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Howth Yacht Club's Beshoff Motors Autumn League Completes Its 2021 Package

19th October 2021
Mixed action in the weekend's final race of the Howth Yacht Club Beshoff Motors Autumn League, with Kevin Darmody's X Class Viking crossing safely ahead of Stephen O'Flaherty's Spirit 54 Soufriere
Mixed action in the weekend's final race of the Howth Yacht Club Beshoff Motors Autumn League, with Kevin Darmody's X Class Viking crossing safely ahead of Stephen O'Flaherty's Spirit 54 Soufriere Credit: Annraoi Blaney

When the Autumn League started as a regular part of the programme at Howth Yacht Club thirty-nine years ago after the Marina opened in July 1982 (making for two significant anniversaries coming up next year), it was thought fairly normal to lose at least one weekend of racing as the late-season weather tightened its grip. And in some restless years, it had to be accepted that only two-thirds of the programme could be completed.

But for 2021, maybe it's climate change or maybe it was good luck or more likely it was a combination of both. But whatever, the full programme of eight races over six weekends has been sailed, and while one or two races were completed just before calm set in, on other outings the sailing breeze has been perfect for racing, yet at no time could anyone complain there was too much of it.

That said, the coastal setup at Howth has been an advantage, the final race serving up a perfect example. The basic wind was a moderate if very grey southerly as there was rain on the way, though it decently didn't arrive until later. But for most of the race, the ebb was setting briskly southward, which sharpened the apparent wind strength at various key points to bring further welcome energy to the scene.

J/109 Storm (Pat Kelly) and the Classic Half Tonners Mata (Wright/DeNeve) and Checkmate XVIII (Nigel Biggs) close in on the mark in the final race of the 20201 Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyJ/109 Storm (Pat Kelly) and the Classic Half Tonners Mata (Wright/DeNeve) and Checkmate XVIII (Nigel Biggs) close in on the mark in the final race of the 20201 Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

With just one race scheduled on two different course areas, several of the final positions were already in place, notably in the Squibs where Emmet Dalton had it stitched up in Kerfuffle (also the Squib East Coast Champion), and thus he was able to take himself off for the weekend to the Freshwater Keelboat Regatta at Dromineer on Lough Derg.

Another multiple winner well placed was Nigel Biggs – now registered as sailing out of Howth - who seems to have got his name on Flying Fifteen trophies elsewhere while almost simultaneously featuring in the frame in IRC 1 in Howth with his classic Half Tonner Checkmate XVIII. He went into the final race with an awesome scoreline including three bullets, but had to be content with second, the winner on the day being the Kavanagh crew in the J/97 Jeneral Lee.

IRC1 finds the best of the breeze while the rain obligingly stays away to the west, with Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII starting to show ahead of Mata (Wright/DeNeve). Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIRC1 finds the best of the breeze while the rain obligingly stays away to the west, with Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII starting to show ahead of Mata (Wright/DeNeve). Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Winning team: Checkmate XVIII's crew in high concentration mode. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyWinning team: Checkmate XVIII's crew in high concentration mode. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Good for the day that's in it – the J/97 Jeneral Lee won IRC 1 in the final race. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyGood for the day that's in it – the J/97 Jeneral Lee won IRC 1 in the final race. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Nevertheless in the big picture, Biggs won big, 14pts overall to the 24.0 of the Evans brothers (formerly of the Half Tonner Big Picture just to confuse everyone completely) in second in their J/99 Snapshot, with Jeneral Lee third and Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV fourth.

With the new James Bond movie breaking box office records, it was appropriate that IRC 1 ECHO was won by Stephen O'Flaherty's Bond superstar, the Spirit 54 Soufriere, with Jeneral Lee showing notable consistency across the handicaps with the second OA, while Simon Knowles J/109 Indian was third.

The Spirit 54 Soufriere (Stephen O'Flaherty) makes in past the gannet-laden Stack, on her way to winning Class 1 ECHO. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe Spirit 54 Soufriere (Stephen O'Flaherty) makes in past the gannet-laden Stack, on her way to winning Class 1 ECHO. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

"X" marks every spot….Dux chasing Xebec in IRC2. Photo: Annraoi Blaney"X" marks every spot….Dux chasing Xebec in IRC2. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

All your Dux in a row…..the crew of the IRC2 champion, with Robin Hegarty on the helm. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyAll your Dux in a row…..the crew of the IRC2 champion, with Robin Hegarty on the helm. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

IRC2 with all the X Boats likewise saw a frequent winner apparently taking the foot off the pedal, as the Gore-Grimes family's pace-setter Dux was back in fourth, the winners being the Wormald/Walsh/O'Neill team in No Excuse which brought them to within 1.5 point OA of champion Dux for the series, with Paddy Kyne's Maximus third overall.

IRC3 saw the Mullaneys in the Sigma 33 round out an excellent season (they're already the class's 2021 Irish Champions) by wining the final race on both IRC and ECHO to put them at only 8 points overall to the 21 of second-placed Alliance II, Vincent Gaffney's Laser 28, which in turn was 2 points OA ahead of the U-25 squad in the J/24 Kilcullen.

They're allowed relax – the Mullaneys' Irish Sigma 33 champion Insider is now also Autumn League Class 3 Champion every which way. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThey're allowed relax – the Mullaneys' Irish Sigma 33 champion Insider is now also Autumn League Class 3 Champion every which way. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the two Non-Spinnaker classes, Stephen Harris's First 40.7 Tiger once again demonstrated the benefits of a huge mainsail when you're not putting up any coloured cloth by winning IRC 4 overall from Colm Bermingham's Bite the Bullet, but on ECHO Dermot Skehan in the MG34 Toughnut was five points ahead of Tiger overall. As for IRC 5, Steffi and Windsor won overall again in the historic Club Shamrock Demelza, but in ECHO 5 it was Blues Xtra (M. Carroll) which had it from Joe Carton's Dehler 34 Voyager, with Demelza third.

In the Puppeteer 22s, Paul McMahon's No 1 Shiggi-Shiggi leads on the day………..Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIn the Puppeteer 22s, Paul McMahon's No 1 Shiggi-Shiggi leads on the day………..Photo: Annraoi Blaney

……but Scorie Walls and her team were overall champions……but Scorie Walls and her team were overall champions. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the 17-strong Puppeteer 22 fleet – the largest class numerically – Scorie Walls in Gold Dust gave a text-book demonstration of how to put a series together, for although Paul McMahon's restored Shiggi-Shiggi (Puppeteer No 1 of 1978 vintage) seemed to be getting some spectacular bullets, Gold Dust was always there or thereabouts, and on Scratch won OA on 15 points to the 17.0 of the two Alans (Pearson & Blay) in Trick or Treat, while Shiggi-Shiggi was third on 19. As for HPH results, in a class this size an entirely new set of names should come into the picture, and so it was, with Ibis (S Sheridan) winning from P & R Byrne's Odyssey with Terry Harvey's No Strings third.

With the already-there champion Kerfuffle gone west, the Squibs saw Crackertoo (S Kay) grab a win from Tears for Fears (N Monks), but it was TFF which took the sccond to Kerfuffle overall, with Crackertoo third. In HPH, Tears FF was out of sight overall, winning on 7pts to the 20 of Kerfuffle, with Crackertoo third.

Ian Malcolm on the 1898-vintage Aura was one of four Howth Seventeens which went into the final race with a chance of winning the title……Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIan Malcolm on the 1898-vintage Aura was one of four Howth Seventeens which went into the final race with a chance of winning the title……Photo: Annraoi Blaney

…..but the 1988-vintage Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey) had a runaway win in the final race to clinch the title…..but the 1988-vintage Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey) had a runaway win in the final race to clinch the title. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

The venerable Howth Seventeens went into the final race with four boats out of their fleet of 14 in serious contention for the win, yet there was so much "series strategical tactical" racing going on that only one of them finished the last race in the top three, and that was Conor & Brian Turvey in Isobel which took first to clinch it big-time, as overall they'd 18 points to the 23 of Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny), the 24 of Oona (Peter Courtney), and the 25 of Aura (Ian Malcolm).

Only Oona figured in the top three under HPH, which was won overall by Zaida (Tom Houlihan) with Roddy Cooper's Leila second and Oona third. Normally the Howth Seventeens would be lifted out almost immediately after the final race of the Autumn League, but what with Climate Change and trying to cram as much as possible into a compressed season, the word is that three boats are on a tie for one of their most ancient trophies, the Studdart Cup which dates back to the 1890s, and thus on Saturday (October 23rd) there's a winner-takes all race for the Studdart between No 1 Rita (John Curley and Marcus Lynch), No 7 Aura (Ian Malcolm) and No 21 Orla (Marc FitzGibbon & Donal Gallagher).

There's something very special about Autumn racing, and this Howth 17 and Puppeteer 22 catch the spirit of it perfectlyThere's something very special about Autumn racing, and this Howth 17 and Puppeteer 22 catch the spirit of it perfectly. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Beyond that, HYC's annual Brass Monkeys Series for the hardier keelboats beckons, as does the Laser Frostbites, an annual feature since 1974. The club has reached this stage of the pandemic in good heart with various indicators giving encouraging signs, including some interesting new boats on the way.

And for next year, we've the 40th Anniversary of both the Marina and the Autumn League. In the marital stakes, the 40th is the Ruby Jubilee. Doesn't sound very nautical. The Rube Jube perhaps? Maybe not. But doubtless something will be made of it nevertheless.

Full result details here 

Everyone a star – Howth YC's senior Committee Boat Star Point and the race crew who help to make it all possible including (left to right) Aideen Sargent, Jim Lambkin, Rupert Jeffares, David Lovegrove, John Doran, Wilhelmine Phelan and Kate LovegroveEveryone a star – Howth YC's senior Committee Boat Star Point and the race crew who help to make it all possible including (left to right) Aideen Sargent, Jim Lambkin, Rupert Jeffares, David Lovegrove, John Doran, Wilhelmine Phelan and Kate Lovegrove. 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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