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The recent Sailing on Saturday for April 16th discussed how the new-to-Ireland Mark Mills Cape 31 design will be making its Irish debut with four boats at Howth's Wave Regata, which is built around the
long-established Lambay Race, scheduled in 2022 for Saturday, June 4th.

The story made the point that in 1996 the first Mark Mills design of note, the 31ft Aztec - built by David Harte & Gareth Connolly's Mizzen Marine for Peter Beamish - likewise set the world alight with her first race programme including the Lambay Race of 1996.

More than a quarter of a century later, Aztec is now Raptor, and owned by the Royal Irish YC syndicate known as FOFC (Friends of Fintan Cairns). And yes, the word today is that Raptor is poised to strike - as befits her name - on the Lambay Race of 2022.

All of which makes us look afresh at the most recent images of Raptor, and really the only significant change you'd expect nowadays is twin rudders. To which Mark Mills might very reasonably respond that in our header photo, she seems to be tracking very neatly indeed under just the one rudder, despite being well heeled. And of course, historical perfectionists would argue that if you took the twin rudder option, she'd no longer be a true classic to a completely original 1996 design.

Sailing sweetly to success - Aztec with Peter Beamish on the helm in the 1996 Lambay Race.Sailing sweetly to success - Aztec with Peter Beamish on the helm in the 1996 Lambay Race

Published in Wave Regatta

With at least four Mark Mills-designed Cape 31s making their Irish class debut at the Wave Regatta in Howth from June 3rd to 5th, we will see one very important wheel come full circle. For it was a 31ft Mark Mills design making her debut at Howth in 1996 that launched the tyro designer on a stellar career which today sees him established as an internationally-recognised and much-awarded race-winning innovator. But he still finds the best space to think and create in Ireland, as he has moved his productive design studio even deeper into the peaceful rural depths of the lush Wicklow countryside, where he and his team come forward with frontline designs of all sizes up to super-maxis, designs that win at the top level for racing and style in five continents.

Yet twenty-six years ago, it was quite something - a real leap in the dark - to be the first owner to appreciate this nascent talent. That personal distinction falls to Peter Beamish of Dun Laoghaire, who in 1995 placed the order for a completely new 31ft Mills-designed offshore racer to the then-dominant CHS rule. Peter Beamish was to show an exceptional talent for spotting potential, for in the 21st Century he has been one of the quietly effective supporters of Ronan O Siochru and his sailing school, the remarkably successful Irish Offshore Sailing in Dun Laoghaire. But back in late 1995, it was a Fingal-based boat-building partnership, Mizzen Marine, which he commissioned to build the new boat.

Aztec on her maiden sail at Howth, May 1996. Photo: WM NixonAztec on her maiden sail at Howth, May 1996. Photo: WM Nixon 

Cape 31 in full cry – raceboat design has moved on, but there’s no doubting the family link to Aztec. Photo Rick TomlinsonCape 31 in full cry – raceboat design has moved on, but there’s no doubting the family link to Aztec. Photo Rick Tomlinson

The two main movers in Mizzen Marine were David Harte – now of Fastnet Marine & Outdoor Centre in Schull – and Garrett Connolly, an Olympic crew in the Soling. They drew on the talents of Darragh Peelo and Robin Evans as coal-face workers in this intriguing project, with further input from the multi-talented Johnny Smullen, who subsequently became California-based and the personal boat-builder to America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner.

So in all, with ideas being bounced between designer, builders and owner, it was something of a magic circle that created the boat that was initially known as Aztec, and is now known as Raptor in Dun Laoghaire, where she’s owned and sailed by the FOFC, otherwise known as the Friends of Fintan Cairns.

As Aztec in May 1996, she was a star from the start, winning her first inshore race by a clear 3.5 minutes, and making her big time debut in the Lambay Race before going on to sweep Dublin Bay and the Solent. So with the Lambay Race continuing at the heart of the Wave Regatta (it’s on Saturday June 6th), the appearance of the Cape 31s (and let’s hope Raptor as well) will mark a very special stage in the Mark Mills design career.

Aztec makes her debut – she may have been the first of the line, but she was a thoroughbred from the startAztec makes her debut – she may have been the first of the line, but she was a thoroughbred from the start

History in the making. And Aztec fulfilled all her promised, winning her first race - a short inshore – by 3.5 minutes. Photo: W M. NixonHistory in the making. And Aztec fulfilled all her promised, winning her first race - a short inshore – by 3.5 minutes. Photo: W M. Nixon

And it will show how our concepts about boat purposes have moved on too. Aztec aspired to be a proper offshore racer, with overnight capabilities. But the Cape 31s make no such promises -they’re pure day-sailing sportsboats, and indeed at the moment they’re even exploring the possibilities of a foiling version. Yet the fact that they reflect Aztec’s overall length rings a bell, and there’s no doubting a distant but distinct family relationship in their appearance.

With the post-pandemic rising profile of the Wright Group-sponsored Wave Regatta becoming evident, June 2022 is confirming predictions of being an exceptionally busy month for the offshore brigade. But there’s much more to Wave than Cruiser-Racer competition, and while as already reported in there has been a remarkable uptake in entries for Classes 0 and 1, with three race areas available. And a user-friendly pick’n’choose programme means there’s every option available from the opportunity to enjoy three days of intense competition to the more traditional choice of simply doing the Lambay Race, which was first sailed in 1904, and continues as a special way of celebrating the existence of a very handsome and unspoilt island only 22 kilometres from Dublin city centre.

Lambay – the perfect unspoilt island, yet it is only 22 kilometres frOm the heart of Dublin city.Lambay – the perfect unspoilt island, yet it is only 22 kilometres frOm the heart of Dublin city.

Howth’s long tradition of One-Design keelboat racing will be much in evidence, for in addition to the locally-rooted Howth 17s of 1898-vintage and the Puppeteer 22s dating from 1978, the Squibs are undergoing one of their number surges in anticipation of the big championship in Kinsale at the end of June, while at the other end of the scale, the Sigma 33s are indicating growing strength, with the Howth-based Insider (Stephen Mullaney and Ian Martin) the current Irish champion.

Post-finish celebration aboard the Irish Champion Sigma 33 Insider after another race win. Photo: Conor LindsayPost-finish celebration aboard the Irish Champion Sigma 33 Insider after another race win. Photo: Conor Lindsay

The peninsular harbour also has a small but potent J/109 flotllla sailing from its marina, including Irish class champion Storm (Pat Kelly, Rush SC) , and they will be on their mettle, as J/109 star Mojito from Pwllheli (Vicky Cox & Peter Dunlop) is already into the mix, and now the class have made Wave a designated event for their Eastern Championship.

The Howth-based J/109s Outrajeous (Richard Colwell) and Storm (Pat Kelly) racing off the Fingal coast. The J/109s have designated the Wave Regatta as their Eastern Championship.The Howth-based J/109s Outrajeous (Richard Colwell) and Storm (Pat Kelly) racing off the Fingal coast. The J/109s have designated the Wave Regatta as their Eastern Championship.

HYC’s own club-owned fleet of J/80s made their impressive 2022 debut with the Irish Universities Keelboat Championship in the last weekend of March (when the weather was much more spring-like than it has been since), and that successful series of 18 sunlit races has inspired college crews to put down their names for charter of J/80s for more of the same.

The HYC fiotilla of J/80s making the best of bright March sunshine during the recent Irish Universities Keelboat Championship. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe HYC fiotilla of J/80s making the best of bright March sunshine during the recent Irish Universities Keelboat Championship. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

With normal club racing on the East Coast in full swing before the end of April (DBSC Opening is today week), there’s no doubt that it will take time for the full buzz to manifest itself again, but in Howth there’s an impressive harbour/community effort underway to ensure that Wave is an effective launching pad for the national and international programme, with Howth Harbour Master Captain Harry McLoughlin pulling out all the stops to optimise the port’s potential, while the Michael J Wright Group are joined as sponsors by Fingal County Council, Euro Car Parks, WD 40, Cassidy Travel and CKS Finance.

As for the weather, that’s in the lap of the Gods. But for anyone immersed in the culture and lore of Irish sailing, the prospect of the ancient Howth 17s racing round Lambay as they have done for 118 years in tandem with the presence of the very modern reminders of Mark Mills’ first boat in the same place is profoundly moving.

The Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing round Lambay - as they have been doing for 118 years. Photo: John DeanThe Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing round Lambay - as they have been doing for 118 years. Photo: John Dean

Published in W M Nixon

Peter Dunlop and Victoria Cox’s champion J/109 ‘Mojito’ is the first UK entry for this year's Wave Regatta in Howth Yacht Club in June.

The Pwllheli Sailing Club boat from North Wales is a regular and prominent force on the ISORA circuit and will add spice to the Class 1 competition entry list which already includes local J/109s ‘Outrajeous’ (Richard Colwell and John Murphy) and ‘Indian’ (Simon Knowles).

Cape 31

Barry Cunningham’s brand new ‘Blast’ from the Royal Irish Yacht Club is the latest Cape 31 to sign up to Wave Regatta, presenting onlookers with an opportunity to view the new Mills-designed yachts racing together in Ireland for the first time.


Mindful of the growth in U25 keelboat racing across the country, the June Bank Holiday regatta (3rd-5th June) also offers prizes for the top under 25 boats as well as a special 3-boat team prize which is open to entries that include at least one U25 on each boat throughout the three-day event.

Wave Regatta gives competitors a choice of either the full weekend (3 days) or Lambay Races (Saturday only) with all keelboat classes invited to compete, including one-designs such as the 1720s and J/80s.

The early-entry discount is available from now until the end of March here.

Published in Wave Regatta
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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.

Wave Regatta Chairman Brian Turvey - the 2022 Regatta willl sail from Howth from 3rd-5th JuneWave Regatta Chairman Brian Turvey - the 2022 Regatta will sail from Howth from 3rd-5th June

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).

Published in Wave Regatta

It would appear that the decision to reschedule Wave Regatta to the second weekend in September is strengthening the event and the inclusion of the ICRA National Championships within the regatta in Howth will certainly focus the plans of many racing sailors at the end of the summer.

The Government's phased easing of restrictions announced last night also appear to favour the postponement even though large gatherings will still not be allowed in September. Event Chairman Brian Turvey told Afloat after the government announcement: "Although I haven’t spoken with Irish Sailing yet, it appears to me that all going well, August 10th might be the date where we can all go back sailing and racing on multi-crewed boats. That would give us a month to refine our already evolving COVID-19 preparations. We’re already looking at doing temperature control checks, online crew symptom checking and branded face masks for all competitors"

Cruiser racing 0293The ICRA National Championships will sail at Howth in September Photo: Afloat

The Notice of Race has been published (download below) and it explains that entry to the ICRA Nationals includes qualification (at no extra cost) for Wave Regatta prizes also. This three-day sailing event has always been presented as an innovative experience and notwithstanding the considerations about the current pandemic, the organising team in Howth have been working hard and creatively to plan for every eventuality.

Racing Director Dave Cullen explains ‘Our focus has been to be able to run an excellent racing regatta and championships for the many competing sailors, boats and keelboat classes. It was important that we chose the right dates in September to make the most of favourable neap tides, avoid clashing with other major events and importantly to allow us the time to plan the regatta in consultation with the various authorities. It would appear that the sport of sailing is one that will be high on the list of sports to recommence over the coming weeks and we’re ready to support sailors with the highest quality racing that Howth is synonymous with’. In addition to the ICRA Nationals, the September dates for Wave Regatta also affords many classes the opportunity of hosting their own National Championships at a time of the year that is often touted as being ideal and normally after a full summer of racing. A number of other National Championships will be incorporated including the Sigma 33s and J80s as well as the Half Ton Cup.

Chairman Brian Turvey said ‘Understanding the predicament that many classes will find themselves dealing with such a short season in 2020, we are keen to see if there might be other ’natural synergies’ for class championships albeit within the parameters of the Notice of Race. As such, we’re keen to hear from classes that find themselves in that position and where we might be able to accommodate’.

J24 racing 2040J24 racing

Visitors to Wave Regatta in 2018 will remember the scale and quality of the onshore hospitality that lifted the event beyond a level normally associated with a sailing regatta in Ireland and the 2020 organising team, with help from sponsors such as Michael Wright Group and Fingal County Council, have promised an original and creative solution to the likelihood of some social restrictions and assert that competitors will be delighted with what will be presented.

The event is open to all keelboats and entry can be made for the single day Lambay Races or the full 3-day regatta which runs from Friday 11th through to Sunday 13th September.

Full event details including Notice of Race (downloadable below) and online entry can be found at

Published in Wave Regatta

Heralded as a ‘regatta wrapped inside a three-day party’, Wave Regatta takes place in Howth on the 29th-31st May (the June Bank Holiday Weekend) and the organising team at Howth Yacht Club would appear to have accumulated all the ingredients to replicate the very successful event that was first held in 2018.

The schedule offers keelboat classes the options of racing in the 3-day regatta that commences on Friday 29th May or a single-day entry for Saturday’s Lambay Races.

Wave Regatta 3781

The 3-day event invites IRC and ECHO Classes to participate in the highest quality racing that Howth affords, with a race management team led by International Race Officers, David Lovegrove and Peter Crowley. There will also be a mix of local one-design classes taking part, including the Sigma 33s, J/80s, Squibs, Puppeteers, Ruffians, E-Boats and Howth 17s.

Wave Regatta’s Race Director, Dave Cullen explains ‘utilising a mix of round-the-cans, windward-leeward and coastal race courses, the mix of racing will be of the very highest standard and we want to enthuse entries across a wide array of boat types and sizes. We will also be using the latest ICRA ECHO algorithm that revises handicaps between races and consequently allows relative performance to be adjusted throughout, ensuring every entrant has a chance at winning. For teams that might struggle to commit to the 3-day event, we’ve again included the option to compete in the Lambay Race on the Saturday only with an open invitation to enjoy the hospitality ashore in Howth Yacht Club for the whole weekend.’

Wave Regatta 3678

Describing the overall event, Chairman Brian Turvey explained: ‘Built on a platform that sets out to provide the highest quality racing, this year’s Wave Regatta unashamedly strives to use many of the resources that Howth has to offer so that it will be an unforgettable weekend for all competitors and visitors to the town on the June Bank Holiday. With the backing of Fingal County Council and generous support and expertise from Michael J Wright Hospitality, we have created an event that is much more than a sailing regatta and one that is designed to thrill a wider audience ashore, including visitors to Howth that weekend.’

The entertainment line-up for that weekend includes Howth locals Vogue Williams and the Guilty Party who will be joined by an array of live music acts each evening including guest DJ, yachting commentator and 6-time world champion (Etchells and 5.5m) and Olympic silver-medalist Mark Covell.

Notice of Race and Online Entry are now live on and the discounted ‘Early Bird’ entry expires on 27th March.

Published in Wave Regatta

Irish Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield picks his big (and smaller) events coming up for the Irish cruiser classes in 2020

The 2019 season is only just coming towards its end and already owners and crew are looking ahead at what is in store next year. There are still some good events to finish this season, and among them, the Autumn Leagues in Howth and Royal Cork, The final ISORA race, with the spoils still not decided, the J109 Nationals, the final summer series DBSC races and of course the very popular DBSC Turkey Shoot series.

2019 was very much a front-loaded year with Scottish Series, ICRA Nationals, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, Sovereigns Cup and Dun Laoghaire Regatta all happening within a seven-week period, and 2020 is not looking a whole lot different.

Below you will see the dates of the bigger events for 2020.

Without a doubt the two standout big boat events next year will be the Round Ireland Race in June and in July, Royal Cork Yacht Club host their special Cork Week, on the Munster club's 300th year anniversary. More on this later.

2020 'Big Boat' events

  • Scottish Series, Tarbert - May 22nd to May 25th (Friday to Monday)
  • Wave Regatta, Howth Yacht Club - May 29th to May 31st (Friday to Sunday)
  • Round Ireland Race, Wicklow SC - Starts June 20th (Saturday)
  • RORC Morgan Cup - Cowes to Cork - Starts July 8th (Wednesday)
  • Cork Week, Royal Cork Yacht Club (300 Year Celebration) - July 13th to July 18th (Monday to Saturday)
  • Calves Week - Schul August 4th to August 7th - (Tuesday to Friday)

Other events that are building numbers are Bangor Week, commencing 25th of June and WIORA week (date not published yet). The very popular ISORA offshore series runs throughout the year and these dates are also eagerly awaited.

Here are some details of each of the larger events:

Scottish Series

Always a very happy hunting ground for Irish boats wishing to sharpen themselves up for the new season. Numbers generally have been dropping for the Scottish Series except for the very popular RC35 class where Irish Boats took all podium places this year. Class 2 in 2020 might also show some increases with the biennial Classic Half-Ton Cup in Cowes bringing the competitive Half Tonners out to play early. This year there were two half tonners—expect more in 2020. Great racing and great pub craic around the beer tent and local pubs.

RC35 ScotlandIrish Boats at 2019 Scottish series RC 35 class Photo: Marc Turner

Wave Regatta

Only a new event in 2018 and is based around the Howth Yacht Club traditional June Bank Holiday Lambay Race. Wave Regatta is held every two years and if 2018 is anything to go by, it will be very well attended in 2020. It comes just a few days after the end of Scottish Series. A variety of courses over the three days, including the very popular round Lambay race. Well organised with great onshore facilities.

Signal 8 WaveJamie Mc William's Ker 40, Signal 8 at Howth's Wave Regatta 2018 Photo: Afloat

Round Ireland Race

The big one. 704 miles from Wicklow to Wicklow, clockwise around Ireland and its islands, turning corners all the way around. It goes from strength to strength. There is a rumour of a very large, very well known Maxi looking at taking on the challenge and the record in 2020. If you only plan to do one full-length offshore race, this is the one to do. I have done five Fastnet Races and I would always pick a Round Ireland over a Fastnet.

For those boats who have competed in the last two events, there is the added bonus of the chance to win a Volvo car for the best Boat over the 2016, 2018 and 2020 races. I’m sure we will be advised of the current pecking order very soon on this.

Niall Dowling Niall Dowling's Royal Irish Yacht club, Ker 43, Baraka GP, the overall winner of the Round Ireland 2018 Photo: Afloat

RORC's Morgan Cup

Rarely do Flagship RORC races end in Ireland, but on the 300th year anniversary of the founding of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the RORC have graciously organised for one of their big races to finish in Cork, as a way of getting UK boats over for the Cork Week 300 regatta.

Approx 90 boats competed in the 2019 Morgan Cup edition this year, won overall by a J109. I suspect you may see some offshore orientated Irish boats decide to include this race in their calendar next year, which also serves as a way to get the boat to Cork in time for the Cork Week 300 Series.

Cork Week 300

From the Height of Cork Week in 2000 when boats competing topped 700, it has fallen somewhat. However, 2020, the 300th Anniversary of the club's founding, is all set to be special and interest from all corners of the world is evident with housing around Crosshaven and Carrigaline already starting to be booked up.

A number of classes are planning to use the week as their European Championships. The 1720 class, who had circa 75 boats at their 2000 event, are planning a big show in 2020 with already 10 boats confirmed from the UK with more likely to follow. A proper event Announcement is expected in September announcing some major classes and profile boats that will be competing.

The 2020 ICRA Nationals is being held as part of Cork week (three days only). Cork Week also incorporates a building fleet for the Beaufort Cup, which is a separate event within the week for associated national services (Army, Naval, Police, Firefighting, Coast Guard etc). This event incorporates an offshore race around the Fastnet and back.

Cork Week 2020 will be one not to miss. White Sail and coastal fleets will be included and the highlight is the all in Harbour race.

FekkesRory Fekkes from Carrigfergus SC, First Class 8—FN-GR8—Overall Winner of Cork week 2018 Photo: Bob Bateman

Calves Week

Numbers have held up very well for Calves Week. In 2019, there were 65 cruisers competing, with very competitive racing over the four days. A mix of windward-leeward courses, around the Islands and the Fastnet race keeps everyone interested. One race a day, with all the crews congregating after racing out in the streets between Newmans and Hackett's pubs. The Apres racing is as important as the racing with many sailors choosing to incorporate family holidays into the week. If you are doing Cork Week, and have not done Calves Week before, maybe you should consider leaving the boat in Cork and sliding down westwards a week or two later.

Rockabill JPK10.80Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish—Winner of Calves week Class One in 2019 

“Wave afloat, rave ashore? And all good? What more could you ask?” The new-style Wave Regatta at Howth over the June Bank Holiday weekend set itself so many ambitious targets that it takes a day or two to get it all into perspective writes W M Nixon. But if anything, the feedback gets better with the passage of time.

After all, with an organisation team headed by Brian Turvey, they set out to build a fun regatta for our times around an expanded version of the venerable annual Lambay Race - which dates back at least to 1904 - while at the same time providing a three day series of hot racing for some razor-keen IRC classes which had been judiciously divided ratings-wise to provide – as far as possible – divisions of optimum size.

At the same time, they’d to provide good racing for the local One Design Puppeteer 22s and Howth 17s which continue to provide the backbone of Howth local racing when the IRC squad are away chasing other glamour events.

Well, with entries rising up to 164 boats on Saturday’s peak day of racing, there could be no complaints about turnout, And as to the scene ashore, the Howth-headquartered Michael Wright Hospitality Group took over all entertainment arrangements in a professional style which left nobody in any doubt they were dealing with experts, and the result was a hugely popular 12-band programme which made the best of the gorgeous weather once Friday’s minor glitch of fog and calm had been put out of the way.

The combined outcome afloat and ashore exceeded even the most optimistic anticipation. But it has to be admitted that while our preview here last Saturday got most of the names which were to feature at the front of each class as racing drew to a sunny close on Sunday, we somehow failed to highlight the potential of Dave Cullen’s classic Half Tonner Checkmate XXXV while talking of the success six days earlier in Scotland of another of Howth’s vintage Half Tonners, Johnny Swan’s Harmony.

But while Johnny sails with his mates, Dave is always game to get a rock star onto the strength, and at Howth it was soon noted that Checkmate’s lineup included the one and only Nin O’Leary. Any further comment is superfluous. While Harmony managed to hang in to be second in Class 2, it was Checkmate XV all the way, Class Winner and Regatta Champion by the end of the series.

In Class 1, the sharpening effect of their virtual One-Design-racing within-a-division is putting the J/109s in a class of their own. But while Pat Kelly’s Storm may have been away in the north winning the Scottish Series, Andrew Algeo and partners in Juggerknot are in a speedy place, and they won all but two races at Howth. One of these was the 1.5 points-scoring Lambay Race which went to Storm, racing through her home waters off Rush, which made sure she placed second overall at the end of the regatta, while the other went to one of the Howth boats, Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles’ Indian.

Class Zero Wave regatta 3343The Class Zero start of the Lambay Race at Wave Regatta with Signal 8 already out in front Photo:

At the top of the size scale in Class O, it was Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 43 Signal 8 from Hong Kong almost all the way, but Conor Phelan’s gallantly-campaigned veteran Jump Juice, a 12-year-old Ker 36, was rewarded with one win as she took in the Howth Wave event on her way back to Cork from after featuring in the frame at the Scottish Series.

As to the historical feature which is placed like a jewel at the heart of this new Wave happening, the Lambay Race has become such a diverse event that the ultimate trophy, the silver statuette of the Lambay Lady, goes to the winning boat which has the biggest time lapse between it and second place. It says much for the fiercely close competition for the IRC and ECHO classes that this time round, it was won by Peter Courtney with the One-Design Howth 17 Oonagh.

oonagh wave3Peter Courtney’s Oonagh, winner of the Lambay Lady in the Wave Regatta 2018. The Courtney family have been racing Howth 17s round Lambay since 1907. Photo Howth 17 Class

The Courtney family have been racing Howth 17s round Lambay since 1907. But in his time, Peter Courtney has been a Fireball Champion and an offshore winner as well. Howth sailing today is a broad church, and it has embraced the new Wave Regatta with aplomb. The next one has already been confirmed by HYC Commodore Joe McPeake, it’s set for the June Bank Holiday Weekend in 2020.  

Published in Wave Regatta
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Despite the threat of a dubious weekend weather forecast, Dublin's innovative new Wave Regatta that concluded this evening has delivered in spades for its organisers Howth Yacht Club

Howth crews topped the major prizes with David Cullen on Checkmate XV in Class 2 who won the overall Regatta trophy while traditional Howth 17-footer Oona skippered by Peter Courtney won the classic Lambay Race on Saturday.

Blue skies and sea breezes attracted a total entry of 161 boats from around the Irish Sea and further for a great racing mix and 'unique hospitality' ashore.

Howth 17 3137Traditional Howth 17s raced Round Lambay Photo:

Pre event Pundit predictions were confounded in nearly all classes as the four-race series that included Saturday's Lambay Race (see photo review here) produced some new and not so new inaugural Wave Regatta champions.

"It was a clean sweep for the hosts in all IRC classes except zero and one where Royal Clubs seized the day"

It was a clean sweep for the hosts in all IRC classes except zero and one where Royal Clubs seized the day.

Persistent fog and light winds on Friday eventually cleared in time to deliver a perfect race around the scenic Fingal coastline on Saturday that ended in Howth Sound in ‘champagne sailing’ conditions with the same again for Sunday’s finale.

The overall event win for David Cullen - who was also the Wave Regatta Director of Racing - was based on Checkmate XV's wins in all four races, including the bonus scoring Lambay Race (non–discardable) in the biggest fleet of the event that featured 21 entries in Class 2.

The Lambay Race itself was the highlight of the Wave Regatta weekend when the full fleet of 161 boats graced the pristine waters of the Fingal coastline. Appropriately for the class race around Lambay Island, the Howth 17 footers were given the route closest to the island before the long beat back to Howth Sound and the finish where Peter Courtney and Oona won with a convincing lead.

Storm J109 3199 2Visiting Hong entry Signal 8 was the top scoring boat in Class 0 and won the class despite a defeat to Royal Cork entry Jump Juice in the Lambay Race Photo:

Royal Hong Kong's Jamie McWilliam, got his Ker 40 Summer campaign in Irish waters off to a great start with a class zero win over Conor Phelan's Jump Juice (Ker 37) and George Sisk's WOW (Farr 42). 

Jump Juice 3581Jump Juice (Conor Phelan)

WOW 3622WOW (George Sisk)

Algeo's Royal Irish J109 Wins Class One

Storm J109 3199 2(Above and below) Fresh from winning his class East Coast championship a fortnight ago, Andrew Algeo's Joggernaut from the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire emerged victorious in Class 1, collecting the overall class win under IRC and ECHO handicaps plus the J109 trophy Photo:

Storm J109 3199 2

Newly crowned J109 East coast champion Andrew Algeo of the Royal Irish Yacht Club has caused a major upset in IRC One after unseating the host club's Storm for overall honours.

Coming off the back of two solid wins in Scotland, the Storm crew looked in total control winning yesterday's Lambay Race opener to be overnight leaders. But, the RIYC crew, who sailed so well a fortnight ago for East coast honours and who finished second in the Lambay Race yesterday, again showed the depth of their ambition when they took two well-earned wins in today's final three races. It was more than enough to clinch the title by a margin of 3.5 points. With a four-point advantage, Storm took second to another Royal Irish boat, Joker II skippered by John Maybury.

Storm J109 3199 2Pat Kelly's Storm crew were second overall in Clas One IRC Photo:

Storm J109 3199 2John Maybury's Joker II was third overall in Class One IRC Photo:

Perfect Scoreline for Cullen's Checkmate XV

Checkmate Dave cullen 4396Howth crews topped the major prizes with David Cullen on Checkmate XV in Class 2, the overall Wave Regatta trophy winner Photo:

In class two, nine of the top ten were all HYC entries. The top three were Howth's tricked–up Half–Tonners. Afloat's own nod for the Wave win, Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII, outside the frame in sixth overall. The win instead went to Bigg's former steed, Checkmate XV,  now owned and sailed to a high standard by Dave Cullen had the perfect scoreline of four race wins. Repeating the Lambay order, second overall went to Harmony Johnny Swann and third was Mike Evans' The Big Picture. 

Hamony Half tonner 4575Johnny Swan's Half Tonner, Harmony was second overall Photo:

Royal Cork competitor, Anthony O'Leary on Antix Beag was the nearest visiting boat in fifth place.

In Class three, another HYC flag is at the top of the leaderboard. While admittedly hailing from Carrickfergus, 'F'nGR8' skippered by Rory Fekkes,  another Scottish winner, took a well-earned win from two Howth X302s, Dux (A Gore-Grimes) and Xebec (Bourke McGirr Ball) in second and third respectively in the 21–boat fleet. 

Plans for Wave 2020

Three days of entertainment ashore organised by sponsor Michael JF Wright Hospitality included 12 bands and DJ’s and a giant display screen while six different food options were available in addition to Howth’s array of pubs and restaurants.

“We’re measuring success on the feedback that we’re getting from sailors and sponsors alike who are already planning on returning for the next Wave event in 2020,” said Joe McPeake, HYC Commodore. “This is a tribute to all the effort by a great team of volunteers and our business and local authority partners in Howth and Fingal.”

Storm J109 3199 2Galway Bay visitor to Howth – A O'Reilly's NUIG entry Photo:
Building on the success of the inaugural Wave Regatta, a target of introducing 1,000 newcomers to the sport in time for Wave 2020 has been set. Quest Howth, the club’s new training centre will deliver this pathway into the sport by providing the equipment, skills and opportunities for young people, adults and families throughout Dublin.

Wave regatta HYCThe scene ashore at HYC for Wave Regatta Photo: HYC Facebook
Costs will be kept to an affordable level with minimal outlay up-front required from newcomers. Boat ownership is not required at any time and all participants will be offered club membership.

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Pat Kelly's all-conquering J109 Storm of the host club continues her winning ways this weekend by topping the leaderboard in Howth's Wave Regatta after a strong turnout for the annual Lambay Race yesterday. It's a result, at least in Class One IRC, that confirms an earlier prediction made by here.

After the disappointment of losing the opening races due to fog on Friday, Howth Yacht Club had it all to do to preserve its inaugural event yesterday.

The non-discardable Lambay Race as part of the overall regatta series did not disappoint with ideal 10–15 knots breeze for north Dublin's traditional course around Lambay Island.

J109 Lambay 3945Great reaching breeze for the long leg to Lambay Island Photo:

Billed as the biggest event of the sailing season, the scale of the fleet was a tonic for all involved as the 154–boats reached to Lambay in good surfing conditions. 

Howth Yacht Club rolled out Ireland's newest sailing event and amassed a great fleet to make it Ireland's biggest sailing event in 2019 at the first attempt.

The new style 'Wave' formula breathed new life into one of Dublin's oldest sailing fixtures; the annual Lambay Race dating back to 1899.

The bank holiday event manages to combine inshore and coastal racing that includes rounding the Dublin Island.

Lambay, according to's WM Nixon in his Wave Regatta preview, says it's a 'perfect island which does so much to make the Fingal coast into Leinster’s sailing paradise'. 

Combining a six race inshore programme with the Lambay route has been a popular decision that has produced a quality fleet across three ratings divisions, to the extent that the regatta is being touted as an 'East Coast IRC Championships'.

Race officer David Lovegrove 3332Race officer David Lovegrove with his Howth Yacht Club team for the Lambay Race Photo:

The coastal race had a 1.5 times multiplier and is non–discardable for overall honours that could yet prove critical as today's final three rounds get underway.

Crisp boat handling stole the show off Ireland's Eye yesterday with those who had already produced the goods in Scotland or in other early-season events clearly showing an edge.

Ker 40 signal 8 3395Hong Kong visitor Jamie McWilliam on Signal 8 for the Lambay Race

With a small entry in Class Zero of three boats, it was left to Conor Phelan's Ker 37, Jump Juice to take the win despite planing conditions that gave Jamie McWilliams' high rating Ker 40, Signal 8 the chance to do a horizon job on the water. Unlucky to only finish third at last week's Scottish Series, Phelan got the better of the other two in this class. Signal 8 was second with George Sisk's Wow third.

The Ker 37 JumpThe Ker 37 Jump Photo:

Class one start 3476A packed committee boat end to the class one start Photo:

Storm j109 3227Pat Kelly on the wheel of Lambay Class One Race winner Storm Photo:

Storm Lambay 3678Storm rounds the Windward mark in the lead Photo:

In Class One IRC, the Storm crew, who were crowned Scottish Champions last Monday, outwitted a strong fleet of 19 by catching the first shift off the leeward end of the line. Second was Royal Irish J109, Juggerknot, the recently crowned J109 East coast champion skippered by Andrew Algeo, with clubmate Colin Byrne in the XP33, Bon Exemple third. 


J109s reaching 3781Close racing for the J109s on the long reach to Lambay Photo:

Juggerknot spinnaker 3735Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot was second in IRC One Photo:

Fools Gold 3812Rob McConnell's Fools Gold from Waterford Harbour. Photo:

Checkmate Dave Cullen 4429Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen) was the class two winner Photo:

Harmony half tonner 4523The Howth Half Tonner Harmony was second at the Scottish Series and second in the Lambay Race in class two IRC  Photo:

Big picture Evans half tonner 4543Mike Evans' The Big Picture was third in class two Photo:

Nigel Biggs Checkmate 4645Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII

Class Two IRC was a Half Tonner benefit for the top three places for three well prepared Howth boats edging out the threat of Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII, that took a creditable second at last year's Half Ton Cup. Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV took the win, Jonny Swan's Harmony was second and Mike Evans' The Big Picture was third, leaving Biggs fourth in the 22-boat class, the biggest of the event.

Another Scottish winner, 'F'nGR8' skippered by Rory Fekkes of Carrickfergus but sailing under the burgee of the National Yacht Club took a well-earned win from two Howth X boats, Dux (A Gore-Grimes) and Xebec (Bourke McGirr Ball) in second and third respectively in the 21–boat fleet. 

In a ten–boat ISORA class, Chris Power-Smith's J122 Aurelia from the Royal St. George was the winner from yet another J109, Wakey Wakey skippered by Roger Smith from Poolbeg Y&BC. 

J122 Aurelia 4099J122 Aurelia Photo:

J80 philip watson 4748J80 Jam Jar

Howth 17 4225Howth 17 Isobel (B & C Turvey) Photo:

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Wave Regatta racing continues today with three more races.

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