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Flat-Packed Howth Yacht Club Classic Wins Podium Place

10th June 2019
March, 2018. Who would believe this boat could ever sail again? March, 2018. Who would believe this boat could ever sail again?

When photos circulated of the mangled remains of the 1907-built Howth 17 Rosemary in the wreckage of her storage shed on Howth’s East Pier after Storm Emma in March 2018, many unacquainted with the spirit of this 1897-founded class thought she would never sail again writes W M Nixon.

Yet the “flat-pack boat” is not only sailing again but after Saturday’s club race – her second since she returned re-born – she was on the podium with a third place. But then the Howth 17s – with their distinctive jackyard topsail-setting gaff rigs unchanged in 121 years – really are a class apart, with a community spirit and a can-do approach which overcomes every obstacle put in their way.

That said, Storm Emma was quite an obstacle, with seven boats significantly damaged, and two of them – Rosemary and Anita – giving every appearance of being write-offs. But the Howth class have a secret weapon, in that long-time member Ian Malcolm is the latest in a long and distinguished line of people who remain determined that not only will the Seventeens never die, but they’ll prosper and expand with new boats joining a class of 20 or so in which the original five boats of 1898 are still racing.

ian malcolm2Ian Malcolm, the latest in a long line of determined enthusiasts who keep the Howth 17 class thriving. Photo: W M Nixon
larry archer3Larry Archer, ingenious provider of solutions to impossible boat-building problems. Photo: W M Nixon
In this mission, he and his colleagues have a further secret weapon in the renowned Fingal-based boatbuilder Larry Archer, who is game to take on challenges which more orthodox craftsmen would regard as impossible. Thus while he agreed that Anita was in need of a total re-build on her original ballast keel (it is now nearly completed n Brittany utilising the French Government’s boat-building training scheme,) he reckoned the five partially-damaged boats could be repaired in time for the 2018 season, but although Rosemary could be restored to life, it would take time and more than a little ingenuity, and she wouldn’t be sailing again until 2019.

rosemary deck beams4After re-constituting the hull, Rosemary’s new deck beams are being put in place. Photo: David Jonesrosemary deck in place5Starting to look like herself again – Rosemary’s new deck was if anything an improvement on the original
So before the summer of 2018 Rosemary’s hull was roughly put back in shape from its foldaway parts to enable Larry to get on with other longer-term jobs he already had on contract, and then through the winter of 2018-2019 Rosemary was transformed from an IKEA item into a seagoing little ship, complete with new deck, and owners George Curley, Davy Jones and David Potter were able to take delivery of her in time for the recent Lambay Race on June 1st.

george david david Jones6The restored Rosemary has arrived back in Howth, and owners (left to right) George Curley, David Potter and Davy Jones are in a state of nervous anticipation. Photo: W M Nixon

rosemary ready7Many thought they’d never see the day – the restored Rosemary ready for launching at Howth some fifteen months after she’d been battered to pieces by Storm Emma. Photo: W M Nixon

Their long-standing partnership is typical of the class, as George and Davy were originally a duo from 1972, but with George now into the latter half of his eighties, they took on regular crewmember David Potter to make it a triumvirate four years ago.

With one thing and another, the challenge of the Lambay Race became the first sail test of the restored boat, but despite it being a brisk one, Rosemary came through with flying colours, finishing halfway up a very respectable turnout of 14 boats.

rosemary launch8The first taste of the sea – while the transom is new, much of the original is still found in the restored Rosemary. Photo: W M Nixon
rosemary lambay9Rosemary heads seaward for the annual challenge of the Lambay Race, her maiden sail in her restored form
But then last Saturday, while their cruiser-racing clubmates were making hay in the Frank Keane ICRA Nationals across in Dublin Bay, the Howth 17s held their traditional pier-start Saturday race, and in splendid sailing conditions, Rosemary came third. A podium place for a boat whose mangled transom was the ultimate image of destruction just 15 months ago. Now that’s quite something.

As for the re-born Anita, Ian Malcolm is road-trailing her back from boatbuilding school L’Atelier d’Enfer in Douarnenez at the end of the month, and she’s due home in Howth on Saturday, June 30th.

Published in Howth YC, Historic Boats
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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Howth Yacht Club is the largest members sailing club in Ireland, with almost 2,000 members. The club welcomes inquiries about membership - see top of this page for contact details.

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 and can be accessed through its official website.

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