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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:, 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
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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
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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 “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
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Howth has long been a popular gathering port for the fishing fleet from near and far as they berth their craft securely for the Christmas-New Year break, as it has all facilities ashore, and full protection in the fish dock from storms from any direction writes W M Nixon.

With 2017 drawing to a close, the fleet was expanded by an incursion of boats which had intended to berth at Rosslare, but the ten day forecast was so bad that Howth was the only option.

New Year’s Eve is traditionally the day when Howth’s locals and visitors alike take a look at what’s in port. And the last day of 2017 was vintage, with many fine boats looking better than yachts, a bigger and more handsome fleet in port than anyone can remember, and unusually strong sunshine to give every promise of a good year to come.

Alas, since then Storm Eleanor has decided otherwise for many parts of the country, though the craft remaining in Howth continued in security. But fishing time lost is money lost. As winds ease today, getting to sea becomes a priority.

howth new years eve2The Howth fleet aren’t all big ones. The boats on the small craft pontoon at the head of the dock include Frank Carty’s Loch Omna (right foreground), which is a perfect example of the classic shape of the Greencastle Yawl, though as it happens, she was built on the West Coast. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Howth YC
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15 boats are expected to enter the inaugural J80 National Championships when it features as part of the line-up of Howth Yacht Club's Sportsboat Cup next May.

The event will run over three days at the end of May, Friday the 25th thru Sunday the 27th. Download the Notice of Race document below.

Eight classes are invited to race with two classes choosing this regatta for their headline events for the 2018 season; as well as the Irish J80 Nationals the event will serve as the 1720 Europeans for a second time.

J24s Return to Worlds Venue

The resurgence of the Irish J24 fleet means they are expecting their best turnout in Howth since the the Worlds were here in 2013.

Half Tonner Big Picture 0560Half Ton racing will be part of the Sportsboat Cup Photo:

Half & Quarter Tonners

The Half and Quarter Tonners will be combining their resources to reach the critical mass for racing boats of their time and ilk without having to contend with some heavy cruisers as is their usual expectation under IRC.


SB20's are no stranger to Howth so with their fleet growing and becoming more active due to the Europeans being in Dun Laoghaire at the end of the summer expect to see crews use this opportunity to get plenty of race practice under their belt.

RS Elite 1287The Belfast Lough based RS Elite fleet are heading for Howth Photo:

RS Elite

'With the demise of the Royal Alfred Yacht Club Baily Bowl One Design event in Dun Laoghaire, it is hoped that there will be strong showing from the North on their bank holiday weekend and they will travel south again with their RS Elites to a new venue in Howth, says event organiser Ross McDonald.

Flying Fifteen

Another class new to HYC will be the Flying Fifteens who's sizeable Dublin Bay Fleet won't have far to come to get involved at  what HYC is promoting as 'Ireland's Premier Sportsboat Regatta'.

While not a new venue, it has been a long time since an International Dragon graced the north-side waters between Ireland's Eye and Lambay Island for some competitive racing, it will be the right weekend for them to rediscover what the racecourse and hospitality have to offer after a long absence.

To cater for up to eight classes racing and aiming to get in the full compliment of nine races planning is well underway for multiple race courses. The race management teams have excellently run all the windward-leward race, losing only one race over the previous events in challenging conditions. 'We are due for some good breeze this year to get the heart rate up with some downwind blasts', McDonald says.

There could be up to 100 boats racing and that will lead itself to plenty of action and a bustling atmosphere ashore. It is a great support that the two previous overall event winners - Flor O'Driscoll with Hard on Port, 2014 and Tom Durcan & Clive O'Shea with T-Bone, 2016 will be bringing their crews to compete again in 2018 hoping to regain and hold on to their title for another two years.

Enter online here to avail of the early bird discounted rate of €155.

'If your class wants to be involved get in touch and we will see how we can fit you in! We would love to have a mixed fleet class to bring together similar boats that don't have a big enough fleet to race one-design, McDonald says.

Published in Howth YC

A successful new development in the national sailing programme will inevitably be something of a revolution. Yet if those managing the event handle it in the right way, the changeover can take place without people thinking that anything really revolutionary – in the sense of a sudden and complete change – has taken place. W M Nixon takes a look at the successful unveiling of the new-style Wave Regatta planned for his home port of Howth for next year’s June Bank Holiday Weekend.

Preparation is everything. Quiet work behind the scenes in trying to visualize every practical and administrative glitch which might arise, and how best to deal with it well before it becomes a problem, is essential. Getting key people – decision-makers and can-do people, local, regional and national – firmly on side, is absolutely essential.

Testing the waters of consumer opinion with trial announcements and proposals, and the occasional test run maybe disguised as something else, is also part of the process. Yet revealing too much of what is taking shape before it is really ready to go public can do more harm than good.

Thus when Howth Yacht Club’s Wave Regatta 2018 was unveiled after a crisp and businesslike Annual General Meeting in the clubhouse on Thursday night, not only was it a very complete and appealing concept in itself, but it emerged fully formed, and in a style well presented to an audience filled with fresh enthusiasm.

howth wave2Howth’s modern marina/clubhouse complex (above) is in stark contrast to the situation pre-1987 (below) when the ISORA racers and the fishing fleet had to share the same small space. The boat at centre is the famous S&S-designed Sunstone (Tom & Vicky Jackson) which in her racing days with ISORA was known as Dai Mouse III.

howth wave3

After all, Commodore Joe McPeake had just finished chairing an AGM whose mood was enthusiastic after the publication of a set of figures which showed that the huge extra voluntary effort and support which the club has received from many of its members during the past 18 months has paid real dividends. While the improving mood had become increasingly apparent as the season progressed, by Thursday night if you could somehow have linked it to the National Grid, you’d have lit the village with it.

Inevitably, Howth gets compared to the big southside clubs of Dun Laoghaire, and the way their huge reservoir of personnel resources - further augmented by the overall administration of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, and with the large marina run as a commercial venture – frees up a enormous pool of talent to keep a high-powered show on the road. For when all is said and done, only Dun Laoghaire - with its unique selection of stately shoreside facilities - could stage an event like the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

But in Howth, the one club has to do everything. So instead of trying to rival Dun Laoghaire, today’s Howth sailors see their strength in being themselves in their own special peninsular port, which is neither Dublin nor northside nor remotely southside. On the contrary, it’s emphatically part of Fingal. And it’s indisputably Eastside. On top of all that, as its basic geology is twice as old as anywhere nearby, it is Ireland which is the add-on to Howth, rather than the other way round.

However, that’s not in anyone’s mind in Howth at all this weekend, as we realize the leap of the imagination which has transformed some long-established Howth events by combining them with new concepts, and then steering the whole package into a significant gap in the market which had been hidden there in plain sight for all to see.

For the overall shape of the 2018 National Sailing Programme is unusual. The biennial Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been shifted to the last weekend of June, presumably because its time-honoured slot right on the mid-summer weekend around June 23rd would have clashed with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself in The Hague at the same time.

So with the Volvo Round Ireland on June 30th, Volvo Cork Week in its turn was moved back to July 16th to 21st. And while those who seek a fun regatta with holiday overtones have Calves Week in Schull from August 7th to 10th, those in pursuit of racing with recognised national titles at the end of it have the ICRA Nationals at Galway from 15th to 18th August.

What it meant to those in Howth was that there wasn’t a major cruiser-racer championship on Ireland’s East Coast for the entire season, and particularly not in June and early July when the heavies generally expect an event of this type. But that realisation came after they’d already set in motion a project to re-invigorate their traditional Lambay Race, which has been staged annually since at least 1904 and maybe earlier.

howth wave4The classic Lambay Race. Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing along the coastline of Ireland’s most unspoilt island. Photo John Deane

In times past, with smaller craft such as the 1898-established Howth 17s (happily still with us, and stronger as a class than ever), simply racing round the island of Lambay from Howth was enough for a long day’s race. But with newer and much bigger craft joining the mix, all sorts of ways had to be found to increase the length of the Lambay Race for the big boats, while retaining its character. Yet by this stage, the programme generally was becoming crowded, with the revival of ISORA posing new problems of rival events.

cruiser racers lambay5Cruiser-racers in the Lambay Race. Todays faster boats expect a longer race than the traditional 16-mile course

A partial solution was reached this year when the ever-obliging ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan agreed to incorporate the annual Lambay Race as the main section of an ISORA Race which would start with the Lambay fleet and sail through its course and finish line, but then race on to a finish in Dublin Bay to provide the kind of distance ISORA expects.

However, for 2018, the Lambay Race on Saturday June 2nd will be a fully-fledged ISORA event in its own right. But it will literally be a Lambay-Race-With-Knobs-On for the Cruiser-Racer classes, as the organisers are planning a morning start and probably taking in Rockabill and the Kish to provide a perfect miniature offshore course.

dave cullen6Dave Cullen, Director of Racing for the Wave Regatta, on the tiller of his classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: O’Brien

Having the full ISORA imprimatur on this extended Lambay Race provides the new Wave Regatta with the massive corner-stone which enables the Organising Committee, chaired by former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, to build a full three-day programme around it, for they can be confident that local One Design Classes such as the Puppeteer 22s and the Howth 17s will already be doing the Lambay Race in its traditional form. As well, Sportsboat Classes like the SB20s and the 1720s will also have the option of a start. And if the IRC Class divisions are made in the right way, we’ll have the J/109s, the J/80s and the J/24s racing as classes-within-classes to add that bit of extra zing.

As the possibilities became clearer, one extra bit of information encouraged the Howth group to go for it big time in promoting an event with three days of solid racing as a viable biennial alternative to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. This was the news that, in future, in every even year the annual ICRA Nationals will be staged at a non-Dublin venue – August’s Galway venue is the start of this process.

This meant that the Howth team really had to get their skates on in order to have a realistic proposition and programme in place in time for an official unveiling at Thursday’s HYC AGM on December 14th. Even with test runs on various aspects of the main idea during the past couple of seasons, the actual countdown time was short enough, but by Thursday night such a complete package could be put on display that they were able to tell us that Fingal County Council were giving major support, there was every encouragement from the Harbour Authority, and HYC member Michael Wright had come on to the Committee to act as shoreside hospitality director, while also bringing in the support of his Wright Hospitality Group.

j80 howth sound7One of HYC’s club-owned J/80s in Howth Sound. With an additional club-owned flotilla from the Royal St George YC, the IRC-compliant J/80s will have a choice of options for Wave Regatta
In fact, these days with its proliferation of characterful restaurants and hospitality hotspots, Howth’s shoreside entertainment is soon in place. So it’s the programme afloat which has to match it, and here the organisers have hit the target by having Irish Sailing President Jack Roy take on the role as one of the senior Race Officers, another being former President David Lovegrove. Howth-based Race Officers such as David Lovegrove and Harry Gallagher have long made a major input into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, so all these top men afloat are accustomed to working with each other in the most demanding situations.

They’re also accustomed to inter-acting with the “customers” after racing, and it was their reports of overseas visitors to the Dun Laoghaire Regatta expressing a wish to take part in some sort of major event in the Greater Dublin area every year which encouraged the Howth team to think that, with proper planning, they could provide an alternate biennial regatta which would be different from Dun Laoghaire, yet express the same mood of good but not too serious sport afloat, and high-powered entertainment ashore, with an emphasis on attracting younger participants.

jack roy8Irish Sailing President Jack Roy will be a Race Officer at Howth’s new event

Flexibility is the approach. For those who wish to do just the Lambay Race on the Saturday, that’s fine. But for those who want the Full Irish of a really good programme of sport, there’ll be three races on Friday 1st June, and three more on Sunday June 3rd, while the Bank Holiday Monday will be given over to a Family Day which was very popular in 2017, and will be further developed next year.

As with everything to do with sailing in Ireland, the weather factor will be considerable. But for those of us who have done more than a few Lambay Races, the good memories linger best, and they’re of an effortless regatta atmosphere with an element of local pride, for it’s the coast of Fingal we’ve been racing along, one of all Ireland’s finest islands we’ve been racing round, and it’s our own home port under the hill that we’ve raced home to.

Which makes it fine for those who live locally. But the Wave Regatta Committee, in which Dave Cullen plays a key role as one of the leading ideas experts while officially he’s called Director of Racing, realise that the fact of Howth being on a peninsula and the village being largely residential, with a shortage of hotel bedrooms, can provide a challenge for those who live elsewhere, but want to keep their boats race-ready rather than as floating caravans.

So HYC have hired 30 campervans which will be available for rent in the car-park beside the club, and as well local sailors have made it clear they’ll be more than hospitable in providing accommodation. As for the problem of the DART from Dun Laoghaire not starting until late on a Sunday morning, they’ve swung a deal with Dublin Bay Cruises whereby the familiar blue-hulled St Brigid will depart her berth in Dun Laoghaire at 08:15 Sunday morning, bound for Howth and the final day of racing.

st brigid9The Dublin Bay Cruise vessel St Brigid will run a ferry service from Dun Laoghaire to Howth on the Sunday morning

It’s that sort of off-the-wall yet actually very sound idea which gives us some idea of the thought which is going into this new Wave Regatta at Howth. You can do a lot of sailing in three days if everything is in place, and this team is determined that it will be.

Meanwhile, let’s hear it for the home squad, the new HYC Club Officers who were elected on Thursday night, and will have their agenda will filled throughout their time in office, as plans for 2018 include the establishment of a fully-fledged Sailing School within the club. They are: Commodore: Joe McPeake; Vice Commodore: Ian Byrne; Rear Commodore: Paddy Judge; Rear Commodore: Ian Malcolm; Hon. Secretary: Bernie Condy; Hon. Sailing Secretary: Caroline Koster; Honorary Treasurer: David Mulligan.

joe mcpeake10HYC Commodore Joe McPeake

Published in W M Nixon
Tagged under
12th December 2017

Barbara Sargent 1945-2017

The death of Barbara Sargent of Howth after a short illness has taken from among us a much-loved and vivacious personality, whose warm family life was a heartening example of how the sea and sailing can be comfortably intertwined with shore interests of all kinds, and a very positive sense of community commitment.

Her enthusiasm was total. Although she and Gerry had celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in April of this year, the passing of the years had in no way diminished her active involvement afloat, which continued to the end – she was racing the annual Howth Autumn League until its conclusion only a few weeks ago, and the huge turnout at her recent funeral was eloquent testimony to the many lives she had touched during a life lived to the full.

She was born Barbara Morgan to a family whose life in Howth was was much involved with the lifeboat service. Her father 'Onny' was the RNLI Station Manager for the port, which may sound like a professional position, but it was entirely voluntary, and from an early age lifeboat fund-raising was part of Barbara’s life, and remained so to the end.

In her childhood days, Howth was a decidedly primitive place for sailing of all kinds, and dinghy sailing was undertaken from the very workaday West Pier where the Howth Motor Yacht Club premises provided a rather limited base. Those young people without access to sailing dinghies could usually find a berth on larger craft by waiting in a group in a sort of “hiring fair” at the top of the steps where the HMYC outboard-powered dinghy acted as club tender, and one of Barbara’s earliest crewing tasks was aboard an International Dragon whose elderly owner had recruited her to ensure that his spectacles were regularly wiped clean while racing in rain and spray.

However, some far-sighted Howth sailors had appointed the young Rupert Jeffares to the completely new role of Junior Honorary Secretary, and he set about adding new classes to the small group of Heron dinghies which constituted the Howth Junior Fleet. Fireflies never quite made the grade, but the IDRA 14, which was already raced at Sutton and Clontarf, seemed to have more appeal, and some Howth-based IDRA 14s went north to make their debut at the IDRA Dinghy Week of 1962 at Skerries.

barbara sargent2The young Barbara Morgan with Rupert Jeffares in the early days of Junior Sailing at Howth

Rupert had signed on Barbara Morgan to be his crew in his own IDRA 14, and even though everyone lived on the same peninsula, this was the nascent Howth group’s first proper exposure to the high-powered IDRA 14 sailors of Clontarf and Sutton. In 1962, none was more high-powered than Gerry Sargent, as he was racing his brand-new own-built No 38 Starfish. He scored an impressive triple victory. He won the IDRA 14 class in the Dinghy Week. He won the Helmsman’s Championship at the end of the week, racing in Fireflies. And he won Barbara Morgan’s heart.

As their relationship developed during the mid-1960s, you’d have been hard put to say who was the keener of the two on boats and sailing. Barbara’s future father-in-law Charlie Sargent was an amateur boat-builder of such talent and skills - well beyond most professionals - that anyone who became involved with a member of his family was going to find that they soon were absorbing information about every aspect of boat-building, and everything to do with sailing boats.

barbara sargent2aGerry Sargent (crewed by Ian McCormack) sailing the IDRA 14 Starfish, which he built in 1962 when he won the class at Dinghy Week. This photo was taken at the IDRA 14s 70th Anniversary in Clontarf in September 2016, when he also won. Photo: W M Nixon

But as the team skills of the Sargent-Morgan duo developed, Barbara’s sailing enthusiasm easily matched that of Gerry, and they were formidable and successful competitors afloat, yet always ready to take on voluntary tasks and backroom work ashore, for that was in their DNA. And as well, Barbara’s links to Howth provided other sailing outlets, with crewing opportunities on the cruiser-racers of Johnny Pearson and Ross Courtney, with Ross being particularly generous in his willingness to lend his vintage Clyde 30 Brynoth to the young people and their friends for adventure sails round Lambay and out to the Kish.

With marriage in 1967, a family soon followed – the twins David and Robert, and then Andy fourteen months later. Gerry and Barbara were determined to live on the waterfront, so they were pioneers in the movement which established the south end of Baldoyle Creek as a rising area in the Dublin desirable property ratings, and the hospitality in the Sargent household, with its views over the sea to Portmarnock golf links and beyond to Lambay and Ireland’s Eye, made it the heart of an extraordinary maritime world.

As for their growing family, their care needs on Saturday afternoons, when their parents were determined to be racing the IDRA 14, were met with ingenious solutions. Gerry even provided Barbara with the option of a conversion kit to turn his small station wagon into a mobile crèche which could be parked next to the Race Officer at Sutton Dinghy Club in an era when shore starts were still the norm, it being understood that SDC’s Race Officiating duties included keeping an eye on the Sargent kids while their parents were out racing.

barbara sargent3Family sailing in Baldoyle Creek on the Mermaid restored by Gerry, with the new house in the background, Barbara on the helm, and young Andy on the right.
As a concession to the needs of family sailing, Gerry restored an old Mermaid, Daphne No 6, and she lay to a drying mooring off the house in Baldoyle to provide a “floating kindergarten”. But soon the boys were making their own way in sailing as well as continuing to ship on board with their parents, and with their interest in keelboats growing, Gerry and Barbara found their sailing interest becoming increasingly focused on Howth Yacht Club, where it was a long-standing tradition that many of the leading members had started their sailing at the tidal clubs of Malahide, Clontarf and Sutton.

This meant that at much the same time, many of their friends from their most energetic dinghy racing days were now adding to the mixture of enthusiasm which made up the newly-constituted Howth Yacht Club which had been created from an amalgamation of Howth Sailing Club and Howth Motor Yacht Club, and in serving on committees and voluntary groups within the club, Gerry and Barbara were among old friends.

Thus it seemed natural that Gerry should be a member of the Howth Inshore Lifeboat Crew, while he and Barbara also organized a keenly anticipated Annual Boat Jumble to raise funds for the RNLI, which they supported in many other ways.

But Barbara’s organizational talents and capacity to convey enthusiasm and information were also revealed in an unexpected capacity back in the days when an Irish Boat Show was a viable annual proposition, and the thriving existence of the Irish Federation of Marine Industries was possible in a pre-globalisation era.

The Federation realised that it was essential that they have a properly-manned stand at the show to field a wide and endless litany of questions. But to find one person who covered the many requirements of the job profile seemed an impossible dream. It was Pat Murphy of Dinghy Supplies who suggested Barbara Sargent. He had met her and Gerry through dinghy racing in Clontarf and Sutton, and had been impressed by her calm capacity to get things done, allied with her special ability to communicate enthusiasm and information.

For many years she cheerfully and efficiently looked after the Industry’s stand at the Show, the engaging and helpful face of the industry, tireless in her work on the behalf of Irish boating in its broadest sense, a centre of calm, good sense, sound advice and accurate insight in the midst of the Boat Show whirl.

barbara sargent4Gerry & Barbara Sargent with Pat Murphy on the Beneteau Genesis in Scotland in 1993. “They were a marvellous couple to cruise with” says Pat. “When you came into port, Gerry looked after all the warps while Barbara went quickly on ahead to find out what’s what and who’s who wherever you’d arrived”.

Yet while some would be happy to give the world of boats a brief rest after such a brief but concentrated annual period of work, Barbara would always be further enthused in joining Gerry in searching out their next dreamship, and by the early 1980s the Sargents were a formidable force in the rapidly-growing Squib class at Howth, with sons and their girl-friends equally involved.

Barbara raced and sailed Squibs with total relish, and would return to the class from time to time, but when the Puppeteer 22s began to catch on as yet another local One Design in Howth, the Sargents got involved there too, and in 1993 a watershed was reached when the Sargent family’s Puppeteer 22 Toucan – raced entirely by Barbara and Gerry and their sons – won every race of the season.

At the same time, the fact that Gerry and Barbara were very able seamen who were an asset in every crew meant they were much sought after by owners of cruiser-racers, particularly cruising owners with proper plans in place, and with people like Mungo Park with the Sigma 36 Black Pepper II, they were soon clocking up even more offshore miles.

barbara sargent5Gerry and Barbara with Mungo Park on his much-travelled Sigma 36 Black pepper II. Photo: Joe Phelan

barbara sargent6Barbara always enjoyed racing Squibs – in pre-lifejacket days, she is racing with Sandra Moody on Belfast Lough

However, they felt that a change of pattern was necessary, so after 1993’s all-conquering year with Toucan, Gerry decided to give his energies to race administration while continuing to cruise with the occasional offshore race. But Barbara so loved the club racing scene that she signed on to the crew of Dermot Skehan’s regularly-raced MG 335 Toughnut, and for the next thirty years, until her final race in October 21st last, she was one of the cheerful band racing this vintage Castro design.

barbara sargent7The gang’s all here. Having a blast on board Dermot Skehan’s MG 345 Toughnut, with Barbara at centre. She had her last race on this boat on October 21st

She and Gerry shared an exceptional ability to suss out a suitable boat for their own and other’s needs, and when Pat and Olivia Murphy were contemplating buying the 40ft Aldebaran for their proposed Round the World voyage, they persuaded Gerry and Barbara to come along for the first look-see in Mallorca. Initial impressions were good, particularly in the working part of the accommodation with emphasis on the galley, which Barbara subjected to minute analysis. But they wouldn’t say anything until they’d been sailing.

At sea, Barbara at first stayed below to sense how the ergonomics were all working, but then came on deck and went forward as sheets were trimmed to get the hefty big boat to give of her best. Pat and Olivia watched anxiously as Barbara, still without saying a word, paused to sense how the boat was performing. She waited for a while at the mast as Aldebaran drove on, dealing well with the irregular seas of the Mediterranean. Then she simply turned round and smiled and gave the thumbs-up to the anxious Murphys. They’d found their dreamship.

Although Gerry and Barbara always had invitations to bring their special combination of seaworthy talents to cruising ventures all over the world – many of which they accepted – they were convinced that they should have their own boat at home in Howth Marina as a matter of course, and they went through a number of interesting craft – which they would cruise as far as Kerry – until in 2003 they found the ideal, a Danish-built LM Vitesse 33 of 1989 vintage, an ingenious design which has real sailing ability, yet thanks to a very useful deckhouse, can provide an alternative interior steering position within an extremely comfortable and well-considered layout.

barbara sargent8Gerry and Barbara Sargent’s Pip is an ideal boat for the Irish climate. She’s a Danish-built LM Vitesse 33, and is seen here during a visit to Poolbeg in Dublin. Photo: Barry O’Loughlin

barbara sargent9The accommodation layout on Pip – the chosen boat of a couple who knew their boats

Called Pip, this interesting boat has been cruised to the far southwest, and throughout the Irish Sea. But with new generations of Sargents coming along, and with attractive invitations to cruise distant parts any time they felt like it, Gerry and Barbara realised that Pip gave best value mini-cruising on the waters close to home, meeting friends in familiar anchorages and always being there should a younger member of the extending family need a breath of sea air.

Thus in recent years they’d become experts on the coast of Fingal. Sail up round Lambay, and you’d almost invariably see Pip snugly anchored in a little cove which was sheltered in the wind of the day. Get the word that the mackerel are in, and invariably it would be Gerry and Barbara who would be first back to port with the earliest catch. See a nice breeze ruffling the blue waters of the Sound, and for sure Pip would be out there, enjoying it.

It was an idyllic existence to round out an extraordinary life not just in boats and sailing, but in the greater world of beloved family and cherished friends. It is impossible to convey fully the effective way in which Barbara Sargent lived, while at the same time indicating how her sometimes impish approach to life enlivened every gathering. The hundreds of us who attended her funeral – some from very far away - were privileged to share the private family farewell to someone who had been such a force for the good.

Our heartfelt condolences are with Gerry and their sons David, Robert and Andy and their wives and extended family, and their grand-daughters Joanna, Freya and Gemma, and particularly to grandson Jonny, who gave us such an eloquent and moving insight into how this great sailor also managed to be the perfect grandmother. 


barbara sargent10The great sailor was the perfect grandmother

Published in Howth YC
Page 8 of 42

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