A few years ago, well actually it’s pushing on eight years now, four Hurricane 5.9 catamaran’s from Swords Sailing and Boat Club (SSBC) sailed from Howth Yacht Club to the Rockabill Lighthouse and back writes multihull sailor Stephen Broaders. I was onboard one of them and we spent a long time talking about how great it was to do a long passage type sail on fast beach cats and that we should definitely get out on the Irish Sea again soon
There were many coastal races or rallies on catamarans in years gone by such as the Lambay race, Skerries to Clogher Head, an Irish Sea crossing and other parts of the Irish coast around Cork, Galway and more.
So year after year passed by and we would occasionally mention the idea of doing another long coastal trip. Most of the Hurricanes had switched to the more modern F18 class as a result of the World Championships coming to Ballyholme in 2014. In the following years more joined us and we found ourselves going to the F18 World Championships in Germany 2015, Denmark 2017 and Spain 2019 for big fleet world-class racing which was and is a fantastic experience but in the backs of our minds we all still had this desire to get some coastal sailing done in Ireland
So late last year with a bit of pestering from a certain tall South African in our fleet and a chat with his crew who happens to be a member of Wicklow Sailing Club I decided to hell with it I’m gonna get this thing organised. I called the IMA Chair and asked could I put a date in for a coastal raid from north Dublin to Wicklow, he said yes, absolutely great, yes do it!
So I got the date set and put it out there to the fleet, we got commitments from four boats to do it. With about two weeks to go, I called Howth Yacht Club and asked could we launch from there and they very kindly said yes, providing us with excellent facilities as they had with the Rockabill trip eight years earlier. At the same time the crew I mentioned earlier contacted Wicklow SC who were delighted to assist so all was in place for our grand return to the open seas.
In the week leading up to our Saturday departure we all started watching the weather forecast but as each day passed the wind predicted got lighter and lighter. By Thursday it was actually showing 0 knots gusting 2 in Dublin Bay and I thought oh well that’s that scrapped. Friday came and it showed a marginal improvement we had some breeze 6 knots or so but still not quite enough.
By 12 noon I was thinking of canning it as the phone rang, it was from a Mini Transat sailor from Galway who persuaded me to go ahead and set sail early, he had spent a bit of time looking at weather patterns and forecasts and was sure it would be ok. I also had the South African desperately trying to get back for it with delayed planes & taxis etc who was looking forward to it and didn’t want to disappoint him, So I said ok let’s go ahead,
A very long day ensued with boat derigging, re-rigging and bringing cars, vans and trailers to Wicklow and eventually getting back to Dublin for 1:30 am for a few hours sleep.
We all got ourselves over to Howth for 7:30 am and I looked at the forecast in the taxi en route and hallelujah it was showing 10 knots gusting 16.
"At 9:30 am we set sail from the mouth of Howth Harbour, escorted out by a very curious seal"
After an hour and a bit getting one boat finished and all the sails hoisted we were ready to set off. Many thanks to Howth YC for accommodating our early start.
At 9:30 am we set sail from the mouth of Howth Harbour, escorted out by a very curious seal all the boats stayed together as we rounded Howth Head, accompanied by a cover RIB from SSBC.
After a bit of tricky sailing passing the Cliffs of Howth, we headed out across Dublin Bay. With no ships passing, we began to sail fast with spinnakers flying part way and two sail reaching the rest. As we got halfway the excitement was building on each boat as we realized we are doing it and the conditions are perfect. We sailed on passing Dun Laoghaire reaching Dalkey island within 30 minutes of leaving Howth harbour. Smiles all round especially on the Hobie Tiger where Sean Lemonnier, age 11, a very promising and enthusiastic young cat sailor was having a blast out on the wire downwind.
After a quick chat to the local fishermen on the water in Dalkey, we headed for Bray, stopping there just off the beach for refreshments. They probably don’t know but the Bray airshow had f18s flying by...well kind of!
On again and out around Bray Head towards our next regrouping spot Greystones. We were hitting top speeds of 20knots at this point in flat water and 20 degrees, Perfect.
Waiting for us on the water in Greystones was a RIB from Wicklow Sailing Club which had made its way up to assist with cover. After we made contact with them on VHF radio and another regrouping we continued on flying spinnakers and gybing every 10 minutes or so in an exhilarating
impromptu race to Wicklow, with one boat going inshore, two going out and in again crisscrossing in close quarters, everyone had a smile from ear to ear, it truly was magical and if you ask each of us to describe the experience we just don't have the words to articulate it.
Finally we made it to Wicklow Harbour to a great welcome from Wicklow SC, we were cheered into the slip and helped up to the club where we were fed & watered by a very enthusiastic & generous group of fellow sailors at the club before heading back out to take part in their round the cans racing with the juniors
A truly great weekend of sailing with lifetime memories, well done to all those who took part and helped to make this happen, long-distance raids are definitely back on the calendar going forward, now to start planning the next one, whos up for it?
The author - Stephen Broaders – Nacra Infusion- Sword Sailing and Boating Club (SSBC) The tall South African- Wyatt Orsmond – C2 -SSBC
His crew from Wicklow - Patrick Billington – C2 - WSC
Mini Transat sailor - Yannick lemonier – Hobie Tiger - GBSC
The other sailors
Pawel Trojanowski Hobie Wildcat - SSBC Sean Duranbusch Hobie Wildcat -SSBC Siobhan Broaders Nacra Infusion -SSBC Sean Lemonnier Hobie Tiger - GBSC Laurick Mathieu Hobie Tiger - GBSC
Special thanks to –
Dermot McHugh RIB - SSBC Kinga Trojanowska RIB -SSBC
Evan Orsmond and Conor Kavanagh helping with rigging and de-rigging. Fred Connolly, Marina Supervisor Howth Yacht Club
Caroline Gore-Grimes Honorary sailing secretary Howth Yacht Club
Wicklow Sailing Club (WSC)
David Balesty – Race Official - WSC Kyran OGrady – Rib (Commodore) - WSC Isobel OGrady – Rib - WSC
Denise Cummins – Onshore support, BBQ – WSC
Mark Redmond – Onshore support, Bar - WSC Richard Swanston BYC - IMA CHAIR