Displaying items by tag: Howth Yacht Club
A successful new development in the national sailing programme will inevitably be something of a revolution. Yet if those managing the event handle it in the right way, the changeover can take place without people thinking that anything really revolutionary – in the sense of a sudden and complete change – has taken place. W M Nixon takes a look at the successful unveiling of the new-style Wave Regatta planned for his home port of Howth for next year’s June Bank Holiday Weekend.
Preparation is everything. Quiet work behind the scenes in trying to visualize every practical and administrative glitch which might arise, and how best to deal with it well before it becomes a problem, is essential. Getting key people – decision-makers and can-do people, local, regional and national – firmly on side, is absolutely essential.
Testing the waters of consumer opinion with trial announcements and proposals, and the occasional test run maybe disguised as something else, is also part of the process. Yet revealing too much of what is taking shape before it is really ready to go public can do more harm than good.
Thus when Howth Yacht Club’s Wave Regatta 2018 was unveiled after a crisp and businesslike Annual General Meeting in the clubhouse on Thursday night, not only was it a very complete and appealing concept in itself, but it emerged fully formed, and in a style well presented to an audience filled with fresh enthusiasm.
After all, Commodore Joe McPeake had just finished chairing an AGM whose mood was enthusiastic after the publication of a set of figures which showed that the huge extra voluntary effort and support which the club has received from many of its members during the past 18 months has paid real dividends. While the improving mood had become increasingly apparent as the season progressed, by Thursday night if you could somehow have linked it to the National Grid, you’d have lit the village with it.
Inevitably, Howth gets compared to the big southside clubs of Dun Laoghaire, and the way their huge reservoir of personnel resources - further augmented by the overall administration of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, and with the large marina run as a commercial venture – frees up a enormous pool of talent to keep a high-powered show on the road. For when all is said and done, only Dun Laoghaire - with its unique selection of stately shoreside facilities - could stage an event like the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.
But in Howth, the one club has to do everything. So instead of trying to rival Dun Laoghaire, today’s Howth sailors see their strength in being themselves in their own special peninsular port, which is neither Dublin nor northside nor remotely southside. On the contrary, it’s emphatically part of Fingal. And it’s indisputably Eastside. On top of all that, as its basic geology is twice as old as anywhere nearby, it is Ireland which is the add-on to Howth, rather than the other way round.
However, that’s not in anyone’s mind in Howth at all this weekend, as we realize the leap of the imagination which has transformed some long-established Howth events by combining them with new concepts, and then steering the whole package into a significant gap in the market which had been hidden there in plain sight for all to see.
For the overall shape of the 2018 National Sailing Programme is unusual. The biennial Volvo Round Ireland Race from Wicklow has been shifted to the last weekend of June, presumably because its time-honoured slot right on the mid-summer weekend around June 23rd would have clashed with the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race itself in The Hague at the same time.
So with the Volvo Round Ireland on June 30th, Volvo Cork Week in its turn was moved back to July 16th to 21st. And while those who seek a fun regatta with holiday overtones have Calves Week in Schull from August 7th to 10th, those in pursuit of racing with recognised national titles at the end of it have the ICRA Nationals at Galway from 15th to 18th August.
What it meant to those in Howth was that there wasn’t a major cruiser-racer championship on Ireland’s East Coast for the entire season, and particularly not in June and early July when the heavies generally expect an event of this type. But that realisation came after they’d already set in motion a project to re-invigorate their traditional Lambay Race, which has been staged annually since at least 1904 and maybe earlier.
In times past, with smaller craft such as the 1898-established Howth 17s (happily still with us, and stronger as a class than ever), simply racing round the island of Lambay from Howth was enough for a long day’s race. But with newer and much bigger craft joining the mix, all sorts of ways had to be found to increase the length of the Lambay Race for the big boats, while retaining its character. Yet by this stage, the programme generally was becoming crowded, with the revival of ISORA posing new problems of rival events.
A partial solution was reached this year when the ever-obliging ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan agreed to incorporate the annual Lambay Race as the main section of an ISORA Race which would start with the Lambay fleet and sail through its course and finish line, but then race on to a finish in Dublin Bay to provide the kind of distance ISORA expects.
However, for 2018, the Lambay Race on Saturday June 2nd will be a fully-fledged ISORA event in its own right. But it will literally be a Lambay-Race-With-Knobs-On for the Cruiser-Racer classes, as the organisers are planning a morning start and probably taking in Rockabill and the Kish to provide a perfect miniature offshore course.
Having the full ISORA imprimatur on this extended Lambay Race provides the new Wave Regatta with the massive corner-stone which enables the Organising Committee, chaired by former HYC Commodore Brian Turvey, to build a full three-day programme around it, for they can be confident that local One Design Classes such as the Puppeteer 22s and the Howth 17s will already be doing the Lambay Race in its traditional form. As well, Sportsboat Classes like the SB20s and the 1720s will also have the option of a start. And if the IRC Class divisions are made in the right way, we’ll have the J/109s, the J/80s and the J/24s racing as classes-within-classes to add that bit of extra zing.
As the possibilities became clearer, one extra bit of information encouraged the Howth group to go for it big time in promoting an event with three days of solid racing as a viable biennial alternative to the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. This was the news that, in future, in every even year the annual ICRA Nationals will be staged at a non-Dublin venue – August’s Galway venue is the start of this process.
This meant that the Howth team really had to get their skates on in order to have a realistic proposition and programme in place in time for an official unveiling at Thursday’s HYC AGM on December 14th. Even with test runs on various aspects of the main idea during the past couple of seasons, the actual countdown time was short enough, but by Thursday night such a complete package could be put on display that they were able to tell us that Fingal County Council were giving major support, there was every encouragement from the Harbour Authority, and HYC member Michael Wright had come on to the Committee to act as shoreside hospitality director, while also bringing in the support of his Wright Hospitality Group.
In fact, these days with its proliferation of characterful restaurants and hospitality hotspots, Howth’s shoreside entertainment is soon in place. So it’s the programme afloat which has to match it, and here the organisers have hit the target by having Irish Sailing President Jack Roy take on the role as one of the senior Race Officers, another being former President David Lovegrove. Howth-based Race Officers such as David Lovegrove and Harry Gallagher have long made a major input into Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, so all these top men afloat are accustomed to working with each other in the most demanding situations.
They’re also accustomed to inter-acting with the “customers” after racing, and it was their reports of overseas visitors to the Dun Laoghaire Regatta expressing a wish to take part in some sort of major event in the Greater Dublin area every year which encouraged the Howth team to think that, with proper planning, they could provide an alternate biennial regatta which would be different from Dun Laoghaire, yet express the same mood of good but not too serious sport afloat, and high-powered entertainment ashore, with an emphasis on attracting younger participants.
Flexibility is the approach. For those who wish to do just the Lambay Race on the Saturday, that’s fine. But for those who want the Full Irish of a really good programme of sport, there’ll be three races on Friday 1st June, and three more on Sunday June 3rd, while the Bank Holiday Monday will be given over to a Family Day which was very popular in 2017, and will be further developed next year.
As with everything to do with sailing in Ireland, the weather factor will be considerable. But for those of us who have done more than a few Lambay Races, the good memories linger best, and they’re of an effortless regatta atmosphere with an element of local pride, for it’s the coast of Fingal we’ve been racing along, one of all Ireland’s finest islands we’ve been racing round, and it’s our own home port under the hill that we’ve raced home to.
Which makes it fine for those who live locally. But the Wave Regatta Committee, in which Dave Cullen plays a key role as one of the leading ideas experts while officially he’s called Director of Racing, realise that the fact of Howth being on a peninsula and the village being largely residential, with a shortage of hotel bedrooms, can provide a challenge for those who live elsewhere, but want to keep their boats race-ready rather than as floating caravans.
So HYC have hired 30 campervans which will be available for rent in the car-park beside the club, and as well local sailors have made it clear they’ll be more than hospitable in providing accommodation. As for the problem of the DART from Dun Laoghaire not starting until late on a Sunday morning, they’ve swung a deal with Dublin Bay Cruises whereby the familiar blue-hulled St Brigid will depart her berth in Dun Laoghaire at 08:15 Sunday morning, bound for Howth and the final day of racing.
It’s that sort of off-the-wall yet actually very sound idea which gives us some idea of the thought which is going into this new Wave Regatta at Howth. You can do a lot of sailing in three days if everything is in place, and this team is determined that it will be.
Meanwhile, let’s hear it for the home squad, the new HYC Club Officers who were elected on Thursday night, and will have their agenda will filled throughout their time in office, as plans for 2018 include the establishment of a fully-fledged Sailing School within the club. They are: Commodore: Joe McPeake; Vice Commodore: Ian Byrne; Rear Commodore: Paddy Judge; Rear Commodore: Ian Malcolm; Hon. Secretary: Bernie Condy; Hon. Sailing Secretary: Caroline Koster; Honorary Treasurer: David Mulligan.
The death of Barbara Sargent of Howth after a short illness has taken from among us a much-loved and vivacious personality, whose warm family life was a heartening example of how the sea and sailing can be comfortably intertwined with shore interests of all kinds, and a very positive sense of community commitment.
Her enthusiasm was total. Although she and Gerry had celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in April of this year, the passing of the years had in no way diminished her active involvement afloat, which continued to the end – she was racing the annual Howth Autumn League until its conclusion only a few weeks ago, and the huge turnout at her recent funeral was eloquent testimony to the many lives she had touched during a life lived to the full.
She was born Barbara Morgan to a family whose life in Howth was was much involved with the lifeboat service. Her father 'Onny' was the RNLI Station Manager for the port, which may sound like a professional position, but it was entirely voluntary, and from an early age lifeboat fund-raising was part of Barbara’s life, and remained so to the end.
In her childhood days, Howth was a decidedly primitive place for sailing of all kinds, and dinghy sailing was undertaken from the very workaday West Pier where the Howth Motor Yacht Club premises provided a rather limited base. Those young people without access to sailing dinghies could usually find a berth on larger craft by waiting in a group in a sort of “hiring fair” at the top of the steps where the HMYC outboard-powered dinghy acted as club tender, and one of Barbara’s earliest crewing tasks was aboard an International Dragon whose elderly owner had recruited her to ensure that his spectacles were regularly wiped clean while racing in rain and spray.
However, some far-sighted Howth sailors had appointed the young Rupert Jeffares to the completely new role of Junior Honorary Secretary, and he set about adding new classes to the small group of Heron dinghies which constituted the Howth Junior Fleet. Fireflies never quite made the grade, but the IDRA 14, which was already raced at Sutton and Clontarf, seemed to have more appeal, and some Howth-based IDRA 14s went north to make their debut at the IDRA Dinghy Week of 1962 at Skerries.
Rupert had signed on Barbara Morgan to be his crew in his own IDRA 14, and even though everyone lived on the same peninsula, this was the nascent Howth group’s first proper exposure to the high-powered IDRA 14 sailors of Clontarf and Sutton. In 1962, none was more high-powered than Gerry Sargent, as he was racing his brand-new own-built No 38 Starfish. He scored an impressive triple victory. He won the IDRA 14 class in the Dinghy Week. He won the Helmsman’s Championship at the end of the week, racing in Fireflies. And he won Barbara Morgan’s heart.
As their relationship developed during the mid-1960s, you’d have been hard put to say who was the keener of the two on boats and sailing. Barbara’s future father-in-law Charlie Sargent was an amateur boat-builder of such talent and skills - well beyond most professionals - that anyone who became involved with a member of his family was going to find that they soon were absorbing information about every aspect of boat-building, and everything to do with sailing boats.
But as the team skills of the Sargent-Morgan duo developed, Barbara’s sailing enthusiasm easily matched that of Gerry, and they were formidable and successful competitors afloat, yet always ready to take on voluntary tasks and backroom work ashore, for that was in their DNA. And as well, Barbara’s links to Howth provided other sailing outlets, with crewing opportunities on the cruiser-racers of Johnny Pearson and Ross Courtney, with Ross being particularly generous in his willingness to lend his vintage Clyde 30 Brynoth to the young people and their friends for adventure sails round Lambay and out to the Kish.
With marriage in 1967, a family soon followed – the twins David and Robert, and then Andy fourteen months later. Gerry and Barbara were determined to live on the waterfront, so they were pioneers in the movement which established the south end of Baldoyle Creek as a rising area in the Dublin desirable property ratings, and the hospitality in the Sargent household, with its views over the sea to Portmarnock golf links and beyond to Lambay and Ireland’s Eye, made it the heart of an extraordinary maritime world.
As for their growing family, their care needs on Saturday afternoons, when their parents were determined to be racing the IDRA 14, were met with ingenious solutions. Gerry even provided Barbara with the option of a conversion kit to turn his small station wagon into a mobile crèche which could be parked next to the Race Officer at Sutton Dinghy Club in an era when shore starts were still the norm, it being understood that SDC’s Race Officiating duties included keeping an eye on the Sargent kids while their parents were out racing.
As a concession to the needs of family sailing, Gerry restored an old Mermaid, Daphne No 6, and she lay to a drying mooring off the house in Baldoyle to provide a “floating kindergarten”. But soon the boys were making their own way in sailing as well as continuing to ship on board with their parents, and with their interest in keelboats growing, Gerry and Barbara found their sailing interest becoming increasingly focused on Howth Yacht Club, where it was a long-standing tradition that many of the leading members had started their sailing at the tidal clubs of Malahide, Clontarf and Sutton.
This meant that at much the same time, many of their friends from their most energetic dinghy racing days were now adding to the mixture of enthusiasm which made up the newly-constituted Howth Yacht Club which had been created from an amalgamation of Howth Sailing Club and Howth Motor Yacht Club, and in serving on committees and voluntary groups within the club, Gerry and Barbara were among old friends.
Thus it seemed natural that Gerry should be a member of the Howth Inshore Lifeboat Crew, while he and Barbara also organized a keenly anticipated Annual Boat Jumble to raise funds for the RNLI, which they supported in many other ways.
But Barbara’s organizational talents and capacity to convey enthusiasm and information were also revealed in an unexpected capacity back in the days when an Irish Boat Show was a viable annual proposition, and the thriving existence of the Irish Federation of Marine Industries was possible in a pre-globalisation era.
The Federation realised that it was essential that they have a properly-manned stand at the show to field a wide and endless litany of questions. But to find one person who covered the many requirements of the job profile seemed an impossible dream. It was Pat Murphy of Dinghy Supplies who suggested Barbara Sargent. He had met her and Gerry through dinghy racing in Clontarf and Sutton, and had been impressed by her calm capacity to get things done, allied with her special ability to communicate enthusiasm and information.
For many years she cheerfully and efficiently looked after the Industry’s stand at the Show, the engaging and helpful face of the industry, tireless in her work on the behalf of Irish boating in its broadest sense, a centre of calm, good sense, sound advice and accurate insight in the midst of the Boat Show whirl.
Yet while some would be happy to give the world of boats a brief rest after such a brief but concentrated annual period of work, Barbara would always be further enthused in joining Gerry in searching out their next dreamship, and by the early 1980s the Sargents were a formidable force in the rapidly-growing Squib class at Howth, with sons and their girl-friends equally involved.
Barbara raced and sailed Squibs with total relish, and would return to the class from time to time, but when the Puppeteer 22s began to catch on as yet another local One Design in Howth, the Sargents got involved there too, and in 1993 a watershed was reached when the Sargent family’s Puppeteer 22 Toucan – raced entirely by Barbara and Gerry and their sons – won every race of the season.
At the same time, the fact that Gerry and Barbara were very able seamen who were an asset in every crew meant they were much sought after by owners of cruiser-racers, particularly cruising owners with proper plans in place, and with people like Mungo Park with the Sigma 36 Black Pepper II, they were soon clocking up even more offshore miles.
However, they felt that a change of pattern was necessary, so after 1993’s all-conquering year with Toucan, Gerry decided to give his energies to race administration while continuing to cruise with the occasional offshore race. But Barbara so loved the club racing scene that she signed on to the crew of Dermot Skehan’s regularly-raced MG 335 Toughnut, and for the next thirty years, until her final race in October 21st last, she was one of the cheerful band racing this vintage Castro design.
She and Gerry shared an exceptional ability to suss out a suitable boat for their own and other’s needs, and when Pat and Olivia Murphy were contemplating buying the 40ft Aldebaran for their proposed Round the World voyage, they persuaded Gerry and Barbara to come along for the first look-see in Mallorca. Initial impressions were good, particularly in the working part of the accommodation with emphasis on the galley, which Barbara subjected to minute analysis. But they wouldn’t say anything until they’d been sailing.
At sea, Barbara at first stayed below to sense how the ergonomics were all working, but then came on deck and went forward as sheets were trimmed to get the hefty big boat to give of her best. Pat and Olivia watched anxiously as Barbara, still without saying a word, paused to sense how the boat was performing. She waited for a while at the mast as Aldebaran drove on, dealing well with the irregular seas of the Mediterranean. Then she simply turned round and smiled and gave the thumbs-up to the anxious Murphys. They’d found their dreamship.
Although Gerry and Barbara always had invitations to bring their special combination of seaworthy talents to cruising ventures all over the world – many of which they accepted – they were convinced that they should have their own boat at home in Howth Marina as a matter of course, and they went through a number of interesting craft – which they would cruise as far as Kerry – until in 2003 they found the ideal, a Danish-built LM Vitesse 33 of 1989 vintage, an ingenious design which has real sailing ability, yet thanks to a very useful deckhouse, can provide an alternative interior steering position within an extremely comfortable and well-considered layout.
Called Pip, this interesting boat has been cruised to the far southwest, and throughout the Irish Sea. But with new generations of Sargents coming along, and with attractive invitations to cruise distant parts any time they felt like it, Gerry and Barbara realised that Pip gave best value mini-cruising on the waters close to home, meeting friends in familiar anchorages and always being there should a younger member of the extending family need a breath of sea air.
Thus in recent years they’d become experts on the coast of Fingal. Sail up round Lambay, and you’d almost invariably see Pip snugly anchored in a little cove which was sheltered in the wind of the day. Get the word that the mackerel are in, and invariably it would be Gerry and Barbara who would be first back to port with the earliest catch. See a nice breeze ruffling the blue waters of the Sound, and for sure Pip would be out there, enjoying it.
It was an idyllic existence to round out an extraordinary life not just in boats and sailing, but in the greater world of beloved family and cherished friends. It is impossible to convey fully the effective way in which Barbara Sargent lived, while at the same time indicating how her sometimes impish approach to life enlivened every gathering. The hundreds of us who attended her funeral – some from very far away - were privileged to share the private family farewell to someone who had been such a force for the good.
Our heartfelt condolences are with Gerry and their sons David, Robert and Andy and their wives and extended family, and their grand-daughters Joanna, Freya and Gemma, and particularly to grandson Jonny, who gave us such an eloquent and moving insight into how this great sailor also managed to be the perfect grandmother.
This week and for the second time, HYC's Autumn League race management teams were presented with and efficiently managed the considerable challenge of running two races for the inshore and offshore fleets. Aided by some slight alterations to the sailing instructions, Howth’s rich cohort of race officials set out windward-leeward courses for the first race and into a north-westerly 18-20 knot wind that accommodatingly behaved in terms of direction and strength for the whole afternoon.
The teams on the race committee vessels (Sea Wych, Star Point and six accompanying RIBs) finished the nine racing classes, then laid a ‘Round the Cans’ course and got all 100 boats cleanly away for the second race by 4pm. The decision to move to a ‘Round the cans’ course for the second race meant that both fleets finished in Howth Sound and in plenty of time to enjoy the revelry ashore.
With more than four races now completed, boats now discard their worst score and many of the leaderboards tighten as a result. The notoriously cluttered sailing calendar conspired against Class 1 this weekend, with the J109 National Championships clashing with the Autumn League, but culminating in sweet success for Pat Kelly’s ‘Storm’ (See here). But the Breen/ Hogg/ Gregory partnership on their First 34.7 ‘Flashback’ were quick to take advantage of the absence of the J109s, winning both IRC races and really stirring it up at the top of the Class 1 leaderboard. Stephen O’Flaherty‘s Spirit 54 ‘Soufriere’ now commands a formidable lead at the top of the ECHO division, following two wins. The standard of racing and level of competition continues at breathtaking pace in Class 2. The X-Boats, Half-Tonners and Corbys continue to jostle for dominance of this class and while Dave Cullen's ‘Checkmate XV’ earned the right to top this division after winning the second race on Saturday, the Half-Tonner was beaten in the first race by the Wright/ DeNeve/ Cronnelly team on their Corby designed ‘Kodachi’. Jonny Swan’s Half-Tonner ‘Harmony’ leads the ECHO division.
Having missed the first race because they were competing in the J24 World Championships in Canada, the Howth K25 team on ‘Scandal’ capitalised on their discard this week and won both races, leapfrogging their way to the top of the leaderboard in Class 3 IRC. However they will have to stay on top form to fend off the challenge from Gerry O’Sullivan’s Formula 28 ‘Animal’ and Autumn League veteran Vince Gaffney and his team on ‘Alliance Eleven’. The same three boats dominated the ECHO division for the first race, but the resulting adjustment of ratings presented an opportunity to Lionel McMurtry and his team on ‘Hellyhunter’, who won the second race by a minute on corrected time.
It seems like business-as-usual at the front end of Class 4, where Colin Bermingham’s ‘Bite-the-Bullet’ is a familiar sight at the top of the IRC division. But he’s not having it all his own way this time, with the Harris/ Hughes First 40.7 ‘Tiger’ snapping at his heels with only seconds separating them in some of the races and only one point between them in the overall stakes. The ECHO division in Class 4 would be a bookmaker’s challenge but the Burrows/ Skeffington partnership on their Sigma 38 ‘Spellbound’ seem to have found the secret, topping the ECHO leaderboard - by consistently scoring in third and fourth place, their rating changes very little after each race in comparison to the rest of the fleet and any continued gradual improvement should see them as favourites for the ECHO title. The Class 5 boats ‘centre of interest’ is in the ECHO division, where 12 boats are battling every week and where the additional rating points added to Terry McCoy’s ‘Out & About’ after winning the first race, didn’t stop their relative performance and they managed to beat ‘Baily II’ by 13 seconds in the last race. Only 5 boats compete in Class 5 IRC and Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis’s Club Shamrock ‘Demelza’ continues to dominate, although this time the 13-second gap in the last race went against the team on ‘Out & About’, finishing second and lying second overall in that division.
The ‘Taste of Racing’ teams on the club’s J80s continue to enjoy thrilling racing as they hone their skills in the club’s assymetric-rigged keelboats. Three boats took part this week, including teams from Intel (skippered and mentored by Fergus O’Kelly) and Accenture as well as a training squad mentored by Noel Davidson. The ‘Taste of Racing’ programme is designed to introduce new sailors to the sport and offers them all a chance to try all positions on the boat during a race. This gives them valuable experience, provides a transition from basic sailing skills through to competent racing experience and as a result, last year’s participants are now all racing on members boats.
Neil Murphy’s ‘Yellow Peril’ is demonstrating consistent results in the large Puppeteer class, but dealing with some tough competition from experienced teams on Dave Clark and Liam Egan’s ‘Harlequin’, Alan Pearson and Alan Blay’s ‘Trick or Treat’ and also from Scorie Walls and Declan Browne’s ‘Gold Dust’, which suffered a main halyard failure on the way to the start line, but managed to recover to consolidate 3rd place overall. There was less luck for ‘Trick or Treat’ and their team who retired after finishing and will be looking for two strong results to challenge ‘Yellow Peril’ before the approach of Halloween and finish of the series! Only half a point separates the top three in the Puppeteer handicap division, to the benefit of Frank Dillon and his team on ‘Flycatcher’, so they will need to be on top of their game to stay in front with two races to go.
The strong winds and forecasted gusts convinced all but two of the Squib class not to race this week and Serena Blacoe’s ‘Seabiscuit’ and Ronan MacDonell’s ‘Fantome’ did the honourable thing by sharing the spoils, winning a race each. ‘Seabiscuit’ has the honour of being the first probable Autumn League winner after only five races, but will no doubt be battling on to contend for the overall event prize.
Not one of the 16-strong Howth Seventeen class took the risk to hoist their topsail in the fresh conditions as they rigged up in the harbour on Saturday afternoon. Probably a wise move because it was a day for maximum ‘weight on the rail’ for every competing class. Mike Toomey and his team on their Howth Seventeen ‘Deilginis’ took full advantage of their season-long form and won both races, moving to the top of the leaderboard ahead of Brian and Conor Turvey’s ‘Isobel’, now separated by four points. Some consistent racing by the Doyle, Walsh, Finnegan trio in ‘Bobolink’ affords them a slim lead at the top of the handicap division from Harriette and Bryan Lynch’s ‘Echo’ and the jointly chartered ‘Erica’ (Hansen/ O’Meara/ Gilna).
As a consequence of the close quarter action on the busy racecourses, the protest room was in full use on Saturday until almost 9pm, and the hearings were generously overseen and managed by chairman Ed Alcock and supported by Kieran Barker and Rima Macken.
As the leaders emerge in each class and following the busy evening ashore after racing last Saturday, it’s certain that the final two days will be lively affairs.
Against many weather predictions, summer-like conditions at Howth Yacht Club blessed the third weekend of the Autumn League on Saturday afternoon with warm weather, increasingly bright sunshine, and an improving sailing breeze from south to southeast as the programme developed through the day writes W M Nixon.
The two Race Organisation teams – inshore and offshore – took full advantage of this gift from the weather Gods to put in two races back-to-back, thereby amply compensating for the previous weekend’s cancellation. The hundred-plus fleet reflected Howth and Fingal sailing in all is variety, for though there was a large and varied display in both the right-on and white-sail IRC/ECHO Classes, one of Howth’s sailing’s great strengths is the unique One Design Classes which are based only at the peninsula port. Both the classic gaff-rigged jackyard topsail-toting Howth 17s and the Puppeteer 22s were turned out in strength for excellent racing.
As well, another class which has achieved a special local character in Howth is IRC 2, which is the domain of Howth’s continually up-graded classic Half Tonners. Here, Dave Cullen’s Checkmate XV has found form after a second place on opening day. She recorded two straight wins on Saturday to keep her ahead of Johnny Swann’s Harmony with her 1,3,2, while Mike and Richard Evans Big Picture currently lies third with a 3rd, 2nd and 5th in a class of 16 boats.
The Puppeteer 22s are currently experiencing an infusion of even more new blood, and a hot fleet of 18 boats has seen the Murphy/Costello team on Yellow Peril in sparkling form to record a scoreline of 2,1 1 over the series to put them ahead of seasoned campaigners Alan Pearson and Alan Blay in Trick or Treat, with the veteran Clarke/Egan crew on Harlequin lying third.
Sixteen boats are racing in the 1898-established Howth 17 Class, but it is one of the “newer” ones, Conor & Brian Turvey’s Isobel (1988) which came out of Saturday ahead on points, but only just. The 1907-built Deilginis (Massey/Twomey syndicate) won Saturday’s cracker of a second race to add to an existing scoreline of a 2nd and 5th, and while Isobel may have gone into that concluding race with a first on opening day and a 2nd in Saturday’s first race, she could do no better than fourth as Saturday evening closed in.
One of the original five, the 1898-built Rita (Marcus Lynch & John Curley) is currently third with a 4th, 1st and 7th, while the very newest, Ian Malcolm/s French-built Orla of July 2017 vintage, is fourth overall. There’s now all to play for in a series which ends on October 21st after six races.
Detailed Results here
The Massey family’s 1907-built Deilginis of Howth Yacht Club has retained the Howth Seventeen Annual Championship after a five–race series concluded on Saturday with a countback following a points tie with the 1910-built Oona (Peter Courtney) writes W M Nixon.
The combined age of the boats taking part in this well-supported event was 1,487 years. And though this oldest active keelboat class in the world has a strong presence of younger sailors in its makeup of crews, the fact that many boats now find they do best four up meant that the total combined ages involved with people and boats soared through the 2,000 years mark.
But in mostly ideal conditions, Race Officer Neil Murphy was able to get in a complete programme which would have been envied by many younger classes, thanks to putting through a preliminary race on Friday evening, sailed in sunshine and a brisk southwest to west breeze.
Although Conor Turvey helming the 1988-built Isobel had the best of the start, by the finish Luke Massey had brought Deilginis through to the lead, and at the line it was Deiliginis, Oona and Roddy Cooper’s 1898-built Leila taking the honours.
However, the real excitement was back in the midst of the fleet, where Transatlantic Solo Race winner Conor Fogerty was guest helming aboard the Lynch family’s Echo. In a close encounter on a rolling run with Eileen, the latter’s mainsail came in across the Lynch boat, and their star visiting helm found himself wrapped up in Eileen’s mainsheet, and hauled into the sea.
Any talk of being Lynched was reckoned in the worst possible taste as they got the right people aboard the right boats. And nothing daunted, the Atlantic veteran raced on despite being soaked to the skin, though the 14th place recorded by Echo became her discard.
Things were back to normal in the morning, and Saturday’s packed programme was staged in a west to nor’west breeze which was marginal for topsails at first, but with the forecast for wind strengths to ease as the day went on, the fleet went forth with full sail set.
It was intriguing to note the different levels of skills being shown in the arcane arts of setting a jackyard tops’l. The fact that Peter Courtney’s family have been involved with the class since 1907 suggests that it’s an inherited talent, as the topsail on Oona was in place to perfection, setting as one with the mainsail, whereas some other boats had inefficiently large gaps between the jackyard and the gaff.
Despite the style of her topsail setting, Oona was back in third in Saturday’s first race, but Deilginis was on a roll with another win. However, the Courtney boat then moved rapidly up the ranking with two firsts in Saturday’s second and third races, while Deilginis logged a sixth and a second. This meant they were head to head in the final race with Deiliginis in cover on Oona, while the brand-new French-built Orla (Ian Malcolm) read a windshift to perfection to take the win, with second going to the Turveys and Isobel, and Deilginis and Oona coming in third and fourth.
With them tied on 7.0pts after discards, the quick judgment was that Oona must have it, as she discarded a fourth while Deilginis dropped a sixth, and they both had a scoreline of two firsts, a second and a third. But somewhere in the deepest depths of World Sailing Rules it apparently says that in the event of a tie, the placings in the final race are the decider, with discards ignored, so Deilginis retained the title she won in 2016, with Oona second, Isobel third and the new Orla fourth on a 4th, 5th, 6th and 1st, with an 11th discarded.
In a class of this size, the availability of handicaps adds greatly to the commitment of the fleet, and the placings in this division were 1st Gladys (Pat Heydon), 2nd Bobolink (Doyle/Finnegan/Walsh), 3rd Silver Moon (Susan Morgan) and 4th Erica (Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris).
As to a Howth championship being won by “the Dalkey boat”, it goes back into the mists of time, when Dublin Bay Sailing Club were casting about around 1906, looking for a seaworthy little keelboat class. Having searched high and low, it was pointed out to them that a well-proven little class was hidden round on the other side of Howth Head. Apparently they were called the Howth Seventeens, and the word was they did the business as regards seaworthiness and good racing.
So in classic Kingstown style, Dublin Bay Sailing Club adopted the design, immediately renamed them the Dublin Bay Seventeen, and ordered seven to be built by James Kelly in Portrush on the north coast, for delivery to Kingstown on flatbed railway trucks in time for the 1907 season.
Leading this movement was Dr W M A Wright who was to become DBSC Commodore in 1919. But in 1907, to underline the Dublin Bay character of his new Seventeen footer, he called her Deilginis, after that place which has been known as Dalkey ever since the Vikings passed through.
Deilginis was a star of the Dun Laoghaire yachting scene for years, but by 1970 when Nick Massey was in the heart of the movement to re-locate all the boats to Howth, the word was that Deilginis was in a state of dereliction, with evidence of tar being deployed, on the banks of the Grand Canal at Dolphin’s Barn in Dublin.
We just don’t have the space, time or knowledge to explain how Dolphin’s Barn got its name. Sufficient to say that Nick and his siblings and shipmates managed to retrieve what was left of Deilginis around 1970, and her path has been onwards and upwards ever since, with this past weekend yet another waypoint on that magic route.
With the world’s newest One-Design Keelboat class, the Volvo 65, currently celebrating its hugely successful debut in the Fastnet Race 2017, it’s more than appropriate that the world’s oldest keelboat OD, the 1898-vintage Howth Seventeen, should be staging its Annual Championship, starting tomorrow (Friday evening, August 11th) at Howth Yacht Club northeast of Dublin, where the class first raced on May 4th 1898 writes W M Nixon.
All five of the original boats which sailed in that maiden race 119 years ago are still with the class, and in fact two of them, Aura (Ian Malcolm) and Leila (Roddy Cooper) were respectively second and third overall in the 2016 Championship.
It was quite an achievement, as the class has expanded over the years, and the defending champion this weekend is the Massey syndicate’s Deiliginis, one of the “new” boats, as she was built in 1907. There have been other additions since, and just recently, as reported in Afloat.ie, class numbers rose to 21 with the arrival of the new Orla, constructed in France for Ian and Judith Malcolm by the boat-building school Skol ar Mor.
Although 21 boats are in existence, there’s always one or two resting or undergoing restoration. So the turnout this weekend will be 17 boats, with every last one of them determined to beat the new boat Orla, which will be sailed by Ian Malcolm. His other boat, the 119 year old Aura, will be raced by Puppeteer ace Scorie Walls, who has shown herself capable of winning in just about every type of boat, thus the needle between Aura and Orla will be a wonder to behold.
The championship is in a very civilized format, with the topsail-less Club race from a pier start on Friday evening, and then four races back-to-back on Saturday from the Committee Boat, with topsails in use if conditions suit. Ideally, the five races completed by Saturday evening will constitute the championship, but Sunday is kept in reserve, and has been needed a couple of times in the past.
When that definitive image of young Aoife Hopkins leppin’ her Laser with rocket power out of a breaking wave at the European Women’s Laser Radials Under 21 Championship 2017 (July 17th to 24th) at Douarnenez in Brittany went viral, we all knew something very special was going on.
But though the young Howth sailor clearly revelled in the heavy going, she proved well able for conditions of all sorts, and had the mental strength to withstand an entire crucial day lost to calm. With three races packed into the final day, she took three firsts to clinch the trophy by a country mile.
An outstanding Sailor of the Month for July among our potential Olympians.
One of the teams taking part in their very first regatta at today's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta are Howth Yacht Club's “Try Racing” team competing in the north Dublin Club's recently purchased J80 keelboats. This time last year none of the crew had sailed before and as part of HYC initiative to get more people joining the club and out sailing on a regular basis they joined the “Taste of Racing” programme.
While the boat is helmed by club member Noel Davidson the crew are experiencing their very first regatta as they compete in the mixed sports boat class which includes 1720’s, J80’s, J70’s and other mixed sports boats.
They joined a group of four J80’s who while making a dash for the finish line in the first race of the day, missed the correct finish line all together and learnt the valuable lesson of reading the sailing instructions properly.
They redeemed themselves in race two with a creditable seventh place out of 15 in the mixedsports boat class.
The regatta continues until Sunday.
The races were so effectively run (well done Richard Kissane & team), there was a review to the schedule to avoid finishing too early adding a Gold and Silver round robin so by the end of the event there were 57 races in total.
On the racing side, two teams were surely showing effective team racing tactics and it was no surprise to see them battling it in the final. After a great day of racing, RCYC-1 captained by Rory O'Sullivan came out on top against the RstGYC-1 captained by Trevor Bolger.
Clubs represented were the RstGYC (3 teams), RCYC (2 teams), HYC (2 teams), MYC (2 teams), NYC and TBSC