Day Five of the Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth Yacht Club on Saturday saw races six and seven completed, but even with a race still to go, with no further discards, some of the class leaders have already secured their passes to the Winner's Enclosure.
The two Windward-Leeward races were sailed in pet conditions, with the sun beaming down and a mild 7-11 knot south-westerly breeze, oscillating in a way that challenged the sailors’ mental dexterity in anticipating where it might next come from, rather than testing their stamina.
The circumstances could not have been more different from an experience which had been commemorated in HYC the previous day. Veterans of the 18 Irish boats which survived the Fastnet Storm of 1979 had gathered to meet again for lunch forty years later, and personally thank Commodore John Kavanagh of the Irish Naval Service, Kieran Cotter of the Baltimore Lifeboat, and Gerard Butler, Lighthouse Keeper on the Fastnet Rock, for all that they and their colleagues had done to help four decades ago. It brought back vivid memories of the sea in a very different mood from Saturday’s idyllic conditions, but that’s how it is with sailing.
In the Autumn League, Classes where the podium top spot is already secured include Class 4: Tiger (Stephen Harris & Frank Hughes HYC) on IRC and Raging Bull (M & S Davis, Skerries SC) on ECHO; Class 5: Demelza (Steffi Ennis & Windsor Laudan HYC) on IRC and Voyager (Joe Carton) on ECHO; Howth 17s: Rita (John Curley & Marcus Lynch) on scratch, and Zaida (Tom Houlihan) on handicap; Squibs: O’Leary (Simon Sheahan) on scratch; J80s: Jammy (Dan O’Grady) for both scratch and handicap; Puppeteers: Trick or Treat (Alan Pearson & Alan Blay) on scratch.
Day 6 will feature a single race to determine the other final placings to bring the main sailing programme of 2019 to a conclusion, and in some classes it’s so close that the series will end on a high to be matched by a Carnival prizegiving with entertainment in the style of last year’s successful Wave Regatta, while for those who can’t give up their sailing completely, the annual Laser Frostbite Series – a Howth feature since 1974 – gets going on November 3rd.
In the Howth 17s on Saturday, Zaida (Tom Houlihan) added another two wins on handicap while Rita (Lynch / Curley) did likewise on scratch to consolidate their leads in both divisions. Absolutely Fabulous (M Flaherty) lived up to its name with two firsts on handicap in the Squibs and Fantome (Ronan McDonnell) and O’Leary (S Sheahan) took a win each in the scratch fleet, moving Fantome up to second overall behind O’Leary.
In the Puppeteer 22s, Gold Dust (Walls/Browne) took their first win in Race 6, but it was Trick or Treat (Pearson / Blay) back on top in Race 7 to ensure an overall victory. On handicap, Odyssey (P&R Byrne) has found its groove and added a pair of wins to its earlier success, but Flycatcher (M Dunne) remains in the lead with a comfortable but not invincible margin over their challengers.
Jammy (Dan O’Grady) dominates the J80 Class on both scratch and handicap, winning both races in both categories on the day and thereby securing overall success in both series. Red Cloud (Nobby Reilly) holds second overall from Jeannie (Robert Dix) on both scratch and handicap.
In the White Sails, Bite the Bullet (Colm Bermingham) took first on IRC in both races of Class 4 to move up to second overall, behind Tiger helmed by Stephen Harris, who has already secured the series win. On ECHO, Spellbound (Burrows/Skeffington) won race 6, whilst the Spirit 54 Soufriere (Stephen O’Flaherty) added a win in Race 7 to her unchallenged lead in the ‘Most Elegant Boat of the Series Award’ (if there was one). The consistency of The Sigma 400 Raging Bull (M & S Davis) sees them far enough ahead on the ECHO points table to be uncatchable.
In Class 5, Demelza (Laudan / Ennis) took another two wins to give them the IRC victory in the series and added an ECHO first in Race 6 to their trove while C’Est La Vie ((Flannelly / Spain / Staines) took race 7. White Sails stalwart Voyager (Joe Carton) has sailed a consistent series to ensure that the trophy winner for the 2019 series is already determined.
In the IRC spinnaker classes, the J/109s returned from their visit to the J/109 Nationals at Dun Laoghaire the previous weekend, and Storm (Pat Kelly - runner-up in Dun Laoghaire)) and Outrajeous (Colwell/Murphy) got back to battling for the lead of Class 1, each taking a race win on IRC and ECHO to leave Storm ahead of Outrajeous in both divisions, by two points on IRC and one on ECHO.
In Class 3 IRC a three-way battle is underway between Alliance II (V Gaffney), Insider (S&D Mullaney) and Viking (Patterson/ Darmody), currently lying in that order with three points spanning them. Insider took race 6 while Animal (G. O’Sullivan) won race 7 with Viking’s DSQ result providing a setback to the campaign for an overall IRC win. On ECHO, the wins on the day were taken by Insider and Animal, but the X302 Viking retains the overall lead.
The twelve boat Class 2 fleet continues to feature two mini competitions. Half Tonners are dominating on IRC with the Checkmates of Nigel Biggs (XVIII) and Dave Cullen (XV) never far apart on the results sheets, each taking a win on Day 5 to leave XVIII with a two point lead over XV and both comfortably clear of The Big Picture (M&R Evans) and Harmony (J. Swan). The X302s are hogging the top spots on ECHO but the lighter conditions of Day 5 allowed the Half Tonner contingent some solace with Checkmates XVIII and XV each getting a win. However the ECHO leaderboard shows the X302s of Dux (A. Gore Grimes) ahead of No Excuse (Wormald/Walsh /O’Neill) with Maximus (P. Kyne) in third.
Detailed results here