after-deck much in evidence. Photo: W M Nixon

The volunteers assembled the way they do when the chips are down, and in one very long but well worthwhile day’s work, the boats were extracted and gathered safely in the Howth YC compound. There, a realistic assessment could begin by Larry Archer, the multi-talented boatbuilder who is one of the many specialists who are prepared to bring an extra level of dedication to this very special old class whose owners vary enormously in every way, including their availability of resources.

boats assembled hyc5A good day’s work. The six survivors of the Long Shed collapse looking remarkably well at Howth YC, but repairs – some very extensive - were needed in every case. Photo: W M Nixon

He was able to confirm that by some miracle, five boats had suffered relatively superficial - or at least quickly repairable –damage. Of the other two, Anita (Number 6, built 1900) would be a write-off were she not a classic, and therefore is a re-build proposition using her original keel. And as for Rosemary (Number 12, built 1907), last seen apparently flattened under another boat and bits of roof - she was in fact eminently restorable, but it would take until mid-summer to finish a proper job on her, after he’d done the smaller jobs on the other boats.

rosemary from ahead6Once she was in Larry Archer’s shed, Rosemary’s badly-damaged deck could be removed………..Photo: Davy Jones

Like everyone else, the Howth 17s have been slowed back by the longest winter anyone can ever remember, but their first scheduled race of the year on Tuesday April 24th saw boats come to the line. Then last Saturday afternoon (April 28th) they had topsails appearing for the first time in 2018 (they aren’t used in evening races), and with six boats racing, Ian Malcolm with the 1898-built Aura led the way to signal the class’s continuing recovery. But perhaps more importantly, in second place was the 1988-built Erica, one of the “Long Shed Survivors”, sailed by Shay Gilna.

Meanwhile, the images from Larry Archer’s shed in the depths of Fingal show how the 111-year-old Rosemary is going through her time in intensive care. The big stages of the restoration can seem to happen quite quickly, but it is the proper finishing, including the installation of new floors, and the re-building of the deck, which will take time.

larry working7a…..and Larry could get a clear idea of everything that was required. Photo: Davy Jones

original deck7 The forward timbers of the original deck may be re-used…..Photo: Davy Jone

new floors8….but down aft, the laminating-in of new floors is essential for restoring Rosemary to full strength. Photo: Trish Nixon

But as of yesterday, the vitally important newly-laminated floors were being installed to put the backbone back in the old girl, and all being well, owners George Curley and Davy Jones (they’ve been in partnership for 45 years) will be there competing with Rosemary in the Howth 17 “Worlds” in August.

Published in Howth 17
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boot Düsseldorf, the International Boat Show

With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. Around 2,000 exhibitors present their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

boot Düsseldorf FAQs

boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair. Seventeen exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology.

The Fairground Düsseldorf. This massive Dusseldorf Exhibition Centre is strategically located between the River Rhine and the airport. It's about 20 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the city centre.

250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair.

The 2018 show was the golden jubilee of the show, so 2021 will be the 51st show.

Every year in January. In 2021 it will be 23-31 January.

Messe Düsseldorf GmbH Messeplatz 40474 Düsseldorf Tel: +49 211 4560-01 Fax: +49 211 4560-668

The Irish marine trade has witnessed increasing numbers of Irish attendees at boot over the last few years as the 17-Hall show becomes more and more dominant in the European market and direct flights from Dublin offer the possibility of day trips to the river Rhine venue.

Boats & Yachts Engines, Engine parts Yacht Equipment Watersports Services Canoes, Kayaks, Rowing Waterski, Wakeboard, Kneeboard & Skimboard Jetski + Equipment & Services Diving, Surfing, Windsurfing, Kite Surfing & SUP Angling Maritime Art & Crafts Marinas & Watersports Infrastructure Beach Resorts Organisations, Authorities & Clubs

Over 1000 boats are on display.

©Afloat 2020

At A Glance – Boot Dusseldorf 

Organiser
Messe Düsseldorf GmbH
Messeplatz
40474 Düsseldorf
Tel: +49 211 4560-01
Fax: +49 211 4560-668
Web: https://www.boot.com/

The first boats and yachts will once again be arriving in December via the Rhine.

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