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Howth Yacht Club Has Superb Autumn Sailing at Home While Its Stars Shine in Major Munster Championships

28th September 2021
Stephen O'Flaherty's "modern classic" Spirit 54 Soufriere – seen here crossing astern of Simon Knowles's J/109 Indian - had a good day's racing in the Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth on Saturday, logging a 5th and 1st in Class I ECHO to put her on equal first in the points lead. In another time and place, Soufriere in Venice featured in the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale Credit: Annraoi Blaney

Howth Yacht Club's members are of course absolutely tops in modesty. Which is just as well, as this past weekend – the last in September yet with summery weather – experienced some of the best racing conditions ever seen in the almost forty years of the annual Howth Autumn League. At the same time, in major championships at each end of the south coast, it was the Junior All-Ireland Championship at Schull that saw Howth's 15-year-old star Rocco Wright declared the winner, while the 1720 Europeans at Dunmore East had Howth YC's Ross McDonald take the gold as the silver went to veteran clubmate Robert Dix. And Dixie, it should be noted, was winning majors even before he took the title of All-Ireland Champion in 1970, which is 51 years ago if you don't feel inclined to do the sums yourself on a Monday evening.

Double and treble jobbing is another Howth characteristic, and we are indebted to HYC's Vice Commodore Neil Murphy, who has somehow found the time - while being a senior and very active flag officer and one of the most successful Puppeteer helms – to put together this analysis of Saturday's racing:

The day began with the brightest sunshine as the Puppeteers shaped up for their first start. Photo Annraoi BlaneyThe day began with the brightest sunshine as the Puppeteers shaped up for their first start. Photo Annraoi Blaney

With four races completed at Howth YC, the 2021 Beshoff Motors Autumn League reached its halfway stage on Sept 25th writes Neil Murphy

The sunshine made it a great day for late September sailing and the steady south-easterly breeze greeted the fleet with a gentle 10 knots and climbed to 16 as the afternoon progressed. The Race Officers made full use of the 'pet' conditions to set Windward Leeward courses and complete two races on both the Inshore and Offshore race areas, catching up on the scheduled second race lost the previous Saturday when the more variable conditions limited the fleets to a single race.

With eight classes spread over the two-course areas, those looking from Portmarnock beach would have seen what looked like walls of sails sliding across a flat sea but, within the Classes, there was lots of intense competition, particularly at the starts with the ebb tide pushing the boats across the lines and the excitement being added to by words of 'encouragement', a few gentle coming togethers, and some early starts and recalls.

Race 4 saw the Series discard introduced and allowed everyone to shed their worst score to date. However, in a few of the classes, there is already a settled order developing and some of the leaders are putting scoreboard distance between themselves and their opposition.

Nigel Biggs' classic Half Tonner Checkmate XVIII continues to lead IRC I. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyNigel Biggs' classic Half Tonner Checkmate XVIII continues to lead IRC I. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

On IRC, in the 12 boat Class 1 fleet, Nigel Biggs Checkmate XVIII bagged its third win of the series and now enjoys a six-point lead over Checkmate XV and Jeneral Lee. Similarly, in Class 3 the Mullaney's Sigma 33, Insider, has three wins to its credit and a three-point margin over Scandal with Kilcullen in third place. Both Scandal and Kilcullen are J24s and are being raced by members of the HYC K25 Squad so keen competition for bragging rights is assured over the rest of the series. As opposed to the relative comfort enjoyed by the Class 1 and 3 leaders, in Class 2, the X302 No Excuse (Wormald, Walsh, O'Neill) enjoys a single point lead over Impetuous but with there are three X302s chasing the pair and only a margin of 1.3 points between first and fourth places.

Paddy Kyne's Maximus on the run. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyPaddy Kyne's Maximus on the run. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

The Club Shamrock Demelza (extreme right, Steffi Ennis & Windsor Laudan), has called the non_spinnaker Class to perfection, and currently leads with a clean sheet. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe Club Shamrock Demelza (extreme right, Steffi Ennis & Windsor Laudan), has called the non-spinnaker Class to perfection, and currently leads with a clean sheet. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Suits you sir! Demelza's Windsor Laudan with the latest of his many winner jackets, and Jeremy Beshoff of Beshoff Motors with a rather elegant Bentley coupe. Photo: Annraoi BlaneySuits you sir! Demelza's Windsor Laudan with the latest of his many winner jackets, and Jeremy Beshoff of Beshoff Motors with a rather elegant Bentley coupe. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Tiger (Harris / Hughes) has established itself as the boat to beat in Class 4 with the battle for 2nd being fought between Bite the Bullet and Spellbound. In Class 5 Demelza, the now venerable Shamrock of Windsor Laudan and Steffi Ennis, is the only boat in the event with a clean sweep of first places on IRC.

On ECHO, Class 1 sees the much-photographed Soufriere (Stephen O'Flaherty) of James Bond fame showing that it has speed as well as style and its two race wins from the four sailed to date leaves it tied for first place with Jeneral Lee (C&K Kavanagh). In Class 4 Toughnut (D Skehan) is leading while in the other Cruiser Classes the same boats share the lead on both IRC and HPH.

In the Puppeteer 22's second race of the day, Paul McMahon's Shiggi-Shiggi was looking good on starboard. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIn the Puppeteer 22's second race of the day, Paul McMahon's Shiggi-Shiggi was looking good on starboard. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

With a first and a fifth on Saturday, Scorie Walls (right, seen here with Jeremy Beshoff) retained the overall lead in the large class of Puppeteer 22s. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyWith a first and a fifth on Saturday, Scorie Walls (right, seen here with Jeremy Beshoff) retained the overall lead in the large class of Puppeteer 22s. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the one design fleets the Puppeteer 22s are the most numerous with 17 boats battling it out and Gold Dust (Walls / Browne) lead the pack on scratch by - in Pup terms - a comfortable three point margin. The Howth 17s are the Class where the bookies may find it hardest to predict a winner with only two points spanning the first three boats, Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny) being chased hard by Isobel (B&C Turvey) and Oona (P Courtney) and with no boat having more than a single race win to date. The Squib fleet sees Kerfuffle (E Dalton) maintaining the form that saw him taking the recent Squib Easterns and it secured a first and a second on the WL courses to add to its victory in the first race of the series while Crackertoo is just 2 points behind. On the handicap results, Odyssey (P&R Byrne) leads the Puppeteers, Tears for Fears (N Monks) tops the Squibs and Bobolink (Doyle/Finnegan/Walsh) holds first in the Howth 17s.

The second race brought livelier starting conditions for the Howth 17s. Photo: AnnraoiBlaney   The second race brought livelier starting conditions for the Howth 17s. Photo: AnnraoiBlaney  

Sailing into eternity. The Howth 17 Leila (built 1898, Roddy Cooper) and the 1900-built Pauline (Shane O'Doherty & partners) provide a timeless image. Photo: Annraoi BlaneySailing into eternity. The Howth 17 Leila (built 1898, Roddy Cooper) and the 1900-built Pauline (Shane O'Doherty & partners) provide a timeless image. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

The two races sailed gave the crews a good work out and left many a thirst to be quenched under the sunshine, in a socially distanced way, when the fleet came ashore. The prizegiving for the first two Saturdays was carried out on the Club deck, in the midst of some of the sponsors very desirable motor vehicles, with Jeremy Beshoff presenting the first of the hard-earned 2021 Beshoff Motors jackets to the race winners.

The Hill of Howth continues to keep the fog at bay as a Puppeteer 22 makes to windward in the freshening breeze. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe Hill of Howth continues to keep the fog at bay as a Puppeteer 22 makes to windward in the freshening breeze. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Full results here

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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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