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Howth Wave Regatta Attracts Cream Of The Crop From Rush And West Cork

21st May 2024
Current ICRA “Boat of the Year” Swuzzlebubble (James Dwyer, Royal Cork YC) will be going head-to-head with long-lost multi-club-representing sister Two Farr at Howth’s three-day Wave Regatta, starting Friday
Current ICRA “Boat of the Year” Swuzzlebubble (James Dwyer, Royal Cork YC) will be going head-to-head with long lost multi-club-representing sister Two Farr at Howth’s three day Wave Regatta, starting Friday Credit: Robert Bateman

Those who are unaware of some of the more offbeat aspects of Irish maritime history can be forgiven for wondering how it is that Rogerstown, Rush and Skerries – all in the heart of heavily horticultural North Fingal - between them produce so many formidable sailors.

“How on earth” they demand, “can growing so many admittedly excellent potatoes, cabbages and strawberries make you a genius in a sailing boat?”

The intriguing sailing-talent-producing Rogerstown Estuary is almost boat-free in winter, but the well-filled Rush SC winter boat park speaks volumes about the local sailing interest.


The question is asked after a quick glance at the crème de la crème entry list for Howth’s three day Wave Regatta with Porsche as lead sponsors, where racing starts on this coming Friday (May 24th). Overall, it reveals an intriguing absence of lawyers, and a remarkable presence of established and rising talent from Rush SC and Skerries SC.

We were given a word to the wise on the legal scarcities.

“It would be a very unwise career move for a prominent figure in the law courts to be so conspicuously absent from the Law Library when the courts are sitting in a traditionally very busy period, and no Bank Holiday is being availed of.”


Quite so. You can always easily get publicity when you least need it. But as to the sailing power of the Potato Potentates from the hidden acres of Fingal, that’s much more easily explained. Up there, fast sailing is in the blood. The emphasis on vegetables is only a recent innovation. But the sailing prowess long-outlasted the Vikings.

In the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the tiny port of Rush and the nearby tide-riven estuary of Rogerstown produced Ireland’s two greatest sea captains in privateering and smuggling. The late 1700s saw the career peaks for privateering legend Luke Ryan, while the early 1800s witnessed the achievements of James Mathews, a highly-organised smuggler at a time when smuggling was a perfectly reasonable response to the actions of rabidly exploitative governments.

Lost but now found – the special Farr-designed Half Tonner Two Farr has been at worldwide locations during her long journey from Australia to RushLost but now found – the special Farr-designed Half Tonner Two Farr has been at worldwide locations during her long journey from Australia to Rush

If there is a key component in both maritime legends, it is surely the ability to sail fast offshore, while also being well able, when necessary, for both navigation and intricate inshore pilotage. In other words, exactly the skills set for success with a competitive cruiser-racer.


For some time now, Pat Kelly and his Fingal team from Rush with Storm have been among the top performers in the J/109 class. Well, Storm will be there at Wave, taking on local talent such as Simon Knowles’ Indian, and visiting talent such as Barry Cunningham’s current champion J/109 Chimaera from the Royal Irish YC.

A frequently-seen view of the J/109 Storm. Photo: O’BrienA frequently-seen view of the J/109 Storm. Photo: O’Brien

The mixing of Howth and Rush might be assumed to be neighbourliness, but that would be a mistake. The fact that Rush and Howth can keep an eye on each other along a northwest-southeast sightline across the Malahide Estuary Approaches only serves to emphasise how different they are, and that’s the way they want to keep it.


Thus the word is that the North Fingal contingent are establishing an encampment at Howth Castle, and admission will either be by invitation, or a password known to few, and spoken in ancient Norse, as in everyday use around Lusk.

The Vikings of Fingal will be setting up their encampment at Howth Castle (left)The Vikings of Fingal will be setting up their encampment at Howth Castle (left)

But the Rush tentacles spread further, and in 2022 the linkup between North Fingal and West Cork was revealed in high profile when sometime Baltimore SC Commodore and “temporary permanent” BSC Honorary Sailing Secretary Rob O’Leary was on the Rush SC team that won the Half Ton Classic Worlds in the Solent on Paul Elvstrom’s former boat King One.


That linkup has gone a stage further in order to compete directly with the world’s most-loved Half Tonner, the 1976 Farr-designed Swuzzlebubble. The thinking had been that surely more boats were built to this wonderful way-out design, particularly as Swuzzlebubble has in recent years been based at Crosshaven in the successful ownership of James Dwyer, and currently the ICRA “Boat of the Year”.

Belfast Lough’s top A35 Final Call II (John Minnis) seen in action in a previous visit to Howth. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyBelfast Lough’s top A35 Final Call II (John Minnis) seen in action in a previous visit to Howth. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

And it seems the sleuth-hounds of the Rush & O’Leary teams have come up with just such a boat, originally built in Australia but more recently racing under German designation. She’s called Two Farr, she’s unmistakable bright red, and with Rob O’Leary now in owning partnership with Fingal’s crème de la crème, so many all-Ireland club affiliations are listed that we are reminded of the extraordinarily all-Ireland personality of the J/24 Hard Case.


Entries for Wave don’t close until tonight (Tuesday 21st May) at midnight, but organiser Brian Turvey reckons the heavy metal from elsewhere have been long in, it’s only the last minute locals who will finally access that useful circular device, a round tuit, approaching the witching hour.

Meanwhile, with a general lineup including such formidable talent as John Minnis’s A35 Final Call II from Belfast Lough, the entry list makes for intriguing reading: 

Wave Regatta Entries 2024

1 Biggs/Cullen Howth Yacht Club   IRL66 Checkmate XX First 50 Class 0
2 Brian & Conor Turvey Howth Yacht Club   19 Isobel Howth 17  
3 Simon Knowles Howth Yacht Club   IRL1543 Indian J109 Class 1
4 Thomas O’Reilly Howth Yacht Club   770 Cool Beans Squib  
5 Emmet Dalton Howth Yacht Club   37 Kerfuffle Squib  
6 Ian Bowring Royal St. George Yacht Club   IRL 4464 Springer Sigma 33 One Design
7 Stephen Mullaney Howth Yacht Club   IRL4444 Insider Sigma 33 One Design
8 Caroline and Nico Gore-Grimes Howth Yacht Club   Irl988 Dux X302 Class 3
9 Tom mc mahon Howth Yacht Club   869 Tears in Heaven Squib  
10 DENIS HEWITT % ORS. Royal Irish Yacht Club   IRL811 RAPTOR MILLS 30CR Class 1
11 Vincent Gaffney Howth Yacht Club   IRL8188 Alliance II Laser 28 Class 3
12 Barry O'Connor Royal Irish Yacht Club   31310 Katanca Elan31  
13 Wright/De Neve Howth Yacht Club   2794 Mata Half tonne Class 2
14 Wormald Walsh O'Neill Howth Yacht Club   IRL 1972 No Excuse X302 Class 3
15 Colin & Kathy Kavanagh Howth Yacht Club   IRL 6697 Jeneral Lee J97 Class 2
16 Susan Sheridan Howth Yacht Club   385 Ibis Puppeteer  
17 Norbert Reillly Howth Yacht Club   IRL 985 Ghost Raider J111 Class 0
18 Jones Family Royal Cork Yacht Club   IRL9753 Jellybaby J122 Class 0
19 Lee Douglas / Aidan Keane Malahide Yacht Club   791 Shenanigans Feeling  
20 Michael & Richard Howth Yacht Club   1699 Snapshot j99 Class 1
21 Alan Pearson Alan Blay Howth Yacht Club   IRL15 Trick or Treat Puppeteer  
23 Brian Skehan Howth Yacht Club   IRL 17793 Chinook First 300 Spirit  
24 John Beckett and Andy George Howth Sailing and Boating Club   IRL4073 Splashdance Dufour 40 Non Spinny 33ft+
25 Colm Bermingham Howth Yacht Club   3335C Bite the Bullet Elan 333  
26 Stephen Quinn Howth Yacht Club   Irl9970 Lambay Rules J97 Class 2
27 Kevin Darmody Howth Yacht Club   IRL7115 Gecko Quarter Ton Class 3
28 Davie Nixon Howth Yacht Club   18 Erica H17  
29 Terence Prendiville Club not listed no club (Dun Laoghaire Marina) 139 (Non ISA) Maggie Bee Anderson 22  
30 Brian McDowell Howth Yacht Club   IRL4212 Scandal J24  
31 Simon Sheahan Howth Yacht Club   123 O'Leary Squib  
32 Ian malcolm Howth Yacht Club   7 Aura 17  
33 Massey, Toomey, Kenny Howth Yacht Club   11 Deilginis H17  
34 Tim Chillingworth Howth Yacht Club   IR386 Gannet Puppeteer  
35 Windsor & Steffi Howth Yacht Club   IR 100 Demelza Club Shamrock  
36 Charlie McAllister Club not listed Antrim Boat Club HKG2133 SKB Fauroux quarter tonner Class 3
37 Eamonn Burke & Jay Murray Howth Yacht Club   IRL 971 Leeuwin Sigma 33  
38 Terry Mc Coy Howth Yacht Club   2070 Out & About Beneteau 38 Non Spinny 33ft+
39 kyran o grady Howth Yacht Club wicklow sailing club ir 2848 bandersnatch of howth swan 37  
40 PJ Moran Dun Laoghaire Marina   1685C Rajah Sigma 33 OOD One Design
41 John & Suzie Murphy Howth Yacht Club   IRL 19109 Outrajeous J109 Class 1
42 Gerard Loughran/Ross Hattaway Howth Yacht Club   493 3point9 Squib  
43 bourke mc girr ball Howth Yacht Club   IRL 3002 XEBEC X 302 Class 2
44 Roslyn Byrne Howth Yacht Club   50 Odyssey Puppeteer  
45 Dermot Skehan Howth Yacht Club   1411 Toughnut - Non Spinny 33ft+
46 Stephen Harris / Frank Hughes Howth Yacht Club   IRL 4077 Tiger Beneteau First 40.7 Non Spinny 33ft+
47 Howth Yacht Club K25 Team Howth Yacht Club   IRL 680 Killcullen - Class 3
48 OReilly/McDyer Howth Yacht Club   219 Geppetto Puppeteer  
49 E Ferris &I Byrne Howth Yacht Club   14 Gladys Howth 17  
50 Gallagher and Fitzgibbon Howth Yacht Club   21 Orla Howth 17  
51 K&B Barker Howth Yacht Club   318 Papagena Puppeteer 22  
52 Jane & Michael Duffy Howth Yacht Club HYC 9 HERA Howth 17  
53 Peter & Declan McCabe Howth Yacht Club   IRL 1343 Arcturus Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 37  
54 Ian Dickson Howth Yacht Club HYC 22 Weyhey Puppeteer  
55 Gerard Kennedy Howth Yacht Club   5526 Blue Velvet Puppeteer  
56 Fergal McNamara Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club   297 Equaliser EBoat  
57 Shane Russell and Dave Carolan Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club   152 Wile E Coyote E-boat  
58 Cormac Farrelly Howth Yacht Club   IRL4123 Pepperbox First 32s5  
59 Sean Hawkshaw Club not listed Mullaghmore Sailing Club IRL 7360 Wardance Sigma 38 Class 2
60 Patrick Higginbotham Neil HIgginbotham Malahide Yacht Club   158 Lazy Bones Beneteau First Class 8 Class 3
61 Matthew Knowles Howth Yacht Club   34 Intersceptre Puppeteer 22  
62 Micheal Carroll Howth Yacht Club   1950 Flexit -  
63 Craig O’Neill Royal Cork Yacht Club   IRL4064 Legal Alien J/24 One Design
64 Peter Levins, Brendan Foley, Colm O'Buachalla, Mark Hennessey, Patrick Ryan, Conor Twoney Royal St. George Yacht Club   FR111 ALLIG8R First Class 8 Class 3
65 Neil Murphy / Conor Costello Howth Yacht Club   6413 Yellow Peril Puppeteer 22  
66 Conor Haughton, Jonny Flood, Charles Heather, Garrett Kinnane Wicklow Sailing Club   5270 Jupiter J24 Class 3
67 Nicola & Stuart Harris Waterford Harbour Sailing Club   3370 Moxy X332 sport Class 1
68 pat kelly Rush Sailing Club rsc hyc irl1141 storm j 109 Class 1
69 kelly boardman oleary Club not listed rsc bsc hyc rcyc irl 2269 two farr half tonner Class 2
70 Joanne Hall / Martin Mahon Club not listed Courtown Sailing Club IRL90210 SNOOPY Quarter Tonner Class 3
71 Flood/Greene Howth Yacht Club   IRL8151 Jokers Wild Beneteau 32S5  
72 Roger Conan Royal St. George Yacht Club   1041 Avalon 31.7  
73 Mark Chambers & Alan Switzer Club not listed Courtown sailing club IRL1707 Artemis Sigma 33c  
74 Peter Courtney Howth Yacht Club   17 Oona Howth 17  
75 Miller, Crompton & Hodges Club not listed South Caenarvonshire Yacht Club GBR7737R Impetuous Corby 37 Class 0
76 Barry Cunningham Royal Irish Yacht Club   IRL 2160 Chimaera J109 Class 1
77 Rima Macken Howth Yacht Club   16 Eileen Howth 17  
78 paul conway Royal St. George Yacht Club   IRL 932 CERVANTES Contessa 32  
79 Cliff Waddilove Skerries Sailing Club   279 Aoife E-Boat  
80 Dave Clarke Howth Yacht Club   2021c Harlequin Puppeteer  
81 Kieran Jameson Howth Yacht Club   IRL 8331 Changeling Sigma 38  
82 Donal Harkin Howth Yacht Club   1048 Ghosty Ned Puppeteer  
83 Paddy Kyne Howth Yacht Club   7495 Maximus X 302 Class 3
84 James Dwyer Royal Cork Yacht Club   KZ3494 Swuzzlebubble Farr halftonner Class 2
85 Johnny Treanor National Yacht Club   IRL 3721 ValenTina J112e Class 0
86 Declan Gray Howth Yacht Club   Irl3230 Sapphire Oceanis 323 Clipper  
87 Ger Smith / Niall Sabongi Skerries Sailing Club   IRL4443 An Oifig Sigma 33  
88 Carty Finucane O'Byrne Howth Yacht Club   IRL 1430 Mary Ellen .  
89 Roddy cooper Howth Yacht Club   3 LEILA 17 footer  
90 William Lacy Howth Yacht Club   IRL 8322 Sojourn Arcona 400
Published in Wave Regatta, Howth YC
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Wave Regatta provides Howth Yacht Club and the community on the Howth peninsula in County Dublin with a biennial keelboat racing event that aims to be the most attractive sailing event in Ireland.

Maximising many of the local natural resources and involving allied Howth businesses and services, it attracted competitors, visitors and others on its first staging in 2018 with a weekend-long spectacle establishing Howth as a destination of choice for sailors, visitors and allied marine tourism.

Read Afloat's preview and review of the first staging of Wave Regatta.

At A Glance - Wave Regatta 2024

Howth Yacht Club's 2022 WAVE Regatta will be sailed from May 24th to 26th 2024

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