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Howth Sailing Life Resumes After Storm Emma

5th March 2018
Crazy. Howth Sound at Friday lunchtime, with the East Pier battered at high water at the height of Storm Emma, and the roof of the shed on right sheltering the seven historic Howth 17s beginning to cave in under those monster breakers Crazy. Howth Sound at Friday lunchtime, with the East Pier battered at high water at the height of Storm Emma, and the roof of the shed on right sheltering the seven historic Howth 17s beginning to cave in under those monster breakers Credit: David Jones

In Howth, sailing life goes on after the destructive shock of Storm Emma on Friday, with its Force 12 onshore east to northeast winds, and the serious damage to the roof of the end-of-pier shed in which the classic gaff-rigged Howth 17s have been stored since their foundation in 1898 writes W M Nixon.

In that first winter of 1898-99, there were just five boats in the Long Shed, but as the long-lived class have now expanded to a fleet of 20, there was only space for seven down the pier, while the rest are wintered elsewhere. But fitting-out together in the Long Shed was in itself one of the ancient and much-loved rituals of the class. Yet whether it will ever be enjoyed again remains to be seen.

However, the spirit of the class and of Howth sailing in general is such that there’s no doubt the fleet will soon be back to full and growing strength afloat, as new boats are being built to the 121-year-old Walter Boyd design.

As for the seven boats damaged in Friday’s mayhem, this morning Class Captain (and HYC Vice Commodore) Ian Byrne quietly confirmed that five of them will be sailing again this year, and of the other two, Rosemary (built 1907) may make it afloat again before the 2018 season is finished, though the worst-damaged boat, Anita of 1900 vintage, will take a little longer.

howth shed damage2The Long Shed on Howth Pier after Emma had come to call. Rosemary (blue hull) is one of two Howth 17s which have been seriously damaged. Photo: Brian Turvey

No-one is in any doubt about the amount of work involved in some cases, but he concluded by saying that there’s a very positive will to get those boats back on the water, encouraged by the community spirit in Howth, and the messages of goodwill and offers of assistance from classic yacht enthusiasts all over the world.

That mood was already abundantly in evidence on Saturday, so as Sunday was scheduled for the final series race in the annual Howth Laser Frostbite Challenge (it dates back to 1974), Race Officer Neil Murphy reckoned life should go on - they could get one race in before the growing ebb Spring tide and the persistent easterly swell made Howth Sound untenable once more. All boats came to the line with Standard rigs, the winner (for the fifth time in the Spring series) being Ronan Wallace of Wexford - the Wallaces of Wexford have been making the weekly winter trek to the Howth Frostbite Lasers for more than forty years.

lasers march4 2017 howth3Life goes on. Howth Sound on Sunday morning, with the long-established Laser Frostbites sailing the final race of the their annual series. Winner of the race (and the series) was Ronan Wallace of Wexford, and it all concludes this Saturday (March 10th) with the time-honoured Round Ireland’s Eye Race, in which you can go whichever way you like. Photo: Neil Murphy

In fact, Ronan Wallace has been so consistent he was able to discard a second place for the final tally. Runner-up was Darrach Dineen (RIYC) with David Quinn of the host club third, while T. Fox of Rush won the Radials and Dylan McEvoy of Howth took the 4.7s. The Howth Lasers conclude the Winter/Spring series this Saturday with their annual Round Ireland’s Eye race, whose USP is the fact that you can go clockwise or t’other, just as you wish - it’s always a popular event, followed by a spectacular party

Published in Howth YC
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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.

©Afloat 2020

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