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Howth RNLI Annual Supporter's meeting will be held in Howth Yacht Club on Wednesday 6 November at 8pm.

The meeting is an opportunity to thank those who have supported Howth Lifeboat station, give them a chance to meet the crew and update supporters on how their donations have contributed to saving lives at sea.

There will be a presentation of a Lifeboat Crew Awards to a crew member who has shown great skill and expertise. Certificates will also be awarded to groups and individuals who have carried out fundraising in aid of the RNLI. Ronan Murphy and the team in Toned Fit took part in and brought their StaminUp group to the Hell & Back Challenge in February. Gavin Pitcher of City Kayaking who organised the Dublin City 5km Kayaking Challenge in April. Jennifer Murphy and Brendan Mulligan cycled from London to Paris in aid of Howth RNLI in August. Louise Wolff one of our newest crew members, is taking part in the Dublin Marathon to raise funds.

RNLI Christmas Cards and souvenirs will be on sale on the night, and supporters can find out more about the RNLI Reindeer Run to be held in Marlay Park on Sunday 1 December

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#opti – In a show of strength for Royal Cork Yacht Club youth sailing, the Munster club took the top three places in the Optimist Leinster Championships senior fleet and also won the junior fleet at this weekend's Leinster Championships at Howth Yacht Club.

Bitterly cold conditions, a confused sea, wind gusts of over 20 knots, and a rip-roaring tide made the young sailors value their warm sailing clothing at Howth Yacht Club.

With an attendance of 138 sailors it was certainly going to be some event and so it proved. There were 43 sailors in the Senior fleet, 55 in the Junior fleet and 40 in the Regatta fleet.

Excellent if difficult conditions prevailed yesterday. Wind on both days was westerly with a touch of North. Sailing yesterday started later than today with the result the fleets experienced an ebb tide in quite a long race. Today sailing was started earlier to give the sailors better racing with races somewhat shorter and the fleets sailed with a flood tide so all round excellent sailing conditions were experienced to test the sailors. Winds yesterday (Sat) were much stronger medium to fresh 15/16 knots with stronger gusts.

Conditions to day were somewhat lighter with 5/6knots of breeze and there were two black flag starts. Conditions yesterday were reported as being extremely cold with much warmer conditions today. Reports back from the sailors pronounced the racing as excellent with great sailing and all credit due to the race officials.

In the Senior Fleet the winner was Harry Durcan, RCYC, current National Champion, second James McCann RCYC and third Johnny Durcan, RCYC.

In the Junior fleet the winner was Chris Bateman, RCYC, followed by James McMahon HYC and Ella Hemeryck, NYC.

The Regatta fleet was won by Conor Gorman, NYC, followed by Hugh O'Connor, NYC with Ruth Lacy, HYC third.

Published in Optimist

In a tense and closely fought final day, Tim Healy and his crew from Newport, Rhode Island, on board 'Helly Hansen' were impressive winners of the BMW J24 World Championship at Howth Yacht Club, with eight top-five results (including three race wins) in the 10-race series.

 

Healy, who previously won the title in 2010, was pushed all the way by the defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz from Brazil on 'Bruschetta', who also demonstrated remarkable consistency, but who had to be content with the runner-up spot, four points adrift of his rival.

 

Third place overall went to another American crew led by Travis Odenbach from Rochester on 'Honey Badger' who had been the series leader overnight but who did not enjoy the final day. A 20th and an 8th effectively knocked his chances, although he was only two points off Santa Cruz in the end.

 

In fresh westerly winds which touched 25 knots at times, the penultimate race saw a second win in the series for Britain's Ian Southworth on 'Il Riccio', ahead of fellow Briton Bob Turner's 'Serco'. Third place went to local Howth skipper Mossy Shanahan on 'Crazyhorse', following up on his great form the previous day, a result which contributed to him finishing as the top Irish boat overall in 19th place.

 

Success in the last race went to the German boat 'Rotoman' (Tobias Feuerherd), with Keith Whittemore ('Furio') from Seattle 2nd and Santa Cruz 3rd. The Brazilian, however, needed Healy to be further down the fleet than his finishing place of 5th and so surrendered his world title to the American crew by four points after the one allowed discard.

 

With the exception of the Tuesday when racing was abandoned due to lack of wind, the championship featured four good racing days, with the wind strength progressively increasing as the week went on. There were six different race winners and the four US entries all finished in the top 10 which featured two German boats and the sole Italian entry.

 

After 10 races, the overall standings (after one discard) were:

1. Tim Healy (USA) 38 points
2. Mauricio Santa Cruz (Brazil) 42 points
3. Travis Odenbach (USA) 44 points
4. Ian Southworth (GB) 53 points
5. Tobias Feurherd (Ger) 73 points
6. Keith Whittemore (USA) 77 points
7. Bob Turner (GB) 83 points
8. Ignatio Bonanno (Italy) 88 points
9. Tony Parker (USA) 114 points
10. Sullberg (Ger) 115 points

http://www.hyc.ie/J24worldChampionship2013/

Published in J24

It was very much a case of North American domination on the fourth day of competition at the BMW J24 Worlds at Howth Yacht Club, with Tim Healy of Newport winning the first and third races of the day while compatriot Travis Odenbach's win in the second one has taken the crew from Rochester, NY, into the overall lead going into the final day.

Conversely, it was not such a good day for the South Americans from Brazil as defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz had his worst results of the series, highlighted by an 18th in the second race, which drops him to third overall. It proved a very good day, however, for Mossy Shanahan of the host club who scored a 6th, 3rd and 4th, each finish being the best local result in the series to date.

In fresh winds that fluctuated between south-west and west in direction, Healy enjoyed the conditions best to take the gun in the first race of the day from Britain's Ian Southworth and then Odenbach, while Santa Cruz's 7th dropped him from top spot after six races.

The biggest upsets came in the seventh race of the series, where several of the leading boats were caught out by a significant wind-shift on the first beat and eventually ended up in mid-fleet positions. Odenbach, on the other hand, clawed his way back superbly to take line honours ahead of Britain's Paul Williams and Ireland's Shanahan to open up a lead at the top of the leaderboard.

The series' eight race was another triumph for Healy and his crew but his biggest rival Odenbach secured a second for a highly consistent 3, 1, 2 scorecard for the day. After a poor result in the previous race, Ian Southworth returned to form to finish 3rd and move into 4th overall.

Two more races are scheduled for the final day (Friday 30th) to complete the 10-race programme, with all eyes on the two US crews and Santa Cruz as the main contenders for the title. Odenbach holds a 6-point lead over Healy who has only one point to spare over the Brazilian.

After 8 races, the provisional overall standings (with one discard) are:

1. Travis Odenbach (USA) 23 points
2. Tim Healy (USA) 29 points
3. Mauricio Santa Cruz (Brazil) 30 points
4. Ian Southworth (GB) 46 points
5. Rotoman (Ger) 55 points
6. I. Bonanno (Italy) 65 points
7. Keith Whittemore (USA) 68 points
8. Bob Turner (GB) 70 points
9. Sullberg (Ger) 88 points
10. Tony Parker (USA) 90 points

http://www.hyc.ie/J24worldChampionship2013/

Editor's note: When the J/24 Worlds came to his home port of Howth this week, W M Nixon found himself seeing familiar sailing waters as though for the first time. Read his sailing blog from midnight on Friday on Afloat.ie

Published in J24

In stark contrast to the previous day, ideal sailing conditions prevailed at Howth on the third day of the BMW J24 World Championship to allow three races to be completed, resulting in just seven points separating the top five boats after one discard is taken into account.

Defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz from Brazil, a model of consistency with four top three finishes, leads the fleet overall but the crew from Rio is being pressed all the way by former World Champion Tim Healy of the USA who is only two points adrift. He in turn has only two points to spare over Britain's Ian Southworth.

The third race of the series, in fresh south-easterly winds, saw Healy take line honours ahead of Bob Turner (GB), another American Travis Odenbach and Santa Cruz.

Turner's boat, helmed by Nathan Batchelor, went one better in the fourth race with a comfortable margin of victory over Santa Cruz who had Ian Southworth (GB) chasing him. The British boat had a cracking start and the leading pack all gained by going right on the first beat.

Southworth, who was black-flagged with five other boats on the abandoned race on day 2 and carried the penalty into the third day, made up for that disappointment with a bullet in the fifth race. Healy finished up a satisfactory day with a second ahead of Santa Cruz to set up an interesting penultimate day of competition.

With five races completed, the provisional overall standings (with one discard) are:

1. Mauricio Santa Cruz (Brazil) 11 points
2. Tim Healy (USA) 13 points
3. Ian Southworth (GB) 15 points
4. Travis Odenbach (USA) 17 points
5. Keith Whittemore (USA) 18 points
6. I. Bonanno (Italy) 27 points
7. Bob Turner (GB) 32 points
8. Blankeneser SC (Ger) 32 points
9. Tony Parker (USA) 38 points
10. Joersfelder SC (Ger) 39 points

http://www.hyc.ie/J24worldChampionship2013/

 

Published in J24

#j24 – Lack of wind and strong tides played havoc on day two of the BMW J24 World Championship at Howth Yacht Club leaving Principal Race Officer David Lovegrove with no alternative but to abandon racing.

A 6-knot north-westerly breeze allowed the third race of the series to be started eventually but once the boats rounded the windward mark, the wind dropped away and a north-flowing flood tide meant the entire fleet was left motionless, with no chance of a finish.

After a delay of almost three hours, continued windless conditions forced abandonment for the day.

With the two races sailed on the first day the only ones to count so far, Keith Whittemore from Seattle still heads the overall rankings by two points from defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz of Brazil.

Racing is expected to resume on Wednesday (28th).

 

Published in J24

American crews led the way in both races on the first day of the BMW J24 World Championships at Howth Yacht Club today (Monday 26th).

After a two-hour delay for wind, the 40-boat fleet finally got away for the first race in a light but testing easterly breeze. First blood went to Tony Parker and his crew from Annapolis who experienced the Howth waters a week earlier at the Irish National Championship.

Fellow American Keith Whittemore from Seattle, who also sailed in the Irish event, followed him home in second place while defending World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz from Brazil finished third, ahead of leading UK entry Ian Southworth.

American crews again led the way in the second race, with line honours going to former North American Champion Travis Odenbach from Rochester, with Whittemore second again and Santa Cruz taking another third spot. Newport's Tim Healy took fifth to make it three US boats in the top five.

After two races, Whittemore leads the overall rankings by two points from the Brazilians, with Britain's Ian Southworth (with a 4th and 7th) third. Leading Irish boat is 'Stouche' (Darrer/Murphy) from the host club, whose 10th and 8th place finishes have put them 7th overall.

Published in J24

The BMW J24 World Championship, which has attracted 40 entries form 10 countries, gets underway in earnest at Howth Yacht Club on Monday 26th with the first two races in the week-long event.

A practice race on Sunday on the waters between Lambay Island and Ireland's Eye in light northerly/north-westerly winds saw half the fleet fail to complete the course, as is customary, while former Irish Champion JP McCaldin from Lough Erne took line honours ahead of Japanese entry Koji Matsumoto and G. Bonanno of Italy.

Among the favourites for the World title are defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz (Brazil), Ian Southworth (GB), Tim Healy (USA) and Luis Olcese (Peru). Eleven Irish crews qualified for the event, with the young Howth U-25 crew on 'Euro Car Parks Killcullen', the new Irish champions, heading the local challenge.

Published in J24

#j24– The defending World Champion from Brazil, the multiple European Championship winner, a former World Champion and a past North American Champion are among the quality field lined up to contest next week's BMW J24 World Championship at Howth Yacht Club which has attracted 42 entries from 10 countries.

Mauricio Santa Cruz from Rio de Janeiro, who has won the title four times since 2006, most recently last year, is clearly the man to beat but he won't be short of competition. Ian Southworth of Britain, who dominated the Irish Nationals last week, won the Europeans on Howth waters two years ago and has tasted success at that level five times in total.

The world's most popular one-design keelboat, the J24 is particularly strong in the USA from where several strong contenders have arrived. Among the leading lights is the 2010 World Champion Tim Healy from Newport and Travis Odenbach from Rochester, a former North American Champion.

Luis Olcese from Peru has consistently been at the top end of J24 fleets at various international venues and so has Japan's Koji Matsumoto, so much is expected of them while there are a few useful German entries and leading GB entries such as Bob Turner.

Local hopes centre on the young Howth U25 Keelboat Team which last weekend took the Irish title by sailing consistently throughout the 8-race series on home waters to finish behind five visitors as the leading Irish boat. Other Irish in contention will include Flor O'Driscoll, J-P McCaldin and the Darrer/Murphy partnership.

The Worlds will be officially opened by the Mayor of Fingal Cllr. Kieran Dennison on Saturday 24th (6pm), there's a practice race on Sunday, and the real action starts on Monday (26th) with two races a day until Friday (30th). PRO is International Race Officer David Lovegrove.

Published in J24

#hyc – Howth is an odd old place, and those of us who live on this rugged peninsula on the north side of Dublin Bay readily accept that view. Peninsular folk anywhere are invariably odd, so that's Proposition One settled immediately. And as for old? Well, in the Irish context, Howth is as old as you can get. So old, in fact, that it's not really Irish at all. The rocks of Howth are around 600 million years old, give or take a few weeks. But the rocks of nearby Ireland are only 300 millions years old. So once you've settled into Howth, you find yourself thinking of Ireland as that dodgy new place somewhere over to the westward, a weird landmass that could disappear as easily and quickly as it arrived.

The only real problem with Howth is the tombolo. That's the strip of sand which connects us to this new place called Ireland. Almost within recorded history, and certainly within folk memory, Howth was an island, and happy with it. But once the sand built up and provided a causeway, we had to accept the new neighbours, and even interact with them. Thus today Howth is administratively part of Fingal, that intriguing area which used to be North County Dublin, but was Fingal long before that, and for a long time too. It's a place of fine farmland and a much indented coastline, with five proper islands including the handsome Lambay and the precipitous Ireland's Eye, and a substantial rock – Rockabill – which is big enough to support a lighthouse, several former keepers' houses, and the world's largest colony of roseate terns.

In all, the coastline of Fingal is about twenty miles in the shortest distance between the Baily headland to the south, and the crowded little port of Balbriggan to the north. But if you measured it in any detail, you might well approach a hundred miles. Off this coast is a sea well filled with fish of all kinds, and though it has tidal currents, they generally aren't too strong for comfort. So it's an ideal place to sail, and a fascinating little cruising venue in its own right.

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Seen independently of Dublin Bay, the coast of Fingal can be a fascinating sailing venue in its own right.

The reason it isn't more widely seen as such is the D-word. The elephant in the room. The great heaving mass which is Dublin, right next door. Despite its unique attractions and more interesting sailing waters, the coast of Fingal is invariably perceived as less glamorous than high-powered overcrowded Dublin Bay just round the corner. These days, that's often an advantage. Dublin Bay can take care of the social froth, while the waters of Fingal accommodate their own time-honoured forms of sailing.

But every so often Howth Yacht Club attracts a major international event to the usually quiet waters of Fingal, and this has the welcome effect of making us waken up and see our home port and its waters anew. It also makes us marvel at the underlying levels of voluntary enthusiasm and organisational ability within our club membership, while at the same time reinforcing useful community spirit with the village and the larger neighbourhood of Fingal.

So this past week we've been seeing Howth through the eyes of the sailors of many nations in the BMW J/24 Worlds 2013. They seem to like Howth and Fingal, and Howth certainly likes the J/24 people. You can warm to a class which has the intriguing history of having been conceived 35 years ago in an American garage which just happened to be big enough to accommodate a completely new 24ft one design boat which was so innovative that that it took off worldwide at record speed. But it is still basically such a homely concept that although the J/24 was uber-cool in its most popular days, it was never unpleasantly glitzy, and today it is finding its greatest strengths through owners of all ages who are happy to make the best of hulls which are no longer in the first flush of youth, yet provide great sport without an outlay which might break the bank.

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The opening ceremony, with the skippers fronting the platform as Organising Committee Chairman Derek Bothwell outlines the programme Photo: W M Nixon

Nevertheless, when a class has been accepted so enthusiastically that it is arguably the Number One Global Local One Design, staging its World Championship makes ferocious demands on a club. We needn't go into the details, but I do know that in Howth an organising committee headed by former commodore Derek Bothwell (no slouch on the race course himself), has been beavering away for a long time, and as the set date of August 25th 2013 drew nearer, increasing numbers of volunteers were brought on stream and sub committees came into being to deal with matters of which your ordinary sailing Joe knows nothing.

That same ordinary sailing Joe may make smartass comments about it being just another World Championship in a sport which has so many international classes that each year there are something like 143 new world title holders. But that really is what true sailing is all about. Sailing is a vehicle sport, and different vehicles suit different folks. So if a class merits international status, then its World Championship merits the full lineup of umpires and international jurors and the entire paraphernalia of administrators prepared to function in a global setup. It's mind-boggling, yet people are prepared to take it on with enthusiasm, and when you see a championship taking shape on the water, you begin to understand what it's all about.

After all the behind-the-scenes work, it begins to go public, usually with a national open championship, and then with the Worlds proper. This invariably begins with an opening ceremony which is planned to hit the right note of seriousness without becoming too pompous, while at the same time suggesting that sport will be paramount, but everyone might just have a bit of fun along the way.

The layout in the Howth YC marina complex was used to good effect with a top local piper, Ken Sheridan of a distinguished local seafaring family, leading the contending skippers in last Saturday evening, headed by defending champion Mauricio Santa Cruz of Brazil. Say what you like about bagpipes (and most people do), but it's a distinctive instrument, giving out an unmistakable sound which clearly identified the focus of the action, and led straight into speeches of merciful brevity with the actual opening being performed by the Mayor of Fingal, Councillor Kieran Dennison, to the approval of a large and light-hearted crowd on the club balcony.

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The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Kieran Dennison, officially opens the championship. Photo: W M Nixon

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HYC's unique balcony. At times like this, we can only hope the architect has got his calculations right Photo: W M Nixon

As he leads a council which runs Ireland's fastest developing territory, and includes within its ambit such powerful amenities as Dublin Airport and Howth Harbour (not to mention half a dozen of the top golf courses in Ireland), Councillor Dennison would be just the man to be our new Head of State after we declare the new and gloriously independent Republic of Fingal. But that's another day's work. Meanwhile, Principal Race Officer David Lovegrove (another former HYC Commodore) and his team had to put in a practice race next day (Sunday August 25th) which went well in sunshine and a northerly breeze. And as many of the more seasoned campaigners have a superstition that you should never cross the finishing line in the practice race, the popular JP McCaldin of Lough Erne YC was surprised and delighted to find himself atop the winners podium.

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Robin Eagleson from Lough Erne, the amiable President of the J/24 International Association, was persuaded to look appropriately statesmanlike. Photo: W M Nixon

This was a timely reminder that in the tortuous worldwide web of J/24 politics, a leading role is played these days by the global class president, Robin Eagleson of Lough Erne. He's usually such an easygoing and amiable guy that it's sometimes difficult to accept that, in the world of J/24 administration, he's seen as an awesome figure of statesmanlike status who can steer contentious issues to a peaceful and successful conclusion in hot-tempered committee rooms. Somehow next morning I managed to persuade him to look statesmanlike when I was taking his photo while heading towards an appointment with that legend of Howth sailing, Neville Maguire, to go out on his 23ft twin-screw motor cruiser to see a day's racing.

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Our skipper for the day, veteran sailing superstar Neville Maguire Photo: W M Nixon

You wouldn't dream of asking Neville's age, but I know his 80th birthday was celebrated quite a few years ago. He started winning the first of many Helmsman's Championships of Ireland shortly after the competition was inaugurated in 1946. He has won major titles in many classes, and an apotheosis of Maguire family sailing achievement came in the last weekend of August 1984, when Neville won the last race of the Irish Sea offshore programme to win the ISORA Championship with his much-loved Club Shamrock Demelza, and on that same day in Kerry, his son Gordon won the recently inaugurated Irish Windsurfing Nationals in the early stages of a hugely successful international sailing career.

The word is good on Gordon, currently the champion offshore skipper in Australia. His successful five year linkup with Stephen Ainsworth and the wonderboat Loki came to its planned conclusion in January of this year, but Gordon is sailing as much as ever – tomorrow he's on the helm on the mini-maxi Caola Isla in the Maxi Worlds in Sardinia, and then in November the new Ichi Ban for top Australian owner Matt Allen is due to be delivered from the builders in Dubai to Sydney, where Gordon and the team will tune her up for the Sydney-Hobart race on December 26th.

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Chris Howell, Executive Director of the International J/24 Association, is also director 0f class associations for the J/22, the J/105, and the new J/70Photo: W M Nixon

Also on board Neville's neat powerboat was Sean Flood, whose zest for boats and sailing remains undimmed, and fourth member of a congenial ship's company was Chris Howell from America, who was there in his capacity as Executive Director of the International J/24 Association. An interesting man. He graduated in a degree course in managing non-profit-making organisations (I hasten to add that they're planned not to make a profit – we're not talking Ireland these past six years). Clearly, he has found his vocation in running one design boat associations, which is not for the faint-hearted. In addition to the worldwide J/24 Association, he also runs the J/22 Class Association, and in North America the J/105 association. Most recently, he has also been given the key role in the class association for the J/70, which has taken off like a rocket since it made its debut with 46 boats straight out of the wrappers at the first series at Key West in January, and had 90 boats signed up within 24 hours of the announcement for the first North American Championship at Annapolis next month.

But off Howth, Chris was total in his devotion to the J/24, and he gave us a fascinating insight into regulating a class in which reasonably good hulls can be bought for 5000 dollars, but some people will then be prepared to spend much more on their sails than they have initially spent on the boat. Others feel that some restriction on new sails, and particularly on extremely expensive high-tech sails, is the best way to help the class go forward in its role as the boat of choice for impecunious international sailing wannabees, a category of sailor well represented from several countries in the racing at Howth.

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The championship is under way. A clean start for the first race of the J/24 Worlds 2013. Photo: W M Nixon

That first day, we'd to wait until the breeze settled in from the northeast, but when it did it was remarkably steady despite being only in the 5 to 7 knot band. The first race was a cracker, and though those of us with gambling instincts were with Flor O'Driscoll as he took a wild flyer out to the right, there was soon no mistaking the better progress being made by the American hotshots out to the left of the beat, though those who overdid the left side were also punished.

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Flor O'Driscoll took a spirited flyer to the right in race one....... Photo: W M Nixon

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....and looked to be going well in a private breeze........ Photo: W M Nixon

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.....but soon reality intervened...... Photo: W M Nixon

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....and the O'Driscoll challenge for the first beat was down the tubes. Photo: W M Nixon

The flood tide was pushing towards north'northwest across the beat, and by the weather mark several had underestimated its effects, but Tony Parker of Annapolis came first to the mark neatly on port after judging the beat and the tide to perfection. But in conditions like that, the long slow run was bound to be painful for the leader. However, Parker hung onto his lead on the second beat, albeit by a much smaller margin from Keith Whittemore from Seattle, and down the run to the finish Parker gave a masterclass in defending his position, such that Whittemore found himself being challenged for the second slot by world title defender Mauricio Santa Cruz. But Whittemore hung in there to make it one two for the US in the sort of conditions they know best (they'd come to Ireland expecting heaps of wind).

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Tony Parker arrives first at the weather mark after a perfect reading of the initial beat Photo: W M Nixon

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On the downwind leg, the spread of the fleet soon showed the effect of tide across the course Photo: W M Nixon

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At the weather mark second time, Parker finds himself more closely challenged by Keith Whittemore Photo: W M Nixon

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How could this be explained to non-sailing spectators? It's actually an exciting stage of the final run, with Tony Parker (fourth right) keeping control over closest challenger Keith Whittemore (seventh left), while also keeping an eye on third-placed Mauricio Santa Cruz (third right). Photo: W M Nixon

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Closing on the finish, Parker has consolidated his lead over Whittemore........ Photo: W M Nixon

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.....who is being challenged in the final stages by defending World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz of Brazil Photo: W M Nixon

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Best of the Irish in the first race was Stefan Hyde, who placed seventh, while the Murphy/Darrer crew in Stouche were 10th to have two Irish boats in the top ten Photo: W M Nixon

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"The Nippers" - Howth YC is fielding an under-25 crew in Kilcullen Photo: W M Nixon

One good race was in the can, the Worlds were properly underway, and at the helm of his RIB the Organising Committee Chairman was one happy budgie. The mood was given an added dimension by an historic Howth 17 gently making her way past the post-race fleet with all sail set to the jackyard tops'l. her 115 years class history putting the supposed maturity of the J/24s into perspective. Then another race was put through after manners were put on everyone with a black flag, and though the next day's racing was to be glassed out, lost completely to calm, the foundations of a championship had been put in place.

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Blast from the past – the Howth 17 Pauline (class founded 1898) makes her way past the fleet after the finish Photo: W M Nixon

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Gerry and Barbara Sargent's Vitesse 33 Pip in the summer anchorage off Ireland's Eye....... Photo: W M Nixon

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...while on the beach, senior sailors and their grandchildren mess about in boats Photo: W M Nixon

We made our way gently back to Howth's haven under the hills as the afternoon drew on, past a couple of cruisers lying in the anchorage at Ireland's Eye where senior sailors and their grandchildren messed around with boats on the beach, and everything looking very well in a sailing world seen afresh. That evening the party in the club was cheerful, but I'd other duties to perform. It was time for the dog's evening romp on the beach right next to the harbour. It's not every international sailing venue which can provide you with the convenient opportunity to do that. But in Howth, it's an integral part of the package.

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The haven under the hill. Howth is Fingal's main harbour. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon
Page 34 of 44

Dun Laoghaire Regatta –  From the Baily lighthouse to Dalkey island, the bay accommodates eight separate courses for 25 different classes racing every two years for the Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

In assembling its record-breaking armada, Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta (VDLR) became, at its second staging, not only the country's biggest sailing event, with 3,500 sailors competing, but also one of its largest participant sporting events.

One of the reasons for this, ironically, is that competitors across Europe have become jaded by well-worn venue claims attempting to replicate Cowes and Cork Week.

'Never mind the quality, feel the width' has been a criticism of modern-day regattas where organisers mistakenly focus on being the biggest to be the best.

Dun Laoghaire, with its local fleet of 300 boats, never set out to be the biggest. Its priority focussed instead on quality racing even after it got off to a spectacularly wrong start when the event was becalmed for four days at its first attempt.

The idea to rekindle a combined Dublin bay event resurfaced after an absence of almost 40 years, mostly because of the persistence of a passionate race officer Brian Craig who believed that Dun Laoghaire could become the Cowes of the Irish Sea if the town and the local clubs worked together.

Although fickle winds conspired against him in 2005, the support of all four Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht clubs since then (made up of Dun Laoghaire Motor YC, National YC, Royal Irish YC and Royal St GYC), in association with the two racing clubs of Dublin Bay SC and Royal Alfred YC, gave him the momentum to carry on.

There is no doubt that sailors have also responded with their support from all four coasts. Entries closed last Friday with 520 boats in 25 classes, roughly doubling the size of any previous regatta held on the Bay.

Running for four days, the regatta is (after the large mini-marathons) the single most significant participant sports event in the country, requiring the services of 280 volunteers on and off the water, as well as top international race officers and an international jury, to resolve racing disputes representing five countries.

Craig went to some lengths to achieve his aims including the appointment of a Cork man, Alan Crosbie, to run the racing team; a decision that has raised more than an eyebrow along the waterfront.

A flotilla of 25 boats has raced from the Royal Dee near Liverpool to Dublin for the Lyver Trophy to coincide with the event. The race also doubles as a RORC qualifying race for the Fastnet.

Sailors from the Ribble, Mersey, the Menai Straits, Anglesey, Cardigan Bay and the Isle of Man have to travel three times the distance to the Solent as they do to Dublin Bay. This, claims Craig, is one of the major selling points of the Irish event and explains the range of entries from marinas as far away as Yorkshire's Whitby YC and the Isle of Wight.

Until now, no other regatta in the Irish Sea area could claim to have such a reach. Dublin Bay weeks such as this petered out in the 1960s, and it has taken almost four decades for the waterfront clubs to come together to produce a spectacle on and off the water to rival Cowes.

"The fact that we are getting such numbers means it is inevitable that it is compared with Cowes," said Craig. However, there the comparison ends.

"We're doing our own thing here. Dun Laoghaire is unique, and we are making an extraordinary effort to welcome visitors from abroad," he added.

The busiest shipping lane in the country – across the bay to Dublin port – is to close temporarily to facilitate the regatta and the placing of eight separate courses each day.

A fleet total of this size represents something of an unknown quantity on the bay as it is more than double the size of any other regatta ever held there.

The decision to alter the path of ships into the port was taken in 2005 when a Dublin Port control radar image showed an estimated fleet of over 400 yachts sailing across the closed southern shipping channel.

Ships coming into the bay, including the high-speed service to the port, will use the northern lane instead.

With 3,500 people afloat at any one time, a mandatory safety tally system for all skippers to sign in and out will also operate.

The main attraction is undoubtedly the appearance of four Super Zero class yachts, with Dun Laoghaire's Colm Barrington's TP52 'Flash Glove' expected to head the 'big boat' fleet. At the other end of the technology scale, the traditional clinker-built Water Wags will compete just as they did at a similar regatta over 100 years ago.

The arrival of three TP 52s and a Rogers 46 to Dun Laoghaire regatta is a feather in the cap of organisers because it brings Grand Prix racing to Dublin bay and the prospect of future prominent boat fixtures on the East Coast.

With 38 entries, the new Laser SB3s are set to make a significant impact although the White Sail Class five almost rivals them numerically. The Fireball is the biggest dinghy class, with 27 entries, while there are 25 entries for the Ecover Half Ton Classics Cup which began on Monday.

Class 0 is expected to be the most hotly contested, if the recent Saab IRC Nationals, Scottish Series and Sovereign's Cup are any indication. Three Cork boats ­- Jump Juice (Conor and Denise Phelan), Antix Dubh (Anthony O'Leary) and Blondie (Eamonn Rohan) - are expected to lead the fleet.

(First published in 2009)

Who: All four Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Yacht clubs

What: Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta

Why: A combined regatta to make Dun Laoghaire the Cowes of the Irish Sea.

Where: Ashore at Dun Laoghaire and afloat at eight separate race courses on Dublin Bay. Excellent views from both Dun Laoghaire piers, Sandycove and Seapoint.

Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2021

The dates for the 2021 edition of Ireland's biggest sailing event on Dublin Bay is: 8-11 July 2021

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