Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

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

Email The Author

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.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating