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Howth 17 Sailing News
Better than a Health Farm……the soothing setup in the McMahon shed in Athlone, with the "new-old" Dublin Bay Water Wag Shindilla (original built in 1932) nearing completion beside a useful little clinker-built dinghy, while a multi-purpose canoe with sailing potential is stored by suspension from the roof
In times of stress like this, there is nowhere more soothing than a well-organised but not unduly fussy timber workshop where each day's harmonious effort shows a tangible result. And of all such workshops, there's nowhere so healthily absorbing –…
A fair tide with a soldier's wind for Lambay – Roddy Cooper's Leila (built Carrickfergus 1898) and Anita (D.O'Connell & M. Karasahin, built Kingstown 1900 and re-built France 2019) at the start of the Howth 17's Lambay Race
The Olympic sailing dream is of competition on a sterile racing area with weak to non-existent tides, well clear of any special wind effects that a nearby coastline and an island or two might provide, while of course using a…
A gybe rounding at the lee mark could be doubly difficult with the Howth 17s insistence that their spinnakers are one-sided, but Shane O’Doherty and his team on the 2020 Champion Pauline have got it to perfection despite being hounded by light-air flyer Rita (No 1, John Curley and Marcus Lynch,) and defending champion Deilginis (No 11)
The Howth 17 Nationals 2020 saw five good races sailed – a pier starter on Friday evening, and four committee boat open water races on Saturday – with the sunny nor’east wind holding up enough for the four open water…
If we were to title this photo “Traditional west of Ireland gaff rigger sails past Macdara’s Island off the shores of Connemara”, even in Ireland quite a few people would buy it as the truth. But the rugged little gannet-laden island of Ireland’s Eye off Howth really does looks as if it belongs somewhere in the far west of County Galway. And the thought that they still sail boats of this antique appearance in such a setting within ten miles of the centre of a modern capital city is also clearly absurd….Yet this is the Howth 17 Sheila ( Dave Mulligan) in Howth Sound in training for this weekend’s National Championship, and it’s all happening on the Irish Sea within ten miles of Dublin city centre
The Howth 17s have been racing in their “little piece of Connemara that’s somehow in Leinster” for 122 years. And when some years ago they decided to make their annual championship into something special, they re-titled it the Howth 17…
“The light of other days…..” The Dublin Bay 21 Naneen sails for the first time in 33 years in the otherworldly illumination of December sunshine on the Shannon Estuary. Photo: Kate Griffiths
Sunshine in December imparts a surreal look to everything it illuminates with its vivid low-angled delineation. And for anyone who happened to be on the Shannon Estuary between Kilrush and Scattery Island on Monday afternoon this week, the sense of…
Howth 17s revelling in a good westerly breeze – the new 2019 ‘National’ Champion Deilginis is on the extreme right, overall runner-up Leila is third from left, and third-placed Oonagh (yellow hull) is third from right
The classic Howth Seventeens have not survived and thrived since 1898 through having a narrow perception of themselves writes W M Nixon. When they decided some years ago to add an annual two-day championship to their already busy 60-race season…
Ian & Judith Malcolm’s 1898-built Aura has emerged as Howth 17 Champion from the VDLR 19
The Howth Seventeens have survived and prospered for 121 years by doing things their own way, so for the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2019, eight of them packed a lot of sailing miles into a compact programme by racing across…
After Storm Emma wrought extensive destruction through the seven Howth Seventeens stored in their much-damaged shed on Howth’s East Pier at the beginning of March 2018, it was feared that several of the boats – which since 1898 have been…
Howth 17s are one of several fleets travelling to compete in Saturday's National Yacht Club Regatta sponsored by Davy Group
The National Yacht Club on Dublin Bay is gearing up for its Open Regatta this weekend. Sponsored by Davy Group, the annual club highlight will have over 160 boats racing across three courses. As part of the fleet, the NYC will…
Sailing life resumes for the Golden Oldies at Howth. Roddy Cooper’s 1898-built Howth 17 Leila enjoys the sunshine for last Saturday’s gentle contest for the world’s most senior keelboat class still racing as originally designed.
It’s only two months since Storm Emma swept Ireland, with Force 12 Easterlies spreading havoc and blizzards and rumours and tall tales of total disaster along the East Coast writes W M Nixon. One such tall tale which began circulating…
Centenary Season. Twenty years ago in April 1998, Ian Malcolm’s Howth 17 Aura celebrates her Centenary by returning to her birthplace of Carrickfergus on Belfast Lough with its famous 12th Century Norman castle
These days, we’ve become accustomed to the historic Howth 17s of 1898-vintage – the world’s oldest keelboat class still sailing as originally designed – putting in admired appearances at classic boat festivals at home and abroad writes W M Nixon.…
An ancient class in the best of health. The Howth Seventeens Oona (left, Peter Courtney, built 1910), Isobel (Conor & Brian Turvey, built 1988) and Orla) (Ian Malcolm, built 2017) racing towards Ireland’s Eye in their Annual Championship on Saturday. In addition to their five race “National” Championship, the class provides about 60 club and regatta races in the course of the season
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 new Howth 17 Orla bound for her first race on Tuesday August 1st
There is something almost sacred about the arts and crafts of the boat-builder writes W M Nixon. As the warm and enthusiastic response to our recent story on Afloat.ie about the veteran Wexford boat-builder Larry Duggan reaching his ninetieth birthday…
Up, up and away....Roddy Cooper’s Carrickfergus-built Howth 17 Leila of 1898 vintage takes to the skies at the Morbihan
Howth 17 sailors are nothing if not optimists writes W M Nixon. They need to be, sailing a fleet in which the five oldest boats date back to 1898. Yet as reported on Saturday, everything was going fine with all…
Now you see them, now you don’t – spot the newly-arrived Howth 17s at the boatyard in Vannes at lunchtime today
The 1898-vintage Howth Yacht Club Howth Seventeens haven’t survived and thrived for 119 years without being crazy like foxes now and again writes W M Nixon. So when six of them set off for Rosslare yesterday on their way to…
The Mermaid championship concluded in a blow in Howth Yacht Club at the weekend
The Howth Yacht Club hosted the Classic One-Design Regatta - incorporating the National Championships of the Dublin Bay Mermaid and Howth 17 Footer classes. Download Mermaid results below. Even before you could see them, the vapour of varnish bumbled over…

Howth 17 information

The oldest one-design keelboat racing class in the world is still competing today to its original 1897 design exclusively at Howth Yacht club.

Howth 17 FAQs

The Howth 17 is a type of keelboat. It is a 3-man single-design keelboat designed to race in the waters off Howth and Dublin Bay.

The Howth Seventeen is just 22ft 6ins in hull length.

The Howth 17 class is raced and maintained by the Association members preserving the unique heritage of the boats. Association Members maintain the vibrancy of the Class by racing and cruising together as a class and also encourage new participants to the Class in order to maintain succession. This philosophy is taken account of and explained when the boats are sold.

The boat is the oldest one-design keelboat racing class in the world and it is still racing today to its original design exclusively at Howth Yacht club. It has important historical and heritage value keep alive by a vibrant class of members who race and cruise the boats.

Although 21 boats are in existence, a full fleet rarely sails buy turnouts for the annual championships are regularly in the high teens.

The plans of the Howth 17 were originally drawn by Walter Herbert Boyd in 1897 for Howth Sailing Club. The boat was launched in Ireland in 1898.

They were originally built by John Hilditch at Carrickfergus, County Down. Initially, five boats were constructed by him and sailed the 90-mile passage to Howth in the spring of 1898. The latest Number 21 was built in France in 2017.

The Howth 17s were designed to combat local conditions in Howth that many of the keel-less boats of that era such as the 'Half-Rater' would have found difficult.

The original fleet of five, Rita, Leila, Silver Moon, Aura and Hera, was increased in 1900 with the addition of Pauline, Zaida and Anita. By 1913 the class had increased to fourteen boats. The extra nine were commissioned by Dublin Bay Sailing Club for racing from Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) - Echo, Sylvia, Mimosa, Deilginis, Rosemary, Gladys, Bobolink, Eileen and Nautilus. Gradually the boats found their way to Howth from various places, including the Solent and by the latter part of the 20th century they were all based there. The class, however, was reduced to 15 due to mishaps and storm damage for a few short years but in May 1988 Isobel and Erica were launched at Howth Yacht Club, the boats having been built in a shed at Howth Castle - the first of the class actually built in Howth.

The basic wooden Howth 17 specification was for a stem and keel of oak and elm, deadwood and frames of oak, planking of yellow pine above the waterline and red pine below, a shelf of pitch pine and a topstrake of teak, larch deck-beams and yellow pine planking and Baltic spruce spars with a keel of lead. Other than the inclusion of teak, the boats were designed to be built of materials which at that time were readily available. However today yellow pine and pitch pine are scarce, their properties of endurance and longevity much appreciated and very much in evidence on the original five boats.

 

It is always a busy 60-race season of regular midweek evening and Saturday afternoon contests plus regattas and the Howth Autumn League.

In 2017, a new Howth 17 Orla, No 21, was built for Ian Malcolm. The construction of Orla began in September 2016 at Skol ar Mor, the boat-building school run by American Mike Newmeyer and his dedicated team of instructor-craftsmen at Mesquer in southern Brittany. In 2018, Storm Emma wrought extensive destruction through the seven Howth Seventeens stored in their much-damaged shed on Howth’s East Pier at the beginning of March 2018, it was feared that several of the boats – which since 1898 have been the very heart of Howth sailing – would be written off. But in the end only one – David O’Connell’s Anita built in 1900 by James Clancy of Dun Laoghaire – was assessed as needing a complete re-build. Anita was rebuilt by Paul Robert and his team at Les Ateliers de l’Enfer in Douarnenez in Brittany in 2019 and Brought home to Howth.

The Howth 17 has a gaff rig.

The total sail area is 305 sq ft (28.3 m2).

©Afloat 2020

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