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Howth Yacht Club's Autumn League Finds Flukey Breezes for Opening Day

13th September 2021
Howth is an ideal sailing base – if you're provided with a steady wind
Howth is an ideal sailing base – if you're provided with a steady wind

"We'd some grand spinnaker work. And there was some very good windward racing too. The only trouble is, it was sometimes all happening on the same leg of the course…." Even in an area of clear winds such as you find in Howth's main racing space north of Irelands Eye, when the overall weather pattern is undergoing a weird contortion to convert from being a shallow low-pressure area into a not very enthusiastic ridge, the winds bewilder both themselves, and those who are trying to use them for a spot of racing.

Yet in the early stages of Saturday's opening joust of the six weekends Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth, there was quite a respectable mostly westerly breeze to keep things moving along for eight classes of both cruiser-racers and One Designs. Turnouts averaged around the dozen per division, the pace being set by the established One Designs with the Howth Seventeens mustering thirteen in their 123rd year, while the Puppeteer 22s continued as the ideal lockdown revivalists, with a crisp fleet of sixteen boats.

Paul McMahon's Puppeteer 22 Shiggi-Shiggi took first in the biggest class in the HYC Beshoff Motors Autumn League opening race. Photo: Brian James MaguirePaul McMahon's Puppeteer 22 Shiggi-Shiggi took first in the biggest class in the HYC Beshoff Motors Autumn League opening race. Photo: Brian James Maguire

Thus it was Paul McMahon in the restored Pupp 22 Shiggi-Shiggi who'd the satisfaction of seeing most boats behind him at the finish. But the Dublin tradition of keeping every OD sailor interested by having an additional active handicap division saw him put in his box back at 11th on HPH, while the Byrne team in Odyssey took over the lead.

It meant that any One Design skipper who managed both the scratch and handicap win in the tricky going was very much on top of his game, but the only one who managed it was Ian Malcolm with Aura in the Seventeens, a right and proper reward for someone who – with Nick Massey – has done so much over the years to keep this ancient class in a thriving condition.

Ian Malcolm & Nick Massey, "Fathers" of the Howth 17s. In Saturday's opening race of the Beshoff Motors Autumn League, Ian Malcolm managed the rare achievement of pulling off both the scratch and handicap wins. Photo: W M NixonIan Malcolm & Nick Massey, "Fathers" of the Howth 17s. In Saturday's opening race of the Beshoff Motors Autumn League, Ian Malcolm managed the rare achievement of pulling off both the scratch and handicap wins. Photo: W M Nixon

In the august heights of Class 1, Nigel Biggs with the Classic Half Tonner Checkmate XVII continued his run of success from the ICRA Nats a week ago with a win, and then for five places it was a J Boats benefit with the J/97 Jeneral Lee second, the J/109 Outrajeous third, the J/80 Mojo fourth, the J/99 Snapshot 5th and the J/109 Indian sixth.

Details here 

It ended as the sort of day when people are glad enough to be able to claim: "We got a result", but in truth many competitors' minds were far away in the waters of Newport, Rhode island, where the first Howth YC team to take part in the Rolex NYYC Invitational were having their initial practice race on Saturday, and they sent back this snippet of onboard vid which put everyone in a cautiously good mood.

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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