Displaying items by tag: Howth Yacht Club
The Club’s six weekend End-of-Summer Series – due to run until October 18th – had got off to a flying start last weekend with 79 boats taking part in nine classes.
With good sailing conditions expected this Saturday and Sunday, the absence of further competition, for the time being, will be a disappointment for racing-starved sailors. However, individual boat sailing is still permitted in household crews, but that too will be kept under review on a regular basis.
Congratulations have been pouring in for sailing legends Neville and Jean Maguire of Howth, who celebrated their 69th Wedding Anniversary in yesterday’s balmy weather aboard their Seaward 23 motor-cruiser Two Much in Howth Marina. These days, they’re best-known internationally as the parents of Australian-based international sailing superstar Gordon Maguire. But it took Gordon many years of top-level sailing achievement before his sailing record began to match that of his super-talented father, whose very varied sailing experience goes right back to the 1930s when he crewed at a very young age for noted designed and cruiser-racer skipper John B Kearney aboard the famous Mavis.
While still a schoolboy, Neville was a champion helm in the Mermaids, and in 1952 and again in 1954, he won the All-Ireland Helmsmans Championship. A much sought-after helmsman for boats of all sizes, with his own craft he won many inshore and offshore championships in everything from Olympic Finns through Dragons to Shamrock Half Tonners. Throughout all these busy times afloat and ashore (for Neville is also an engineer and model-maker to international standards), Jean has been supportively at his side, and Nevllle in his turn is both very much the family man, and someone who contributes greatly to the community, having been a quietly busy voluntary worker on many projects for Howth Yacht Club over the years.
We join all Irish sailing in heartfelt congratulations to this remarkable couple, who contribute so much to Irish sailing.
The Irish sailing community's response to the pandemic-induced prohibition on open events has seen some inspiring out-of-the-box thinking where there are significant local fleets. So although Howth Yacht Club has weathered two major setbacks in 2020 in being unable to stage its hugely-sociable biennial Wave Regatta and its time-honoured Autumn League, the key players in the peninsula club's administration have "Problems are Opportunities" as their mantra, and the newly-launched six-weekend End-of-Summer series got off to a flying start on Saturday and Sunday.
They were able to make a virtue out of it being "For Members Only", secure in the knowledge that during the shortened 2020 season Howth YC's already large numbers have taken on 191 new members and still counting, as people are keen to avail of the club's unique capacity to provide a safe environment within its enclosed clubhouse/marina complex.
And as for potential boat numbers, the steady growth of turnouts for club evening and weekend racing from the keelboat racing season's tentative start in July was given further encouragement by lively competition for the two national championships which the club could stage for the Puppeteer 22s and the Howth 17s, as all boats involved happen to be Howth-based.
But the real light-bulb moment came with the decision to split the fleets across two days for the new series, with the One-Designs and small cruisers racing on the Saturday, and the bigger cruiser-racers strutting their stuff on Sunday. Not only did this optimise the use of strictly social-distanced hospitality spaces ashore, but it meant that hyper-keen sailing-starved matelots could get in two races in two very different boats during the two days, while J/80s could race as J/80s on Saturday, and IRC "cruisers" on Sunday.
For most, however, the attraction of a single race in a clearly defined time-frame was enough to start with, and with the alleged end-of-summer weekend actually providing weather more like high summer, with warm offshore breezes and bright sunshine on Sunday, even the most optimistic were pleasantly surprised by the turnout of 79 boats across nine classes.
The biggest single fleet was the Puppeteer 22s with 16 (and more to come, apparently), while the venerable Howth Seventeens are still putting boats afloat (in September, forsooth), and they'd a fine turnout of thirteen.
All classes used a pier start for this first weekend, but now that the show's on the road, it will be Committee Boats for at least the next three weekends. For although the conditions were so balmy as to be almost somnolent, the pent-up competitive spirit was much in evidence right across the board.
The Puppeteers again set the pace with ferocious competition which saw the first five boats finishing within one minute and five seconds, the winners (by five seconds) being Neil Murphy and Conor Costello with Yellow Peril from Alan Pearson and Alan Blay in Trick or Treat.
The Howth 17s now have a form card for 2020, having completed their Nationals (won by Pauline) and their Lambay Race (won by Deilginis). But this time out it was Rita (Marcus Lynch & John Curley) which won by a squeak, just three seconds from Deilginis (Massey Toomey & Kenny).
The Howth Squibs are also seeing their numbers gently increasing as people become accustomed to this back-to-front summer, and while they'd just seven boats out on Saturday, the word is there'll be more this coming weekend, and meanwhile Emmet Dalton in Kerfuffle won from Chatterbox (J Kay) with Tears for Fears (N Monks) third.
Sunday's sunshine seemed almost too good to be true, but it was believed for long enough to give some intriguing racing, with the two stars of the show in Class 1 being the classic Half Tonner Mata (Wright brothers & Rick De Neve) and Stephen Quinn's J/97 Lambay Rules. Richard Colwell & Johnny Murphy's J/109 Outrajeous may have taken line honours, but Mata won on IRC and Lambay was second, while the position was reversed under HPH.
The Bourke/McGirr/Ball X302 Xebec had it every which way over sister-ship Dux (Gore-Grimes family) in Class 2, and so too had Stephen Harris's First 40.7 Tiger in the non-spinnaker division IRC, though Kieran Jameson's Sigma 38 Changeling won on HPH, while Class 3 (which had raced on Saturday) saw Vincent Gaffney's rare Laser 28 Alliance II on top.
Going into the first races on Saturday, it was still anybody's guess as to how this unusual format might work out. But with good racing for 79 boats now recorded on the time sheets, it's a concept which might even find useful applications outside the current challenging circumstances.
And for those who though pier starting downwind was just a little bit too retro, even in the exigencies of the time, the word is that this coming weekend will be Committee Boat and two windward-leeward races for the same lineup of classes each day.
Detailed results here
The Olympic sailing dream is of competition on a sterile racing area with weak to non-existent tides, well clear of any special wind effects that a nearby coastline and an island or two might provide, while of course using a meticulously-set Committee Boat start line and a cleverly-designed course to test several points of sailing. That's the way they want it. Yet if that's their dream - their perfect ideal - then Howth Yacht Club's traditional sixteen nautical miles of Lambay Race must be Olympic sailing's stuff of nightmares.
The original Lambay Course – raced at least since 1904, and probably earlier - was simply though Howth Sound inside Ireland's Eye after a pier start from Howth Harbour, then nor' eastwards to the east point of Lambay. Officially, it's The Nose, but few remember to call it that, they just call it the East Point, as we've a Nose of Howth already, and that's quite enough to smell the coffee on any one day.
The north side of Lambay seems like the Far Side of the Moon for most sailors, even those from Howth which is only seven miles away. And as you head west to double the island, there are various impairments to ease of navigation, such as Carrickdorish Rock and Harp Ear.
These are matters of even more concentration if you're beating against a westerly. But concentrating purely on sailing along there is difficult anyway, as Lambay is a natural wonder where the abundant wildlife - some of it on surprisingly spectacular cliffs - is augmented by a troupe of wallabies (don't ask), and Ireland's only colony of black rats, a cute little fellow who nevertheless would make life difficult for your average gannet settlement.
However, the Fingal gannet seems a tougher proposition than those from elsewhere. Having established his first neighbourhood colony on the Stack at Ireland's Eye back in 1989, when that got crowded his descendants and relatives not only started spreading onto the main island itself regardless of its predators, but they set up an offshoot on a big rock close under the cliffs on the other side of Lambay six miles to the north.
That has prospered so much that they appear to have bludgeoned their way onto Lambay itself through being the Neighbours from Hell for poor little rattus rattus, who is now on the endangered species list. As for the wallabies, they can't be too pleased, as they used to top the Lambay attractions chart until these rock-star gannets came along.
Brian Maguire of Hyberno Droneworks follows the fleet.
All these interesting things are going on along the Far Side of the Moon, aka the north side of Lambay, making it difficult to think only of sailing - let alone racing tactics - in a locality notorious for its flukey winds and tricky tides. As a result, when the Lambay Race is on the agenda, the Howth sailing community is a bit thin on the community spirit, as the Single-minded Racing Purists think it's a very dodgy proposition in the first place, whereas the Broad-minded Historically-Concerned Philosophers think it's central to the very ethos of Howth sailing, an event which must be sailed in its traditional form each year as an Act of Worship .
With such contrary opinions, the Lambay Race race has sometimes been messed about over the years, with extra marks being added to make it look more like a modern course. But in the difficulties of our current situation, the 1898-founded Howth Seventeens saw an opportunity. They wanted to celebrate getting a dozen boats of their ancient 20-strong fleet finally afloat despite 2020's truncations, and the best way seemed to be a race the traditional straightforward 16-mile Lambay Course on Saturday 5th September, as the tides suited – flood going north and favourable ebb coming back - and they could do it as their own thing, without trying to make an all-comers regatta out of it.
It made for a busy day at Howth in the day's brisk westerly, as a race of the Fingal Series for cruiser-racers went off around 1000 hrs, the Howth 17s buzzed northwards towards Lambay – just able to carry their topsails – in a starting sequence beginning at 1130 hrs, and then towards 1430 hrs as the Puppeteer 22s and the Squibs were squaring up for their weekly Saturday afternoon race, didn't the Howth 17s come roaring back down the Sound again with the full ebb under them after probably the fastest Lambay Race the class has ever recorded.
Yet far from being left on their own to get on with it, in this most peculiar sailing season they'd had an escort fleet dominated by the local flotilla of dark blue Seaward 23s and 25s carrying various photographers and a film team from TG4. For the word had got out that in this bleak year, a dozen Seventeens racing round Lambay would be a sight to cheer anyone up. And it was vintage stuff throughout, with real power to the dense-air wind at times, and flashes of vivid sunlight interspersed with curiously rain-free passing clouds, one or two so black they had the look of The End of Days about them.
But for connoisseurs of Howth Seventeen sailing and the wonders of the Fingal coast, it was pure magic throughout. After an extremely fast and wet reach northward, appropriately it was the granny of them all, Howth 17 No 1 Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) which was first at Lambay. But the wind flattened almost completely at the Nose such that the eight leading boat concertinaed into a straight line abreast, and first out of the traps in a private breeze which took them very close to Carrickdorish were the Massey/Toomey/Kenny syndicate in Deilginis with Keith Kenny on the helm, and Dave Mulligan with Sheila.
Thereafter, Deilginis played it very cool on the short but position-setting beat along the north coast on Lambay, not getting too far offshore where there was a boat-stopping sea running and the tides were all over the place, yet not getting too far into the alluringly smooth water inshore, where the wind might suddenly disappear completely.
They were first to reach the most northerly turn at the buoy marking Taylor's Rocks off Lambay's northwest corner, and had quite a decent gap on Sheila. But Dave Mulligan had to put in a virtuoso performance on the long reach back to Howth, as the pack were right on his tail.
As it turned out, they were having enough in-fighting to let him build his lead a bit, but there was no way he could make any dent on the gap to the flying Deilginis, which was literally racing against time as her topsail – which had been setting perfectly on port tack heading north – was all over the place on starboard tack heading south, though enough of it stayed working for her crew to claim they'd been deploying a clever topsail-scandalising trick to de-power the sailplan in the stronger gusts.
Whatever, they maintained their lead to finish in two hours 36 minutes and 14 seconds, which may well be a Howth 17 Lambay record. And as they tacked onto port to get into the harbour, lo and behold but wasn't the topsail suddenly setting perfectly again…..Sheila was just over a minute astern, then came 2020 champion Pauline (Shane O'Doherty, Ian McCormick and Michael Kenny) and Rosemary (George Curley, David Jones & David Potter, with the four leaders finishing within two minutes.
On handicap (a very import element in the continuing strength of the class) the winner was Echo (Bryan & Harriet Lynch) from Tom Houlihan's Zaida, with Sheila and Pauline re-appearing in the listings at 3rd and 4th. In a more complete season, it would be hoped that there would seldom be much overlap between scratch and handicap.
But in this weird year, the six Howth Seventeens which didn't appear in the top four under either system in the Lambay Race 2020 seemed happy to adopt the attitude of the New England whaling skipper who went clean round the world without so much as seeing a whale, let alone catching one. He said he'd had a helluva fine sail.
Howth 17 Lambay Race 2020 results (scratch)
1st Deilginis (Massey, Toomey & Kenny) 2:36:14; 2nd Sheila D.Mulligan) 2:37:18; 3rd Pauline (S.O'Doherty, I. McCormick & M Kenny) 2:37:44; 4th Rosemary (G.Curley, D.Jones & D Potter) 2:38:10.
1st Echo (B. & H. Lynch 2:25:31; 2nd Zaida (T.Houlihan) 2:26:17; 3rd Sheila 2.37:18; 4th Pauline 2:37:44.
Howth's Patrick O' Neill and the crew of Mojo were crowned J80 Irish National Champions at the Royal St. George Yacht Club this afternoon after a closely fought seven-race series on Dublin Bay.
14 boats competed from four different Dublin clubs that represent a building momentum for the Irish J80 class, one of the world's most popular sportboats.
In a show of strength for Howth Yacht Club entries, four of the top five places were taken by the North Dublin visitors but O'Neill's overall victory was ultimately only by the slender margin of half a point from host club runner up Jonny O'Dowd. In third place overall was 1996 Olympian Dan O'Grady sailing Jammy.
Four race wins on Saturday put O'Neill in a strong position overnight and even two protests in the final racers on Sunday could not stop the Mojo challenge.
J80 National Championships 2020 Results at the Royal St. George Yacht Club (Top Five)
1st Mojo IRL 1551 Howth Yacht Club Patrick O' Neill
2nd JABS IRL 1609 Royal St George Yacht Club Jonny O' Dowd
3rd Jammy IRL 1097 Howth Yacht Club Dan O' Grady
4th Red Cloud 985 Howth Yacht Club Darragh O' Connor
5th Headcase 1651 HYC, MSC, BYC, LRYC Ryan Glynn
Full results are here
Although the Puppeteer 22 first appeared from Chris Boyd of Killyleagh on Strangford Lough in 1978, it was 1983 by the time some keen-to-upsize Squib sailors in Howth saw the potential of this user-friendly little sloop, with her sparse but usable accommodation, and a fractional rig that made for a much less-challenging crewing proposition than the powerful masthead -rigged Ruffian 23 to which she was inevitably compared.
By the time the Howth sailors became interested, local Puppeteer classes in the north had waxed and in some cases already waned. Yet in the best One Design traditions of the Greater Dublin area, once the Howth group became committed, they stayed committed, and while several ordered new boats, others found they already had a selection of second-hand craft to choose from to build a long-lasting local OD class
By 1985 the new class was up and running at its Howth base, and thriving so much that in due course an entire section of the then-new marina seemed to be filled almost exclusively with Puppeteers, ironically putting them in the berths nearest to Howth House where Herbert Boyd (absolutely no known relation to Chris Boyd) had designed the Howth 17s in the Autumn of 1897.
Yet the Seventeens and the Puppeteers happily co-exist, for each fills a very different niche in sailing, and by the turn of the Century, Puppeteer number in Howth were such that they regularly were mustering keen racing fleets of between 25 and 30 boats.
This means that in and around the Howth peninsula, there are mow Puppeteers which are more than forty years old. And while some are still immaculate, others are showing their age and then some, such that in one well-worn case, the family donated the boat last winter to the club.
Anywhere else, this might have been seen as a landfill proposition, to be quietly dealt with making as little fuss as possible. However, HYC's Simon Knowles - owner-skipper of the J/109 Indian – is action-man in normal times. But as Ireland was clearly heading into abnormal forced inaction with the COVI-19 lockdown looming, he offered to take on the little boat as a project to help pass the time. There was just enough space for a restoration up at his house house, and the eventual result - he stopped counting after logging 300 man hours on the job - is a little boat now rather better than new.
But this particular piece of rejuvenation didn't take part in last weekend's Puppeteer 22 Nationals at Howth, as the Knowles energy was suddenly re-directed into the pop-up Fastnet 450 "Offshore Race That Came Out Of Nowhere", in which Indian gave a very good showing of herself. However, that campaign meant that the new-from-old Puppeteer didn't go afloat.
But there was another Puppeteer restoration coming down the line which did hit the Nationals start on Saturday morning. This was Shiggy Shiggy, Puppeteer No 1 that Afloat Magazine sail-tested on Strangford Lough way back in September 1978, and which Paul McMahon has been quietly beavering away restoring for something like two and a half years now. As longtime Puppeteer 22 sailor and keeper of the Class Records Neil Murphy now tells us, this was a Born-Again Event which rang all the bells:
Puppeteers Get New Champion by Neil Murphy
In a season where many key sailing events classed as 'National' have been chalked off as COVID consequences, the Puppeteer Class became one of the exceptions over the Aug 29th/30th weekend. With the sponsorship of Sutton Cross Pharmacy, Howth YC hosted the Class Championships, and after 6 races in a variety of conditions, the winner was Shiggy Shiggy, owned by Paul McMahon and Laura Ni hUallachain, while the winner on handicap was Philip & Roslyn Byrne's Odyssey.
Whilst the fleet racing in Howth YC in a 'normal' year extends to 20 boats and better with the hope of some visitors from the Northern Ireland fleet for the Championships, the COVID fallout and the complexities of putting a crew together for a weekend-long series - when club evening races are proving so popular - brought the entry on Day One down to eleven boats.
The competitors were greeted on a very grey Saturday by a 20 knots-plus northerly breeze with a lumpy sea that offered the fleet plenty of challenges, but not the conditions most of the crews had hoped for. Race Officer Harry Gallagher and his management team had a choice of course configurations to draw from - Windward Leeward, Triangle plus Windward Leeward or around the Howth YC fixed marks using one of the Club's week-night courses.
To make the opening race less demanding for the less well practiced, the first race used a Club course and a pattern that was to become apparent over the weekend was quickly established – the lead being battled for between defending champions Yellow Peril (Murphy / Costello), 2019 Autumn League winners Trick or Treat (Alan Pearson & Alan Blay) and the newbies to the Puppeteer fleet on Shiggy Shiggy, sail number 1. Through dramas of broaches, fluffed gybes, gusts and place changes, the first race made its way to a conclusion with Yellow Peril taking the win and Trick or Treat and Shiggy in second and third.
Shiggy Shiggy (so good it was named twice) was purchased in 2018 by its current owners in a 'somewhat tired' condition. After being lavished with TLC over the last two winters and during the 2020 lockdown by Laser and SB20 ace Paul McMahon, she now looks as well and is certainly better kitted out than at any time in her 42-year history. with a mix of new sails from both UK Sails and North, with the latter supplying the spinnaker and no 2 jib, she is also probably going quicker than when first launched as the Puppeteer 22 prototype in September 1978.
Sunday was a day transformed
Howth's Puppeteers catch the last of the proper summer (Hybernia Drone Works by Brian Maguire)
After the excess of the first race, the wind eased enough over the following two races to allow most of the fleet hoist their larger headsails but the racing stayed just as close and the waves and temperature just as unpleasant. After three races, Trick or Treat and Shiggy had made it a three-way split of the winners' guns to leave Trick or Treat as overnight leaders with only two points covering the first three boats. However, the conditions over the day left three of the fleet out of action for Sunday through rudder loss, deck damage and mechanical problems.
Sunday brought more benign conditions – 8 to 10 knots with sunshine and a flatter sea. Shiggy was quickly out of the traps and took the win in Race 4 with Yellow Peril just behind and Gannet (T Chillingworth) pushing Trick or Treat all the way to the line before Trick or Treat grabbed third. Race 5 saw Shiggy and Yellow Peril again in the top spots, but this time Gannet bagged the third rather than see it escape at the last minute. Going into the last race, the title chase was down to just two boats, Shiggy being the favourite and only having to finish third or better to win the title while Yellow Peril had to win and rely on Shiggy having a calamity. Shiggy again led Yellow Peril home with Gannet getting another third. Four wins and two thirds from six races is a winning score in any fleet and Shiggy Shiggy was confirmed as the 2020 Puppeteer 22 Class Champion.
The winner of the handicap event was Odyssey, which sailed a very consistent series and was always on the heels of the leading group on the water. Odyssey also collected the dubious honour of being the only boat called OCS at a start, despite the numerous close shaves that resulted from crews seeking to check the awareness of the Race Officer before breathing sighs of relief at the broadcast of 'Clear start'.
A socially distanced presentation of the winners' cups was carried out ashore with the Class's appreciation for the continued sponsorship of Sutton Cross Pharmacy acknowledged by Class Captain, Peter Wilson, who also thanked the Race Management team and the Jury Chairman, Emmet Dalton. Hopefully, the volume of Arnica, Voltarol and other remedies required after Saturday's bruise-inducing racing will not overly deplete the sponsor's stocks.
Puppeteer National Championship Howth Yacht Club Results
Ireland's sports organisations are taking a battering during the pandemic, and the operating model of sailing clubs, in particular, makes them especially vulnerable to a downturn in all activities afloat and ashore. Afloat.ie's W M Nixon wrote this piece yesterday for his home club at Howth, where the mood has been dampened by the news that the J/24 Nationals - scheduled at Howth for the first weekend of September – has been cancelled, as the nationwide J/24 Class felt it didn't merit the effort of long – sometimes very long - road haulages, when everything that they hoped to do ashore in connection with the event would be severely constrained or non-existent under the latest Government guidelines. The Nixon response has been to celebrate some of the Howth achievements which have been possible during August, and to those mentioned here he would add the success of the Howth 17 Nationals
Howth Yacht Club came very well out of the Optimist Nationals at Royal Cork ten days ago, with Johnny Flynn the new champion and Rocco Wright finishing third overall. So there was a certain amount of pressure of expectation on our two entries in the weekend's pop-up 266-mile offshore race on Saturday 22nd August from Dun Laoghaire (where the National YC's 150th Anniversary plans have been mangled by the pandemic) round the Fastnet Rock and back to Crosshaven, where most of the Royal Cork's planned Tricentenary plans have also been blown clean away, with entrants for events like the socially-distanced Oppie championship being limited to the island of Ireland.
When the 2020 Round Ireland Race from Wicklow - re-scheduled by the pandemic from mid-summer weekend in June to the 22nd August – was finally cancelled on August 9th with less than three weeks before its new date, the determined Cork trio of Mark Mansfield, RCYC Rear Admiral Annamarie Murphy, and SCORA Commodore Johanna Murphy decided to see if they could put a completely new race together for the same August 22nd weekend start, but with all entrants being firmly told it was pure racing – shoreside activity of any kind would be minimal.
There was barely a fortnight to go as the clearer outline of this pop-up event began to take shape. But it soon had entries pouring in with its catchy name of the Fastnet 450, which is the 150 years of the National YC and the 300 of the Royal Cork combined, while the actual distance from Dun Laoghaire leaving the Muglins, Tuskar, Coningbeg and Fastnet Rock to starboard and the Daunt Buoy to port before finishing at Roche's Point in the entrance to Cork Harbour is around 266 miles, though nearly all entrants were to sail more than 300.
Howth almost immediately had two boats into the 20-strong entry pot, both of them disappointed Round Ireland entrants in the form of Robert Rendell's XC 45 Samatom and Simon Knowles' J/109 Indian. Samatom inclines toward the cruising end of the performance cruiser spectrum, so if the race involved a preponderance of windward work – which proved to be the case – it wouldn't really suit her, and while she was in the running at times, eventually - after getting round most of the course including the Fastnet itself - she retired into Kinsale rather than continue over the final 15 miles to Crosshaven.
But Indian was in there as a frontline contender from the start, her crew of all the talents of Fingal including – in addition to Simon Knowles himself – Anthony Doyle, Frank Dillon, Jon Hartshorn, Cillian & Rima Macken, Darragh White and the key man, John Flynn, who was there under double pressure, as his son Johnny Flynn is the new Optimist National Champion.
As Simon reports, although the wind after the start at 1300 hrs Saturday was sufficiently off the land to lay the course – sometimes with sheets slightly cracked - down the Wicklow and Wexford coasts towards the Tuskar, it was gusting to 30 knots, at times it headed to make it a dead beat, and with the spring ebb running full blast, the sea state was rough and the sailing was brutal.
As for the competition, it was fierce, as their most frequent contender was the Sunfast 3600 Hot Cookie (John O'Gorman NYC) a sister-ship of Conor Fogerty's OSTAR-winning BAM! with the special talents of Maurice "Prof" O'Connell on the strength, and Indian was also in face-to-face competition with two newer J boats, Andrew Algeo's J/99 Juggerknot 2 from the Royal Irish YC, and James Tyrrell's J/112E Aquelina from Arklow.
After they'd put the Tuskar astern and came hard on the wind late on Saturday evening, things were looking extra good for the Howth boat. For though the tide had turned to be against them, this smoothed the sea a bit and yet they were past the area of maximum adverse flood stream, while as a bonus, they and Juggerknot 2 found a favouable if brief twist in the wind which enabled them to lay the course, putting them right into the frame.
That little twist of wind wasn't to last, but it helped to keep them well in contention in a fleet where the current top performer from Cork, the Murphy family's Grand Soleil 40 Nieulargo – fresh from winning the Kinsale-Fasnet-Kinsale Race a fortnight earlier, and with her crew including Olympian Nin O'Leary – was battling for line honours at the sharp end with Chris Power Smith's higher-rated J/122 Aurelia (RStGYC), with the very fast little new Sunfast 3300 Cinnamon Girl (Cian McCarthy, Kinsale, with Mark Mansfield on board) never too far astern in third.
It was an unremitting dead beat the entire length of the south coast. And with more wind offshore, that was the place to be, such that some boats were 35 miles at sea before they tacked for the Fastnet. Aboard Indian, they were well in the hunt, and after the 24-hour mark, everyone had settled down to the determined routine of endless windward work with seasickness conquered, proper meals being served, and Hot Cookie and the other two J Boats kept in hand, with the only problem being that the nearer they got to West Cork, the lighter the wind became.
So it was frustrating work getting to the Fastnet Rock itself in the dark, and they rounded at 0245 hrs on Monday morning in just 8 knots of breeze, lying a good 4th on corrected time, but knowing that in a long and meandering 60 miles run back to Cork Harbour, they'd somehow to keep a lot of boats covered in a difficult downwind leg where, once again, the best of the wind appeared to be offshore.
While on the wind, they'd been able to keep Hot Cookie well in control, but this long run suited the Sunfast 3600 better. Yet with her lower rating Indian was able to keep in touch, and coming in past the Old Head of Kinsale late on Monday morning, they knew the Cookie was ahead while Juggerknot and Aquelina were astern.
But the challenge of maintaining sufficient proximity to Hot Cookie made for a tough final three hours, yet they managed it, in fact they did so well that not only did they stay ahead of the Sunfast 3600 on corrected time, but they even closed the gap on her newer smaller sister Cinnamon Girl.
At the sharp end of the fleet, Aurelia took the line honours at 1026 hrs Monday, Nieulargo was next in 23 minutes later to take an unassailable overall lead, but back down the line Cinnamon Girl was bedevilled by very light patches, and all the time Indian was taking it out of her. So when Cinnamon Girl finally got across at 1146 hrs, she still was third overall, but it was by a smaller margin ahead of Indian, which was fifth across the line behind Hot Cookie, but corrected into a good fourth overall to round out a successful fortnight for Howth Yacht Club down Cork way.
As to what virtual celebrations are like, we'll have to wait until they get back to Howth to tell us. With the remains of Storm Frances now well cleared, having gone through in all its power since the Fastnet 450 finished, Indian leaves Crosshaven for home tonight (Tuesday) after the virtual prize-giving at the RCYC.
The Irish Squib Class and Howth Yacht Club have made the difficult decision to cancel the Irish Squib Championships scheduled for this coming weekend, following the updated Government guidance issued on Tuesday.
In a statement, the class says "Whilst we are confident that racing could be held within the parameters of the Government and Public Health advice, it would not be possible to deliver the hoped-for on-shore activities in a socially responsible manner and in compliance with the updated restrictions announced yesterday. We would like to thank the team at Challenge.ie for its support in sponsoring this event and look forward to collaborating with them on events in future".
The Howth 17 Nationals 2020 saw five good races sailed – a pier starter on Friday evening, and four committee boat open water races on Saturday – with the sunny nor’east wind holding up enough for the four open water contests to provide some cracking racing, although it never developed into the hearty sea breeze which might have been expected.
But even with the gentler conditions, there was still just enough power for proper closely-contested sport, and the best competitive showing saw everyone in the fleet of eleven across the finish line within three minutes, with some private contests separated by less than five seconds.
Overall winner, with the final race the decider, was Shane O’Doherty sailing the 1900-built Pauline. He’s known to some as The Mountainy Man, as he runs an outfit called Shane’s Howth Hikes, which in normal times (remember them?) takes visitors to the peninsula on quite energetic walking tours (there’s an electric bike option as well) of the Hill of Howth and its more extraordinary features, most of which the locals take for granted or don’t even know about.
Yet even in the busiest visitor times in non-lockdown years, Shane always keep Saturdays free for sailing while a colleague looks after the tours, for he regards racing with the Howth 17s as an essential part of the Howth experience, and it re-invigorates his love of the place.
For now, that love is total and unquestioning, as conditions suited the Clancy of Kingstown-built Pauline to perfection for the Championship, and she finished two points clear – after that final race decider - of the defending champion Deilginis (Massey, Toomey, Kenny) of 1907 vintage, with Dave Mulligan’s 21st Century “new” boat Sheila third, and another 1907 boat from Kelly of Portrush, the George Curley, Davy Jones and David Potter-owned Rosemary, notching fourth with a scorecard which included the win in Race 4 and a third in Race 5.
While the Howth Seventeens may be the world’s oldest one-design keelboat class, particularly when it’s further qualified by still having the original rig and with the added restriction of all the boats being in the one harbour, nevertheless their personnel lineup is encouragingly supra-national and broad-minded in its outlook.
Thus Shane O’Doherty’s partners in the boat are Michael Kenny -who couldn’t be there as he’s based in Warsaw - and Sutton Dinghy Club Commodore Ian McCormick, who was away in West Cork on a Sportsboat campaign. But being The Mountainy Man, the skipper recruited on his hillside with some heather (Wayne Heather to be precise) and some holly (his daughter Holly O’Doherty). With Brendan O’Brien on the strength to add a surname of unimpeachable Irish sailing distinction, it was all systems go for success for Pauline, with the skipper revealing further insight at the outdoor prize-giving, as his T-shirt told us “Harbours rot ships and men”.
One of the secrets of the Howth Seventeens’ longevity is their determined application of a parallel handicap system to ensure that other boats emerge out of the cannon fodder division to get their place in the sun. It was very well demonstrated this time round as the winner was another Clancy 1900 boat, Anita owned by David O’Connell (Phibsborough) in partnership with helm Muige Karasahin (she’s from Istanbul), with crewing by Elizabeth Jakobson (from Latvia) and Susan Morgan (Sutton).
Anita – re-built by Paul Robert and his team at Les Ateliers de l’Enfer in Douarnenez in Brittany in 2019 after being destroyed by Storm Emma in Howth in March 2018 – was certainly finding her feet as the series progressed, and logged a scratch second in the last race. But even with that, she was sixth overall on scratch in the final tally, yet that became a clear win with the handicaps in an interesting case of sailing for Byzantium within sight of a house where the family of W B Yeats lived for two years in the early 1880s.
The clear division between scratch and handicap continued down the listing, with Tom Houlihan’s Zaida taking second, though there was then an element of overlap as Rosemary (fourth on scratch) was handicap third while scratch winner Pauline was fourth, the double results give everyone at least one good race.
As for sailing enjoyment in a summer when travel is restricted, the weather was such that you could find whatever you wanted off Howth, as the view to the east was of Irelands Eye which looks like a piece of Connemara transferred to the Irish Sea, to the north Lambay would not look amiss in the Hebrides, to the west the dunes of Portmarnock are reminiscent of the Vendee, and to the south with a fore-shortened lens against the strong sunshine, you could be looking at the French Riviera as the narrowed eyes take in the flank of the Hill of Howth and the Wicklow Mountains beyond.
Howth 17s Nationals 2020 (Scratch) Results
1st Pauline (S. O’Doherty, I. McCormick & M. Kenny): (4),3,1,3,1: 8pts; 2nd Deilginis (Massey family, M.Toomey, K, Kenny) 3,1,2,4, (5): 10 pts; 3rd Sheila (D.Mulligan) 2,(7),4,2,6: 14pts; 4th Rosemary (G, Curley, D. Jones, D.Potter) 16pts.
Howth 17 Handicap
1st Anita (D. O’Connell & M. Karasahin), (2), 1,1,1,1: 4 pts; 2nd Zaida (T. Houlihan) 1,2,2,2, (3) 7 pts; 2rd Rosemary (Curley, Jones, Potter) (3), 3,3,3,2: 11 pts; 4th Pauline (O’Doherty, McCormick, Kenny) (7), 6,4,5,4.
September's Wave Regatta at Howth Yacht Club has been cancelled due to COVID19. It brings the axe down too on the ICRA cruiser-racer national Championships that were rescheduled to be sailed as part of the three-day Dublin regatta.
In a statement released tonight, the Howth organisers said: "In the face of uncontrollable circumstances and taking account of our responsibilities in respect of public health, Wave Regatta 2020 in conjunction with Howth Yacht Club and ICRA has made the difficult decision to cancel this year's event".
Chairman Brian Turvey explained: ‘Howth Yacht Club has a greater responsibility to ensure member and visitor safety and taking advice to comply with government and HSE guidelines and paying consideration to recent pandemic trends, this makes the running of the event too difficult at this time.
The event must continue to be true to the Wave Regatta concept and the brand must promise a unique and memorable experience onshore, which would be impossible to achieve this year under current conditions.
I would like to thank our sponsors who are remaining onboard and the organisation team who have worked hard for the past 18 months, meeting almost every obstacle with creativity and solutions. This dedicated support and team will be now focussed on delivering Wave Regatta on 3rd-5th June 2022 and we look forward to welcoming you and your crew to an event that will be worth waiting for!”
ICRA Commodore Richard Colwell added “the decision to cancel Wave and therefore the ICRA National Championships shows that the sailing community is no different to most other sports in that dealing with the pandemic for obvious reasons takes preference overrunning a sailing event. We would like to thank Howth Yacht Club for all their efforts to try and make this happen.”
Entry fees will be refunded over the coming days and any queries should be addressed to the team in the HYC administration office (01 8322141).