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Howth Yacht Club's Historic Lambay Race Attracts 78 Keelboats Despite Club-Only Format

15th June 2021
Mixed Howth fleet at the back of the island – classic Lambay Race boat variety on Lambay's north coast, with Stephen Harris's First 40.7 Tiger nearest camera
Mixed Howth fleet at the back of the island – classic Lambay Race boat variety on Lambay's north coast, with Stephen Harris's First 40.7 Tiger nearest camera Credit: Annraoi Blaney

With official club racing only permissible since last Monday, June 7th, and many fit-out schedules delayed through May's atrocious weather, the realists had been hoping for a turnout of maybe around 40 boats for Howth YC's opening major event of this "make it up as you go along" 2021 season, the time-honoured annual Lambay Race on Saturday which was further restricted in numbers by being billed as a club-only event.

Yet a little miracle took place at the Fingal peninsular port. The weather became summery as the week went on, the mood improved with it, and with the inspiration of five of the venerable Howth 17s staging the club's first "official" race for some time at 10:30hrs on Bank Holiday Monday June 7th, clearly it behoved anything which moved and floated and set sails to get out there and celebrate with the Lambay circuit.

The Howth 17s mustered 12 boats and found a flash of sunshine for their start, with Peter Courtney's Oonagh (17) and the Turvey brothers' Isobel getting the best of it at the far end of the line. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe Howth 17s mustered 12 boats and found a flash of sunshine for their start, with Peter Courtney's Oonagh (17) and the Turvey brothers' Isobel getting the best of it at the far end of the line. Photo: Annraoi Blaney  

Orla and Isobel crossing tacks north of Lambay. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyOrla and Isobel crossing tacks north of Lambay. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

This was only slightly hampered by the wind managing to blow from every direction between southeast and west during the course of the race, while – apart from the occasional flash of brightness – the sun stayed behind cloud until most of the racing was over. But at least there nearly always was wind, and it was a warm breeze at that, making the intricacies of getting round the island – in addition to many other set course challenges – a gentle business even when you were making to wind.

IRC 2 on the wind with Half Tonners King One and Mata trying to find their way past the X302 Xebec. A long time ago, King One was Half Ton World Champion in the ownership of four times Olympic Gold Medallist Paul Elvstrom of Denmark, and now - as part of the Kelly stable - she was class winner round Lambay. Photo: Annraoi Blaney.IRC 2 on the wind with Half Tonners King One and Mata trying to find their way past the X302 Xebec. A long time ago, King One was Half Ton World Champion in the ownership of four times Olympic Gold Medallist Paul Elvstrom of Denmark, and now - as part of the Kelly stable - she was class winner round Lambay. Photo: Annraoi Blaney.

Not surprisingly, the largest single turnout – 19 boats – was in the non-spinnaker class, where some cruising boats which hadn't raced in years were caught up in the mood of the moment to display amazingly sharp performances.

Among the One-Design Classes, the Puppeteer 22s had shaken off enough of the cobwebs to have a turnout of 13, with the Howth 17s next in line with the round dozen, while the three hot IRC Classes all mustered good quorums with a set of results which will keep the directors of J Boats Europe purring with content.

The Half Tonner Mata (Wright brothers & Rick DeNeve). If you want to do well in the Lambay Race, exclude all marine ornithologists from your crew, as their concentration will al most immediately be elsewhere. Photo: Annraoi Blaney   The Half Tonner Mata (Wright brothers & Rick DeNeve). If you want to do well in the Lambay Race, exclude all marine ornithologists from your crew, as their concentration will al most immediately be elsewhere. Photo: Annraoi Blaney  

The Half Tonner Mata (Wright brothers & Rick DeNeve). If you want to do well in the Lambay Race, exclude all marine ornithologists from your crew, as their concentration will al most immediately be elsewhere. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

All the results are here in detail, while the headline placing were:

  • White Sail HPH: 1st Zarquon (M & J Wenski) 2:33:16; 2nd Spellbound (Burrows/Skeffington) 2:38:13; 3rd Blue Extra (M. Carroll) 2:20:46.
  • White Sails IRC 1st Bite the Bullet (Elan 333, Colm Bermingham) 2:31:37; 2nd Toughnut (MG 34, D Skehan) 2:36:46; 3rd Spellbound (Burrows/Skeffington) 2:38:33
  • IRC 1: 1st Lambay Rules (J/97, S Quinn), 2:59:10; 2nd Snapshot (J/99, M & R Evan, J/99) 2:59:31; 3rd Outrajeous (J/109, R Colwell & J Murphy) 3:01:48.
  • IRC 2: 1st King One (Elvstrom Half Tonner, D.Kelly) 2.55.27; 2nd Mata (Classic Half Tonnner, Wright bros & R DeNeve) 2:56:12; 3rd Checkmate XV (Humphreys Half Tonner, D Cullen) 2.59:17
  • IRC 3: 1st Legal Alien (Sommerville & Kavanagh) 2:39:44; 2nd Insider (S & D Mullaney, Sigma 33) 2:39:39; 3rd Animal (G O'Sullivan, Formula 28) 2:40:23
  • J/80: 1st Jeannie (R Dix, 3:15:04; 2nd Red Cloud (N Reilly) 3:16:22; 3rd Jammy (D O'Grady, 3:16:50
  • Howth 17: 1st Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny) 3:47:17 2nd Aura (I Malcolm) 3:48:52; 3rd Anita (D Massey) 3:51:36
  • Puppeteer 22: 1st Gold Dust (Walls/Brown) 3:26:35; 2nd Trick or Treat (A Pearson & A Blay) 3:28:35; 3rd Yellow Peril (N Murphy & C Costello) 3:31:46
  • Squibs: 1st Crackertoo (S Kay) 3:42:04; 2nd 3point9 (F O'Kelly) 3:42:57; 3rd Tears for Fears (N Monks) 3:45:19.

The Lambay Lady Trophy goes to the boat with the biggest margin between her first place and the next in class, and initial assessments suggest that Colm Bermingham's Elan 333 Bite the Bullet (White Sails IRC) wins it by 11 seconds from Zarquon (M & J Wenski), but some classes using the Orthodox Coptic PH system may yet come up with a larger margin.

Storm is back in town……the Kelly family's successful J/109 Storm getting back in racing trim, with the unmistakable and unemployed Ringsend smokestacks very visible across the Sutton isthmus. When the stacks were first built in 1974, everybody objected to "these eyesores". Now that they're redundant and the powers-that-be expect to take them down, everybody is objecting to the "wanton destruction of these much-loved landmarks". Photo: Annraoi BlaneyStorm is back in town……the Kelly family's successful J/109 Storm getting back in racing trim, with the unmistakable and unemployed Ringsend smokestacks very visible across the Sutton isthmus. When the stacks were first built in 1974, everybody objected to "these eyesores". Now that they're redundant and the powers-that-be expect to take them down, everybody is objecting to the "wanton destruction of these much-loved landmarks". Photo: Annraoi Blaney

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 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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