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Dalton's Merry Team Keep Squib Eastern Title in Howth

6th September 2021
Committee Boat end……the Squibs fighting for a good start as the sun fights to break through the haze on the second day of the Squib Easterns at Howth yesterday (Sunday), with the front line made up of (left to right) Outlaw (Ian Travers, Kinsale YC), Toys for the Boys (Peter Wallace, Royal North of Ireland YC), Allsorts (Tony Mullet, Royal St George YC) and Mucky Duck (Cloidhna ni Shuilleabhain, Kinsale YC)
Committee Boat end……the Squibs fighting for a good start as the sun fights to break through the haze on the second day of the Squib Easterns at Howth yesterday (Sunday), with the front line made up of (left to right) Outlaw (Ian Travers, Kinsale YC), Toys for the Boys (Peter Wallace, Royal North of Ireland YC), Allsorts (Tony Mullet, Royal St George YC) and Mucky Duck (Cloidhna ni Shuilleabhain, Kinsale YC) Credit: Annraoi Blaney

It was billed as the Squib Easterns. But in terms of results spread, it was more like an All-Ireland, with five different clubs listed for the first ten boats in a very representative fleet of 18 starters from many sailing centres taking to the waters close north of Howth. And though the first day was every bit as grey as Dublin Bay next door, the second suddenly pulled itself together, the sun broke through, and hey presto, we'd the luminous Fingal Riviera with a perfect onshore sailing breeze and some cracking racing under the direction of Derek Bothwell who – as a Squib sailor himself both at Howth and on Lough Derg – very crisply indicated that he was taking no messing about from anyone, ruling the racing with an iron hand.

The Squibs at Howth have had a chequered history since they started as a class at the harbour in 1979. Back in the previous millennium, they were particularly rampant during the 1990s, when a combined Irish & British Championship in 1995 saw 105 boats on the HYC starting line. At other times, the class is no more than a ghost of itself, but as longtime Howth Squib campaigner Emmet Dalton has put it, they're like cockroaches – you think they're gone, and suddenly they're everywhere again.

Running free in an unexpected outbreak of Indian Summer, Toys for the Boys (Peter Wallace) from Cultra chasing O'Leary (Simon Sheahan) from Howth. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyRunning free in an unexpected outbreak of Indian Summer, Toys for the Boys (Peter Wallace) from Cultra chasing O'Leary (Simon Sheahan) from Howth. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Winning combination. Neal Merry providing the leverage while Emmet Dalton ponders tactics aboard the new Squib Eastern Champion Kerfuffle. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyWinning combination. Neal Merry providing the leverage while Emmet Dalton ponders tactics aboard the new Squib Eastern Champion Kerfuffle. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

After the weekend's racing, Skipper Dalton is permitted the use of such a crude analogy, for he and his crew Neal Merry were functioning so perfectly as a team racing Kerfuffle that they recorded a scoreline of 1,1,2,8,1,8. The other three race wins went to Ian Travers & Keith O'Riordan of Kinsale racing Outlaw, Peter Wallace & Martin Weatherstone of Royal North with Toys for the Boys, and frequent champions Gordon Patterson & Ross Nolan (RNIYC) with Quickstep.

Suddenly, it's summer…..frequent champions Gordon Patterson & Ross Nolan (RNIYC) had to be content with 5th overall this time round. Photo: Annraoi BlaneySuddenly, it's summer…..frequent champions Gordon Patterson & Ross Nolan (RNIYC) had to be content with 5th overall this time round. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

However, it was intriguing for championship analysts to note that, as ever, putting together a good series can be every bit as productive as the occasional spectacular win, for although Ian Travers was second overall with a scoreline of 5,3,3,1,6,2, third overall went to Stephen Bridges and Matthew Bolton with Firecracker from Killyleagh on Strangford Lough whose 4,6,3,3,4 was able to get them on the podium despite a UFD in Race 3.

Age cannot wither her….the vintage Kerfuffle (no 37) in the lead to demonstrate why certain batches of the Squib production history have a special cachet. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyAge cannot wither her….the vintage Kerfuffle (no 37) in the lead to demonstrate why certain batches of the Squib production history have a special cachet. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

The Silver Fleet also saw the prize stay with the host club, as it was topped by the Kay brothers in Crackertoo at 9th overall, while Kinsale's Cliodhna ni Shuillebhain & Michael O'Sullivan took second (and first female helm) at tenth overall, third in Silver going north to Killyleagh with Volante (Simon Watson & Jordie Withers).

Kinsale's Cliodhna ni Shuillebhain, crewed by Michael O'Sullivan in Mucky Duck, was second in the Silver Division. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyKinsale's Cliodhna ni Shuillebhain, crewed by Michael O'Sullivan in Mucky Duck, was second in the Silver Division. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Even without the boost of this double success at the weekend, Howth's Squibs under the captaincy of Ronan MacDonnell are currently on a roll, as at least three boats new to the fleet will be joining the local division next year. Meanwhile the class nationally is not yet finished with 2021, as the Freshwater Regatta on Lough Derg early in October is taking shape as their closing major.

Detailed results here

Three of the Killyleagh fleet – 149: Firecracker (Steven Bridges & Matthew Bolton), 807: Volante (Simon Watson & Jordie Withers) and 102: Slipstream (Neil Logan & Robert Marshall). Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThree of the Killyleagh fleet – 149: Firecracker (Steven Bridges & Matthew Bolton), 807: Volante (Simon Watson & Jordie Withers) and 102: Slipstream (Neil Logan & Robert Marshall). Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Control Centre – Howth YC's senior Committee Boat Star Point returns to the harbour on Sunday after a successful Squib Eastern Championship. Race Officer Derek Bothwell (at centre on bridge) has been busy all over Ireland with his workload increasing as the national sailing programme develops with pandemic restrictions lifting. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyControl Centre – Howth YC's senior Committee Boat Star Point returns to the harbour on Sunday after a successful Squib Eastern Championship. Race Officer Derek Bothwell (at centre on bridge) has been busy all over Ireland with his workload increasing as the national sailing programme develops with pandemic restrictions lifting. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Published in Squib, Howth YC
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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

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