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Afloat.ie caught up again with Howth Yacht Club's Shane Diviney, the only Irish sailor racing on the Extreme Sailing Series in Russia where the pro match-racer is onboard Gazprom Team Russia instead of his regular China One team.

You are here in St Petersburg racing with Gazprom Team Russia. How has that been?

I was able to join Gazprom Team Russia for the Extreme Sailing Series for the St. Petersburg Act because my usual team, China One, are not doing this event. This is Gazprom Team Russia’s debut event on the Extreme Sailing Series for 2016 and we are representing the St. Petersburg Yacht Club as the local entry for this event. I think the team has gelled really well considering we have never sailed together as a team. We have shown that we can mix it up with the more established teams on this tour. We were happy with our speed and have identified the areas where we need to improve.

You have done a few ESS events now. What is the best thing about the Series in your opinion and what is so appealing about the circuit?

The Extreme Sailing Series is the most challenging racing for the crews I have done. The race course is always so short and usually confided by numerous physical boundaries, although we do get the chance to do some open water racing at some events, which is also great. With the GC32s travelling at such high speeds you are never going in a straight line for more than a couple of minutes. This puts a big emphasis on your manoeuvres and often the teams that have the slickest and least amount of manoeuvres will be in the top 3. The highly challenging racing makes this circuit attractive to both the sailors and the spectators.

What can you tell us about the competition? Which are the strongest teams and why?

Oman Air and Alinghi have proved to be the boats to beat all season. The top teams always try to keep the racing uncomplicated and reduce the potential for error. There are always big gains to be made around the race course if you can manage to get your boat in clear air and reduce the amount of manoeuvres. This is what we have strived to achieve this week on Gazprom Team Russia here this week.

What is for you next after the St Petersburg Act?

My next regatta will be in Sotogrande (Spain) with Team Armin Strom sailing in the GC32 Racing Tour. We are currently sitting 3rd overall in that series so we will be hoping to consolidate our podium position in the final two events of the season. After this, I will hopefully be going to Lisbon for the Act 7 of the Extreme Sailing Series.

 

Published in Howth YC

Having taken a substantial fifth place in the weekend's RORC Cowes to Cherbourg offshore race following on from the early season good showing in the Caribbean 600, Round Ireland and Ile D'Ouessant races, lines Conor Fogerty and the BAM crew are nicely positioned for a top three finish in the RORC IRC 3 2016 points championship. 

Crew for the Cowes Cherbourg race were Conor Fogerty (Helm), Simon Knowles (Helm/Tactics), Paddy Gregory (Helm/Main Trimmer), Conor O'Neill (Main /Jib Trimmer), Julian Brexit (Trimmer), Anthony Doyle (Navigation/Bow/).

The HYC skipper and the crew took particular satisfaction in being the first Sunfast 3600 home and on IRC while also finishing ahead of a number of coveted JPK1080 yachts.

The next big outing for Fogerty and the BAM crew is the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October.

Published in RORC

While the headlines and public attention for much of the summer were dominated by the acrimonious Brexit vote in Britain and the extremes of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, out beyond a narrow sandspit on a secretive peninsula east of Ireland, a special project was being finalised. This has seen the local sailing club benefit both from the Brexit fallout, and the general increased goodwill towards sailing in Ireland which Olympic success has generated. W M Nixon finds that his home-from-home of Howth Yacht Club has been doing some remarkable things while everyone else – himself included - was looking elsewhere.

You’ve heard the story about the three Howthmen who went across to England a few weeks ago to buy four J/80s, and came back with five? We hadn’t either. But all we know is that every time recently when we looked along the hard-standing on the waterfront at Howth Yacht Club, there seemed to be a couple of extra J/80s about the place. Soon there were five. And they all looked distinctly newer than the eight long-used J/80s of the SailFleet flotilla of the ISA, four of which are regularly stored out the back of the Howth club when they’re not in action.

All was revealed last weekend. The background is that Howth YC had undertaken to look after the ISA’s SailFleet flotilla of eight J/80s when the national authority began its severe slimming process three years ago. The club uses four of them at any one time in a leasing programme from the ISA for its own training purposes, but rotates the boats for their periods of non-use to implement an “equalisation process”. And of course, all eight are made available for the use of the ISA in national events like the Helmsmans Championship, wherever such events may be held.

However, since 2013 when Breda Dillon was Commodore, the Howth club has also had in place the allocation of a Sports Council capital grant for buying keelboats for training, the grant of €77,000 being conditional on HYC raising an extra €23,000 to provide a round sum of €100,000.

It was also conditional on being spent before 31st July 2016. Logic would seem to suggest that they would buy the ISA boats, four of which were on lease until 31st December 2016 anyway. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Those boats were bought with a government grant in the first place. There were all sorts of potential problems with VAT and whatever. And a bidding war against other clubs was an additional unknowable. 

howth j80 2They look like they were made for the place – four of the new HYC-owned J80 flotilla in Howth Marina last weekend. Photo: W M Nixon

Yet the Howth men knew that for a multi-purpose boat which can play a key role in getting new people into sailing, or encouraging lapsed sailors back again, the J/80 was and is and will long continue to be the best boat for the job. It’s one of the very few sportsboat types which qualify for a European offshore certificate. And it is also entitled to an IRC rating. Thus in the Irish context, you can race it as a One-Design, but you are also eligible for open ICRA competition.

In addition to that, the J/80 is a very likeable knockabout boat, real fun to sail with a cockpit big enough to take significant numbers of beginners out for good yet educational times afloat, while still being a very serious racing proposition for crews of three to five. Thus the feeling in Howth was that increasing the national stock of J/80s by whatever means would be good for Irish sailing anyway.

howth j80 3While the J/80 was designed primarily as a performance boat with racing a priority, in Howth they find many other uses. Photo: Brian McDowell
But though the J/80 has been a major part of the sailing scene in Europe only since a new production facility for the boat was set up in France in 2002, the design actually first appeared in America in 1992. And with the remorseless new product initiative which drives J Boats as it drives any other successful company, in late 2012 J Boats introduced the J/70, more of an outright sportsboat than the J/80, but still with a little cabin – albeit a much smaller one.

Thus for those with a taste for novelty and fashion trends, the J/70 will have been seen as the successor to the J 80. But many would reckon that the J 80 continues to be a significant brand in her own right, as she has that cherished European offshore cert. And while her cabin is minimal, it does offer significantly roomier overnight space than the J/70, as the J/80 is almost 9% larger in every way than the newer boat, an addition in size which adds a very useful bit of beef to her potential for multi-purpose functions.

That said, in the last couple of years the advent of the J/70 has tended to freeze or even reduce the price of used J/80s. For the Howthmen sitting on a war chest of €100,000 which had to be spent before the end of July 2016, the availability of top-quality used J/80s in the Solent area presented something of a dilemma. They could either enter into a lengthy tender process to take over the ISA J/80s, or else they could send an expeditionary force to the south of England to snap up four quality J/80s in a neat and clinical operation.

Four was the key number, as experience in the past three years has shown HYC that the total SailFleet flotilla of eight boats is too much for one club to handle comfortably, but anything less than four boats would be less than the required critical mass. Four boats was the absolute minimum, but as Howth YC also have two J/24s in their successful U25 Keelboat Training Squad, including the Enda O Coineen-donated Ireland’s Eye Kilcullen (Ireland’s Eye are knitwear manufacturers in nearby Baldoyle), they had some flexibility of movement in finalizing boat numbers.

In fact, in recent years the Howth club has become so dedicated to introducing people to sailing and training generally that the noted offshore racer Kieran Jameson, a General Committee member who heads the HYC key “Vessels Committee”, finds his group running a club-owned training fleet of thirty dinghies including Optimists, Toppers, 420s, and Laser Vagos. But in addition to dinghies, the Howth sailors are very strongly of the opinion that keelboats also have an important role to play in getting people started sailing, thus at any one time the club has had six “training keelboats” – the four J/80s being used at any one time plus the hotly-competed pair of J/24s – playing an active role.

The feedback from HYC Marine Manager Brian McDowell during the 2016 season has been particularly encouraging regarding the popularity of the J/80s as much for non-racing activity as for racing/training. Ireland’s many cruising enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that day cruises to places as diverse as Skerries, Dalkey Island, and Dun Laoghaire rating high on the list of favourite activities aboard J/80s amongst both younger and adult newcomers to sailing alike.

howth j80 4Cruising enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that trainee sailors at Howth particularly enjoy using the J/80s for cruises-in-company along the local coast. The photo above shows them returning round the Baily after a visit to Dalkey Island and Dun Laoghaire, while (below) one of the most popular destinations has been Skerries, which involves a 14 miles coastal passage with proper navigation and pilotage exercises. Photos Brian McDowell

howth j80 5

So acquiring the best possible J/80s within the budget was clearly the way to go. After Vice Commodore Emmet Dalton had burnt the midnight oil and the fibre optic cables in ensuring that everything in the original capital equipment grant application of 2013 was still valid, Commodore Berchmans Gannon and his committee confirmed Kieran James as “Concept and Logistics Director” with his three man “Solent Procurement Task Force”, and off they went with the 31st July deadline looming.

All this may sound very formalised, but as anyone who is familiar with Howth will know, there are times when you’ll find yourself in the midst of what seems to be a convivial gathering, yet it’s actually an open-ended official planning meeting. The club takes much of its internal communication style from its oldest class, the Howth 17s of 1898, which have managed to stay together for 117 years while apparently relying largely on telepathy for in-class information. And as all the many people involved in the J/80 acquisition programme were old friends who frequently sail together as shipmates, new ideas and understandings of how best the project might best move forward could emerge in all the most unlikely places at unexpected times.

The three man squad was imbued with enthusiasm, as Kieran Jameson is a total J/80 fan. So he already had the class’s used-boat scene sussed out in some detail in the south of England where he is well known, and with him he brought his keen sub-committee member Johnny Wormald, while third hand was a very important man when money is being spent, HYC Honorary Treasurer David Sargent.

They’d two very busy days around the Solent finalizing deals on four J/80s of the required standard in a time of financial turbulence. After the Brexit vote, the Pound Sterling had plummeted against the Euro, but their feeling (quite rightly as it turned out) was that even though it was still falling, it might be about to bounce back a bit any time soon, so there was some urgency to their work.

With no slackening of the pace, the buying job was done, and then with four boats satisfactorily secured, they were having a celebratory lunch in the RORC’s Royal Corinthian clubhouse in Cowes. But David Sargent couldn’t stop being the money man. He’d been working the screen for the numbers and the exchange rate, and in mid-meal he came up with the news that they’d hit the dealing floor on the sweet spot, in fact if they wished there was still enough in the kitty to buy a fifth boat.

Well, why not? A quick phone call home got the cheerful instruction to go right ahead. And another quick phone call ensured the fifth boat was theirs before news had spread from the Isle of Wight that three mad Irishmen were on the prowl around the Solent ready to throw good money at proper quality used J/80s.

Moving up to five boats from four may not seem such a big deal. But in fact it puts you across a significant threshold as many clubs such as Dublin Bay SC will recognize five boats as a valid class eligible for its own start, but not four. Yet thanks to Brexit, as former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey has since put it: “We landed sunny side up” – five boats and all of them good ones.

But now the challenge was to keep things moving along. Everyone had been fuelled with the excitement of the chase. Yet with high summer and its holiday plans upon them, a busy sailing programme in full swing, and the all-dominant Olympics taking over all sailing thinking for two weeks in mid-August, the challenge for all involved was to get the five boats safely back to Howth and moved into the next stage of the plan, for it was essential that the boats be in active use as soon as possible.

howth j80 6Perfect conditions for introducing the new J80 flotilla to Howth YC, and for showing junior sailors the workings of the sails. Photo: Emmet Dalton
Thanks to the usual useful contacts, the boats were road-trailed to Fishguard and popped on the ferry to be taken across channel on their own to Rosslare. There, another key contact made sure they were taken safely off the ship and put in secure storage while a volunteer towing team co-ordinated by Ian Malcolm journeyed up and down the M11 from Howth until all the boats were safely on the peninsula to successfully complete a project in a league of its own for sheer value for money.

Which is fine and dandy, but the boats need to be used, and used for a lot for multiple purposes, to make this extraordinary example of club and voluntary effort worthwhile, and worthy too of the Sports Council’s support. Yet by now total serendipity had set in. Even as the newly-acquired boats were being checked over and rigged by the flotilla’s newly-appointed bo’sun Luke Malcolm, the news from the Olympic sailing in Rio got better and better. Suddenly thanks to Annalise Murphy and her team-mates, the sun was shining on Irish sailing, and there was no better time to be launching a new initiative in sailing promotion. While there’d been some concern that moving up to five boats from the projected four was maybe a bit ambitious, now people were wondering would five boats be enough.

The day after the fantastic Annalise Murphy “Welcome Home” night at the National Yacht Club, across Dublin Bay on Friday August 26th, beyond the Baily Lighthouse round in Howth Harbour the new five-strong flotilla of Howth YC’s own J/80s were in final preparation for their introduction to the membership and public with an Open Evening providing many immediate options for sailing aboard the boats. It was primarily designed with the club’s rapidly growing beginner and junior sections in mind, and as one of those perfect evenings which have blessed the late summer, it showed how well the performance-oriented J/80s lend themselves to simply being used as fun boats which can maximise the numbers getting afloat for straightforward sailing pleasure.

howth j80 7Celebrating a job well done. Brian Turvey and Emmet Dalton finally get the opportunity on Sunday for their first sail on one of HYC’s new J/80s. Photo: W M Nixon
It also underlined the fact that at Howth as at other clubs, people such as Kieran Jameson and noted instructor Graeme Grant share the concern of leading thinkers in other clubs, that it has been too easy to let junior training and coaching take the more easily-managed route of single-handed sailing. Thus Howth has become a centre of 420 encouragement in the hope of leading on to more advanced two-handed boats, and while the J/80s were making their debut with waves of youngsters on board, on the same waters the current World 420 Bronze Medallists Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan were having their first forays with their newly-acquired 49er skiff, one of a new national wave of seven 49ers with crews drawn from a number of Irish sailing centres.

But primarily it was the J/80s’ evening, and they performed with style. With the weather co-operating, the programme moved jauntily on into a junior party with early supper in the club, and then finally, with a very informally-minded audience made up of every age and interest in Howth sailing, the plans for “our very own J/80s” were at last officially revealed by Commodore Berchmans Gannon and his team.

Noted offshore racing champion Ross McDonald, as Chairman of the HYC Performance Sub-committee, left us in no doubt that while the multi-functional uses of the J/80s are significant in the new flotilla’s programme, the boats’ performance potential is also another pillar of their activities, and they’re going to be very actively raced, with their first major series the up-coming Howth Autumn League. The possibilities of sending a boat or two to major J/80 championships in the future has not been overlooked, and of course next year’s ICRA Nats at Royal Cork Yacht Club from 9th to 11th June to will be another option thanks to those very useful IRC Certs.

howth j80 8Kieran Jameson (left) led the team buying the new J/80s, and as a former ICRA Commodore, Nobby Reilly (right) has unrivalled experience in introducing people to sailing using the J80s in Try Sailing initiatives. Photo: W M Nixon
It seems an awful lot to be asking of a little fleet of five 26ft boats, but the best way to show me why it could all work very well indeed was to let me sail a J/80 on Sunday, when all was revealed. The secret of a J/80’s appeal seems to lie in the fact that she’s a boat of broad-spectrum performance and function aboard which kids feel like grown-ups, while a group of grown men start behaving like a pack of schoolboys having sailing fun.

My four ship-mates were at the heavy-hitter end of sailing’s local and national sailing administrations. They included former ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly who has unrivalled experience in using the J/80s in Try Sailing events – he regularly gets turnouts of upwards of 80 total newbies at such happenings – there was also HYC Vice Commodore Emmet Dalton who somehow finds himself to be the owner of a foiling Moth and the skipper of a Howth 17, there was of course Kieran Jameson whose devotion to sailing and it development and promotion is lifelong, and there was also former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey who has been the club’s liaison man in handling relations with the ISA SailFleet administration while coming to the conclusion that the only way forward was for Howth to buy its own fleet of J/80s to give the programme an extra and vital element of direct proprietorial pride, something which has been achieved.

howth j80 9In sailing a J/80, it’s the effortless speed which will most impress sailors of more traditional craft. In a light breeze, we’re clocking 7.6 knots through the water and 8.7 over the ground. Photo: Brian Turvey
So in sailing “our” J/80 in a glorious burst of sunshine and a grand little north to nor’east breeze last Sunday while the HYC Junior Dinghy regatta with 90 boats in several classes proceeded apace nearby, and Doug Elmes and Colin O’Sullivan buzzed over the ocean towards the northern horizon in their 49er, we had ourselves a ball. While you can certainly get sensational speeds out of a J/80 when the breeze is stonking, we’d no bother in that pleasant moderate wind of finding 7.6 knots through the water with genniker set, and as that translated into 8.7 SOG thanks to a favourable tide, the schoolboy glee was much in evidence between sessions of serious information exchange about the importance of the boat in Howth’s development programe.

In such sailing conditions, the J/80’s effortless progress made it possible for us to get quicky up to Malahide and then have some sport carrying the genniker as close as it could go to get us round Ireand’s Eye where the gannets are more crowded than ever on the Stack, and back into Howth Marina with the J/80s manoeuvring capacities being demonstrated with a flourish.

howth j80 10“There’s something about a J/80 which makes junior sailors feel like grown-ups, and grown men act like schoolboys….” Photo: Brian Turvey

howth j80 11Home waters. Effortless yet swift sailing as we close in on the Stack Rock on Ireland’s Eye. Photo: W M Nixon

Of course, it won’t always be a sunny nor’easterly of very manageable strength, and it won’t always be a time when a club can look back on its own good season while sharing the national mood of euphoria over an Olympic Sailing Silver Medal. But this new J/80 project at Howth has a lot going for it. And when you start looking at the figures which would have come up if they’d ordered new boats, or maybe even new J/70s, through the formal channels, you’re very quickly getting away from €100,000 for five boats, and approaching the region of a quarter million euros.

But for the times that are in it, it seems that Howth took the best approach. In fact, when the boats are going to have such a multi-functional role, it’s surely better to start with the best second-hand boat available rather than a brand new one. When knockabout use is part of the programme, evidence of the occasional little scape or minor bump makes the boats seem less daunting.

So in all, it has been a very good six weeks of voluntary work. But out in Howth, they don’t see it that way. As far as they’re concerned, the work is only beginning. If those boats aren’t all being kept very busy, steps will be taken immediately to accelerate the pace.

howth j80 12Home port, and everyone gives a hand. Former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey and former ICRA Commodore Nobby Reilly stow the J/80’s mainsail while above on the forecourt the presence of the 1898-built Howth 17 Rita is a reminder of HYC’s long and colourful history. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

Alistair Kissane of Howth Yacht Club has finished in the top half of the UK's Moth Championships sailed at Portland Harbour. Kissane, who finished 34th, was one of two Irish in the 73–boat fleet. Royal St. George's Jim Devlin was 52nd. Results are here.

The wind just didn't play ball on the final day, with the odd gust reaching 7 knots across Portland Harbour, but more commonly 3-4 knots and much less. At 1pm the race team called time and raised AP over A to abandon racing for the day. This means the results at the end of Monday stand and Robert Greenhalgh has been crowned the UK International Moth class champion for 2016.

At the prize giving Robert thanked the Race Team, all the staff at the WPNSA, the UK Moth Class Association for putting all the work in ahead of the event and the sponsors; VRsport.tv, blueteq, Brand Identity, Ronstan and Noble Marine.

The podium was completed by David Hivey in second and Dylan Fletcher in third.

The next major event for the International Moth Class is the MS Amlin Moth Regatta in Bermuda from 2-9 December. In 2017 the World Championships are being held in Malcesine on Lake Garda from 23-29 July.

Final top five
1. Robert Greenhalgh, GBR, 8.0
2. David Hivey, GBR, 12.0
3. Dylan Fletcher, GBR, 18.0
4. Mike Lennon, GBR, 31.0
5. Jason Belben, GBR, 32.0

Published in Moth

Howth Yacht Club's Autumn league will run for six Saturdays and commences September 10th (with a break for one week on Oct 1st), this will be the 37th year of Howth's end-of-season premier keelboat racing event. The racing is expected to cater for ten classes of yachts, varying in size from the 6-metre 'Squibs' to 'Class 1' cruiser-racing yachts may of which are more than 12 metres in length.

In advance of taking entries, event chairman Feargal Kinsella explained: 'It is expected that this year's event will attract more than 100 keelboats, the majority from North Dublin clubs and marinas and some welcome additional entries from south of the Liffey'.

MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz are once again to be event partners and principal sponsors of this year's Autumn League, the same sponsor as Olympic silver medal winner Annalise Murphy. 

Commenting on the event partnership Dean Fullston, Brand Manager at MSL Park Motors said that he and his team were 'looking forward to the event immensely and that as part of our multi-year sponsorship arrangement with Howth Yacht Club, this was a great opportunity for our Navan Road dealership to showcase the progressive Mercedes- Benz brand and link in with the club's recent successes and world class event facilities.'

Anticipating another successful Autumn League, Commodore Berchmans Gannon said 'we hope that this event will be the culmination of another record-breaking year in terms of the success of Howth sailors on the national and international circuit. Our partnership with MSL Park Motors and their Mercedes Benz brand reflects our ambition to excel at the highest level and to provide the very best facilities, service and opportunities for our members and visitors.'

This year's format provides for the inclusion of a 'Taste of Racing' class, designed to help develop Howth Yacht Club's adult sail training programme and utilising the ISA Sailfleet J80s.

Visiting boats taking part in the event will also qualify for a special 'winter berthing' deal in Howth Yacht Club's marina. See here for race documents and online entry. 

Published in Howth YC

Swuzzlebubble consolidated her lead on the penultimate day of the Henri Lloyd Half Ton Classics Cup 2016 but Howth Yacht Club entry Harmony lies third, one of three Irish Half Tonners in the top six overall. The Jonny Swan skippered entry is 14.5 points off the lead with Dublin club–mate Mike Evans in The Big Picture three points behind in fourth. Sixth is defending champion Dave Cullen in Checkmate. There are three more races today.

The penultimate day of the Classics Cup, sponsored by Savills and Mylor Rigging and Chandlery, could not have been more different to it's predecessors. Dawn broke with not a breath of wind, glassy seas and a heavy mist that persisted throughout the morning, causing Race Officer Jack Penty to hold the boats ashore for a couple of hours. Fortunately the mist cleared and a light west south westerly filled in so that by 12.30 the start for the first of the day's three races was in progress.

It took two general recalls followed by a start under the U Flag, meaning a 20% penalty if anyone had been over the line, to get the fleet away on race seven of the series. Once running it was a tricky windward leeward as the boats tried to pick their way around the shifty developing breeze. Mike Evans helming The Big Picture made the best of the situation to win by 19 seconds from overnight leader Greg Peck sailing Swuzzlebubble, with Paul Pullen's Miss Whiplash third and Jean-Philippe Cau and Claude Charbonnier's Sibelius fourth. There was a dead heat for fifth between Jonny Swan's Harmony and Patrick Boardman and David Kelly's King One.

With the breeze still refusing to build beyond single figures the race committee rolled straight into race eight. The patchy and shifty conditions meant there were big gains and losses to be made and at times it looked more like a game of snakes and ladders than a yacht race. Swuzzlebubble's experience and local knowledge stood her in good stead and she won by eight seconds from David Cullen's Checkmate with Miss Whiplash third, Francis Marshall's Concorde fourth and Harmony fifth.

A regatta course was set for ninth race and it was nip and tuck all the way with Harmony winning by a mere four seconds from Swuzzlebubble. Mel Sharp's Demolition finished third, her best result of the series, with King One fourth and The Big Picture fifth.

With nine races now completed a second discard came into play. Greg Peck's team of old friends aboard Swuzzlebubble consolidated their lead with a five and a half point delta over second placed Miss Whiplash. Harmony holds onto third with the gap between her and Miss Whiplash now at nine points. The Big Picture jumped up the leader board from sixth to fourth, just three points behind Harmony, while Sibelius added a pair of disastrous seventeenths to her race seven win, dropping her down the score board into fifth overall, half a point ahead of Checkmate.

After sailing the crews came together in the Regatta Marque for the Championship Dinner which featured a delicious paella supper, some fantastic fancy dress outfits, plenty of Half Ton cameraderie and a huge warm welcome for Paul Strzelecki, CEO of event sponsor Henri Lloyd, and his wife Jenny who arrived at the event in time to watch race nine.

With dinner over everyone repaired to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall for the daily prize giving, giving them the opportunity to view the museums special Olympic display which includes two of Ben Ainslie's Gold medal winning boats as well as many other historic Olympic exhibits.

Jonathan Cunliffe of Savills presented the daily prizes and then Paul Strzelecki made a special presentation to the winner of the new Henri Lloyd Concourse d'Elegance Trophy - for the best presented boat at the regatta. All the boats are kept in exceptional condition so to win this award the boat must be a true stand out. To huge applause the trophy was awarded to the beautifully restored Demolition owned by Falmouth based Mel Sharp. Demolition was designed in 1980 for Larry Marks, who took her to that year's Half Ton Cup in Sandham where she finished just outside the top ten, and is now raced by Mel and his crew of friends and family.

In theory, today's final day will feature up to three further races however, the weather forecast is anticipating some very strong south south westerly winds which are expected to build from around twenty knots in the morning to almost 30 knots with gusts of up to forty knots in the afternoon. Every effort will be made to complete the remaining races and the Race Committee has called a formal meeting with the skippers to review conditions first thing in the morning and agree on a racing plan for the day.

For full results here

Published in Racing

Sunday’s forecast for the Irish Fireball Nationals was always less than encouraging and so it proved when the complete absence of wind brought the curtain down on the 2016 edition of the regatta writes Cormac Bradley. Race Officer Richard Kissane and Howth Yacht Club Vice Commodore, Emmett Dalton went out to the race area to see if there was any sense of wind developing but to no avail.

A straw poll of the participants agreed that hanging around until the cut-off for racing, 15:30, wasn’t an attractive option either so an early halt to proceedings was called with a lunch-time prize-giving.

The 2016 National Champions are Noel Butler & Stephen Oram of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, sailing IRL 15061. They won four of the seven races, setting out their stall with two race wins in Friday’s heavy weather session of 20 knots +, but in Saturday’s more variable conditions they managed to stay ahead of their closest competition in all but one of the day’s four races, the last race of the day. This gave them a five point cushion, after discard, over second place and what Noel suggested was his sixth National title. Stephen may not have quite that number but together they are a potent combination that makes every few mistakes on the water when it matters most.

In second place were the Clancy brothers from the Royal St George Yacht Club with a score of 11pts after discard, sailing 14807. They too began the regatta in fine style with two second places but were unfortunate to have rudder damage in the third race of Friday, recording a DNF. Their scores thereafter were 2, 2, 4, and 3. With the exception of Race 7, however, they were unable to break out from the supervision of Butler & Oram and that’s why they finished 2nd – a position most of us would be envious of.

Conor ClancyTeddy Byrne Second overall at the Fireball Nationals were (centre) Conor Clancy and Teddy Byrne with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry

The regatta was significant in that for the first time in a while there were race winners from outside the traditional pool. Even more significant is that we had an all-lady team winning a race at the Nationals and this boosted them into 3rd place overall. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) from the Royal St George Yacht Club persevered on the heavy weather last day of the Worlds at Pwllheli last year when a large proportion of that fleet retired. In stood them in good stead on Friday in Howth when they recorded a 7, 6, 4. To this they added a 3, 5, 1 and 2! Louise & Hermine have been sailing well on Tuesday nights and this result is a vindication of the time they have spent on the water together.

Louise McKenna Hermine OKeeffe Fireball third place winners Louise McKenna Hermine OKeeffe (centre) with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry. Photo: Frank Miller

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) of Skerries were the winners of the last race on the breezy first day when there were only four finishers.

The last race winners came in the form of Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly (14713) of the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. By their own admission they were a little fortunate in that the race leader misinterpreted the flag flying at the last leeward mark of the shortened seventh race – going for another beat when the F-flag flying meant they were to sail directly to the finish at the committee boat. Another boat ahead of them on the water had not responded to an OCS signal at the start.

Son and father combination, David and Michael Keegan (14676), of the Royal St George Yacht Club won the Silver fleet prize after a couple of seasons absence from the regatta scene and Eoin Clarke & Tim McAuley (14244) and the sole representative from Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club took the Classic prize.

Fireball David Michael KeeganSilver fleet winners at the Fireball Nationals were (centre) David and Michael Keegan with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry Photo: Frank Miller

Tim McAuley and Eoin ClarkeClassic boat winners at the Fireball Nationals were Tim McAuley (left) with and Eoin Clarke (right)

For the second year, the Nationals entry level was lower than we would all have preferred. One entry withdrew as the helm was feeling unwell, but there were a number of absentees that might normally be present. This absence of numbers has created a challenge for the class that has yet to be properly answered.

Howth Yacht Club’s Commodore and Vice Commodore, Berchman Gannon and Emmett Dalton respectively presided over the prize-giving and thanked the class for bringing the event to Howth. Berchman said they were delighted to have hosted the event even though the numbers were a few less than they might have expected. Due thanks were given to Emmett Dalton for organising the event and to Race Officer Richard Kissane and his team who had race managed seven races in contrasting and challenging conditions between days 1 & 2.

The regatta scene now moves on to Killaloe, on the weekend of September 10/11th, while the Tuesday night series in Dublin Bay still has a few fixtures to be fulfilled.

Irish Fireball Nationals 2016

Howth Yacht Club

R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Tot Nett
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram NYC   1 1 3 1 1 2 4 13 6
2 Conor & James Clancy RStGYC   2 2 12 2 2 4 3 27 11
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe RStGYC   7 6 4 3 5 1 2 28 15
4 Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer SSC   4 4 1 7 8 3 5 32 17
5 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly DMYC   5 5 2 6 6 7 1 32 19
Published in Fireball

Day 2 of the Irish Fireball Nationals was in stark contrast to Day 1 at Howth Yacht Club writes Cormac Bradley. The breeze that saw the fleet afloat gradually faded as the day wore on and the last race of the day, the fourth was a "hunt the breeze" race that ultimately got shortened.

Race 1 was sailed in two parts Noel Butler & Stephen Oram and the Clancy brothers, Conor and James sailed their own match race while the rest of us fought for the minor places. These fell to the ladies, Louise McKenna & Hermine O Keeffe (3rd) and Alan Henry & Simon Reveille.

This was a precursor to Race equality 5 as Louise & Hermine who broke the male domination of race wins at Nationals by taking Race 6.

Before that Butler and Clancy took another 1st and second respectively with Alan Henry third and Class Chairman Marie Barry sailing with Michael Ennis finishing fourth.

Louise & Hermine led the 6th race from the second beat after going hard left. Butler came from behind to secure 2nd and his situation improved when Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer finished ahead of the Clancy brothers.

By Race 7 the wind was "sparse"to put it mildly. For the second start of the day Race Officer Richard Kissing had to fly an OSC flag and the inability of the transgressors to go back was to prove costly. Another incident of failing to respond to a flag when a shortened course was signalled - go straight to the finish. The race leader got it wrong and sailed past the CB finish line at a cost of 4 places. Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly got the Race win after the two flag indiscretions. Butler beat Clancy again to leave himself set up for a regatta win tomorrow.

All those who had repairs on their agenda yesterday were back on the water today. Howth VC, Emmet Dalton also got out today and mixed it with the regulars.

Mention should be made of son and father David & Michael Keegan who have sailed every race and finished all but one after an absence of a few seasons. Eoin Clarke & Tim McCauley also raced the four races today after rudder problems yesterday.

Results are here

Published in Fireball

At 15:46 a well–worked Irish Fireball fleet is ashore at Howth Yacht Club after three very hard races where the Race Officer advised that the wind was consistently "on average" 20 knots writes Cormac Bradley.

Three Olympic courses were sailed with the first one slightly shortened due to a mark problem.

Spinnaker flying was a minority activity on the day with most people content to keep their boats upright and the all-lady combination of Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffew can claim to be winners in that category. Another combination, Stephen Oram and Noel Butler only capsized to repair the outhaul on the boom.

A number of boats are undergoing modest repairs, as this is being typed; a broken trapeze wire (Michael Ennis & Marie Barry), a broken rudder down haul (Team Clancy), another main outhaul (Alan Henry & Simon Reveille) and broken rudder fittings (Tim McCauley).

One boat did not go afloat and another came ashore without starting a race.

On the water Butler & Oram won Races 1 & 2, before the broken outhaul in the last race of the day gave them a third. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer took the gun in the third race to add to two fourth places and 2nd overall overnight.

Three points more and we find Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly on 12 points, scoring 5, 5, 2.

Only four boats finished the last race of the day - principally as a consequence of the damage listed above. However, nobody, on coming ashore, was complaining that the fourth race had not been sailed. An 11:00 start is scheduled for tomorrow and those who battled through today''s conditions won't object to the prospect of the slightly later start.

1. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (1, 1, 3)
2. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cromer (4, 4, 1)
3. Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (5, 5, 2).

Team Clancy, Conor & James, were undone, literally, when their rudder down haul was ripped out of the tiller, possibly as a consequence of hitting a submerged object. This left them with a DNF in Race 3 which diluted the two second places they scored in R1 & 2.

So another unseasonal day for August - it started warm and sunny but is now clouded over. While Wexford a month ago may have been the uncomfortable side of heavy, some suggested today was the comfortable and exciting side of heavy. The breeze is still here but tomorrow offers the prospect of more managable conditions

Published in Fireball

#J24 - Team Ireland's Eye Kilcullen brought the J/24 Westerns title to Howth Yacht Club this weekend in the event's first running since 2014.

Three Howth K25 teams took to the waters at Lough Ree on Saturday (6 August), where Team Ireland's Eye Kilkullen led after four races.

Johnny Bravo also scored two thirds and a fourth to place them well for fourth overall on conclusion of racing yesterday (Sunday 7 August).

Published in J24
Page 10 of 37

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