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Howth's Summer Breeze Brings Aqua Two-Hander Yacht Race to Life

19th July 2021
The J/80 fleet taking advantage of the steadily-sharpening sea breeze at Howth for the annual Aqua Restaurant Two-Hander Challenge
The J/80 fleet taking advantage of the steadily-sharpening sea breeze at Howth for the annual Aqua Restaurant Two-Hander Challenge Credit: Annraoi Blaney

It's not often that universally-agreed forecasts of exceptionally good weather will cause a reduction in numbers for an upcoming sailing race. But as the week drew on and yesterday (Saturday's) annual Aqua Restaurant-sponsored Two-Hander at Howth came steadily up the agenda, the number of authoritative predictions of "no wind at all unless a sea breeze happens to develop" were such that where in 2020 - in a lockdown-emerger - they'd 38 entries, this time round there were 29, and they'd to wait out a two-hour postponement until the sweetest sea breeze came in from between east and southeast.

The JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Conor O'Higgins) and the First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen Harris) getting into the groove. Photo: Annraoi Blaney.   The JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Conor O'Higgins) and the First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen Harris) getting into the groove. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Former winner Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen and Aidan Beggan) gathers speed as she gets into open water. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyFormer winner Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen and Aidan Beggan) gathers speed as she gets into open water. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Dun Laoghaire visitor More Mischief (right) went home with a First Prize. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyDun Laoghaire visitor More Mischief (right) went home with a First Prize. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Their patience was rewarded many times over, for as Annraoi Blaney's selection of Mediterranean-but-better photos indicate, this was the purest essence of summer sailing. This was a day which – when the dark damp glooms of winter are upon us – will be contemplated in loving wonder. And all power to Dave Murnane for having thought of it all some years ago and kept it going ever since, for the fact of everyone being two-handed forms a special bond, even in socially-distanced après sailing.

The only real danger was heat-stroke, and happily it seems that the only victim of this was the HYC Computer Results System. That said, it was trouble enough, for the electronics experienced such a wobbler that Race Officer Scorie Walls had to resort to pencil and paper to produce a reasonably accurate set of results in time for a prize-giving before two visitors from Dun Laoghaire – Conor O'Higgins with his family's renowned JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, and Greg Kalinecki with his First 31 More Mischief – had to head for home.

Floating living history – the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock Class Silver Shamrock (Conor Fogerty & Suzanne Ennis) was Half Ton World Champion at Trieste in 1976 under Harold Cudmore's command. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyFloating living history – the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock Class Silver Shamrock (Conor Fogerty & Suzanne Ennis) was Half Ton World Champion at Trieste in 1976 under Harold Cudmore's command. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

A busy ship is a happy ship – Robert Dix and Carla Fagan racing Jeannie to third place in the J/80s. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyA busy ship is a happy ship – Robert Dix and Carla Fagan racing Jeannie to third place in the J/80s. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

It's at times like this that you realise why a J/80 is normally raced with a crew of four………Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIt's at times like this that you realise why a J/80 is normally raced with a crew of four………Photo: Annraoi Blaney

As ever, it was a remarkably diverse fleet, with cruiser-racers ranging from the new J/99 Snapshot (Evans brothers, sailed by Mike Evans and Graham Curran) fresh from overall success at the Sovereigns in Kinsale, all the way back to the almost-fifty-years-old Shamrocks – Silver Shamrock (Conor Fogerty), the Half Ton World Champion of 1976, and Windsor Laudan and Steffi Ennis's Club Shamrock Demelza, which also started her winning career in the 1970s, in those distant days in the ownership of the Mansfield family of Crosshaven.

Are the East Coast of Ireland's tectonic plates shifting? Rockabill closes up on Ireland's Eye. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyAre the East Coast of Ireland's tectonic plates shifting? Rockabill closes up on Ireland's Eye. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the Puppeteer 22s, Trick or Treat (Alan Blay & Alan Pearson, right) was to have the best of it. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIn the Puppeteer 22s, Trick or Treat (Alan Blay & Alan Pearson, right) was to have the best of it. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the One-Design categories, the J/80s had a very healthy turnout, with Dan and Dylan O'Grady in Jammie getting first from Bryan Byrne and Keith Glynn in Beeboop & Ricksteady, while Robert Dix and Carla Fagan were third in Jeannie. And in a more modest fleet, the Puppeteer 22s saw the honours go to Alan Blay & Alan Pearson in Trick or Treat.

The cruiser results were worked every which way, but in straightforward line honours Snapshot – with Mike Evans teamed with Graham Curran – was first home, 28 seconds ahead of the First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen & Jennie Harris).

Provisional HYC Aqua Challenge 2021 results:

IRC Spinnaker Class: 1st Snapshot (J/99, Mike Evans & Graham Curran) 2nd Lambay Rules (J/97, Stephen Quinn & Dave Cotter).

IRC Spinnaker Class Under 940 Rating: More Mischief (First 31, Greg Kalinecki & Jakub Gajewski, Dun Laoghaire)

ECHO Spinnaker Class: 1st Indian (J/109, Simon Knowles & Colm Buckley); 2nd Checkmate XV (Half Ton Classic, Dave Cullen & Aidan Beggan).

IRC White Sails: 1st Tiger (First 40.7, Stephen & Jennie Harris).

ECHO White Sails: 1st Toughnut (MG34, Dermot Skehan & Conor Macken).

J/80: 1st Jammy (Dan & Dylan O'Grady); 2nd Beeboop & Rocjsteady (Bryan Byrne & Keith Glynn); 3rd Jeannie (Robert Dix & Carla Fagan).

Puppeteer 22: 1st Trick of Treat (Alan Bay & Alan Pearson); 2nd Odyssey (Philip & Barry Byrne)

Captain cool. Mike Evans brings Snapshot cleanly through the boats summer-anchored in Howth Sound at Ireland's Eye, on his way to line honours and the IRC win. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyCaptain cool. Mike Evans brings Snapshot cleanly through the boats summer-anchored in Howth Sound at Ireland's Eye, on his way to line honours and the IRC win. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Published in Howth YC
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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