It is often said that some the best sailing weather seems to be reserved for each year's Autumn League at Howth Yacht Club and after five very good Sundays, the fleet was not to be disappointed for the finale, with a pleasant southerly breeze keeping the crews on 120 boats on their toes for over two and half hours in some cases. Graham Smith reports.
It has been a memorable series, primarily because of the good sailing conditions throughout, while the sponsorship from Today FM, Crystal Holidays and Irish Life Investment Managers helped the club considerably in the smooth running of the event for the 30th time by a team efficiently led by Joan Harris.
A notable feature of the sixth race was the number of OCSs - almost every class had at least one - while it appears there was some confusion on the courses, leading to a considerable number of protests which a bearing on a few results. That kept Protest Convenor Suzanne Carroll and the Protest Committee busy after racing and contributed to the delay in the prize-giving schedule.
The prize-giving for Race 5 was preceded by the Commodore addressing the large gathering to honour the soon-to-be-retired General Manager Rupert Jeffares with a token of appreciation for his outstanding service to HYC.
On the water for race 6, there were no real surprises, with the various series leaders maintaining their positions and most of them finishing on a high with a win but there were also some lows for some crews after the protests.
In Class 1, the Kinetic crew on ‘Flashback' thought they had won a race for the first time in the series which would have given them the outright win but a protest put paid to that and they were one of eight boats disqualified for a course infringement. Only three boats were given finishes, with ‘Crazy Horse' (Chambers/Reilly) winning the race on both handicaps and the IRC series overall. As a result of the protest, ‘Tiger' (Hughes & Harris) wrapped up the ECHO division by a massive 14 points over ‘Makutu' (Doyle & others).
Dave Cullen's ‘King One' won the Class 2 on IRC by 20 seconds corrected from ‘Sunburn' (Ian Byrne) and that's the way the two finished overall too, with ‘Sunburn' getting the edge on ‘Dux' (Anthony Gore-Grimes) on better discard. On ECHO, Rush visitor ‘Zoom Baby' took the race and although ‘C'Est la Vie' (Flannelly & Others) had their second-worst result of the series, they didn't really care because they have dominated it since day one and won overall by the most comfortable margin of 11 points from ‘Rum Doodle' (Declan Byrne).
Class 3 was shaping up for a battle royal between the IRC pacesetters ‘Alliance' (Vincent Gaffney) and ‘Starlet' (O'Kelly/Walsh) but once the latter retired (later DSQd), it was all settled in favour of ‘Alliance', with another win to add to the previous three to confirm the overall success. Kevin Darmody's ‘Gecko' won on ECHO but second place for ‘Tobago' (Ray & others) from Malahide was enough to give the visitor the overall title, a mere point ahead of another visitor ‘Quickflash' (Alfred Mayrs) from Antrim.
The Toomeys on ‘Harmony' had a very good last race, winning on both handicaps and while it was enough to secure 2nd overall on ECHO, it wasn't sufficient to upset the two leaders. Kieran Jameson's ‘Changeling' pipped them by a point on ECHO while Colm Bermingham's 3rd in ‘Bite the Bullet' ahead of Harry Byrne's ‘Alphida' gave him a 3-point cushion over the former Commodore in the IRC overall standings.
Three consecutive wins for Skerries entry ‘Dobharchu' (Fox & Others) was a great way to end the series but it wasn't going to change the overall order of things in Class 5. The honours went to another Skerries boat ‘Tully Too' (Declan Higgins) with a three point gap on the two HYC boats ‘Blue Eyes' (W&C Buckley) and ‘Midnight Blue' (Howard & Bolger).
On the one-design course, ‘Crop Duster' (O'Grady/Reilly) returned to winning ways in the Etchells after two successive wins for main rival Simon Knowles' ‘Jabberwocky', but with the latter back in third, the overall honours went to the race 6 winner by a single point.
Dave Clarke's dominance of the Puppeteer class continued unabated with a fifth win for ‘Harlequin' (the discard was a 2nd place just to underline the supremacy). Neil Murphy's ‘Yellow Peril' and Alan Pearson's ‘Trick or Treat' filled 2nd and 3rd slots and then those positions were reversed in the overall standings, a particularly satisfying series for Pearson and crew with five top-3 placings. On handicap, Kieran Barker's ‘Papagena' won again and that confirmed them as overall winners by a healthy 10.5 points over ‘Ile Molene' (Byrne/Stanley).
The two McMurtrys, Ian and Richard, had their best day in ‘Pot Black' with an impressive four minute margin over Squib series winner ‘Klipbok' (Emmet Dalton) and then second overall on scratch, adding to another handicap success, inevitably leading to outright victory in that division. ‘Klipbok's' overall scratch win by 9 points was the top one-design margin of success.
In the Seventeens, the Lynch/Curley combination in ‘Rita' secured their third win in a row, this time by just under a minute from the newest 17 ‘Sheila' (Derek Bothwell), a result which just rubber-stamped their place at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the series. ‘Sheila' won on handicap but 2nd place for Bobolink was just enough to give Walsh, Doyle and crew the overall title.
At the beginning of the series, entrants were invited to enter a team of three boats, each from different classes. If you can combine three boats that can potentially feature in the top three or four of their respective class, then you are clearly in with a shout.
It will come as no surprise therefore to discover that the team called ‘It's quicker if you run' won the Team Trophy when it comprises ‘Klipbok' (Squib winner), ‘Alliance' (Class 3 winner) and ‘Trick or Treat' (Puppeteers runner-up). Nearest challengers were ‘Indians and Palefaces' featuring ‘Crop Duster', ‘Crazy Horse' and ‘Bite the Bullet' (all winners in Etchells, Class 1 and Class 4 respectively).
AUTUMN LEAGUE (O'ALL) 17/10/2009 Class 1 IRC: 1, Crazy Horse Chambers/Reilly HYC (13.00); 2, Flashback Breen/Others HYC (17.00); 3, Tiger Hughes/Harris HYC (17.00); Class 1 ECHO: 1, Tiger Hughes/Harris HYC (6.00); 2, Makutu Doyle/Others HYC (20.00); 3, Storm P Kelly HYC (22.00); Class 2 IRC: 1, King One D Cullen HYC (11.00); 2, Sunburn I Byrne HYC (20.00); 3, Dux A Gore-Grimes HYC (20.00); Class 2 ECHO: 1, C'est la Vie Flannelly/Others HYC (13.00); 2, Rum Doodle D Byrne HYC (24.00); 3, The Big Picture Evans/Others HYC (24.00); Class 3 IRC: 1, Alliance V Gaffney HYC (6.00); 2, Starlet O'Kelly/Walsh HYC (10.00); 3, Holly B MacMahon HYC (15.00); Class 3 ECHO: 1, Tobago Ray/Others MYC (19.00); 2, Quickflash A Mayrs ABC (20.00); 3, Hellyhunter L McMurtry HYC (26.00); Class 4 ECHO: 1, Changeling K Jameson HYC (15.00); 2, Harmony D & H Toomey HYC (16.00); 3, Bite the Bullet C Bermingham HYC (24.00); Class 4 IRC: 1, Bite the Bullet C Bermingham HYC (9.00); 2, Alphida H Byrne HYC (12.00); 3, Changeling K Jameson HYC (15.00); Class 5 ECHO: 1, Tully Too D Higgins SSC (13.00); 2, Blue Eyes W & C Buckley HYC (19.00); 3, Midnight Sun Howard/Bolger HYC (19.00); Puppeteer SCRATCH: 1, Harlequin D Clarke HYC (5.00); 2, Trick or Treat A Pearson HYC (12.00); 3, Yellow Peril N Murphy HYC (16.00); Puppeteer HPH: 1, Papagena K Barker HYC (15.50); 2, Ile Molene Byrne/Stanley HYC (26.00); 3, Gannet T Chillingworth HYC (36.00); Squib SCRATCH: 1, Klipbok E Dalton HYC (7.00); 2, Pot Black I & R McMurtry HYC (16.00); 3, Shadowfax P Merry HYC (18.50); Squib HPH: 1, Pot Black I & R McMurtry HYC (7.00); 2, Puffin E Harte HYC (11.00); 3, Whipper Snapper M Cantwell HYC (15.00); 17 Footer SCRATCH: 1, Rita Lynch/Curley HYC (9.00); 2, Oona P Courtney HYC (14.00); 3, Aura I Malcolm HYC (15.50); 17 Footer HPH: 1, Bobolink Walsh/Doyle HYC (7.00); 2, Sheila D Bothwell HYC (8.00); 3, Zaida T Houlihan HYC (21.50); Etchells SCRATCH: 1, Crop Duster O'Grady/Reilly HYC (7.00); 2, Jabberwocky S Knowles HYC (8.00); 3, Blue Johnston/Others HYC (13.00)