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Irish Olympic helmsman Mark Mansfield picks his big (and smaller) events coming up for the Irish cruiser classes in 2020

The 2019 season is only just coming towards its end and already owners and crew are looking ahead at what is in store next year. There are still some good events to finish this season, and among them, the Autumn Leagues in Howth and Royal Cork, The final ISORA race, with the spoils still not decided, the J109 Nationals, the final summer series DBSC races and of course the very popular DBSC Turkey Shoot series.

2019 was very much a front-loaded year with Scottish Series, ICRA Nationals, Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race, Sovereigns Cup and Dun Laoghaire Regatta all happening within a seven-week period, and 2020 is not looking a whole lot different.

Below you will see the dates of the bigger events for 2020.

Without a doubt the two standout big boat events next year will be the Round Ireland Race in June and in July, Royal Cork Yacht Club host their special Cork Week, on the Munster club's 300th year anniversary. More on this later.

2020 'Big Boat' events

  • Scottish Series, Tarbert - May 22nd to May 25th (Friday to Monday)
  • Wave Regatta, Howth Yacht Club - May 29th to May 31st (Friday to Sunday)
  • Round Ireland Race, Wicklow SC - Starts June 20th (Saturday)
  • RORC Morgan Cup - Cowes to Cork - Starts July 8th (Wednesday)
  • Cork Week, Royal Cork Yacht Club (300 Year Celebration) - July 13th to July 18th (Monday to Saturday)
  • Calves Week - Schul August 4th to August 7th - (Tuesday to Friday)

Other events that are building numbers are Bangor Week, commencing 25th of June and WIORA week (date not published yet). The very popular ISORA offshore series runs throughout the year and these dates are also eagerly awaited.

Here are some details of each of the larger events:

Scottish Series

Always a very happy hunting ground for Irish boats wishing to sharpen themselves up for the new season. Numbers generally have been dropping for the Scottish Series except for the very popular RC35 class where Irish Boats took all podium places this year. Class 2 in 2020 might also show some increases with the biennial Classic Half-Ton Cup in Cowes bringing the competitive Half Tonners out to play early. This year there were two half tonners—expect more in 2020. Great racing and great pub craic around the beer tent and local pubs.

RC35 ScotlandIrish Boats at 2019 Scottish series RC 35 class Photo: Marc Turner

Wave Regatta

Only a new event in 2018 and is based around the Howth Yacht Club traditional June Bank Holiday Lambay Race. Wave Regatta is held every two years and if 2018 is anything to go by, it will be very well attended in 2020. It comes just a few days after the end of Scottish Series. A variety of courses over the three days, including the very popular round Lambay race. Well organised with great onshore facilities.

Signal 8 WaveJamie Mc William's Ker 40, Signal 8 at Howth's Wave Regatta 2018 Photo: Afloat

Round Ireland Race

The big one. 704 miles from Wicklow to Wicklow, clockwise around Ireland and its islands, turning corners all the way around. It goes from strength to strength. There is a rumour of a very large, very well known Maxi looking at taking on the challenge and the record in 2020. If you only plan to do one full-length offshore race, this is the one to do. I have done five Fastnet Races and I would always pick a Round Ireland over a Fastnet.

For those boats who have competed in the last two events, there is the added bonus of the chance to win a Volvo car for the best Boat over the 2016, 2018 and 2020 races. I’m sure we will be advised of the current pecking order very soon on this.

Niall Dowling Niall Dowling's Royal Irish Yacht club, Ker 43, Baraka GP, the overall winner of the Round Ireland 2018 Photo: Afloat

RORC's Morgan Cup

Rarely do Flagship RORC races end in Ireland, but on the 300th year anniversary of the founding of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the RORC have graciously organised for one of their big races to finish in Cork, as a way of getting UK boats over for the Cork Week 300 regatta.

Approx 90 boats competed in the 2019 Morgan Cup edition this year, won overall by a J109. I suspect you may see some offshore orientated Irish boats decide to include this race in their calendar next year, which also serves as a way to get the boat to Cork in time for the Cork Week 300 Series.

Cork Week 300

From the Height of Cork Week in 2000 when boats competing topped 700, it has fallen somewhat. However, 2020, the 300th Anniversary of the club's founding, is all set to be special and interest from all corners of the world is evident with housing around Crosshaven and Carrigaline already starting to be booked up.

A number of classes are planning to use the week as their European Championships. The 1720 class, who had circa 75 boats at their 2000 event, are planning a big show in 2020 with already 10 boats confirmed from the UK with more likely to follow. A proper event Announcement is expected in September announcing some major classes and profile boats that will be competing.

The 2020 ICRA Nationals is being held as part of Cork week (three days only). Cork Week also incorporates a building fleet for the Beaufort Cup, which is a separate event within the week for associated national services (Army, Naval, Police, Firefighting, Coast Guard etc). This event incorporates an offshore race around the Fastnet and back.

Cork Week 2020 will be one not to miss. White Sail and coastal fleets will be included and the highlight is the all in Harbour race.

FekkesRory Fekkes from Carrigfergus SC, First Class 8—FN-GR8—Overall Winner of Cork week 2018 Photo: Bob Bateman

Calves Week

Numbers have held up very well for Calves Week. In 2019, there were 65 cruisers competing, with very competitive racing over the four days. A mix of windward-leeward courses, around the Islands and the Fastnet race keeps everyone interested. One race a day, with all the crews congregating after racing out in the streets between Newmans and Hackett's pubs. The Apres racing is as important as the racing with many sailors choosing to incorporate family holidays into the week. If you are doing Cork Week, and have not done Calves Week before, maybe you should consider leaving the boat in Cork and sliding down westwards a week or two later.

Rockabill JPK10.80Paul O'Higgins Rockabill VI from the Royal Irish—Winner of Calves week Class One in 2019 

“Wave afloat, rave ashore? And all good? What more could you ask?” The new-style Wave Regatta at Howth over the June Bank Holiday weekend set itself so many ambitious targets that it takes a day or two to get it all into perspective writes W M Nixon. But if anything, the feedback gets better with the passage of time.

After all, with an organisation team headed by Brian Turvey, they set out to build a fun regatta for our times around an expanded version of the venerable annual Lambay Race - which dates back at least to 1904 - while at the same time providing a three day series of hot racing for some razor-keen IRC classes which had been judiciously divided ratings-wise to provide – as far as possible – divisions of optimum size.

At the same time, they’d to provide good racing for the local One Design Puppeteer 22s and Howth 17s which continue to provide the backbone of Howth local racing when the IRC squad are away chasing other glamour events.

Well, with entries rising up to 164 boats on Saturday’s peak day of racing, there could be no complaints about turnout, And as to the scene ashore, the Howth-headquartered Michael Wright Hospitality Group took over all entertainment arrangements in a professional style which left nobody in any doubt they were dealing with experts, and the result was a hugely popular 12-band programme which made the best of the gorgeous weather once Friday’s minor glitch of fog and calm had been put out of the way.

The combined outcome afloat and ashore exceeded even the most optimistic anticipation. But it has to be admitted that while our preview here last Saturday got most of the names which were to feature at the front of each class as racing drew to a sunny close on Sunday, we somehow failed to highlight the potential of Dave Cullen’s classic Half Tonner Checkmate XXXV while talking of the success six days earlier in Scotland of another of Howth’s vintage Half Tonners, Johnny Swan’s Harmony.

But while Johnny sails with his mates, Dave is always game to get a rock star onto the strength, and at Howth it was soon noted that Checkmate’s lineup included the one and only Nin O’Leary. Any further comment is superfluous. While Harmony managed to hang in to be second in Class 2, it was Checkmate XV all the way, Class Winner and Regatta Champion by the end of the series.

In Class 1, the sharpening effect of their virtual One-Design-racing within-a-division is putting the J/109s in a class of their own. But while Pat Kelly’s Storm may have been away in the north winning the Scottish Series, Andrew Algeo and partners in Juggerknot are in a speedy place, and they won all but two races at Howth. One of these was the 1.5 points-scoring Lambay Race which went to Storm, racing through her home waters off Rush, which made sure she placed second overall at the end of the regatta, while the other went to one of the Howth boats, Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles’ Indian.

Class Zero Wave regatta 3343The Class Zero start of the Lambay Race at Wave Regatta with Signal 8 already out in front Photo:

At the top of the size scale in Class O, it was Jamie McWilliam’s Ker 43 Signal 8 from Hong Kong almost all the way, but Conor Phelan’s gallantly-campaigned veteran Jump Juice, a 12-year-old Ker 36, was rewarded with one win as she took in the Howth Wave event on her way back to Cork from after featuring in the frame at the Scottish Series.

As to the historical feature which is placed like a jewel at the heart of this new Wave happening, the Lambay Race has become such a diverse event that the ultimate trophy, the silver statuette of the Lambay Lady, goes to the winning boat which has the biggest time lapse between it and second place. It says much for the fiercely close competition for the IRC and ECHO classes that this time round, it was won by Peter Courtney with the One-Design Howth 17 Oonagh.

oonagh wave3Peter Courtney’s Oonagh, winner of the Lambay Lady in the Wave Regatta 2018. The Courtney family have been racing Howth 17s round Lambay since 1907. Photo Howth 17 Class

The Courtney family have been racing Howth 17s round Lambay since 1907. But in his time, Peter Courtney has been a Fireball Champion and an offshore winner as well. Howth sailing today is a broad church, and it has embraced the new Wave Regatta with aplomb. The next one has already been confirmed by HYC Commodore Joe McPeake, it’s set for the June Bank Holiday Weekend in 2020.  

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Despite the threat of a dubious weekend weather forecast, Dublin's innovative new Wave Regatta that concluded this evening has delivered in spades for its organisers Howth Yacht Club

Howth crews topped the major prizes with David Cullen on Checkmate XV in Class 2 who won the overall Regatta trophy while traditional Howth 17-footer Oona skippered by Peter Courtney won the classic Lambay Race on Saturday.

Blue skies and sea breezes attracted a total entry of 161 boats from around the Irish Sea and further for a great racing mix and 'unique hospitality' ashore.

Howth 17 3137Traditional Howth 17s raced Round Lambay Photo:

Pre event Pundit predictions were confounded in nearly all classes as the four-race series that included Saturday's Lambay Race (see photo review here) produced some new and not so new inaugural Wave Regatta champions.

"It was a clean sweep for the hosts in all IRC classes except zero and one where Royal Clubs seized the day"

It was a clean sweep for the hosts in all IRC classes except zero and one where Royal Clubs seized the day.

Persistent fog and light winds on Friday eventually cleared in time to deliver a perfect race around the scenic Fingal coastline on Saturday that ended in Howth Sound in ‘champagne sailing’ conditions with the same again for Sunday’s finale.

The overall event win for David Cullen - who was also the Wave Regatta Director of Racing - was based on Checkmate XV's wins in all four races, including the bonus scoring Lambay Race (non–discardable) in the biggest fleet of the event that featured 21 entries in Class 2.

The Lambay Race itself was the highlight of the Wave Regatta weekend when the full fleet of 161 boats graced the pristine waters of the Fingal coastline. Appropriately for the class race around Lambay Island, the Howth 17 footers were given the route closest to the island before the long beat back to Howth Sound and the finish where Peter Courtney and Oona won with a convincing lead.

Storm J109 3199 2Visiting Hong entry Signal 8 was the top scoring boat in Class 0 and won the class despite a defeat to Royal Cork entry Jump Juice in the Lambay Race Photo:

Royal Hong Kong's Jamie McWilliam, got his Ker 40 Summer campaign in Irish waters off to a great start with a class zero win over Conor Phelan's Jump Juice (Ker 37) and George Sisk's WOW (Farr 42). 

Jump Juice 3581Jump Juice (Conor Phelan)

WOW 3622WOW (George Sisk)

Algeo's Royal Irish J109 Wins Class One

Storm J109 3199 2(Above and below) Fresh from winning his class East Coast championship a fortnight ago, Andrew Algeo's Joggernaut from the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire emerged victorious in Class 1, collecting the overall class win under IRC and ECHO handicaps plus the J109 trophy Photo:

Storm J109 3199 2

Newly crowned J109 East coast champion Andrew Algeo of the Royal Irish Yacht Club has caused a major upset in IRC One after unseating the host club's Storm for overall honours.

Coming off the back of two solid wins in Scotland, the Storm crew looked in total control winning yesterday's Lambay Race opener to be overnight leaders. But, the RIYC crew, who sailed so well a fortnight ago for East coast honours and who finished second in the Lambay Race yesterday, again showed the depth of their ambition when they took two well-earned wins in today's final three races. It was more than enough to clinch the title by a margin of 3.5 points. With a four-point advantage, Storm took second to another Royal Irish boat, Joker II skippered by John Maybury.

Storm J109 3199 2Pat Kelly's Storm crew were second overall in Clas One IRC Photo:

Storm J109 3199 2John Maybury's Joker II was third overall in Class One IRC Photo:

Perfect Scoreline for Cullen's Checkmate XV

Checkmate Dave cullen 4396Howth crews topped the major prizes with David Cullen on Checkmate XV in Class 2, the overall Wave Regatta trophy winner Photo:

In class two, nine of the top ten were all HYC entries. The top three were Howth's tricked–up Half–Tonners. Afloat's own nod for the Wave win, Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII, outside the frame in sixth overall. The win instead went to Bigg's former steed, Checkmate XV,  now owned and sailed to a high standard by Dave Cullen had the perfect scoreline of four race wins. Repeating the Lambay order, second overall went to Harmony Johnny Swann and third was Mike Evans' The Big Picture. 

Hamony Half tonner 4575Johnny Swan's Half Tonner, Harmony was second overall Photo:

Royal Cork competitor, Anthony O'Leary on Antix Beag was the nearest visiting boat in fifth place.

In Class three, another HYC flag is at the top of the leaderboard. While admittedly hailing from Carrickfergus, 'F'nGR8' skippered by Rory Fekkes,  another Scottish winner, took a well-earned win from two Howth X302s, Dux (A Gore-Grimes) and Xebec (Bourke McGirr Ball) in second and third respectively in the 21–boat fleet. 

Plans for Wave 2020

Three days of entertainment ashore organised by sponsor Michael JF Wright Hospitality included 12 bands and DJ’s and a giant display screen while six different food options were available in addition to Howth’s array of pubs and restaurants.

“We’re measuring success on the feedback that we’re getting from sailors and sponsors alike who are already planning on returning for the next Wave event in 2020,” said Joe McPeake, HYC Commodore. “This is a tribute to all the effort by a great team of volunteers and our business and local authority partners in Howth and Fingal.”

Storm J109 3199 2Galway Bay visitor to Howth – A O'Reilly's NUIG entry Photo:
Building on the success of the inaugural Wave Regatta, a target of introducing 1,000 newcomers to the sport in time for Wave 2020 has been set. Quest Howth, the club’s new training centre will deliver this pathway into the sport by providing the equipment, skills and opportunities for young people, adults and families throughout Dublin.

Wave regatta HYCThe scene ashore at HYC for Wave Regatta Photo: HYC Facebook
Costs will be kept to an affordable level with minimal outlay up-front required from newcomers. Boat ownership is not required at any time and all participants will be offered club membership.

All results are here 

Click for all's Wave Regatta news and click for all's Howth Yacht Club news

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Pat Kelly's all-conquering J109 Storm of the host club continues her winning ways this weekend by topping the leaderboard in Howth's Wave Regatta after a strong turnout for the annual Lambay Race yesterday. It's a result, at least in Class One IRC, that confirms an earlier prediction made by here.

After the disappointment of losing the opening races due to fog on Friday, Howth Yacht Club had it all to do to preserve its inaugural event yesterday.

The non-discardable Lambay Race as part of the overall regatta series did not disappoint with ideal 10–15 knots breeze for north Dublin's traditional course around Lambay Island.

J109 Lambay 3945Great reaching breeze for the long leg to Lambay Island Photo:

Billed as the biggest event of the sailing season, the scale of the fleet was a tonic for all involved as the 154–boats reached to Lambay in good surfing conditions. 

Howth Yacht Club rolled out Ireland's newest sailing event and amassed a great fleet to make it Ireland's biggest sailing event in 2019 at the first attempt.

The new style 'Wave' formula breathed new life into one of Dublin's oldest sailing fixtures; the annual Lambay Race dating back to 1899.

The bank holiday event manages to combine inshore and coastal racing that includes rounding the Dublin Island.

Lambay, according to's WM Nixon in his Wave Regatta preview, says it's a 'perfect island which does so much to make the Fingal coast into Leinster’s sailing paradise'. 

Combining a six race inshore programme with the Lambay route has been a popular decision that has produced a quality fleet across three ratings divisions, to the extent that the regatta is being touted as an 'East Coast IRC Championships'.

Race officer David Lovegrove 3332Race officer David Lovegrove with his Howth Yacht Club team for the Lambay Race Photo:

The coastal race had a 1.5 times multiplier and is non–discardable for overall honours that could yet prove critical as today's final three rounds get underway.

Crisp boat handling stole the show off Ireland's Eye yesterday with those who had already produced the goods in Scotland or in other early-season events clearly showing an edge.

Ker 40 signal 8 3395Hong Kong visitor Jamie McWilliam on Signal 8 for the Lambay Race

With a small entry in Class Zero of three boats, it was left to Conor Phelan's Ker 37, Jump Juice to take the win despite planing conditions that gave Jamie McWilliams' high rating Ker 40, Signal 8 the chance to do a horizon job on the water. Unlucky to only finish third at last week's Scottish Series, Phelan got the better of the other two in this class. Signal 8 was second with George Sisk's Wow third.

The Ker 37 JumpThe Ker 37 Jump Photo:

Class one start 3476A packed committee boat end to the class one start Photo:

Storm j109 3227Pat Kelly on the wheel of Lambay Class One Race winner Storm Photo:

Storm Lambay 3678Storm rounds the Windward mark in the lead Photo:

In Class One IRC, the Storm crew, who were crowned Scottish Champions last Monday, outwitted a strong fleet of 19 by catching the first shift off the leeward end of the line. Second was Royal Irish J109, Juggerknot, the recently crowned J109 East coast champion skippered by Andrew Algeo, with clubmate Colin Byrne in the XP33, Bon Exemple third. 


J109s reaching 3781Close racing for the J109s on the long reach to Lambay Photo:

Juggerknot spinnaker 3735Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot was second in IRC One Photo:

Fools Gold 3812Rob McConnell's Fools Gold from Waterford Harbour. Photo:

Checkmate Dave Cullen 4429Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen) was the class two winner Photo:

Harmony half tonner 4523The Howth Half Tonner Harmony was second at the Scottish Series and second in the Lambay Race in class two IRC  Photo:

Big picture Evans half tonner 4543Mike Evans' The Big Picture was third in class two Photo:

Nigel Biggs Checkmate 4645Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII

Class Two IRC was a Half Tonner benefit for the top three places for three well prepared Howth boats edging out the threat of Nigel Biggs' Checkmate XVIII, that took a creditable second at last year's Half Ton Cup. Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV took the win, Jonny Swan's Harmony was second and Mike Evans' The Big Picture was third, leaving Biggs fourth in the 22-boat class, the biggest of the event.

Another Scottish winner, 'F'nGR8' skippered by Rory Fekkes of Carrickfergus but sailing under the burgee of the National Yacht Club took a well-earned win from two Howth X boats, Dux (A Gore-Grimes) and Xebec (Bourke McGirr Ball) in second and third respectively in the 21–boat fleet. 

In a ten–boat ISORA class, Chris Power-Smith's J122 Aurelia from the Royal St. George was the winner from yet another J109, Wakey Wakey skippered by Roger Smith from Poolbeg Y&BC. 

J122 Aurelia 4099J122 Aurelia Photo:

J80 philip watson 4748J80 Jam Jar

Howth 17 4225Howth 17 Isobel (B & C Turvey) Photo:

All results are here

Wave Regatta racing continues today with three more races.

Click for all's Wave Regatta news and click for all's Howth Yacht Club news

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Fog and light winds on the Dublin coast has led to the abandonment of racing on today's first day of Howth Yacht Club's new style Wave Regatta. 

Three races were scheduled from 11am but attempts to get the 154-boat fleet under way were unsuccessful.

The three-day Regatta continues tomorrow with the club's traditional Lambay Races from 11am. 

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It may only be the start of June, but Howth Yacht Club already has an extra-special year going in 2018, and all the signs are that it will continue to get better. W M Nixon takes the pulse of a club in good heart as it stages Wave Regatta, the East Coast’s biggest regatta this season.

Howth YC is on a real roll, truly the crest of the Wave. There has been a new zing about the place since the year turned. Improved administrative structures have started to provide beneficial effects, while the rise of new sailing talent inspires established sailors to greater effort. Things are moving again, with the establishment of Quest Sailing School – it’s within the club, yet publicly accessible - providing user-friendly ways of getting involved with sailing to bring a welcome new addition to the club’s range of services.

Thus the mood is good as this extended weekend of the Wave Regatta unfolds with all sorts of bells and whistles added to the club’s historic Lambay Race to make it a centrepiece of one very up-to-date sailing championship, an event so comprehensive that it includes an ISORA Race.

This new-style combination event has emerged fully-formed as a unique mix of very serious and notably well-attended IRC racing - overseen by top race officers of the calibre of Jack Roy and David Lovegrove - run in tandem with today’s homage to Lambay, that perfect island which does so much to make the Fingal coast into Leinster’s sailing paradise.

"Lambay, that perfect island which does so much to make the Fingal coast into Leinster’s sailing paradise"

Joe McPeakeHYC Commodore Joe McPeake is leading a multi-faceted organisation which caters for a wide range of activities Photo: HYC
But it isn’t just the natural advantages of its sailing waters which have propelled Howth YC back into the premier league. The whole-hearted club spirit had been renewed through 2017, to be further invigorated this year. The annual Irish Sailing Awards ceremony on February 9th in Dublin opened with Howth in a very good place, listing seven known winners before the show had even begun. And by its conclusion, there was every sign of increased momentum, with Howth’s own astonishing Conor Fogerty the new Volvo Sailor of the Year on the strength of his successful performance – against ferocious conditions – in his Sunfast 3600 Bam! in the storm-tossed east-west Single-handed Transatlantic Race from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode island.

You might have thought that was enough to be going along with, but by purest serendipity the following night back home, Howth YC Commodore Joe McPeake hosted his club’s own annual Achievers’ Night, and the list of those who had done great things was awesome, topped as it now was by the Fogerty triumph and augmented by a proper recognition of the many volunteers who beaver away behind the scenes to keep Howth’s unique show on the road.

But those early February celebrations were for achievements in 2017. It was time and more to think of what had to be done in 2018. No sooner had the winners recovered from the Achievers Night than a goodly group of many of the Howth talents went west, west to Antigua in the Caribbean to get the 45ft Pata Negra (chartered by Michael Wright HYC) and Conor Fogerty’s own Sunfast 3600 Bam! into tune for the RORC Caribbean 600.

Conor FogertyDetermined skipper. Conor Fogerty’s performance in the OSTAR has made him Ireland’s current Sailor of the Year
It says much about the spread of Howth talents globally that one of the first people the boys and girls from home met up with in Antigua was international Irish-Australian sailing superstar and Howth ex-Pat Gordon Maguire, there with his specialists to campaign the Maxi 72 Proteus as one of the favourites for the big race.

But in one of the most rugged Caribbean 600s yet sailed, it was the ex-Howth star’s mount which fell by the wayside in the tough going, while the two Howth crews battled on over the 600 sometimes very rough miles to see Conor Fogerty win Class 4 overall, while Michael Wright and Kieran Jameson and their team in Pata Negra took second overall in Class 2 despite shredding some important sails during a proper Demolition Derby in which it was a real achievement to finish at all, let alone get a top class placing.

Michael wrightMichael Wright and Gordon Maguire get together in Antigua before the start of the RORC Caribbean 600

However, no sooner had the successes of the Caribbean expedition become official than Howth experienced what could have been a disaster back home. The 1898-founded gaff-rigged Howth Seventeens – the world’s oldest One-Design keelboat class – is another key strand of Howth sailing life, and with the thriving Puppeteer 22 class, they provide the inshore keelboat racing backbone to the season-long club sailing, which in turn is supported by multiple dinghy and junior activity.

By their age, special nature and classic quality, the Howth Seventeens are a central part of Howth sailing. In many ways, they’re the soul of the club. So when - immediately after the Caribbean success in late February – Storm Emma struck the Irish Sea and inflicted serious damage on buildings at the end of Howth’s exposed East Pier on March 1st, it was feared the Seventeens had been dealt a shattering bow, as the now-wrecked Long Shed at the end of the pier was the winter storage home for seven of the twenty Seventeens, and first reports suggested that all of them had suffered serious damage, with several probably total write-offs.

But in a remarkable community effort, as soon as conditions had settled down post-storm, a group of club volunteers worked through the day and into the night to extract all the boats from the wreckage of the shed, whatever their level of damage, and get them safely round the harbour to the club’s own compound.

Miraculously, while five boats had been seriously damaged, only two were severe cases, and one of them – Rosemary built 1907 - is currently being re-built in the heart of Fingal by ace boat-builder Larry Archer, as he is now able to concentrate on the job after completing the repairs on the less-damaged boats.

Hwoth 17 sailingThe timeless and all-involving nature of the Howth 17s is epitomized by Isobel sailing towards the entrance to Howth Harbour. Isobel’s part-owner is noted offshore racer Brian Turvey, Chairman of the Organising Committee for Wave. Photo: W M Nixon

But the seventh boat – Anita – would have been judged a write-off were she not a classic. Thanks to this status, Anita (built 1900) can be re-built on her ballast keel to comply with international classic standards, and already this process has been put in train, with HYC Rear Commodore Ian Malcolm – Action Man for keeping the Howth Seventeens alive and well – making a recent business visit to the classics boatyard in Douarnenez in Brittany.

There, the Howth Seventeen class can avail of the French Government’s Boat-building Training Scheme whereby all the customers have to do is cover the costs of the materials – which will include that existing lead ballast keel – while the French authorities look after overheads, staff wages, tuition fees and whatever.

So in due course, Anita will sail again. But meanwhile back home, the class has been pulling itself together after emerging from what could have been a body blow, and for their regular Tuesday evening race this week they mustered ten boats – including some which had been among those damaged in March - for some flukey breezes on an otherwise perfect summer’s evening, and Peter Courtney with Oonagh was the winner.

Peter Courtney is classic Howth in that his family have been involved with the Howth Seventeens since 1907, yet he was also a Fireball champion in his day, and a formidable and successful offshore racing skipper. And while the Puppeteer 22s and the Howth Seventeens and other local boats of character will be much in evidence in today’s Lambay Race, it’s the classes catering for today’s “formidable and successful offshore racing skippers” which will be providing the bulk of the fleet.

In recent, years Howth Yacht Club has been keenly aware of the need to provide attractive access routes into the cruiser-racer game, and the Club’s Under 25 squad using J/24s has been so successful that it has been paid the ultimate compliment of being replicated in other clubs on all coasts of Ireland, thereby bringing new life to Ireland’s J/24 class such that J/Boats co-founder Bob Johnstone made a point of visiting HYC in 2014, and was persuaded to autograph one of the rudders to memorialise the occasion.

J24 planingHowth YC has a long history with the J/24s – the first one at the port was Pathfinder II (Philip Watson & Kieran Jameson) in 1978. Photo: W M Nixon
Rod johnstoneHistoric moment – J Boats co-founder Bob Johnstone visited HYC in 2014, and autographed the rudder on one of the club’s J/24s. Photo: Brian Turvey

But the Howth administrators were also aware of a need to link actively with the strong interest in sportsboats, and for some years they’ve also been providing a club-owned flotilla of J/80s which are in turn being supported by a growing privately-owned J/80 fleet at HYC. Apart from being an attractive and versatile boat in its own right, the J/80 is a boat with sportsboat characteristics which can nevertheless access an IRC rating, so what’s not to like?

The J/80 certainly has everything going for it for a club like HYC, and as a result people head for Howth when they have specific championship or selection trials requirements, with the club’s J/80 flotilla being used in April to select the Irish squad for the Student Yachting Worlds in France on October - University College Cork captained by Fionn Lyden took the honours.

J80 planingThe J/80 provides the ideal link between sportsboat sailing and IRC racing

Staging events like this helped to get the club back to life after the longest winter in living memory, despite which the club’s winter Laser frostbite series – inaugurated in 1974 – continued its traditional progress to conclusion on St Patrick’s Day, while a Brass Monkey Winter Series for cruisers has also been running annually for more than thirty years. But since May began, the sailing pace has been accelerating, and one boat in particular - a true champion of Fingal – has been lifting everyone’s hearts.

A couple of weeks ago here, we outlined how Pat Kelly and his family in Rush, together with their friends and shipmates, keep their J/109 Storm in beautifully-presented and highly competitive shape. But at that time, they had only started their season by overall victory in the Kip Regatta in Scotland.

Being in Scotland meant they’d to miss the J/109 Easterns at the Royal Irish YC a fortnight ago, but they’ve since upped the performance level with their total runaway victory this week at the Scottish Series. This further raises the stakes for theRoyal Irish YCs racing within Class 1 in the current Wave Regatta, as the Andrew Algeo-skippered Joggernknot had the win in the Easterns, albeit by a close margin from Dear Prudence.

For this weekend, Dear Prudence is listed as part of the Howth J/109 contingent, having been entered by Patrick Cruise O’Brien. So between that and the fact that the hyper-champion Storm is actually Howth-based, as Howth is also the undoubted home port of Indian (Colm Buckley and Simon Knowles) we now have three Howth J/109s taking on the might of the Dun Laoghaire class in what looks like being a Battle of the Sailmakers, with the likes of Rob McConnell’s A35 Fool’s Gold from Dunmore East and Royal Irish YCRockabillRoyal Irish YC also in Class 1 to keep those J/109s on their toes.

Storm crew 0037Hanging in there. The Storm crew give their take on the glamour of top-level racing……Photo:

That said, we shouldn’t let the current glamour of J/109 racing reduce the attention earned by Howth’s remarkable contingent of classic Half Tonners, whose charge in the Scottish Series was led by Johnny Swan’s Harmony – an all-wood boat, would you believe. Harmony was in the groove in Scotland and missed the class overall win by just one point, so she has a refreshed reputation to defend this time round.

Harmony half tonnerJohnny Swan’s classic Half Tonner Harmony was very much in the frame in Scotland. Photo:
But then, so have many boats in a fleet this size. And as ever, private battles are developing which will be played out today and tomorrow, and then minutely dissected in one of the many après sailing venues on offer.

Of all this we can be sure. But the great imponderable is the weather. Or more particularly, the wind. Sometimes, the Fingal coast gets breeze when Dublin Bay lacks it. But sometimes, it’s the other way round. We can only hope……..

Published in W M Nixon
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With upwards of 150 boat competing, the inaugural Wave Regatta is set to become the largest gathering of racing yachts this year in Ireland. So who is likely to come out with the Howth Yacht Club spoils in each of the IRC divisions, Class 0, Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3?

It is no exaggeration to say that wind conditions are set to play a very big part in this.

Some yachts, especially the wider modern types excel in the breeze whereas some of the less modern shapes, with less wider sterns often do very well in the lighter conditions.

So far, all the forecasts are showing for light airs on the Friday and Sunday when the fleets have six races in total, with a little more wind on Saturday when the Lambay Day Race will be sailed. The prospect of a sea breeze similar to today, however, could yet surprise by increasing wind strengths across at least one, if not all, the three days of the regatta.

"Each of the inshore races will have a multiplier of 1 and there are six of them"

The Lambay Race will have a 1.5 times multiplier and is non–discardable. However, each of the inshore races will have a multiplier of 1 and there are six of them. Therefore, you would expect that the high number of races on Friday and Sunday, when lighter winds are expected, will favour the lighter air orientated designs.

Here is's best guess of who will end up in the frame.

WOW Farr 42 1448Wow – new keel, a new rig configuration and new sails this year Photo:

Class 0 Very small entry here, only three boats, George Sisk's Farr 42, Wow, Conor Phelan's Ker 37, Jump Juice and Jamie McWilliams' Ker 40, Signal 8. The Ker 40 is by far the highest rating boat of these 3 and if there was more wind, she would get up and plane easily, and sail to her handicap, but in lighter airs, she may not get these planing conditions. Wow has a new keel, a new rig configuration and new sails this year and appears to be all the better for these changes, but it may be just a bit early for her to show her form. Jump Juice is the likely winner in this class. She was unlucky to only finish third at last week's Scottish Series, and we expect she will get the better of the other two in this class.

"The smart money is on Storm to take the Class One title"

White Mischief 2682 2Tim Goodbody's White Mischief is a regular winner in Dun Laoghaire Photo:

Class 1 This will be a really tight Class. A lot of well–sailed, well–prepared boats here. Were the conditions windier, you would expect to see the 3 wide, modern designs, Fools Gold, Rockabill VI and Bon Exemple feature well up there. Of these three, Rob McConnell's Fools Gold may take the lighter wind conditions better and could end up towards the front. However, in lighter winds, it is very hard to look outside one of the nine J109’s from taking the win. The J109 has won virtually every regatta in Ireland over the last four years (except Sovereign's Cup 2017 when Fools Gold won and 2016 when Rockabill VI won Cork Week), and this includes winning the last 4 Icra Nationals, class winner in the last Round Ireland, ISORA overall winner, overall winner in the 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta. Pat Kelly's Storm from Howth comes fresh from a win at the Scottish Series and having also won the J109 nationals last year, will certainly be one of the ones to watch. Tim Goodbody's White Mischief wins most of the Dun Laoghaire races, but will he be able to replicate this on the Northside of the Bay? Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot has recently won the J109 East coasts and has been going very well of late. However, John Maybury's Joker II, with three consecutive ICRA Nationals wins and an overall win last year at the very competitive Dun Laoghaire week will be the one to beat, if she has Olympian Mark Mansfield calling the shots, (as he did in the four wins mentioned above). If he is not aboard, then the smart money is on Storm to take the title.

Equinox Checkmate 0397Expect to see Ross McDonald's X332, Equinox take the win if conditions freshen. To leeward is another class two favourite Dave Cullen's Checkmate XV Photo:

Class 2 Again, wind conditions will likely make a big difference in this class, where the size range from smallest to biggest is quite large. If it were medium to fresh, you would expect to see Ross McDonald's X332, Equinox take the win, closely followed by the two Beneteau 34.7s Flashback (Breen/Hogg) and Leslie Parnell's Black Velvet. However, the conditions are likely to be light and there are no better light wind boats than the tricked–up Half Tonners, of which four are competing. David Cullen's Checkmate XV, Nigel Biggs Checkmate XVIII, Johnny Swan's Harmony (second in Scotland this week) and Mike and Richard Evan's Big Picture. Nigel Biggs was second at last year's Half Ton Cup so you would have to give him the nod ahead of Cullen. Don’t be surprised, however, to see one of the other two Half Tonners up there also. Another boat that could be good on her day in light airs is Kodachi from Howth (Wright/Connolly).

Maximus X302 1351Paddy Kyne's Maximus could be in the frame if the wind blows Photo:

Class 3 Again, if conditions were windier, you might see one of the X302’s from Howth take the win or even one of the J24's which sail very well to their rating in the breeze. However, in the lighter airs, it is likely that one of the four Corby 25,s will take the honours and we suspect that the local Corby 25, Fusion (Colwell and Cobbe) from Howth will be the pick of these four.

See full entry list here

Published in Wave Regatta
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Tomorrow's first races of Howth Yacht Club's inaugural Wave Regatta marks the return of the host club's J109 Storm to her home waters after the successful defence by the Kelly family of their Scottish Series title in Tarbert last Monday.

It's a return fit for the champions because a strong line–up of boats from across the Irish Sea area are saluting HYC efforts to stage what has become 2019's biggest sailing event on the East Coast at its first attempt. The inaugural fleet gathers together the best of inshore and offshore performers including the top J109s, ISORA leaders, the D2D champion as well as a host of ICRA champions too.

Kelly's north Dublin crew were the toast of the Gourock this week after an 'outstanding performance' on the Clyde earned them the overall trophy as well as the Rose Bowl for best boat in the Luddon IRC fleet and The McIver Salver in a very competitive Makars Mash RC35 Class.

"A strong line–up of boats from across the Irish Sea are saluting HYC efforts to stage what has become 2019's biggest sailing event on the East Coast at its first attempt"

A week later, they now encounter an entirely different set of competitors and an entirely different set of conditions too as Wave Regatta looks set to be based around the arrival of sea breezes.

Storm Scottish seriesStorm (Dave Kelly) in winning form at the Scottish Series last week. Photo: Marc Turner

A fleet of 154 boats comprising entries from Howth and around the Irish Sea will be in action over three days of the June Bank Holiday weekend for the inaugural Wave Regatta.

Racing under IRC rating and ECHO handicaps, six classes while boats have the option of competing on all three days starting on Friday 1st June or selecting only the traditional Lambay Race on Saturday 2nd June.

Joggerknot J109 2756J109 East Coast winner Joggerknot (Andrew Algeo) Photo:

The Kelly's meet a 15-strong line up including Andrew Algeo's Juggerknot the Royal Irish yacht that won the J109 East Coast Championships a fortnight ago. Also in that line up is the core group of Algeo's RIYC club mates from Dun Laoghaire such as Tim Goodbody's White Mischief, Andrew Craig's Chimaera and triple ICRA champion Joker II, skippered by John Maybury. But it's not all Js, yet more RIYC campaigners heading for Howth waters include the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Champion Rockabill VI, a JPK10.80 skippered by Paul O'Higgins and Colin Byrne's XP 33 Bon Exemple. Byrne, in particular, has familiarised himself with the Ireland's Eye race track by finishing third overall last weekend at the 1720 Europeans.

Approximately one-third of the fleet have opted for the one-day event meaning that the remaining two days will also be a 100-boat regatta. Racing for local one-designs and classic Howth 17’s is also included in the line-up.

Checkmate Dave cullen 0385Howth's Director of Racing for Wave Regatta, Dave Cullen is competing on the half tonner Checkmate XV Photo:

Nigel Biggs Checkmate XVIII in Class 2 has a 20–strong opposition to contend with including potential challengers such as Anthony O’Leary from the Royal Cork YC on his modified 1720 Antix Beag and half-tonners The Big Picture owned by Mike and Ritchie Evans plus Cullen on Checkmate XV.

Silver shamrock Howth half Tonner 1093Conor Fogerty's Silver Shamrock, a vintage Half–Tonner from the host club is entered in class three Photo:

Class 3 is another 20–strong event that includes youth and Under 25 teams from Howth and Galway in the J24 class.

Included in the event is the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) fleet with around 20 boats expected, most racing in Saturday’s Lambay Race that counts towards the ISORA season league, a series currently led by 2017 champion, Mojito from Pwllheli Sailing Club.

Sea Breezes Expected

Fine weather with sea breezes is expected plus an unrivalled hospitality experience ashore has attracted huge interest including 50 visiting boats.

Howth weather forecastForecasters, such as XC Weather, are predicting light winds for Howth but the prospect of sea breezes can boost wind speeds

Over 800 crew-members are expected in addition to family and friends for the evening entertainment programme provided by event sponsor Michael JF Wright Hospitality.

Entries have officially closed but Wave Regatta Director of Racing David Cullen has said every effort will be made to accommodate last-minute boats.

Additional berths have been made available in the marina for visitors as the Howth YC cruising-group has relocated to nearby Malahide. Deep water berths with direct shore access have been arranged by the Howth Harbour Authority.

Wave Regatta aims to provide the best racing and hospitality experience and is on course to be the biggest event of the 2018 season on Ireland’s East Coast. Several initiatives including the Sailors for the Sea programme are being encouraged plus accommodation solutions and a daily ferry sailing at 0815 from Dun Laoghaire’s East Pier to Howth in time for racing.

Sailmaker teams from both North Sails Ireland and UK Sails Ireland will be in attendance at HYC.

Wave programme howthThe Wave Regatta schedule of events

Published in Wave Regatta
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Andrew Algeo’s Juggerknot from the Royal Irish Yacht Club leads a clutch of J109’s into division one of June's Wave Regatta at Howth Yacht Club as the newly crowned East Coast J109 champion but faces plenty of competition under IRC, not least from clubmate Paul O’Higgins JPK1080 that is also preparing for June's Round Ireland Race

“We're very pleased with the response to our Wave Regatta initiative and we’re set to be the biggest keelboat event on the East Coast in 2018,” Brian Turvey, Event Chairman told

“Around 50 boats are visiting from outside Howth and they can be assured of a memorable experience, on and off the water.”

"The class band split means that at least 20 boats are expected each for classes one, two and three"

The class band split means that at least 20 boats are expected each for classes one, two and three where some of the most competitive club boats will be racing.

In Division 2, Nigel Biggs Checkmate XVIII racing under the HYC burgee will face plenty of local talent, especially from Ross McDonald’s Equinox and Michael and Richard Evans on The Big Picture.

Big picture mike evans 0117Local campaign – Howth's Michael and Richard Evans on The Big Picture compete in Class Two Photo:

Three big boats entered in Division Zero create an interesting regional duel as Jamie McWilliam’s Signal 8 from the Royal Hong Kong YC faces Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice from the Royal Cork YC and George Sisk’s WOW! from the Royal Irish YC.

WOW 2887George Sisk’s WOW! from the Royal Irish YC will contest a three boat class zero at the inaugural Wave Regatta. Photo:

IRC – ECHO Class Rating Splits for Wave Regatta

Class Zero IRC > 1.065  (Echo Standard > 1.065) Class One IRC 1.0000 – 1.064 (Echo Standard 1.000 – 1.064)

Class Two IRC 0.940 – 0.999 (Echo Standard 0.940 – 0.999)
Class Three IRC < 0.939 (Echo Standard < 0.939)

Class Four Echo Standard > 0.955
Class Five Echo Standard < 0.954

In Classes 0 to 3, a yacht’s IRC handicap will take priority

Musical Taste & Culinary Palette

Ashore, something for almost every musical taste and culinary palette will be on offer over the three days as Howth Yacht Club is transformed into an event site featuring a performance stage, casual food stalls, tapas bar options and semi-formal clubhouse dining.

Sailing Instructions

Howth Yacht Club has released key event information with just ten days remaining before racing gets underway.

Crews have the option of competing over three-days or just the classic Lambay Race on Saturday 2nd June.

The overall entry currently stands at 125 boats with late entries expected to take the number higher. The entry deadline expires today (Wednesday 23rd May) but the organising committee has opted to waive the €50 late entry fee for inaugural event for entries received no later than Wednesday 30th May.

Official documents including the handicap class bands, Sailing Instructions as well as the extensive social programme staged by event sponsor Michael JF Wright Hospitality are all available for download on the event website 

Further information available from the event website here

Published in Wave Regatta
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Howth Yacht Club's Wave Regatta is set to be the biggest sailing club event on the East coast in 2018 and aims to deliver great racing afloat with an unmissable entertainment programme ashore. The arrival of Ireland’s long-awaited Summer weather has been matched by an increase in entries for next month’s inaugural Wave Regatta on the June Bank Holiday weekend (June 1st-3rd).

Entries currently stand at over 110 boats with the addition of almost 20 teams from the Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association (ISORA) fleet. See the HYC Wave entry list here

Crews can choose between a three-day series or the traditional Lambay Race on Saturday 2nd.

Rockabill 1778 2Paul O’Higgins's Royal Irish based Rockabill VI was an early entry in the inaugural Wave Regatta Photo:

“The long-awaited warm weather has finally arrived and the sailing season is catching-up. Since last week, we’ve seen a surge in interest for Wave Regatta so our previous goal of 100 boats looks set to be comfortably exceeded,” said Brian Turvey, Wave Regatta Organising chairman. “We have lined-up an incredible programme of racing and entertainment that we want to be our baseline for this regatta every two years. This inaugural event is going to be unmissable!”

"Crews can choose between a three–day series or the traditional Lambay Race"

In addition to the ISORA boats, the Dun Laoghaire Ruffian class has confirmed that it will include the Lambay Race as a ’starred’ event.

Additional marina berths will be available for visiting boats and Howth Harbour has arranged deep-water pontoon berthing with direct shore access accessible at all states of tide for bigger boats.

Visiting crews can avail of a special morning ferry service leaving Dun Laoghaire daily at 0815 to arrive in time for racing while local accommodation solutions are available at the on-site campervan facility and new AirBNB options for those preferring to stay local.

Ruffian 23 1289the Dun Laoghaire Ruffian class has confirmed that it will include the Lambay Race as a ’starred’ event Photo:
Wave Regatta is also staging a series of initiatives in support of the Sailors for the Sea programme including installation of a permanent drinking water station at the club and providing reusable water bottles to every crew member in the event. Plastic beer drink containers and straws will also be banned and bike racks are being provided inside the club.

Silver shamrock 1050Howth Yacht Club's famous new arrival, the vintage World Championship winning Silver Shamrock is entered for the Wave Regatta Photo:
Of the entries received to date, J80 Sportsboats that include Howth YC’s ‘Taste of Racing’ fleet are one end of the boat spectrum leading all the way up to 36–foot J109’s and bigger. As previously reported, Conor Phelan’s Jump Juice from the Royal Cork YC will also be racing head to head with Jamie McWilliam’s Royal Hong Yacht Club team on Signal 8.

Puppeteer 22 footers that form the backbone of Howth Yacht Club’s racing fleet will be following the classic Lambay Race format while the traditional Howth 17 footers have rallied five boats despite the damage to the historic fleet wreaked in recent storms. The ‘seventeens’ will also race on Sunday close to the pier, adding to the weekend spectacle.

Entry forms and entertainment programme information are available here

Published in Wave Regatta
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