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Howth's Beshoff Motors Autumn League Fits In Another Super Sailing Day

5th October 2021
Summer runs into October – IRC 1 getting down to work at Howth on Saturday with (left to right) Half Tonner Mata (Wright/deNeve), J/109 Indian (Simon Knowles), J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans), Half Tonner Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen) and J/80 Red Cloud (Nobby Reilly)
Summer runs into October – IRC 1 getting down to work at Howth on Saturday with (left to right) Half Tonner Mata (Wright/deNeve), J/109 Indian (Simon Knowles), J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans), Half Tonner Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen) and J/80 Red Cloud (Nobby Reilly) Credit: Annraoi Blaney

Anyone doing a crew call last Wednesday to firm up arrangements for Saturday's Day 4 of the Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth might well have been greeted with a brief but thoughtful silence from the shipmates, as the wind prediction charts were determinedly proposing gale force-plus conditions. But the Gods of the Weather have a wicked sense of humour, for on the day it turned out that sweet and sunny September 2021 had suddenly renewed its lease for the first Saturday of October. And though there was a bite to the air by the time Jeremy Beshoff - purveyor of classy specialist cars to Peninsular People and Those in Nearby Ireland - was distributing the day's many prizes, Annraoi Blaney's stylish photos convincingly reveal that the racing conditions had become wellnigh perfect, with a westerly brisk enough to bring everything to life, yet not so strong as to prevent most of the Howth 17s from carrying their topsails.

Connemara if you wish……the Howth Seventeens run down on the mark at Ireland's Eye. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyConnemara if you wish……the Howth Seventeens run down on the mark at Ireland's Eye. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Where else in the world would a varied fleet of mostly modern craft rate the real pressure of the day's breeze on whether or not one of the planet's oldest one-design keelboat classes was capable of setting an archaic sail with which many of those out racing have no personal acquaintance whatever? Yet that is the way it is at Howth, and has been for 123 years since the Seventeens were founded. So much so, in fact, that it was all taken for granted as crews sharpened themselves for a race which enabled the first series discard to kick in, and gave the organisers the satisfaction of already having a basic championship result with two weekends still to sail.

The J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans) took over the race lead in IRC 1. Photo: Annraoi BaneyThe J/99 Snapshot (Mike & Richie Evans) took over the race lead in IRC 1. Photo: Annraoi Baney

The hotshots in IRC 1 were if anything too keen to notch this crucial fifth race, with the two Classic Half Tonner Checkmates – Nigel Biggs' XVIII and Dave Cullen's XV - being checked out for OCS. But though Mike & Richie Evans J/99 Snapshot moved into first ahead of the Colwell/Murphy J/109 Outrajeous and the Wright/DeNeve Classic HT Mata, the Biggs boat continues to lead overall.

When you've the longest boat in the fleet, helming on Stephen O'Flaherty's Spirit 54 Soufriere requires concentration and some athletics………Photo: Annraoi BlaneyWhen you've the longest boat in the fleet, helming on Stephen O'Flaherty's Spirit 54 Soufriere requires concentration and some athletics………Photo: Annraoi Blaney

………particularly when a boat with a name like this gets up close and personal. Photo: Annraois Blaney………particularly when a boat with a name like this gets up close and personal. Photo: Annraois Blaney

The preponderance of X Boats in IRC 2 saw the Gore-Grimes team in Dux notch another win, but overall they're now level pegging with the Wormald/Walsh/O'Neill squad on No Excuse, while Paddy Kyne's Maximus was third on Saturday, and is now third overall on points.

Veteran of success – the Gore-Grimes family have taken dozens of trophies over many years with Dux. Photo: Annrais BlaneyVeteran of success – the Gore-Grimes family have taken dozens of trophies over many years with Dux. Photo: Annrais Blaney

In IRC3 S & D Mullaney's Insider – already 2021 Irish Sigma 33 National Champion – looks well set to add another trophy to the cabinet, as Saturday enabled them to discard a sixth to leave clean sweep of four firsts, putting them well ahead overall of the J/24 Scandal raced by the Nippers, and Vincent Gaffney's Laser 28 Alliance II.

The Non-Spinnaker fleets in IRC Classes 4 and 5 likewise saw a consolidation of established places with Stephen Harris in the First 40.7 Tiger now able to count four wins in 4, as can Steffi & Windsor in the Club Shamrock Demelza in 5. But in these two much more cruiser-oriented divisions, it's the ECHO handicap system which brings the racing to life, and though Tiger holds her lead in ECHO 4, in the 15-strong ECHO 5 it is M Carroll's Blues Xtra which holds the overall lead from Joe Carton's Dehler 34 Voyager, with Terry McCoy's vintage First 38 Out & About now third overall, having logged first and third in the two most recent races.

Terry McCoy (whose vintage First 38 has notched a first and third in the two most recent races) with Jeremy BeshoffTerry McCoy (whose vintage First 38 has notched a first and third in the two most recent races) with Jeremy Beshoff

In Howth's three One-Design Keelboat Classes, the Puppeteer 22s seem to emerge stronger from the pandemic with each passing week - they now have seventeen boats on the starting line, and the pace at the sharp end is ferocious. But although Algy Pearson and Alan Blay with Trick or Treat notched a win on Saturday from Scorie Walls in Gold Dust, it is Gold Dust which still has quite a strong overall point lead on T-o-T, with the May/Burke team on Honeybadger third.

The Squibs likewise are seeing a week-on-week increase in numbers, but we're told it will be next year before their latest renaissance fully manifests itself. Be that as it may, Emmet Dalton with Kerfuffle is looking at a scoreline of three first and a second after the discard, putting him well ahead overall on Crackertoo (S Kay).

Emmet Dalton's Kerfuffle continues to lead the reviving Squib class. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyEmmet Dalton's Kerfuffle continues to lead the reviving Squib class. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

By contrast the venerable Howth 17s – now racing fourteen boats every Saturday – have Oona (Peter Courtney), Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny) and Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey) tied overall for first on 9 points with the discard made, with Saturday's winner Oona - after some great racing for the class-leading on the tie break. Those three are now in something of a world of their own, as next in line – Ian Malcolm's Aura - is back on 17 pts.

However, with the Seventeens – as with all classes – there are many boats in the next-in-line category who have great hopes of reversing overall points leads if every proposed race in their series can be sailed over the next two weekends. In the volatile weather of October, that would be little short of miraculous. But as one normally pessimistic skipper observed with satisfaction as he enjoyed the panorama of sunlit sail racing on a lively blue sea on Saturday: "This just wasn't meant to happen at all at all".

Full results here

"We weren't meant to get this…." Heading back to Howth Harbour after a great day of sunlit sport. Photo: Annraoi Blaney"We weren't meant to get this…." Heading back to Howth Harbour after a great day of sunlit sport. 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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