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Environmental awareness and sailing success to top international level were dynamically intertwined at this week’s official presentation of the Mitsubishi Motors “Sailing Club of the Year 2019” award to Howth Yacht Club writes W M Nixon

The announcement that Howth had received the accolade may have been made back in January. But the 40-year story of this unique informal contest sees the vintage Ship’s Wheel trophy traditionally being handed over in the winning club’s premises as the new season gets underway.

In Howth this week, out in the racing area off the harbour, the club’s inshore keelboat classes - the classic 1898-founded Howth 17s, the closely-contested Puppeteer 22s, and the Squibs – were having their first evening race of the season, albeit in rather damp conditions. And within the bright and warm clubhouse, the great and the good had assembled with top Howth-based sailors and members to celebrate HYC’s remarkable level of continuing activity and success.

forecourt image2There isn’t a power source more environmentally-friendly than a sail as represented here by a J/80 and a Howth Seventeen, but the new generation of Mitsubishi PHEVs are leaders in the reduction of emissions. Photo John Deanewheel group3The Ship’s Wheel trophy passes into HYC custodianship with (left to right) Irish Sailing President Jack Roy, Frank Keane (Mitsubishi Motors), W M Nixon (Adjudicating Panel) and Ian Byrne, (Commodore HYC). Photo: Brian Turvey

For of course the “Club of the Year” award is only a marker along any successful club’s steady line of fulfilment as one year follows another. The adjudicators do not seek a surprise flash-in-the-pan year of sudden success. Rather, they look for a continuity of progress and sailing achievement, a readiness to initiate or adopt new programmes and ways of doing things, and a genuine enthusiasm to interact with the community around them, and with regional, national and global sailing in all its many aspects.

The challenges which the leaders of Howth YC’s 1600 members face in helping their sailing community to get the best use of a large marina/clubhouse complex and develop it into sailing success at home and abroad will be obvious. In these competitive times, all sporting bodies need vision, energy and dedication to maintain a healthy existence in a hectic environment where other recreational interests are always clamouring for attention.

conor fogerty4Former Afloat Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty discussed some of his plans for his new foiling Beneteau Figaro 3 at the party in Howth YC this week. Photo: Brian Turvey
But during the past 18 months, HYC members have received the national Sailor of the Year award twice in a row – noted international offshore campaigner Conor Fogerty receiving the honour in February 2018, while in February of this year it went to HYC’s Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove for their Gold Medal in the International 49er U23 Worlds.

dickson waddilove5Current Afloat Sailors of the Year Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove have a busy current programme…
rob sean6…but they still freed up a day or two for a return (back row) to help HYC celebrate becoming “Club of the Year” Photo: Brian Turvey
These supreme prizes have been the peak of achievement in a comprehensive range of success which we reviewed on January 4th 2019 when the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year recognition was announced. But in a successful club, nothing stands still - since then, the pace has been maintained with the top achievers heading a list of winners at all ages, including Optimist International Stars Rocco Wright and Luke Turvey, while just days before this week’s ceremony, siblings Jamie and Eve McMahon of Howth took the top places in the boys and girls divisions in the Laser Radials at the Irish Sailing Youth Nationals in Cork, with the Howth squad also very well represented in the top ten in the Optimists.

luke rocco7The new wave – Luke Turvey and Rocco Wright are two of Howth’s most promising Optimist stars. Photo: Brian Turvey
All this is happening at a time when environmental awareness is rightly moving top of the agenda in sailing as elsewhere, so there was a very effective synergy in that Mitsubishi Motors featured their notably environmentally-friendly Outlander PHEV in the club forecourt in company with a classic Howth 17 and one of the HYC multi-use J/80 flotilla, while during the past year the Club has twice been honoured for its high level of environmental awareness, as evidenced during the highly-successful Wave Regatta last June which received international recognition, and as one of just two winners – the other was the Royal Cork – of Irish Sailing’s Club Environmental Award.

sara william lacy8Rear Commodore Sara Lacy with husband William, a third generation Howth sailor. Photo: John Deane
Running a club of this size with its multiple activities from sailing introduction to high-performance achievement means that being Commodore is virtually a full-time job. But current incumbent Ian Byrne, with international business experience and broad sailing interests which range from cruiser-racer campaigning with his Sunfast 32 Sunburn to involvement in the cut-and-thrust of the Howth 17s, where he is a part owner, is very much the man for the job.

During 2018 as Vice Commodore he was the right-hand man to Commodore Joe McPeake, and by the time he took over the senior position in December, it made for a seamless change, though each Flag Officer with their individual styles and strong personalities had made major individual contributions to the club’s continuing success.

paddy judge jason byrne9HYC Vice Commodore Paddy Judge with Mitsubishi Motors National Sales Manager Jason Byrne. Photo: John Deane
This level of input became clear after Jason Byrne, National Sales Manager of Mitsubishi Motors Ireland, opened proceedings by telling of how pleased as sponsors they were to see the trophy go to a club which so energetically shared their own enthusiasm for environmental concerns. And then after the trophy had been handed over to Commodore Byrne and his fellow Flag Officers, it provided Ian Byrne with an opportunity to outline the multiplicity of activities and initiatives which are under way at Howth Yacht Club - some of them new, and some of them long-running projects which are now coming to full fruition.

jason byrne10Jason Byrne of Mitsubishi Motors at the lectern. Photo: Brian Turvey
quinn flynn byrne11Laser Class leader Dave Quinn (left) with Committee Member John Flynn and HYC Commodore Ian Byrne. Photo: John Deane
Howth YC in unique in Ireland in that it is the country’s largest club in terms of membership and amenities, yet at its heart is all the friendliness and readiness for voluntary work of a small neighbourhood club. This is because the two major Howth Harbour developments which made expansion possible both occurred well within living memory, and the club still has many active senior members who can remember how constrained Howth sailing could be in times past by limited space in an overcrowded and very basic fishing port.

Now all that is changed. But the hugely expanded scale of a harbour in which every area is utilized brings its own challenges. Not least is the infrastructure, with dredging of some areas an increasingly urgent requirement which fortunately is now well and truly in the Public Works pipeline.

But equally, for the club to continue its high level of activity and success, maintaining a vibrant and involved membership requires an outreach programme to make boats and sailing accessible and attractive to a wider public. In this area, HYC with its Quest Sailing School and other programmes - including an expanding Junior Training scheme - is currently setting a cracking pace.

ian byrne12Commodore Ian Byrne outlines the very wide range of activities covered by Howth Yacht Club. Photo: Brian Turvey

While there is a level of professional input, voluntary work plays a very important role, and Ian Byrne was eloquent in his praise and thanks for people like Paddy Judge, Peter McKenna, Derek Bothwell, Ian Malcolm and many many others who devote much of their spare time to seeing that the proper attention is given to the hundred-and-one things which always need doing in and around a busy clubhouse/marina setup in an active fishing/sailing harbour.

Irish Sailing President Jack Roy then took over the microphone to give generous praise to Howth on behalf of the larger sailing community in which HYC plays such an active part. The sheer breadth of the club’s activities came in for his special praise, and its enthusiasm for making sailing more accessible and user-friendly for the general public was something he particularly shared.

jack roy speaking13Irish Sailing President Jack Roy was generous in his praise for Howth YC’s outreach approach to the local community and a wider public. Photo: Brian Turvey
While he was delighted for Howth’s wide range of success right up to the top international level across a broad range of classes, he was also encouraged by the fact that at grassroots level, it was clear that Howth YC realised that for many participants, sailing was as much about having fun and quiet enjoyment afloat, and it is a fact that the largest single sector in the varied Howth membership is the Cruising Group.

By the time the speeches were concluded, guests and members alike had a fresh insight into what makes a large club run smoothly and successfully, and it was then an opportunity for further renewals of old friendships and added insights into the workings of the club.

Mitsubishi Motors have been the sponsors of the “Club of the Year” since 1986 – it may well be the longest-running sponsorship in Irish sailing – and the first awardee under their stewardship was Howth Yacht Club as they were moving into what was then their brand new clubhouse, plumb in the middle of what had formerly been a rather muddy part of the harbour, and all set to serve the adjacent marina.

group pic14Keeping it in the family – the Ship’s Wheel trophy is welcomed back to Howth for the fifth time. Photo: John Deane

The Mitsubishi support came in through the enthusiasm of that legend of the Irish motor trade Frank Keane, who had brought the brand to Ireland as he had brought BMW many years before. Frank Keane Holdings have continued their support of sailing, so at any gathering such as that in Howth YC this week, you’ll find the most unexpected friendships going back many years, and as the evening drew to a close the mood was good while outside the sky cleared to bring the Howth 17s, the Puppeteer 22s and the Squibs back into port in the beginnings of a sunset. It hinted at the summer to come when - as ever - Howth Yacht Club will be busy.

orla mooring15The sky clears as the evening advances, and on the eve of Mayday with the Club of the Year party continuing in the HYC clubhouse, the Howth 17 Orla returns to her moorings after the first evening race of the new season. Photo: David O’Connell

Published in W M Nixon
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Although it was announced back in January that Howth Yacht Club would be the 2019 holders of the Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year trophy for 2019 after an outstandingly successful programme throughout 2018, in time-honoured fashion it wasn’t until their new season was underway yesterday evening that the actual handover ceremony took place.

HYC Commodore Ian Byrne received the historic ship’s wheel trophy from Jason Byrne of Mitsubishi Motors in the harbour-side clubhouse last night in the presence of a distinguished gathering of sailors, Irish Sailing President Jack Roy and club officers, and many of the club’s dedicated volunteers.

Full report in W M Nixon’s 'Sailing on Saturday' Afloat blog this weekend.

Published in Howth YC
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The 2019 Laser Master Nationals is to be held in Howth Yacht Club on 11th and 12th May, and another very competitive event is in store this year. Masters sailing has been going through a renaissance over the past few years. This growth is partly due to the fact that the laser is a low cost, one design class, with solid club sailing year round and a straightforward boat. It is one of the only classes in the country with club sailing 12 months of the year and comprehensive coaching and training. The success of the Dun Laoghaire fleet is worth noting. A strong sense of inclusion and fun, while offering both competitive and beginner level racing, should be a template for anyone looking to build a fleet in Ireland. The Masters Nationals has benefited from this trend. The event used to be a small affair, with Standard Rigs only and dominated by ex-campaigners who still had time to travel to events.

"The growth of the Masters Fleet has been impressive over the past 2 years, and in particular the Radial Fleet"

The growth of the Masters Fleet has been impressive over the past two years, and in particular the Radial Fleet. Numbers are now almost even between Radial and Standard Rigs, which has opened up options to a whole new cohort of Masters sailors, including female entries and those who may just be too light for the Standard Rig. The sense of fun and comradery among the fleet was particularly noticeable in the lead up to the Masters Worlds in Dun Laoghaire last September, and there was a powerful Masters entry at the Munster Championships this Easter.

In the Radial Fleet, Sean Craig will look to defend his title from last year, with fellow Royal St George Yacht Club sailor, Marco Sorgassi putting the pressure on Sean again this year. Conor Clancy had a strong event at the Munster Championships and looks like he is coming into form ahead of the event also, along with local sailor Darrell Reamsbottom.

Laser Masters radials 2436Sean Craig will look to defend his Radial title in Howth Photo: Afloat.ie

The Standard Rig fleet sees veteran Master Nick Walsh as the highest ranked sailor. Howth Frostbite sailors Dan O’Connell, David Quinn and Daragh Kelleher, are also expected to feature in a very strong fleet with plenty of depth throughout.

This year sees the introduction of onboard trackers. Top-ranked sailor Ronan Wallace is going to debrief sailors on racing in the club after sailing on Saturday which should add greatly to the fun and banter, while also giving some really valuable insights into the races from one of the top laser sailors in the country.

Entry is still open, with the discounted entry deadline this Friday 3rd May. Racing will be held in Howth on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May, with registration on Friday night and Saturday morning. There are discounts on class membership available for those who just plan to do this event, contact organiser David Quinn for more info (dave at investwise.ie)

Download event poster below

Published in Howth YC
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The annual selection trials for the Irish team for the Student Yachting Worlds in France this Autumn has seen two days of superb racing over the weekend in Howth, with no complaints of lack of wind for the Howth YC flotilla of J/80s. Race Officer Scorie Walls put through a demanding programme, and as college teams from all over the country fell by the wayside, it became clear that it was going to be Cork on top at the finish, but which Cork team would it be?

In the end, Cork Institute of Technology with the renowned Harry Durcan as their helm had it by just one point from University College Cork. CIT have form and then some in this special international event – Nicholas "Nin” O’Leary was the CIT skipper when they were overall winners in 2009.

SYWOC 2Sporting losers – the University College Cork team missed the title by just one point after a very intense series

Published in Howth YC

If a crewmember falls overboard, how confident are you that s/he can be quickly recovered? If it is you that falls over, will your crew be able to get you back? Knowing the theory is one thing, putting it into practice is something quite different.

In one well-documented case, these points were illustrated by Dublin Bay skipper Kenny Rumball when he outlined how they recovered a man overboard during last year's Round Ireland Race, a feat that earned the Dun Laoghaire man a RORC Seamanship award.

Now, Howth Yacht Club and Seacraft are running a dedicated “Man Overboard” day on Saturday 4th May. Starting at 10:00, there will be a presentation on the different ways of getting back to the MOB under sail and power, including what the other crew members can be doing to help.

Following a quick lunch, attendees will go afloat to practice. The focus will be on getting the boat back to the MOB and in a position where the MOB can be recovered. There will be an additional session with a life-sized dummy where different methods of getting the MOB back on board can be trialled.

Cost is €50 per person (including lunch and a donation to the RNLI). Bookings and payment can be made with the HYC Office ([email protected]).

Published in Howth YC
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When the 17 boat fleet followed the Race Committee out into Howth Sound for the last day of the Laser Frostbite Spring Series they found the wind following its forecast pattern of slowly working its way from south to north while increasing from very light to something more robust and the rain pouring down. With a strongly ebbing tide adding to the mix, it looked like nature had decided to make the final day of the Laser Frostbite series extra challenging.

After the Race Committee had quickly relaid the course twice with the AP displayed and deciding that it was either make the most of the conditions or abandon, the fleet was started using a Black Flag and all got away cleanly.

Howth yacht club race teamThe dedicated and hard working HYC Race Committee for the Series - left to right are R. Kissane, D Jones, J Doran and L Dinneen. Not pictured are H Gallagher and N Murphy.

The wind, all four knots at a maximum, was arcing from 150 to 210 and provided the sailors with plenty of opportunity for inspired choices (or guesses?? ) of which way to go and what was really a header or lift. Darragh Sheridan got all the choices correct and he rounded the first mark with a big lead. He protected it all the way around the next two legs before finding that one lap and a short beat to the finish had been decided to be enough punishment for the fleet. There was no hope of a second race in the conditions and thus ended the Laser Frostbite Series of 2018 - 2019.

"Ronan Wallace collects the Rowan Trophy for winning the Standard Rig fleet after a very close battle with Daragh Kelleher all series"

This concludes our Spring Series, with Ronan Wallace collects the Rowan Trophy for winning the Standard Rig fleet after a very close battle with Daragh Kelleher all series. Tom Fox won the Radial Trophy, discarding a second and Sophie Gilmartin won the 4.7 fleet prize.

Huge thanks and appreciation must go to the Race Committee team of Harry Gallagher, Neil Murphy, Richard Kissane, Liam Dinneen, John Doran and David Jones. We are very lucky to have such an experienced and dedicated group looking after our very long series, which runs from the start of November to mid-March. They are out on the water, in a volunteer capacity, every week throughout the winter, giving the sailors national championship levels races courses and organisation week in week out.

We now look forward to the annual Round the Island Race next Saturday morning. This unique event should be on the bucket list for any Laser sailor. It’s a huge amount of fun, and the Skehan Trophy is considered one of the most highly sought-after and prestigious trophies in Howth Yacht Club. This is an open event, and anyone looking to join the fun can enter here

Video of yesterday's single start: 

Published in Howth YC
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Howth Yacht Club will soon be hosting their annual IceBreaker Dinghy Series, kicking off this year on the 24th March, and running for four Sunday mornings with two races each morning writes Cormac Farrelly. It’s a great eight-race opportunity to dig out those dinghies from their winter resting areas, and get sailors out of hibernation to kick off the 2019 season. 

The inaugural event last year was very successful, attracting 50-plus entries across six different dinghy fleets - RS400s, Lasers, RS Feva, 420s, Oppies and Toppers. IceBreakers is now a firm fixture on the HYC event calendar, and its status as an Open Event has been endorsed by Irish Sailing, who have added it to their racing line up.

howth icebreakers2A well-mixed fleet at HYC IceBreakers 2018, with RS Fevas, 420s and Optimists

The user-friendly formula certainly seems to work. Start all races on time at 10:25 and have everyone off the water by 12:30. Then a quick burger in the club afterwards, and for those who have travelled, you’re out of Howth before the Sunday traffic builds up. Then just Rinse and Repeat the following weekend……

Top Laser sailor David Quinn comments: “I’ve always enjoyed the Frostbite Series in Howth, and the Icebreaker Series is an exciting new development of that proven programme. It combines the superb organisation and race format of the Frostbites, with the nicer Spring conditions. The Sunday morning start time and quick race turnaround is perfect for those with busy weekend schedules and today’s family demands”

dave quinn3IceBreakers enthusiast Dave Quinn (HYC), who was runner-up in 2018 to overall winner Alan Ruigrok of Rush SC.

RS200 National Champion Neil Spain adds: “Ourselves - and the rest of the RS400s competing - found the series a great way to get back into the swing of things after the off season. The race area right outside the harbour is only a short sail away from the club, and the races were the perfect balance between quality time on the water with great race management as usual from HYC, and getting packed up and home by lunchtime.”

neil spain4Neil Spain in RS 400 racing highlights the convenience of the race area location

Last year, Howth’s neighbouring clubs like Skerries, Malahide, Sutton, Clontarf, Dun Laoghaire and Bray provided entrants, and HYC looks forward to welcoming them all back again this year, plus first-time IceBreakers too. 

Overall, the event in 2018 enjoyed perfect weekends with some great racing. The RS400, 420s, and Lasers competed under the Sundry fast division while Fevas and Toppers were under 'Sundry slow'. A large contingent of 25 Optimists made up the last division, and it was great to see the club buzzing with over 60 dinghy sailors coming out to race each Sunday.

howth fevas5The local RS Feva fleet is growing

In the eight race series, dinghies in the Sundry Fast and Slow divisions compete for an overall prize under PY handicap, while individual prizes for scratch results within each class are awarded for classes with more than 3 entries. It’s really interesting and very encouraging to see how well the PY handicap works. 

Even though the RS400s are lightning-quick on the racecourse, three different classes were featured in last season’s overall results – Alan Ruigrok and crew sailing their RS400 from Rush finished first overall, with veteran Laser sailor Dave Quinn a close second.

This year HYC is putting added focus on the event to encourage the continued growth of dinghy sailing at the club, and an important part of this renewed focus includes a dedicated Dinghy Race Management team, led by Harry Gallagher and Derek Bothwell to reinforce the promise of excellent racing for all classes.

varadkar juniors6The HYC Optimist sailors had a chance to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD during his recent visit to Howth Yacht Club.

The dinghy sailors of Howth are currently on a roll with the club’s sailing achievements being recognised during the recent visit from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, when he met Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, HYC’s U23 World Champions in the 49er class, and also got to meet with some of the club’s young Optimist sailors.

Enter Icebreakers 2019 online here

Published in 420
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For the first time during the series, the 18 boat turnout for the penultimate race of Howth Yacht Club Laser Frostbite event found themselves having to contend with fog. Adding to the challenge conditions were a strong tide and wind ranging in direction from 140 to 170 and from the 4 knots the fleet found in the Sound when they left the Harbour to a brisk 21 knots in the occasional gusts.

In both races Darragh Kelleher and Ronan Wallace battled it out at the front of the fleet all the way around the lap, sausage, lap course. In race 1 they swapped the lead three times before Ronan took the gun. In the second, Ronan grabbed the lead early on and used his off-wind speed advantage to build a comfortable lead before again crossing first. Behind them there was close racing all the way through the fleet. Conor Murphy took third place from Stephen Quinn in race 1. In race 2, Stephen's individual recall damaged his chance of a repeat and Mike Evans took third from Conor Murphy. Tom Fox took first place in the Radial fleet in both races.

Next Sunday sees the final two races being sailed, leading to the season climax, the Round the Island race, on Saturday, March 9th

Published in Laser
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What a change a week makes! There was a certain sceptical air in the Howth Yacht Club Laser dinghy pen as sailors took off coats and searched their bags for baseball caps in very mild and sunny conditions. The breeze was perfect, with a steady 16kts, gusting in the mid-20s. However, with the gusty breeze coming from the South West and a residual swell rolling in from the East, it was tricky to keep a consistent level of heel and good boatspeed. There were plenty of 20-degree shifts, which meant a conservative and flexible strategy up the middle generally paid off.

Start line videos shows Ronan Wallace and Dan O’Connell both timed their starts to perfection to lead off the line. Dan lead at the first mark but had a couple of incidents, letting Ronan Wallace and Daragh Kelleher through. They had space to extend their lead, especially on the fast second reach. Kelleher overtook Wallace on this reach, but was passed again downwind by Wallace to take the race. Dan O’Connell finished third, with Dave Quinn in fourth and Mike Evans in fifth. The second race saw a significant lull and shift just at the gun which made for a confused start.

The breeze quickly settled back into the steady shifting pattern though. The race played out in a smilar fashion to the first, with Ronan Wallace taking the gun, from Daragh Kelleher and Dan O’Connell. Mike Evans passed Dave Quinn at the last gybe mark to reverse their positions from the first race.

Published in Laser
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New Years’ Resolutions and a fresh start for 2019 led to our biggest Laser turnout of the winter so far in Howth Yacht Club. A favourable forecast also helped. Conditions were perfect for Laser racing, with the wind starting off from the West at 9 knots and moved slowly right all morning, picking up to 22 knots by the end of the second race. 26 boats launched, one of biggest fleets of the season so far, including good representation of Radials and 4.7s. West to North West is the ideal direction for racing in Howth Sound, with relatively flat water and very little land influence over the breeze. We get steady oscillating shifts most of the time. However, yesterday was particularly tricky, with the wind veering and the ebbing spring tide flowing down the beat. The fleet was faced with the decision on whether to go left for the slacker water or right to maximise the benefit from the wind shift. Most of the fleet decided to play the shifts up the middle, protecting the right, but trying to stay out of the tide as much as possible.

 

The fleet was tightly bunched, but after a late start, Daragh Kelleher made the correct call, and came screaming in from the left corner to lead at the first mark. Dave Quinn, Eoin Delap, Stephen Quinn and Conor Murphy were all tightly bunched behind. Daragh led for the first lap, and maintained his lead for the rest of the race, despite a risky second beat where he attempted to avoid the tide on the island side of the course (much to the amusement of sailors after racing!). Dave Quinn finished second, with Ronan Wallace recovering well from a bad first beat to finish third.

Tom Fox radialTom Fox

The second race was windier, and most sailors decided staying out of the tide was far more important than any shifts so boat speed became paramount. After a General Recall, the fleet got away in a very tight start. Daragh Kelleher, Ronan Wallace and Dan Oconnell all rounded the first weather mark together and racing was very close throughout the Olympic format Course. Daragh was able to maintain a lead on the second beat and keep Dan behind him to the finish. Ronan Wallace finished third. It was great to see a few more Radials and 4.7’s out. Tom Fox won both races again, and continues to dominate, even putting plenty of the Standard Rigs under pressure each race. Sophie Kilmartin won both races in the 4.7 rig also. 

Orlagh ThompsonOrlagh Thompson

Published in Howth YC
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