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Howth Yacht Club's Double–Hander On Target for Little & Large Boats

25th August 2014
Howth Yacht Club's Double–Hander On Target for Little & Large Boats

#hyc – The new one-day Howth YC Double-Hander, with sponsorship from Aqua Restaurant and shaping its course round the islands and rocks of Fingal plus the Kish Lighthouse, struck a successful chord for its inauguration yesterday (Saturday August 23rd). Brainchild of Simon Knowles, who discovered his enthusiasm for double-handed challenges in last year's Dun Laoghaire-Dingle Race, it got off to a fine inauguration with 33 starters writes W M Nixon.

A fleet which had been comfortably on the 22 mark at mid-week surged on the day to these 33 boats, most of them from the host club, and ranging in size from Roy Dickson's Corby 25 Rosie and Vincent Gaffney's Laser 28 Alliance II up to craft like Stephen's Harris's First 40.7 Tiger and Stephen O'Flaherty's Spirit 54 Soufriere.

They were divided into Spinnaker and White Sail, with each division having both IRC and the Howth variant on the ECHO handicap. With the morning's crisp and sunny nor'west breeze forecast to fade as the day went on, and with a big tide hitting High Water an hour and a half after the 1000hrs start, it was reckoned the best option was north to Lambay and then southeast to the Kish, which would allow for the new flood in late afternoon to bring in stragglers to finish where they'd started, at the old HYC line on Howth's East Pier.

It was a reaching start, which seems to be the best option with double-handed events, and the non-spinnaker division first away saw Stephen Harris read it to perfection with Tiger. By the time they were shaping their course up the east side of Ireland's Eye the dark blue First 40.7 was well out on her own.

Things were closer in the more numerous spinnaker division, with David Kelly in the J109 Storm, Ross McDonald in the X332 Equinox, Jonny Swann in the classic Humphreys Half Tonner Harmony, and Ian Dickson in Rosie hitting the line together at the front of the fleet, with Equinox getting the best of it to be first around the turning mark.

A reaching start is the preferred option for Double-Handed events. In the spinnaker division, Storm, Equinox, Alliance II and Rosie have the best of it. Photo: W M Nixon

Stately and conservative perhaps, Soufriere plays it safe at the start, but very soon was milling her way past the fleet. Photo: W M Nixon

However, the queen of the fleet Soufriere was not only looking very well in the morning sunshine, but after an understandably conservative start, Stephen O'Flaherty and David Cagney wound the big girl up, and in conditions made for her, she marched through the fleet on the long leg to Lambay, and then consolidated her lead on the even longer run down to the Kish in the sluicing ebb.

But the zing was going out of the wind, and by the time the tailenders got to the Kish it had evaporated altogether - some reported being becalmed for nearly an hour before a faint new breeze began to make in from the east. Soufriere meanwhile was still on the pace closing in towards the Nose of Howth, her crew working so hard you couldn't help but think that it would be more fair if boats in these short-handed events were allowed to carry a percentage of their racing crew – something like 33% would be more equitable - instead of everyone racing with just two regardless of boat size.

Nearly there.....Soufriere gets close to the finish in the very last of the original breeze. Photo: W M Nixon

With the last of the ebb still against her, Soufriere has stopped very near the line, even though the two Howth 17s are still finding breeze close in to Ireland's Eye. Photo: W M Nixon

Be that as it may, Soufriere nearly made it, but the wind gasped its last within less than half a mile of the finish. Eventually, she got across in a little local zephyr from the southwest at 15.10.02, which was good going for the day that was now in it, and it looked better and better as the boats still at sea weren't getting anywhere much.

However, the new easterly sharpened just that tiny bit, and the Swann/Freyne team on Harmony were perfectly placed to take full advantage of it, heading steadily for the finish under spinnaker ahead of some much larger boats, and with the other classic Half Tonner, Dave Cullen's King One, somewhat out of it fifteen minutes astern.

Trickling in to the finish with the new easterly breeze are Colm Bermingham's Bite the Bullet. David Kelly's Storm tacking to lee northward, and Stephen Harris's Tiger leading the non-spinnaker class. Photo: W M Nixon

howthaqua7_1.jpgDave Cullen's classic Half Tonner King One is going well in the easterly nearing the line, but Harmony is already finished. Photo: W M Nixon

Harmony was in just before 4.0pm, correcting to five minutes ahead of Soufriere which nevertheless stayed in second three minutes ahead of Equinox, with Demot Skehan's MG34 Tough Nut taking fourth ahead of King One in fifth.

In the non-spinnaker class, Tiger had sailed a wellnigh faultless race, but the chips just didn't fall her way, and though she took line honours, across both handicap system the most consistent performer was Jennie O'Leary with the First 33.7 Tantrum 3, as she won under IRC and was second in the Howth/ECHO division, where Joe Carton, sailing with Mossy Shanahan in the Dehler 34 Voyager, took the honours and they also took third in IRC, the other boat in the top three in the non-spinnaker division being the McAllisters from Malahide with Force Five.

The buzz throughout this new Howth event makes a repeat next year highly likely. Indeed, the third Saturday of August 2015 is already being suggested as the logical day, as the timing of this year's event seemed to hit the spot both for regular crews, and for former shipmates to getting together to give it their best shot for a very manageable one-day reunion challenge.

Meanwhile there's no doubt but it was the weekend for women sailors at Howth. Jennie O'Leary was setting the pace in the Aqua Double-Hander, at the same time HYC were hosting the Shipman 28 Nationals and the winner was Gusto sailed by Christine Heath of Royal St George YC, and the venerable Howth 17s were also having their annual Ladies Race, where the winner was Rachel Cronin sailing Deilginis. Ironically, Rachel and her husband Paddy have just sold their own Howth 17 Gladys after many years of ownership in which they won dozens of prizes but never the Ladies Race, but Rachel has done it now, helming for the lads in Deilginis.

Published in Howth YC Team

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Howth Yacht Club information

Howth Yacht Club is the largest members sailing club in Ireland, with over 1,700 members. The club welcomes inquiries about membership - see top of this page for contact details.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is 125 years old. It operates from its award-winning building overlooking Howth Harbour that houses office, bar, dining, and changing facilities. Apart from the Clubhouse, HYC has a 250-berth marina, two cranes and a boat storage area. In addition. its moorings in the harbour are serviced by launch.

The Club employs up to 31 staff during the summer and is the largest employer in Howth village and has a turnover of €2.2m.

HYC normally provides an annual programme of club racing on a year-round basis as well as hosting a full calendar of International, National and Regional competitive events. It operates a fleet of two large committee boats, 9 RIBs, 5 J80 Sportboats, a J24 and a variety of sailing dinghies that are available for members and training. The Club is also growing its commercial activities afloat using its QUEST sail and power boat training operation while ashore it hosts a wide range of functions each year, including conferences, weddings, parties and the like.

Howth Yacht Club originated as Howth Sailing Club in 1895. In 1968 Howth Sailing Club combined with Howth Motor Yacht Club, which had operated from the West Pier since 1935, to form Howth Yacht Club. The new clubhouse was opened in 1987 with further extensions carried out and more planned for the future including dredging and expanded marina facilities.

HYC caters for sailors of all ages and run sailing courses throughout the year as part of being an Irish Sailing accredited training facility with its own sailing school.

The club has a fully serviced marina with berthing for 250 yachts and HYC is delighted to be able to welcome visitors to this famous and scenic area of Dublin.

New applications for membership are always welcome

Howth Yacht Club FAQs

Howth Yacht Club is one of the most storied in Ireland — celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 — and has an active club sailing and racing scene to rival those of the Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Clubs on the other side of Dublin Bay.

Howth Yacht Club is based at the harbour of Howth, a suburban coastal village in north Co Dublin on the northern side of the Howth Head peninsula. The village is around 13km east-north-east of Dublin city centre and has a population of some 8,200.

Howth Yacht Club was founded as Howth Sailing Club in 1895. Howth Sailing Club later combined with Howth Motor Yacht Club, which had operated from the village’s West Pier since 1935, to form Howth Yacht Club.

The club organises and runs sailing events and courses for members and visitors all throughout the year and has very active keelboat and dinghy racing fleets. In addition, Howth Yacht Club prides itself as being a world-class international sailing event venue and hosts many National, European and World Championships as part of its busy annual sailing schedule.

As of November 2020, the Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club is Ian Byrne, with Paddy Judge as Vice-Commodore (Clubhouse and Administration). The club has two Rear-Commodores, Neil Murphy for Sailing and Sara Lacy for Junior Sailing, Training & Development.

Howth Yacht Club says it has one of the largest sailing memberships in Ireland and the UK; an exact number could not be confirmed as of November 2020.

Howth Yacht Club’s burgee is a vertical-banded pennant of red, white and red with a red anchor at its centre. The club’s ensign has a blue-grey field with the Irish tricolour in its top left corner and red anchor towards the bottom right corner.

The club organises and runs sailing events and courses for members and visitors all throughout the year and has very active keelboat and dinghy racing fleets. In addition, Howth Yacht Club prides itself as being a world-class international sailing event venue and hosts many National, European and World Championships as part of its busy annual sailing schedule.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club has an active junior section.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club hosts sailing and powerboat training for adults, juniors and corporate sailing under the Quest Howth brand.

Among its active keelboat and dinghy fleets, Howth Yacht Club is famous for being the home of the world’s oldest one-design racing keelboat class, the Howth Seventeen Footer. This still-thriving class of boat was designed by Walter Herbert Boyd in 1897 to be sailed in the local waters off Howth. The original five ‘gaff-rigged topsail’ boats that came to the harbour in the spring of 1898 are still raced hard from April until November every year along with the other 13 historical boats of this class.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club has a fleet of five J80 keelboats for charter by members for training, racing, organised events and day sailing.

The current modern clubhouse was the product of a design competition that was run in conjunction with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in 1983. The winning design by architects Vincent Fitzgerald and Reg Chandler was built and completed in March 1987. Further extensions have since been made to the building, grounds and its own secure 250-berth marina.

Yes, the Howth Yacht Club clubhouse offers a full bar and lounge, snug bar and coffee bar as well as a 180-seat dining room. Currently, the bar is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Catering remains available on weekends, take-home and delivery menus for Saturday night tapas and Sunday lunch.

The Howth Yacht Club office is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm. Contact the club for current restaurant opening hours at [email protected] or phone 01 832 0606.

Yes — when hosting sailing events, club racing, coaching and sailing courses, entertaining guests and running evening entertainment, tuition and talks, the club caters for all sorts of corporate, family and social occasions with a wide range of meeting, event and function rooms. For enquiries contact [email protected] or phone 01 832 2141.

Howth Yacht Club has various categories of membership, each affording the opportunity to avail of all the facilities at one of Ireland’s finest sailing clubs.

No — members can join active crews taking part in club keelboat and open sailing events, not to mention Pay & Sail J80 racing, charter sailing and more.

Fees range from €190 to €885 for ordinary members.
Memberships are renewed annually.

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