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Howth Yacht Club’s Junior Organiser Sara Lacy has been working through a highly productive eighteen months of research and implementation since being appointed to the post on her election to the General Committee in December 2016 writes W M Nixon. Several strands of development are successfully being brought on stream to provide a major increase in the number of junior trainees benefitting from the club’s many facilities and availability of training craft.

The HYC Junior Organiser came to boats in Dun Laoghaire as learner sailor Sara Kenny, but crossed Dublin Bay on marrying into the long-established Howth sailing dynasty of the Lacy family. She and husband William have three children - two girls aged 13 and 15, and a boy of 17 - and that, combined with a high-powered background as a fine art valuer and auctioneer, gives her the ideal skills set to provide the initiative which has got Howth junior sailing moving again.

sara lacy2HYC’s Junior Organiser Sara Lacy, helming the family’s cruiser in Galicia

This initiative has seen the club’s Junior Training Programme becoming much more user–friendly and responsive to the needs of beginners and their parents alike. In tandem with it, HYC Commodore Joe McPeake inaugurated the Quest Howth project, a sailing school run by Jeannie McCarthy. It’s based within the club premises, yet is open to all. The variety of courses and summer sailing camps which Quest provides is visionary in its scope, and during this past month has included programmes on Learning to Sail in several languages, notably German, Spanish, French and Irish.

"Several strands of development are successfully being brought on stream to provide a major increase in the number of junior trainees"

howth j80 quest3The new STEM initiative has given the use of the Howth J/80s as floating classrooms an entirely new meaning. Photo: Quest Howth

The junior-orientated buzz of activity around the club has been further increased in recent weeks with the introduction by Sara Lacy and Sarah Robertson of a pilot scheme of the STEM learning programme for three local schools. STEM is based on the practical learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. These may seem ordinary and everyday subjects in a classroom setting, but in a boat and sailing-related programme as being developed by Sarah Robertson’s Hands-On Learning project, they take on a lively and absorbing new meaning.

plane sailing4Mystery photo…..it could be a demonstration that plane sailing is not plain sailing in the STEM course in Howth. Photo: Sara Lacy

Sarah Robertson was originally Sarah Lovegrove, the daughter of noted sailing administrator and active participant David Lovegrove, and she learned her own sailing in Howth. But with international sailing and training experience since gained at several major training centres, she finds that her own home port is providing the perfect demographic and topographical setup to develop the Hands-On Learning practical experience with sufficient detail, research and feedback to envisage developing it at a countrywide level.

learn to sail children“Purchasing power” may mean one thing in today’s consumer world, but when lifting loads with different combinations of pulleys in the STEM course, it means something else altogether. Photo: Sara Lacy

While boats and equipment are of course essential to the development of this impressive initiative, Sarah Lacy and her team are giving the multi-directional expansion of Howth’s junior sailing the essential human touch, and her summary of their experience in recent weeks tells us much about why, for this season, it looks very much as though the young people going happily through the Howth YC Junior Training Programme in all its various aspects will have seen total numbers trebled or even quadrupled over 2017’s figure, with the STEM scheme on its own drawing in 156 eager learners this week.

Quest j80 howth6The ultimate ambition – a new group of young people introduced to the full possibilities of sailing through Howth’s J/80s. Photo: Quest Howth

In her summary of STEM’s working last week, Sarah Lacy captures the mood and flavour of a fascinating project:

“We invited three Nationals Schools from the Howth Peninsula - Scoil Mhuire, St Fintans NS and The Burrow - to participate in the STEM scheme, wherein all we had 152 children in groups of 30 at HYC through last week. The children attending were in 5th class - roughly age 11. Each school provided volunteers, teachers and parents to assist on the day, and experienced Club members such as Scorie Walls, Terry Harvey, Gerry Sargent, Lara Jameson, Holly Quinn, William Lacy Jnr, and Helen Brosnan all manned their stations to teach the children in the very enjoyable ‘hands-on learning’ method.

Many topics were covered in a practical variety of ways with ecology being a subject of special interest, while you could almost hear the penny drop on the realisation of the how the tides work quietly yet inevitably on seeing the marking on the pylon as they passed it a number of times during the day, putting another marker to show the rise, and noting the time.”

hyc j80 kids7As the summer progresses and the sea warms up, practical demonstrations take on a new direction. Photo Quest Howth.

As the courses get underway punctually at 9.00am each morning, following lunch the afternoon is then clear to transfer the teaching and learning afloat to Quest Howth with Jeannie McCarthy and the HYC J/80s. The fresh set of experiences this provides is brought promptly to a conclusion at 4.0pm with a diverse group of happy people enlightened and exhilarated by a day of very special learning, an introduction to sailing which is so neatly geared to consumer needs that it gives real hope for lasting success and an enduring increase in sailing numbers.

Published in Howth YC

Sailors for the Sea, the international “Green Boating” support organisation, has awarded Howth Yacht Club’s very successful Wave Regatta 2018 – staged from June 1st to 3rd – their Gold Certificate in enthusiastic recognition of the special efforts made by the Organising Committee to encourage recognition of environmental needs and awareness in every possible way before, during and since the event.

It is rare for a complex event on this scale to receive the top award. But Sailors for the Sea were particularly impressed by the way the Brian Turvey-chaired main Committee and the various sub-committees worked in their different and sometimes potentially conflicting areas towards the shared goal.

Sailors for the Sea highlight a wide variety of initiatives large and small undertaken in Howth which significantly contributed to the greater good - everything from the installation of bicycle racks through the provision of drinking water dispensers and the use of reusable water containers, paper straws, energy conservation, online forms, recyclable drinks and coffee containers, the promotion of public transport and ferry, implementation of Word Sailing Rule 55, recyclable food containers, and the elimination of all unnecessary plastic.

"the Gold Certificate award to Wave Regatta is a timely reminder that the enormous task of cleansing our world is only beginning"

It is only since the Wave Regatta concluded that the international Turn the Tide on Plastics movement has gained real traction as a tsunami of frightening images from the world’s most polluted areas has hit screens across the planet, and the Gold Certificate award to Wave Regatta is a timely reminder that the enormous task of cleansing our world is only beginning.

Published in Wave Regatta

The host club's Aoife English won the 1720 European Championship crown sailed as part of the Sportsboat Cup at Howth Yacht Club over the weekend.

Raced over nine races with a single discard, English, skipper of Atara, had three individual race wins in the 15–boat fleet to put her two points clear of Robert O'Leary's Dutch Gold from Baltimore Sailing Club.

Third overall was the series day one leader, Royal Irish Yacht Club entry Optique, skippered by Colin Byrne.

Provisional 1720 Euro results issued by the north Dublin club as follows:

1st 1720 2000 Atara A English HYC 1.000 1.0 4.0 6.0 2.0 1.0 4.0 5.0 1.0 (7.0) 31.0 24.0
2nd 1720 184 Dutch Gold R O'Leary BaltimoreSC 1.000 3.0 2.0 3.0 8.0 (9.0) 1.0 6.0 2.0 1.0 35.0 26.0
3rd 1720 1725 Optique C Byrne RIYC 1.000 4.0 1.0 2.0 9.0 (14.0) 9.0 1.0 3.0 4.0 47.0 33.0
4th 1720 1843 Antix A O'Leary RCYC 1.000 5.0 3.0 1.0 5.0 7.0 5.0 2.0 6.0 (10.0) 44.0 34.0
5th 1720 1790 T Bone O'Shea/Durcan RCYC 1.000 7.0 8.0 4.0 1.0 3.0 8.0 (15.0 DNF) 4.0 6.0 56.0 41.0
6th 1720 1722 Smile'n Wave B Cooke RSGYC/BSC 1.000 11.0 6.0 (12.0) 3.0 8.0 2.0 3.0 10.0 3.0 58.0 46.0
7th 1720 1724 efolioaccounts.com T N & P Hegarty BaltimoreSC 1.000 6.0 5.0 (11.0) 4.0 6.0 11.0 10.0 11.0 5.0 69.0 58.0
8th 1720 2888 Elder Lemon R Dix BaltimoreSC 1.000 2.0 10.0 10.0 (11.0) 10.0 7.0 4.0 8.0 11.0 73.0 62.0
9th 1720 179 Dark Side B Twomey RCYC 1.000 8.0 (15.0 DNF) 5.0 14.0 4.0 6.0 11.0 5.0 9.0 77.0 62.0
10th 1720 1770 Luvly Jubbly Brook/Griffith SCYC/PSC 1.000 12.0 12.0 9.0 (13.0) 2.0 3.0 12.0 12.0 2.0 77.0 64.0
11th 1720 2853 Mini-Apple D Love RCYC 1.000 9.0 7.0 14.0 DNF 6.0 5.0 10.0 7.0 13.0 OCS (17.0 DNC) 88.0 71.0
12th 1720 1772 Heroes & Villains G Rhodes HYC 1.000 10.0 9.0 7.0 10.0 13.0 (14.0) 13.0 9.0 12.0 97.0 83.0
13th 1720 1818 Merlin I Cummins RStGYC 1.000 13.0 13.0 (17.0 DNC) 12.0 11.0 12.0 8.0 7.0 8.0 101.0 84.0
14th 1720 1797 After Midnight Baynes Fitzgerald Others GBSC/ICC 1.000 14.0 11.0 8.0 7.0 12.0 13.0 9.0 (17.0 DNC) 17.0 DNC 108.0 91.0
15th 1720 1760 RCYC 1 Royal Cork under -25 team RCYC 1.000 (17.0 DNC) 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 153.0 136.0
15th 1720 1793 Big Bad Wolf David RIYC 1.000 (17.0 DNC) 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 17.0 DNC 153.0 136.0

Published in Howth YC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Howth YC

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Wave Regatta

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Howth YC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Howth YC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Howth YC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Howth YC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in W M Nixon
Page 1 of 35

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