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Displaying items by tag: Howth Yacht Club

Howth and its peninsula have been actively interacting with the sea since recorded history began, and instances of Howth children being taken sailing date back at least to the famous visit of Connacht’s sea queen Granuaille to Howth in the 1590s and beyond

On that occasion, the Lord of Howth was absent from the castle, and the fiery woman sailor from Mayo felt that his staff failed in their duties of hospitality. So she took the son and heir away in her sailing ship until an apology was received. All was harmoniously resolved in due course, and ever since then an extra place has been laid for dinner each evening in Howth Castle in order to welcome any unexpected visitor.

These days, Howth is a byword for hospitality, sailing and schools. Yet despite the peninsula being home to many boats, there are still some local children who miss out on the chance of getting to learn about sailing despite many school-aimed courses being run at the clubs.

But now a pilot scheme is being introduced this year by Howth Yacht Club through its sailing & powerboat training brand Quest Howth, introducing a new boats and sailing Bursary Programme. It’s on offer to pupils at the four primary schools in the immediate Howth/Sutton area - the Burrow NS, St. Fintan’s NS, Scoil Mhuire NS and Sutton Park. The bursary is aimed at children between 1st and 3rd class, and it offers one voucher for a one week course in HYC’s successful Cara Na Mara programme.

The voucher can be split between 2 children, which means they pay 50% of the normal course fee - this is to be made at the time of application. Deadline for applications from each school must be received by 31st March and final booking can be made on or before the 15th April.

This bursary is designed to encourage participation in the sport of sailing by a child who otherwise may not have had any previous connections or links to the sailing world, or the opportunity of learning to sail.

The Cara Na Mara programme is a child-focused approach which introduces children to sailing, allowing them to discover, explore and practice the skills and knowledge they need as sailors, while under the leadership and supervision of Irish Sailing qualified instructors. The children are placed in groups of six, under guidance of an instructor and an assistant instructor in a 6:2 ratio.

The children learn to sail in Picos which can accommodate more than one sailor at a time, and allows children to sail with their friends. Elements of the S.T.E.M programme, (Wind and Wave; Tide and Navigation etc) are introduced during the week through hands-on learning, and the courses include a healthy lunch each day of hot food and fruit.
Each school has been asked to nominate a child after informing parents of this opportunity requesting expressions of interest. The exact format can be left to each school, but all applications must be in with Howth Yacht Club by the 31st March each year. The school’s expression of interest or nomination should include why the school feels this child is particularly suitable to avail of the bursary, and must be accompanied by the parent/guardian’s approval to take part in the course.

The nominations can be dropped into the office or emailed to [email protected] .

For further details on the course please see the link below or please call HYC on (01) 8322141 or here. Howth YC is also staging its Sailing Information Evening tonight (Thursday 5th March at 7.30pm), and any parents are welcome to come along and find out more about the Quest Howth Sailing Courses.

Published in Howth YC
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Howth Yacht Club will welcome the Irish Sailing team racing roadshow funded by BIM - Bord Iascaigh Mhara - (Ireland's Seafood Development Agency) which is designed to attract sailors between the ages of 14 – 30 from around the area, it is not just for members of HYC.

The Roadshow will start at 10 am on Saturday 7th March and run for two days. Team Racing is a fun and inexpensive way for clubs to attract young dinghy sailors after they have left the structured environs of class youth racing or the Irish Sailing Training Schemes. All boats and instructors will be there on the day, all sailors have to do is turn up in their winter sailing gear. Given the time of year, we would advise that sailors have sufficient dinghy sailing competency to cope with reasonable winds and colder climes. With a focus on rules knowledge, boat handling, tactics and team building, the programme will further develop transferable skills and give rise to skilled and competitive racing in a very sociable environment. Participants have the option of doing both days or just one day if they prefer and the cost is €30 for one day or €50 for both. See the event flyer here for more details.

This initiative came from active Howth Yacht Club member, Darragh O'Connor who teaches in Sutton Park School and is heavily involved in sailing himself. Darragh first started team racing in Schull community college which he says hugely benefited him in his college sailing days and he was hooked, not only by the competitive but fun racing but also by the great social side attached to the events. This event is the first of what is hoped to be many new sailing initiatives which will be run by Howth Yacht Club this season, all with the aim of making sailing in the club more accessible to all ages and levels.

For more information regarding the event please contact Christina Knowles [email protected] or to book your space you can phone the office in HYC at 01-8322141.

Published in Team Racing
6th February 2020

Sheila Morrison 1927-2020

Sheila Morrison of Howth, who has died aged 92, had a natural talent for sailing. But in her many years, she demonstrated that her greatest gift was as a supportive and loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend who brought out the best in a remarkable extended family for whom boats and sailing – both on the sea and on the inland waterways - were a natural part of their way of life.

She was a Maguire, a daughter of Cecil Maguire who was originally from the inland waterways town of Enniskillen, but in the golden years just before World War I had found the best outlet for his engineering and mechanical talents in Dublin, where he was a pioneer in the rapidly-expanding motor trade.

This meant that his primary interest afloat was in developing motor-boats. But as the family home from the 1930s was beside the north shore of Dublin Bay where Kibarrack is veering into Sutton, his four children - Neville, Sheila, David and Romaine - were able to learn their sometimes self-taught sailing in dinghies in the sheltered inner waters of Sutton Creek inside Bull Island with the nascent Kilbarrack SC.

Cirrus 1950 grand canal2Cecil Maguire’s 40ft Thorneycroft motor-cruiser Cirrus on the Grand Canal in 1950, with the well-laden working canal boat 69M going past on her work. Even as young teenagers, the Maguire children had been expected to be able to re-position the 1945-bought Cirrus unaccompanied to the next cruising destination on the inland waterways, or bring her out to Howth if need be. Photo: David Maguire
However, as Cecil’s own sailing base was Howth, where he’d the 26ft 1894-built gaff cutter Marie and then after 1945 the comfortable 40ft Thorneycroft motor-cruiser Cirrus (which he bought at Lucan on the Royal Canal), he was keen that Howth Motor Yacht Club should share in this encouragement of young dinghy sailors, and seventy-seven years ago Sheila became the first of his children to join the club.

She was able to do so because she was at school in Dublin while her older brother Neville was away at school in Cork. He joined a few weeks later when he came home for the summer holidays, but it remained a matter of quietly amused satisfaction to Sheila for the rest of her life that she was senior to her renowned older brother Neville – subsequently a multiple champion - in terms of Howth sailing membership.

She was further drawn into the Howth scene with marriage in 1950 to Jim Higginbotham, whose wider family were involved with both HMYC and Howth Sailing Club, and they soon had two daughters – Gaye and Judy – while their sailing developed with Jim going into partnership in the Howth 17 Mimosa with a Dublin-based airline pilot from Cork, Paddy Kirwan, who later was to be President of the Irish Yachting Association.

sheila 1947 cirrus3 Jim Higginbotham and Sheila Maguire aboard Cirrus in Howth, 1947

Meanwhile, in Howth the major dredging of the harbour in the mid-1960s provided an opportunity to amalgamate the two clubs, an epic story in which Jim and Sheila found themselves playing a key role, as Jim became the Commodore of Howth SC (only the third one since its foundation in 1895) only on condition that HSC and HMYC continued with active negotiations to become one as Howth Yacht Club.

This was duly achieved in 1967-68. It may all seem a straightforward amalgamation in retrospect, but conservative feelings ran deep in the old guard in HSC, a notably purist organization, and Sheila’s kindness and charm as the Commodore’s wife - combined with her own family links to HMYC where both her daughters were in the Junior Training Programme – quietly played a key role in achieving a successful outcome.

Family life afloat and ashore continued with the notably fit Sheila keeping trim as a regular swimmer and badminton player in addition to sailing, and in time she and Jim had two sons-in-law with the inevitable connection to boats developing, airline captain Derek Bothwell who married Gaye and lived in Howth, and architect Stuart Hamilton, married to Judy, whose main interest was in the inland waterways – he was one of those who developed the private marina at Gortmore on Lough Derg.

sheila 1962 mimosa4Sheila on the helm in the Howth 17 Mimosa in 1962 with her sister Romaine Cagney and the next generation who are: Gaye Higginbotham (on afterdeck), Pamela Cagney (front left), Susan Maguire, Roger Cagney (later Commodore HYC), and Judy Higginbotham on right. Photo: Neville Maguire
In 1975 Jim and son-in-law Derek went into partnership with the Folkboat Mistral, and contributed greatly to the growth of this then-very-active class in Howth, which at its peak was pushing towards two dozen actively raced and cruised boats. But it was a sadly short-lived arrangement, as Jim Higginbotham died in 1979. It was a personal tragedy which left the extended family bereft, yet in time was to show Sheila’s remarkable powers of resilience while reinforcing her lively and mutually entertaining interest in her growing extended family.

The vitality of the family was such that by the time of her death, Sheila had seven grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren, with all of whom she maintained a busy and informative relationship. She kept herself well up to speed with the latest communication technology not because she felt it was the right thing to do, but because she was a Maguire and the interested and intelligent use of technology was in her DNA.

She cherished personal independence and continued driving herself to the end, while in her eighties, during a visit to family in Australia, she did an extensive self-drive tour of South Australia with a hired camper-van.

Meanwhile, her sailing had moved into another area with a second marriage in 1985 to the widowed Ian Morrison of Howth, a former offshore racing and cruising veteran with whom Jim Higginbotham had sailed, and whose sea-going interests were now taken up with the Mediterranean-based Halberg Rassy 42 ketch Safari of Howth aboard which they cruised extensively before Ian’s death in 2004.

That was a cruel year for Sheila as her younger sister Romaine Cagney – like all the Maguires a hyper-keen sailor and parent of sailors - also died, but in due course the Sheila Morrison resilience reasserted itself, and life went on afloat and ashore.

By this stage she was a lead figure in a very large family sailing scene, with son Derek Bothwell serving as Howth YC Commodore from 2002-2004, a role also filled by her nephew Roger Cagney, while another nephew was, of course, international sailing superstar Gordon Maguire, Neville’s son.

Yet for Sheila Morrison, all relatives were of equal interest, while her own direct and now-large family were her sustaining passion in an extraordinary global mutual-support system of constant communication and encouraging and loving interest.

Her funeral in Howth was an inspiring mixture of sadness and celebration, a true expression of the place and the people who are in it and sail from it. As for Sheila Morrison, she may have been 92, but it would entirely miss the point to describe her as being 92 years old. Sheila Morrison was never old.


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

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

Wave Regatta 3781

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

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

Wave Regatta 3678

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

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

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

Published in Wave Regatta

It all came down to the eleventh and final race of the Australian Optimist National Opens 2020 in Melbourne, with a total fleet of 255 boats from eight nations racing. Howth Yacht Club's Rocco Wright was overnight leader by just one point from the USA’s Samara Walsh, and in today’s first of two races he consolidated this with a third, with Walshe in fourth. But French star Zou Schemmel had got himself back in contention with a win, while the hopes of Australia were raised by 12-year-old Joel Beashel of Sydney back in the frame with a second.

At the start of the final race, things looked very good for the Irish and French campaigns, as Wright and Schemmel got clear away in the lead, and thus were able to take the usually favoured right hand on the first beat. But conditions were becoming increasingly volatile, and boats on the left began to show ahead, with completely new names emerging at the head of the fleet. In the end, the winner of the final joust was New Zealand’s Joe Leith, whose best placing until then had been a fourth. As it was, even with this final win, he still placed back in 12th overall.

Meanwhile the top contenders saw their final complete re-shuffling get Beashel a sixth in this last race. But as Wright was out of it with 37th while Walshe was 13th and Schemmel 25th, Beashel emerged as winner with Wright second by just one point, and in turn one point ahead of Walshe with Australia’s Matty Goss fourth and France's Schemmel fifth.

Results here

This notable placing by Rocco Wright (who won two major regattas in Sydney in December) continues a remarkable period for the Irish Optimist Dinghy Class, as James Dwyer Matthews of Royal Cork won the British Spring Opens 2019, the British Opens 2019, and the 185-boat 11 nations Irish Opens 2019, while Rocco Wright took tenth in the Worlds 2019, second in the North Americans 2019, and now second in the Australians 2020.

Published in Optimist
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Howth Yacht Club has been selected to host the J/24 European Championships in 2021.

Ireland’s proposal was made at the 2019 World Council Meeting in Miami on 28 October 2019 and voted on by the European NJCA’s with the announcement made this week.

The Irish J/24 Fleet and Howth Yacht Club will rekindle a previously successful partnership which saw the North Dublin club host both the J/24 Europeans in 2011 and J24 World Championships in 2013 that Afloat's W M Nixon reviewed here.

Irish J24 Class President Mark Usher said: "The Irish J24 fleet is once again indebted to Howth Yacht Club. We are fortunate to have a club with their experience, expertise, facilities and infrastructure as our host club. I would like to recognise those who led the bid, Commodore Ian Byrne, Vice-Commodore Paddy Judge and Neil Murphy who were assisted by Flor O’Driscoll. We look forward to working with Howth Yacht Club to organise and deliver a top-class event both on and off the water.”

HYC Commodore Ian Byrne welcomed the news and said "Howth Yacht Club is delighted that our proposal to host the 2021 J/24 European Championships has been successful. Our continued support of the Irish J/24 Class and our team's previous success running national and international championships was instrumental in bringing this major European regatta to Fingal County. We will now set to work to provide world-class racing in our stunning setting and make the event memorable with our Howth hospitality ashore."

The Irish J24 Fleet is undergoing a period of significant growth demonstrated by 32 boats entering the recent Irish National Championships at Lough Erne Yacht Club.

The growth has been accelerated by a commitment to an Under 25 development programme which has been supported by Irish Sailing, Irish Cruiser Racing Association (ICRA) and West of Ireland Offshore Racing Association (WIORA) who have both provided grants to clubs for development of Under 25 teams.

In previous years, the hosting of international events has acted as a catalyst for new entries to the Irish fleet seeking to challenge themselves against top-class international competition.

Published in J24
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Back in 1991 when the world seemed a much simpler place, a three-crew Irish team - using shrewdly-selected offshore racing boats chartered in Australia - took part in the then-popular International Southern Cross Series, which was built around a programme of inshore and offshore races of varying length culminating in the 630-mile Sydney-Hobart Race itself.

Australian ex-Pat John Storey (he was born in Meath) was at the heart of it with his own Farr 43 Atara, where his skipper and the Team Captain was Harold Cudmore. In fact, Cork provided much of the muscle, as the late Joe English skippered the “small boat”, the David 36 Extension – a former Sydney-Hobart overall winner - while the mid-sized team member was known as “the Howth boat”, as her crew was built around Kieran Jameson and Gordon Maguire.

The boat herself was the Davidson 40 Beyond Thunderdome, a name expressive of way-out Australian culture at the time – think Mad Max when Mel Gibson was in his popular prime – and the very fact of having an Irish team in the Southern Cross challenge on the other side of the world also caught the mood of the moment, for back home the economy was starting to get a move on after the glacially sluggish 1980s.

beyond thunderdome2When the going was good…..the Davidson 40 Beyond Thunderdome scoring well for Ireland in the early stages of the 1991 Southern Cross series

And the Irish Southern Cross team certainly got a move on. They were leading, with Gordon Maguire in particular at the helm of Beyond Thunderdome on top form. But then in a windward slugging match in the final pre-Hobart Race inshore event, an Australian boat on port collided with them, dismasting Thunderdome so totally that her series was over.

Yet victory was pulled from the wreckage. Gordon Maguire was immediately transferred to Atara to be top helm under Harry Cudmore’s command for the race to Hobart. As for Beyond Thunderdome, eventually she got complete points redress for the crash and for missing the race to Hobart. And meanwhile, Atara won the Sydney-Hobart race overall to make sure that Ireland won the 1991 Southern Cross Series.

atara 1991 sydney3Atara for Ireland! Back in 1991-92 when life was still mostly pre-internet, magazine covers could speak for everyone

It was all a life-changing experience for Gordon Maguire. The young Howth sailor – already a multiple champion at home – was soon swept up into the vibrant Australian sailing scene, such that while he has achieved success all over the world – including several Whitbread/Volvo Race victories – Australia is now his home, and he is best known for further top performances in many majors including more Hobart success with his overall wins currently totalling three.

But he has maintained his strong family links with Howth where his father Neville – a champion sailor now in his sprightly nineties – continues to be an active member. Thus twenty-one months ago in February 2018 with two Howth-crewed boats racing in the RORC Caribbean 600 from Antigua when Gordon Maguire turned up with his top lieutenants to race an American Maxi 72, there was something of a club reunion.

gordon maguire4Gordon Maguire in his role as one of Australia’s leading sailors, at a pre-Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race press conference

Much came out of that Caribbean 600 campaign after the Howth YC squad had secured a first in one class (for “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty with his Sunfast 3600 Bam) and second in another (with the Lombard 46 Pata Negra chartered by Michael Wright for a programme managed by Kieran Jameson).

But what didn’t emerge was a 2019 campaign to return to Antigua, for the Wright team had set their sights on the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race starting on December 26th 2019, and Kieran Jameson was set the task of securing a suitable boat in Australia.

It says everything about Kieran Jameson’s enduring enthusiasm for offshore racing that, 28 years after organising the Beyond Thunderdome campaign, his zest for it all is undiminished despite the fact that the charter market in the countdown to the 2019 Hobart race has been much more challenging.

Researching for a suitable boat was well under way by September 2018, but after years of the annual classic seeing entry levels hovering around the hundred mark and sometimes not even rising to that figure, 2019 is the 75th Anniversary. Entries have shot up to the 160 mark. And the greatest increase is in the 35 to 45ft size - precisely the range Jameson was targeting.

There were sleepless nights in trying to close a deal on a First 40, the Howth team’s ideal target. For although the marque has been in Australia for ten years now after making a mighty debut by taking first and second overall in the 2009 race, like their predecessor the First 40.7 they’ve proven to be continually competitive, and in size terms they’re a very manageable proposition for a team coming from the other side of the world, and the Howth team have been campaigning chartered First 40s in major race – with silverware to show for it - since 2014.

 kieran 2014 helm5First experience with a First 40 – Kieran Jameson at the helm of Thursday’s Child in the stormy Middle Sea Race of 2014. In the same boat in the 2016 RORC Caribbean 600, the Wright team from Howth took third in class. Photo: Brian Turvey

Fortunately through EastSail, the Australian charter mega-agency, they linked up with the First 40 Breakthrough, originally called Chancellor, which acquired her current name when she came under the ownership of medical research professors Matthew Vadas and Jonathan Stone, who had recently made a significant shared discovery in their field of research.

In the 2014 Rolex Sydney-Hobart, she was raced under the command of Matthew Vadas, but a strong Irish link was established as the sailing master was noted Malta-based offshore racing talent Barry Hurley (originally of Cobh) sailing his fourth Hobart challenge. He, in turn, had recruited Dun Laoghaire’s Kenneth Rumball (on his third RSHR) and his brother Alexander together with Catherine Halpin, and for a while, they were right in contention for the overall prize.

But the eventual winner, the Farr 43 Wild Rose (Roger Hickman), somehow got away from them down at Bass Strait, and while Breakthrough finished with a praiseworthy 12th overall, Hurley – who in November 2014 had taken a first in class in the Middle Sea Race – felt it was something of a missed opportunity.

These days, the two professors no longer contemplate doing the decidedly rugged race to Hobart personally. But they like the boat so much they’ve kept her on for personal cruising and less demanding races in the Sydney area, and it seems they were ready to be persuaded that a crew from Howth would be acceptable to take Breakthrough – re-named HYC Breakthrough for the duration - on a bareboat basis for the 75th Anniversary RSHR 2019.

But getting the boat in place is only the beginning of it. In today’s fast-moving world, people who felt sure they’d be available on the date to go to Australia find personal circumstances suddenly changing, and Kieran Jameson has found himself sorting and re-sorting a personnel roster which has only been completely finalized this week.

Heading the list is Darren Wright, current Irish Half Ton Champion with Mata, while Kieran Jameson fulfills the role – as required by the RSHR – of Sailing Master. Colm Bermingham and Rick de Neve (a co-owner of Mata) are listed as navigators, while Simon Knowles - in addition to other roles – is on the strength as tactician. The rest of the crew are Johnny White, Luke Malcolm, Emmet Sheridan and David Wright, and while they’re all proven sailors in Irish waters, although the boat has already been passed as fit for the big race by the regulators, the crew will have to put in 24 hours together sailing hard at sea on HYC Breakthrough as soon as they’ve all assembled in Sydney.

mata crew6Darren Wright (left) with the crew of Mata after winning the 2019 Irish Half Ton Championship during the Sovereigns Cup Regatta in Kinsale in June.
Because of the significant increase in fleet numbers over the usual RSHR turnout, demands on waterfront facilities and services are at a premium, but a high priority has been put on getting the sail wardrobe sorted, using the services of UK Sailmakers and Ian Short sails in Sydney.

And the fleet increase does mean that there will be much improved boat-for-boat racing featuring in the Hobart campaign, so Breakthrough will find herself being kept up to speed by the presence of five First 40s and seven comparably-rated Sydney 38s. Regardless of the overall picture, they’ll have the extra interest of a race-within-a-race.

Nevertheless, the feeling of very extended lines of communication is sensed as you realize that the entire crew is making the journey from Ireland. But a marker has already been put down by 28-year-old Luke Malcolm – a product of the HYC & ICRA Under 25 scheme who is now a full-time sailor – going out ahead two weeks early to start sorting the boat, and last week he sensibly sent back a basic but very real photo of Breakthrough just to reassure everyone that their boat for the big race was ready and waiting exclusively for them.

breakthrough last week7We have a boat…..the First 40 Breathough waiting in Sydney as photographed by Luke Malcolm last week, and passed by the regulators as fit for the RSHR 2019. Now her crew from Howth have to put in 24-hours of intensive sea time. Photo: Luke Malcolm
fireball divineyShane Diviney on wire and Luke Malcolm (helm) campaigning a Fireball on the European circuit. Photo courtesy Judith Malcolm

In Sydney, he soon linked up with Shane Diviney with whom he used to campaign a Fireball on the European circuit, who likewise has gone professional, and for the RSHR is aboard the Australian Judel Vrolik 62 Chinese Whisper (David Griffith) which has further Irish interest as the navigator is Offaly-born Adrienne Cahalan doing her 28th race to Hobart.

chinese whisper9So who’s superstitious about sail number 13? The JV 62 Chinese Whisper (David Griffin) will have Shane Diviney aboard for the 75th race to Hobart

There’s continuing Irish interest through the super-maxi Comanche whose owner Jim Cooney proudly proclaims his Meath connections (Ballivor to be precise) while from an international point of view Comanche’s credentials are further reinforced by having “The Navigator’s Navigator”, Stan Honey of California, on board to call the shots.

comanche spray10“The Ballivor Boat” – Jim Cooney’s Super-Maxi Comanche making fast but wet progress. Her crew for the RSHR 2019 will include the legendary navigator and tactician Stan Honey of Californiajim cooney11Australian entrepreneur Jim Cooney takes great pride on his County Meath links.

As for Gordon Maguire, he is of course well immersed in finalizing RSHR preparations with Matt Allen’s turbo-powered TP 52 Ichi Ban. But on a visit back to Howth in the Autumn, he’d a brainstorming session with the HYC Breakthrough team, and while his every word of advice was pure gold, the most cheering thing they were told was that the hard men of Ichi Ban wouldn’t dream of keeping themselves at peak performance with anything as crude as freeze-dried food. Thus when HYC Breakthrough get their shore management set up, Gordon will see that they’re guided with the proper introductions to the secret source of Ichi Ban’s magic victuals.

This vital shore management side will be looked after by Ian and Judith Malcolm, the parents of Luke, who are taking time out from the countdown to the Fireball Worlds 2020 in Howth to ensure that the HYC Breakthrough squad are protected as far as possible from the inevitable hassle which a long-distance management operation like this inevitably involves.

Because as with any great endeavour, no matter how careful and detailed you are in your planning, events will inevitably conspire to knock things astray. In all those years in which the organising Cruising Yacht Club of Australia realized they were in the countdown to the 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart race, and in all the many months – running into well over a year – through which the increasingly determined HYC Breakthrough team were pulling all their threads together, who on earth would have thought that as the start time approached for the Races of Races, the city of Sydney - with its unrivalled natural harbour the perfect arena for the start of a classic sailing event – would find itself under increasing threat from raging bush fires?

InfoTrack in the smoke12The Maxi InfoTrack just visible in the Sydney smoke on Tuesday of this week, when the keenly-anticipated SOLAS Big Boat Challenge was blanked out and cancelled by the smoke from the bush fires.
Everyone is continuing with their plans, and when they staged a very special regatta last weekend for classics which had taken part in the Sydney-Hobart race before 1976, the wind obligingly was nor’easterly and the harbour was looking more like itself.

It was a wonderful occasion, for with every passing year Australia is becoming more of a world leader in the preservation of great classic boats. And when we realize that the attendance at last weekend’s event included such legends as Jim Hardy (87) and the immortal Gordon Ingate, full of beans at 93 and invigorated by being back on board the superbly-restored Caprice of Huon which he raced with such style during the 1960s, it gives us yet another excuse to use that classic Cowes Week photo from 1965.

It shows Caprice slicing through the crowded water accompanied by a launch filled with admiring RYS alickadoos, beating towards the finish line and an overall win in the Britannia Cup at a time when the boat was already 17 years old - and she’d been built in 1948 to a Robert Clark design which was basically pre-World War II in its origins.

windrose classics13Sydney sailing at its best in clear air – the classic Hobart race veteran Windrose on the second day of last weekend’s Pre-Hobart Classics Regatta in Sydney
jim hardy gordon ingate14Sailing as a sport for all ages – Sir James Hardy (left, aged 87) with Gordon Ingate (93) aboard the multiple winner Caprice of Huon, now a beautifully-restored classic.
caprice of huon15One of sailing’s most abiding images. Gordon Ingate’s Caprice of Huon slices her way through Cowes Roads in August 1965, on her way to winning the Britannia Cup when she was already 17 years old. And as a matter of note, she too carries sail number 13…….
But then on Tuesday as the final countdown continued with the day allocated to the Grinders Coffee SOLAS Big Boat Challenge – traditionally a superb in-harbour spectacle involving legendary maxis – the wind has swung to the northwest, the smoke rolled over and the air became almost unbreathable while visibility was at times down to 0.1 nautical miles, so though an attempt was made at racing, it had to be abandoned.

It may seem utterly trivial to be concerned about smoke-impaired visibility for the start of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race on December 26th when so many people’s very existence and way of life and property is under the bush fire threat. But as the recent typhoon-plagued Rugby World Cup in Japan reminded us, life is going to go on regardless unless circumstances conspire the wipe out the entire human race, in which case no-one will be bothered either way.

So for those who find contemplation of the classic dash to Hobart a refreshing change from the suffocation of the Festive Season, the word is that the defending champion for the overall win is a Tasmanian boat, Philip Turner’s canting keel Reichel Pugh 65 Alive, while the line honours win is being defended – not for the first time – by the Oatley family’s frequently-altered Super Maxi Wild Oats XI skippered by Mark Richards.

rshr start16The Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race start as it can be, when the air is clear. Photo: Rolex/Studio Borlenghi

Published in W M Nixon

After the perfect weather of the sunlit two-race programme on Saturday, October 12th in the Beshoff Motor Autumn League in Howth, there were those who suggested the series should have been declared finished there and then, as it just couldn’t get any better as far as idyllic conditions were concerned, and didn’t they have seven good races already in the bag, with a handful of boats in the 18 racing categories already secure in a place in the Winners’ Enclosure?

How right they were…..For last Saturday’s final day, a particularly unpleasant low-pressure area, which was going to bring both calm and gales and lots of rain and poor visibility, squatted down in potentially deepening mode over the western Irish Sea. And as the Day 6 start time had been deferred to allow the sailors to watch the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, while Ireland’s chances faded in Tokyo, the wind had time to strengthen.

By the full-time whistle, a cold and rising northerly had built an angry-looking sea and it was raining heavily with the forecast emphasising the volatility of expected conditions. When the N over A was displayed at the Clubhouse, even those with aspirations of a good final race bringing them up the results table were muted about their disappointment at not going afloat to get cold and wet as they returned to the comfort of the warm bar to resume their analysis of that quarter-final.

At the well-attended prizegiving, Commodore Ian Byrne thanked the competitors, the race management and particularly the sponsors, Beshoff Motors, for making the 2019 Autumn League a resounding success before Jeremy Beshoff distributed the prizes. Results here

Trick or Treat, the Puppeteer 22 of Alan Pearson and Alan Blay, was crowned the overall winner of the event and thereby retained their 2018 title, a noteworthy achievement for a boat racing in the Class with the biggest entry – clearly the imminent arrival of Hallowe’en has something to do with it. In seven races they were only once outside the top two places despite the variety of conditions experienced.

bite the bullet2Colm Bermingham’s Elan 333 Bite the Bullet was the cruiser member of the three boat combo which won the team prize. Photo: OBrien
The winner of the team prize was the ‘Harlequin Bites Isobel’ combo composed of a Howth 17 (Isobel – Brian & Conor Turvey), Puppeteer 22 Harlequin (David Clarke), and Cruiser 4 Bite the Bullet (Colm Bermingham). Their individual consistency within their respective Classes left the opposing teams struggling in their collective wakes.

The conclusion of the Autumn League leaves only the long-running HYC Brass Monkeys keelboat series and the even-longer running Laser Frostbites – first race Nov 3rd - to complete before 2019 is put to bed and the new one arrives.

The 2020 keelboat season at Howth YC will kick off with the Spring Warmers in April and then lead on quickly to the WAVE Regatta over the weekend of May 29th – 31st. WAVE promises to build on the fantastic success of the 2018 event and plans are already well advanced for what promises to be the ‘must do’ regatta of the 2020 season.

isobel sailing3Brian & Conor Turvey’s Howth 17 Isobel was the Howth 17 front-liner for the team prize. Photo: Conor Lindsay

Published in Howth YC
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Day Five of the Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth Yacht Club on Saturday saw races six and seven completed, but even with a race still to go, with no further discards, some of the class leaders have already secured their passes to the Winner's Enclosure.

The two Windward-Leeward races were sailed in pet conditions, with the sun beaming down and a mild 7-11 knot south-westerly breeze, oscillating in a way that challenged the sailors’ mental dexterity in anticipating where it might next come from, rather than testing their stamina.

leila aura2A pet day. The Howth 17s Leila (Roddy Cooper) and Aura (Ian Malcolm) – both of the original 1898 batch - enjoying idyllic conditions. Photo: Conor Lindsay

The circumstances could not have been more different from an experience which had been commemorated in HYC the previous day. Veterans of the 18 Irish boats which survived the Fastnet Storm of 1979 had gathered to meet again for lunch forty years later, and personally thank Commodore John Kavanagh of the Irish Naval Service, Kieran Cotter of the Baltimore Lifeboat, and Gerard Butler, Lighthouse Keeper on the Fastnet Rock, for all that they and their colleagues had done to help four decades ago. It brought back vivid memories of the sea in a very different mood from Saturday’s idyllic conditions, but that’s how it is with sailing.

In the Autumn League, Classes where the podium top spot is already secured include Class 4: Tiger (Stephen Harris & Frank Hughes HYC) on IRC and Raging Bull (M & S Davis, Skerries SC) on ECHO; Class 5: Demelza (Steffi Ennis & Windsor Laudan HYC) on IRC and Voyager (Joe Carton) on ECHO; Howth 17s: Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) on scratch, and Zaida (Tom Houlihan) on handicap; Squibs: O’Leary (Simon Sheahan) on scratch; J80s: Jammy (Dan O’Grady) for both scratch and handicap; Puppeteers: Trick or Treat (Alan Pearson & Alan Blay) on scratch.

seventeen isobel3The Howth 17 Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey) currently lies third overall in the Autumn League with one race to sail. Brian Turvey, a former Commodore of HYC and veteran of Fastnet 79, was one of the organisers of the Fastnet 1979 Reunion in HYC on Friday, when the attendance included three former Admirals of the Royal Cork YC, and a former Admiral and Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Photo: Conor Lindsay
Day 6 will feature a single race to determine the other final placings to bring the main sailing programme of 2019 to a conclusion, and in some classes it’s so close that the series will end on a high to be matched by a Carnival prizegiving with entertainment in the style of last year’s successful Wave Regatta, while for those who can’t give up their sailing completely, the annual Laser Frostbite Series – a Howth feature since 1974 – gets going on November 3rd.

puppeteers at mark4 Puppeteers closing at the lee mark include (left to right) Shiggy-Shaggy (McMahon & Houlihan), Yellow Peril (Neil Murphy & Conor Costello) and Gold Dust (Walls & Browne). Photo: Conor Lindsay

In the Howth 17s on Saturday, Zaida (Tom Houlihan) added another two wins on handicap while Rita (Lynch / Curley) did likewise on scratch to consolidate their leads in both divisions. Absolutely Fabulous (M Flaherty) lived up to its name with two firsts on handicap in the Squibs and Fantome (Ronan McDonnell) and O’Leary (S Sheahan) took a win each in the scratch fleet, moving Fantome up to second overall behind O’Leary.

In the Puppeteer 22s, Gold Dust (Walls/Browne) took their first win in Race 6, but it was Trick or Treat (Pearson / Blay) back on top in Race 7 to ensure an overall victory. On handicap, Odyssey (P&R Byrne) has found its groove and added a pair of wins to its earlier success, but Flycatcher (M Dunne) remains in the lead with a comfortable but not invincible margin over their challengers.

Jammy (Dan O’Grady) dominates the J80 Class on both scratch and handicap, winning both races in both categories on the day and thereby securing overall success in both series. Red Cloud (Nobby Reilly) holds second overall from Jeannie (Robert Dix) on both scratch and handicap.

squib seventeen5The Squib Tais (E Mulvihill) makes a political point with her sail number, while in the background the Howth 17 Orla, sailed by Gerry Comerford, is one of the new boats built in France. Photo: Conor Lindsay

In the White Sails, Bite the Bullet (Colm Bermingham) took first on IRC in both races of Class 4 to move up to second overall, behind Tiger helmed by Stephen Harris, who has already secured the series win. On ECHO, Spellbound (Burrows/Skeffington) won race 6, whilst the Spirit 54 Soufriere (Stephen O’Flaherty) added a win in Race 7 to her unchallenged lead in the ‘Most Elegant Boat of the Series Award’ (if there was one). The consistency of The Sigma 400 Raging Bull (M & S Davis) sees them far enough ahead on the ECHO points table to be uncatchable.

In Class 5, Demelza (Laudan / Ennis) took another two wins to give them the IRC victory in the series and added an ECHO first in Race 6 to their trove while C’Est La Vie ((Flannelly / Spain / Staines) took race 7. White Sails stalwart Voyager (Joe Carton) has sailed a consistent series to ensure that the trophy winner for the 2019 series is already determined.

rockabill six sailing6Paul O’Higgins JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (RIYC), the new ISORA Champion 2019, revelled in the brisker breeze early in the afternoon, but as it eased the two J/109s moved ahead on handicap. Photo: Conor Lindsay
storm and outrajeous7The way it finished – Storm (Pat Kelly) leading Outrajeous (Richard Colwell & Johnny Murphy) for the win in IRC1. Photo: Conor Lindsay
In the IRC spinnaker classes, the J/109s returned from their visit to the J/109 Nationals at Dun Laoghaire the previous weekend, and Storm (Pat Kelly - runner-up in Dun Laoghaire)) and Outrajeous (Colwell/Murphy) got back to battling for the lead of Class 1, each taking a race win on IRC and ECHO to leave Storm ahead of Outrajeous in both divisions, by two points on IRC and one on ECHO.

viking sailing8The X302 Viking (Patterson/Darmody) held the overall lead in IRC 3 going into Saturday’s double bill programme, but now lies third overall. Photo: Conor Lindsay
In Class 3 IRC a three-way battle is underway between Alliance II (V Gaffney), Insider (S&D Mullaney) and Viking (Patterson/ Darmody), currently lying in that order with three points spanning them. Insider took race 6 while Animal (G. O’Sullivan) won race 7 with Viking’s DSQ result providing a setback to the campaign for an overall IRC win. On ECHO, the wins on the day were taken by Insider and Animal, but the X302 Viking retains the overall lead.

The twelve boat Class 2 fleet continues to feature two mini competitions. Half Tonners are dominating on IRC with the Checkmates of Nigel Biggs (XVIII) and Dave Cullen (XV) never far apart on the results sheets, each taking a win on Day 5 to leave XVIII with a two point lead over XV and both comfortably clear of The Big Picture (M&R Evans) and Harmony (J. Swan). The X302s are hogging the top spots on ECHO but the lighter conditions of Day 5 allowed the Half Tonner contingent some solace with Checkmates XVIII and XV each getting a win. However the ECHO leaderboard shows the X302s of Dux (A. Gore Grimes) ahead of No Excuse (Wormald/Walsh /O’Neill) with Maximus (P. Kyne) in third.

Detailed results here

fleet returns9More like Midsummer than mid-October – the first of the fleet returns to port after two good races. Photo: Neil Murphy

Published in Howth YC
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Gordon Maguire (58) may now be recognised as Australia’s leading all-round professional offshore/inshore keelboat skipper - his World Sailing Code Number is unmistakably GMA#1 writes W M Nixon. But somewhere in there is the exceptionally talented sailor, son of renowned all-round winner Neville Maguire, who cut his racing teeth in Howth and the Irish Sea.

It was in 1991 that he was first was introduced to Australia, when he and Kieran Jameson organised “the Howth boat” for the three-boat Irish Southern Cross Team with the charter of the 40ft Beyond Thunderdome in Sydney. Beyond Thunderdome was putting in a superb performance in the early contests, but then she was dismasted in a collision (the other boat was adjudicated at fault) in the final inshore race before the series culminated in the Sydney-Hobart.

beyond thunderdome2The 40ft Beyond Thunderdome, the “Howth boat” in the winning three-boat Irish Southern Cross team in Australia in 1991
While Thunderdome was given total redress, there was no way she was going to race to Hobart. But in some pretty ruthless crew re-allocation, Team Captain Harold Cudmore dropped one of his people from John Storey’s 43ft Atara for the Hobart challenge, and took Maguire on board.

Cudmore and Maguire….It looked like the Dream Team. And it was the Dream Team. They won the Sydney-Hobart race overall, Ireland won the Southern Cross Trophy, and Gordon Maguire began a love affair with Australian sailing which eventually saw him taking out citizenship, though his career afloat had taken him all over the world in many boats, including participation in something like five Volvo Ocean Races with success at one extreme, and showing people how to go down the mine good and proper with Lough Derg YC’s Jocelyn Waller on the BH 41 Silk in a Solent gale-force squall during Cowes Week at the other.

afloat 1991 cover3If you’ve Harold Cudmore and Gordon Maguire in the crew of your 43-footer racing for Ireland in the Sydney-Hobart Race, you could well win overall – and Atara (John Storey) did that very thing.
In Australia he has become involved in the campaigning of such stellar owner-skippers as the successful Stephen Ainsworth of Loki (Hobart Race overall win 2011) and more recently that extraordinary bundle of energy Matt Allen, whose boats called Ichi Ban (Japanese for Number One) have been so numerous that on occasion there have been two Ichi Bans of different sizes on the entry list for the Rolex Sydney-Hobart, with the decision on which to take being made as late as possible.

With his engineer’s training and incredible natural sailing skill, plus the fact that he was reared in a household where his father was always innovating something, Gordon Maguire has provided the prefect mind-set to match Allen’s restless experimentation, but in recent years they’ve focused increasingly on a boat which, by the standards of the fleet with which she sails, is multi-purpose.

The resulting Botin 52 Ichi Ban has so successfully encompassed the requirements off the most rugged offshore racing with a configuration which can be reasonably quickly modified to give peak performance in a regatta series with a more inshore orientation. It has meant that during the past year her results list has been truly stellar, such that she has been short-listed down to the final three in World Sailing’s 2019 Goslings Boat of the Year Award.

gordon maguire4Gordon Maguire in typically affable form at a pre-Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race Press Conference
This ambitious global contest was introduced as recently as last year, when the 2018 winner was Niklas Zennstrom’s latest boat, the Carkeek-designed Ran VII which brought so many ideas with success to the Fast 40+ circuit that it will take time – years, indeed – for the best of them to percolate through to the wider sailing scene.

Unfortunately the fact that Ran VII won last year will militate against Ichi Ban’s chances of success in 2019, as they cover broadly the same area of high end IRC racing, and Ichi Ban is up against two very different boats, the F50 high-performance catamaran which is aimed at sailing as a high-drama spectator sport, and the new Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, which is aimed at the affordable end of offshore racing.

f50 catamaran5The third contender for the World title is the F50 foiling Catamaran, aimed directly at the crash-and-burn spectator-oriented side of sailing.
The Sun Fast 3300 is in some ways a scaled-up Mini Transat Boat, and the prototype made a successful debut by coming second in the two-handed division in the 2019 Rolex Fastnet Race, beaten only by the formidable Jean-Pierre Kelbert with his new JPK 10.30 Leon, a boat which probably costs very much more then the target figure for the Sun Fast 3300.

sun fast 3300 sailing6Mini Transat Boats Go Big…..the design ancestry in the new Sun Fast 3300 (marketed in Ireland by MGM Boats) is clearly discernible, but the radical concept for a boat of this size was vindicated with the prototype taking second overall in the two-Handed Division in the Rolex Fastnet Race 2019.
Thus in the way of these annual competitions, the odds are against the “Gordon Maguire Boat” getting the nod at the 2019 World Sailing Conference in Bermuda on October 29th. But nevertheless we very much hope she will, and if she doesn’t, then we’re all for the interesting Sun Fast 3300.

Whatever way it turns out, the next stage in the process is the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2019 on December 26th, when the Sun Fast 3300 will be making her Southern Hemisphere debut against a fleet which will, of course, include Ichi Ban. Meanwhile, before you look at the circus photos below, take a thoughtful read of this interview from 2010 which continues to be valid for explaining why Gordon Maguire holds such a special place in world sailing:

solent pitchpole7Don’t go down the mine Daddy, there’s plenty of coal in the yard……. Gordon Maguire and Jocelyn Waller show Cowes Week (above and below) how they do it back on Lough Derg, with the BH 41 Silk taking soundings in the Solent.

solent pitchpole8a

Published in Howth YC
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Page 9 of 48

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

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At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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