“If the wind holds up you can live with the rain” was one stoical comment after Saturday’s increasingly brisk fifth contest in the Beshoff Motors Howth Autumn League on Saturday afternoon. But there was no escaping the fact that by the time sailing was completed with most classes pushing towards a nice regatta-length two-hour race under their belts, it was getting very fresh indeed, and the rain was starting to be serious.
That said, the sailing had started in gentle enough rain-free conditions, albeit with visibility distinctly less than crystal clear. But for some classes, it was pushing towards the upper limit of their full sail racing power by the conclusion. And as for the rain, it was only getting started – west coast folk who are fed up with hearing how rain-free is the east coast will be delighted to learn that the Leinster seaboard experienced a good old-fashioned drain-blocking downpour on Saturday evening.
But by that time the racing was well finished, with the results in one class in particular reflecting the rising wind. IRC 2 has hitherto been dominated by the fancy flyers of the Classic Half Ton group in Howth. But on Saturday as the wind went up and up, the Gore-Grimes family and friends in that seasoned warrior, the X302 Dux, just got better and better, and they won with by 55 seconds from Dave Cullen’s Half Tonner Checkmate XV, with another X302 – the Bourke/McGirr/Ball team’s Xebec - coming third, while the series overall leader, Nigel Biggs half Tonner Checkmate XVIII, had to be content with 6th.
In IRC1, it was Hamlet without the Princes, as the two Howth J/109s were absent at the J/109s Nationals in Dublin Bay at the RIYC. But at least that expedition went okay with Pat Kelly’s Storm of Rush and Howth lying second overall after the first day’s racing. However, it meant that back in Howth it was all clear ahead for Paul O’Higgins’ JPK 10.80 (RIYC) to register a useful win, making next Saturday’s prospects – with the schedule for two windward-leewards – even more interesting.
IRC 3 saw the much-modified Bolero Viking (Patterson/Darmody) enjoy the rising breeze to get the win by almost two minutes from Vincent Gaffney’s Laser 28 Alliance II with Ger O’Sullivan’s Formula 28 Animal third, while in the White Sails, IRC 4 saw Stephen Harris helm the First 40.7 Tiger to her accustomed win, this time with Dermot Skehan’s MG 34 Toughnut second and last week’s winner, the Sigma 400 Raging Bull from Skerries (M & S Davis) taking third. IRC 5 meanwhile saw Windsor and Steffi in Demelza (Club Shamrock) get the win again from Joe Carton’s Dehler 34 Voyager, this time by more than two minutes.
After the racing of September 28th’s notably close finishes (the tightest margin was 8 seconds), the rising breezes of Saturday October 5th saw some larger gaps, and even in the One Designs this was often the case, with the Squibs seeing Killyleagh visitor Rob Marshall in Slipstream right on top of his game to beat Simon Sheahan’s O’Leary by four minutes, with Ronan McDonnell’s Fantome another 2 minutes 15 seconds being that.
The Puppeteer 22s found themselves in a Redress Given situation, and from it Dave Clarke with Harlequin emerging as winner with Scorie Walls in Gold Dust equal second with Alan Blay and Algy Pearson in Trick or Treat, thereby keeping ToT in the overall lead from Neil Murphy and Conor Costello in Yellow Peril.
As the wind piped up for the Howth 17s, it was no surprise when the hard men in Deiliginis (Massey brothers, Mikey Toomey and Keith Kenny) marched into the lead, finishing first with more than one and a half minutes on Peter Courtney’s Oona, who was in turn one minute and 33 seconds ahead of the Turvey brothers on Isobel.
As the breeze flexed its muscles, the J/80s came to life, and Dan O’Grady planed into a clear lead on Robert Dix’s Jeannie, with Nobby Reilly’s Red Cloud a bit closer in third.
There are still three races to go over two weekends, and with the prospect of next Saturday’s intensive back-to-backs concentrating minds more than somewhat, in most cases there’s still all to play for, but at the moment with the halfway stage well passed, the overall leaders are:
IRC1: Rockabill VI (Paul O’Higgins, RIYC).
IRC 2: Checkmate XVIII (Nigel Biggs, HYC & RIYC).
IRC3: Alliance II (Vincent Gaffney, HYC)
IRC4: Tiger (Stephen Harris & Frank Hughes, HYC).
IRC 5: Demelza (Windsor & Steffi, HYC)
Howth 17s: Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch, HYC)
Puppeteer 22s: Trick or Treat (Alan Pearson and Alan Blay, HYC).
Squibs: O’Leary (Simon Sheahan, HYC).
J/80s: Jammy (Dan O’Grady, HYC)