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Displaying items by tag: Autumn League

While today’s galaxy of our top international sailing talent draws in its stars from many parts of Ireland to focus their energies and campaigns through a relatively few major centres, there was a time when one charming little estuary village north of Dublin produced much more than its fair share of exceptionally talented sailors. These included four Olympic sailing representatives, one of whom became a Silver Medallist. W M Nixon finds himself musing on Malahide while savouring the first race of the MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz Autumn League at Howth Yacht Club.

A good Autumn League race is sailing at its best, and last Saturday’s Mercedes-Benz League opener at Howth was vintage stuff, with 103 boats shaping up to their various starts on two course areas to round out a season of mixed weather and great achievements.

It was a classic ridge day between Friday’s heavy rain and Sunday’s rising gales, and it started as such a total meteorological punctuation mark between two vigorous weather systems that the more pessimistic anticipated an all-day calm. But with racing beginning at the very civilised time of 2.30 pm, a building south to southeast breeze was able to fill in sufficiently to provide excellent racing without continuing to strengthen or become cold to an uncomfortable level. And while clouds tried to develop, in time they melted away to enable that extraordinary September sunlight to work its magic again.

There’s such a variety of craft taking part in the Howth event year after year that, to do it justice and get the full flavour, Sailing-on-Saturday tries to bluff its way on board a completely different boat for the first race each September. So having done it last year with Algy Pearson on the Puppeteer 22 Trick-or-Treat for a classic One Design ding-dong, and the previous year with Stephen O’Flaherty with his exquisite Spirit 54 Soufriere and his energetic crew with their many permutations of asymmetrics and whatever, for 2016 everything pointed to a seriously veteran cruiser racing in one of the non-Spinnaker classes, and we struck gold with a quick phone call to Robert Michael.

He and his wife Rose have owned the Jeanneau Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide since 1989, and their 27 happy years with this very sensible Philippe Briand-designed sloop could provide a useful case study of how to organise and make best use of a good all round performance cruiser based in Ireland.

Sun Fizz 40 Mystique Malahide 2Malahide may be her spiritual home, but it’s at Howth she does much of her sailing. The successful Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide sails sweetly past the gannetry on The Stack at Ireland’s Eye off Howth. Photo: John Deane

In her day, with production at a peak in Europe from 1980 to 1984, despite her relatively sedate looks the Sun Fizz 40 was deservedly a best-seller. So much so, in fact, that with her manageable size incorporating really good accommodation, it was said that when Jeanneau stopped building her, the moulds ended up in the US for another production run with some local mods for the American market.

That used to be dismissed as a waterfront myth. But a brief research session will reveal the existence across the Atlantic of the very familiar-looking O’Day 39 and O’Day 40, rendering further denial pointless. So those who were in on the early days of the Sun Fizz 40 were trend-setters in a trans-European trans-Atlantic movement, and when the first ones finally arrived in Ireland in 1982, delayed not by a lack of enthusiasm but by a sluggish economy and outrageous VAT rates on new boats, we eventually managed a boat test for Afloat Magazine.

But that wasn’t until September 1983, when there was no doubting the recently-acquired boat was second-hand. Yet it was worth the wait, for we liked this attractive “soncey big boat”. That favourable view came from Dick Brown of Weatherly Yachts in County Down, who had taken fifth overall in the 1982 Round Ireland Race in a new Sun Fizz 40 which had been the first one on the island, but had come into Northern Ireland ownership as the tax rates there weren’t so punitive.

As it happens, I did the Sun Fizz 40 test (it appeared in the magazine in November 1983) with the late Brian Hegarty, a leading example of those highly-accomplished offshore racing and serious cruising people who emerged from the sail training school which was Malahide. So it seemed entirely appropriate that when the actual boat we’d tested joined mainstream sailing in 1989, she became Mystique of Malahide, owned by Robert & Rose Michael.

Sun Fizz Yacht 3The Boat Test for the Sun Fizz 40 which eventually became Mystique of Malahide, published in the November 1983 Afloat magazine

Those who are strangers to the ways of Fingal will find it curious that people whose sailing is so totally related to Howth seem to be completely intertwined with Malahide as well. Yet Robert was HYC Commodore in 1996-1997, while Rose is lead fund-raiser for the Howth Branch of the lifeboats to such good effect that she has twice been awarded the RNLI Gold Badge.

But their boats have long had “of Malahide” as an integral part of the name, and they wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else other than in their childhood home of Malahide, a place which has its own distinctive and distinguished sailing history.

However, as Malahide was a very small village within living memory, it took a while for its sailing infrastructure to catch up with the rest of Ireland. Initially it was just a boatyard with motley craft anchored off, including a couple of locally-based cruisers which sometimes found negotiating the very shoal sand bar at the entrance a trying business, for if you got it wrong there was no way of disguising the fact from your friends and neighbours.

Then a flotilla of Mermaids – some of them very successful - began to put Malahide on the sailing map, and in 1958 Malahide Sailing Club –now Malahide Yacht Club - came into being, one of the reasons being that the damming of the arches under the railway embankment across the upper estuary of Broadmeadow Water in order to prevent pillar erosion had given the local sailors an entirely new permanent sailing nursery to match the estuary and open sea sailing they could access below the embankment.

This facilitated the very rapid growth of a class of Enterprise dinghies – mostly home built - which provided another outlet for Malahide’s prodigious reserves of potential sailing talent, which had already put down a marker when the young Burrows brothers Richard and Johnny, with local lad Robin Hennessy as crew, had sailed their Mermaid the long haul to Wexford on a camping cruise in order to take part in the Mermaid Nationals, and duly returned with the trophy.

In fact the Burrows family – the children of noted Malahide-resident environmentalist, ecologist and extremely hard-working journalist George Burrows – exploded on the Irish sailing scene, and it was altogether typical of their style that Richard and Johnny did the Round Britain and Ireland Race in a little Shipman 28, newly-built in Limerick, at a time when they were also devoting much energy to building their working careers.

That was the Malahide way: work hard and sail hard. In a relatively short period it produced people like Robin Hennessy who won the Dragon Gold Cup in 1972 with such style that he was odds-on favourite for a Medal at the 1972 Olympics, only for a key crewmember to be struck down by a debilitating virus, and Robert Dix, who at 17 became the youngest-ever winner of the Helmsman’s Championship of Ireland in 1970, and represented Ireland in the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

However, it was 1980 when an Olympic Silver Medal finally came the way of Malahide with David Wilkins hitting the target in Tallinn. But while that is inevitably most remembered in this year of all years, there were many other outstanding achievements for the by-now rapidly growing estuary village, with another formidable talent emerging with the many successes – both inshore and offshore - of sailmaker Philip Watson, who like many others of Malahide, had first made his mark in Enterprise racing.

A remarkable pace had already been set when Robin Hennessy, crewed by Malahide clubmate Robert Michael, won the “British Helmsman’s Championship”, the Endeavour Trophy, in 1968 when it was sailed in Enterprises. Crewman Robert Michael – “Micko” to everyone – had learned his sailing in an unusual way. For though his family lived in the heart of Malahide, as a hospital doctor his father had a month’s clear leave every summer. Thus the family high-tailed it for the peak of the summer to the family place in Sneem in County Kerry, where young Robert learned about sailing through trial and error with a well-worn International 12 dinghy.

But by the age of 15 back home in Malahide, he was skippering a loaned Mermaid and that in turn led on to a stellar competitive sailing career that included racing with Sean Flood when they won the Irish Dragon Championship with Aletta.

The trouble with an idyllic sailing childhood such as Malahide provided in its developing days is that, in due course, adulthood intrudes. In time, Micko found himself becoming an item with near neighbour Rose Burrows, who had herself been a top achiever in Enterprises before taking off for a spell working in the big yachts in the Mediterranean. Having got together again, in order to make a living they each started complementary businesses in the security industry.

Robert found himself running his own company called Security Wardens. But as that was a 24/7 occupation, he needed the outlet of brief but guaranteed sailing relaxation, and it was provided with the winter-long Sunday morning Laser Frostbite series which had been inaugurated in Howth in 1974. It has been running every winter ever since, thereby giving the Howth club a continuous sailing programme since Opening Day in April 1974.

Malahide 4Malahide (above) has its own distinctive sailing history, yet many of its leading enthusiasts prefer to berth their boats at Howth seven miles away (below)

Howth Harbour Aerial

However, for the increasingly over-worked Robert Michael, inevitably he took on board the notion that Malahide was for living and shore life and going to work, but Howth was for sailing. So in 1982 – by which time he and Rose had a family with two daughters Lucy and Cathy, but they also had a new Moody 29, Mystique of Malahide – they naturally put their names down for a berth in Howth’s proposed club marina, for this was a clear ten years before anything like a marina was developed seven miles away at home in Malahide.

There were many other Malahide boat owners who did the same, so in that exciting but tricky time in the 1980s when Howth was in the process of transforming itself from a small local organization into one of the biggest clubs in the country with its own state-of-the-art marina, HYC Commodore Tom Fitzpatrick sensibly decided that the significant Malahide group in the club should be properly represented in its administration. He invited Robert Michael to let his name go forward for election to the committee, and the rest is history, as the Malahide man became a popular Commodore in 1996, while Rose in turn was taking over her mother Daisy’s key role in running the fund-raising for Howth Branch RNLI.

And although Malahide has had its own marina for 24 years now with the entrance channel marked and dredged, most of those Malahide sailors who took the big step of signing up for Howth marina back in 1982 have stayed on, and it would be impossible to overestimate the positive contribution the “Malahide crowd” make to Howth sailing.

In fact, they’re maybe getting the best of it, as their lives are more clearly defined. Leafy comfortable Malahide is for civilised day-to-day living, but rugged workaday fishing-minded Howth – only about twenty minutes away - is for boats and sailing. The Malahide folk know where they stand, whereas those of us who live on the Howth peninsula itself, and particularly right beside the harbour, can sometimes be a bit confused.

Certainly a sense of orderly progress and personal development is the abiding impression of the way things have worked out for Robert and Rose Michael. With the Moody 29 Mystique of Malahide, they not only day-sailed and cruised this comfortable boat, but they raced her with vigour in club and regional events with considerable success, which would have delighted designer Bill Dixon, for he knew the Moody 29 was a good ’un, but he didn’t realize she was quite that good.

Early each season with a pack of the lads, Robert would take the little Moody for a successful foray to the annual Scottish Series in Tarbert, but once he and Rose had moved up to the Sun Fizz 40, this pattern became modified. While the bigger Mystique of Malahide was fine for club racing and series like the Autumn League at Howth, and also added an overall win in the Lambay race to her CV, the fact that she likes a decent and preferably steady breeze hampered her performance at Tarbert, yet each passage up there reminded her crew of just what a super boat she was for comfortable fast cruising.

Sun Fizz 40 6The Sun Fizz 40’s roomy accommodation can sleep six, but she’s an ideal cruising boat for up to six. The galley may seem decidedly compact, but as the large chart table has a level rather than desk-type top, it is used as an extension of the galley in port.
So while Robert and his old mates still took off for ten days towards Scotland at the end of May each year, they now went outside the Mull of Kintyre for a busy cruise of the nearer Hebrides, and this proved such a successful seasonal opener that other Malahide-yachts-from-Howth would join with them in some years for a mini cruise-in-company.

Aboard Mystique of Malahide, they enjoy a club-organised Cruise-in-Company provided it leaves them with plenty of space to do their own thing, and their furthest south cruise found them in the wonderful Morbihan on France’s Biscay coast after an Irish Cruising Club cruise-in-company in Brittany.

This year, the 150th Anniversary of the Royal Ulster YC on Belfast Lough provided provided a Cruise-in-Company to Scotland with the ICC and the Clyde Cruising Club, but that only got the fleet as far as Tobermory. For many this was far enough, as Scotland was experiencing it rainiest summer in many years. But the folk on Mystique of Malahide were determined to get to Skye, and though they didn’t get clear of the rain completely, they managed a clear day when anchored in the wild and mysterious Loch Scavaig in the heart of Skye’s Cuilin Mountains, and they’d another unexpectedly perfect summer’s evening at the enchanted Skye anchorage of Isle Ornsay.

Loch Scavaig 7Mystique of Malahide anchored in Loch Scavaig among Skye’s Cuilin mountains which, as legend would have it, are named for Cuchulain. Photo: Lucy Michael

The charm of cruising is its unexpected delights, and heading south again after three days of continuous rain, a pet day came through to provide a weather window for photographer daughter Lucy to record the puffins on the Treshnish Islands west of Mull. The only other place I’ve ever seen puffins in such profusion is among the Shiant Isles up in the North Minch, yet there they seemed very wary of our little boat (she was only a 25-footer), so much so that I commented on their shyness, to which the sardonic shipmate responded that if you’d a nose like that, you’d be shy…..

Yet the crew of Mystique of Malahide found that the many puffins of Treshnish weren’t at all shy of people, as their presence meant the puffin population was temporarily protected from the usual predators such as gulls and crows. After three days of rain, the place was a hive of activity with the entire puffin population busy cleaning out their burrows, so much so that Rose was reminded of the spring cleaning season in Malahide in the old days. And now, she remembers that enchanted day with the puffins of Treshnish as the highlight of the cruise, despite the other recollections of the entertaining camaraderie of the cruise-in-company, the sheer majesty of the Cuillins, and the joys of a good sail when the weather relented.

So in joining Mystique of Malahide for the first race of the Mercedes-Benz Autumn League last Saturday afternoon afternoon, I was stepping aboard a well-loved boat which was hoping to round out a very complete season with a good final racing series. Although we raced against this Mystique with our 35-footer for many years just as previously we’d raced against the Moody 29 with our former 30-footer, it was probably the first time I’d sailed with Robert & Rose, and it was certainly interesting to see what had happened to the boat since I last examined her in detail in 1983.

Robert Michael is one of those handymen who is never happier than beavering away in his workshop at home making or improving little bits and pieces for the boat, all of which make her more comfortable, but she is still basically the same boat which, in the French style of the 1980s, can sleep ten if you really wish it, but mercifully she is provided with two toilets, so she’s an extremely civilized and comfortable boat for up to six people to go cruising, knowing that you can take more from time to time if need be.

Her rig is compact and attractively seamanlike – she has one of those forestays attached about half a metre from the masthead which very usefully prevent any tendency to spar inversion - while the lengths of her double spreaders has been carefully calculated so that they really do the job they’re required to do very well, but aren’t overlength, enabling the genoa to be set to perfection.

Philippe Briand got it right in 1980, it still looks very right, and when the breeze freshened in to the perfect strength for Mystique, our crew were determined to give of their best in the up-coming race against sixteen boats, a goodly turnout which, despite it being a non-spinnaker division, included some talented and determined helms whom we knew wouldn’t give an inch.

Stephen Flaherty Spirit 54 Soufriere 8Long and lean and lovely – Stephen O’Flaherty’s Spirit 54 Soufriere shaping up for her start. Photo: W M Nixon

Nowhat from Galway Bay Sailing Club 9The men from the west. Nowhat from Galway Bay Sailing Club has come over to the East Coast for the Mercedes-Benz Autumn League at Howth, in which her predecessor Joggernaut (Donal Morrissey) used to race regularly. Photo: W M Nixon9
But before the start, there was the usual pre-race sociability of sailing among the fleet and saluting friends old and new, including the Galway crew with Nowhat who’d come across country to do the Howth series just as, in times past, Donal Morrissy and his Galway crew with Joggernaut contributed to so much to the East Coast’s Autumn festival

With the President of the Irish Sailing Association, no less, as Principal Race Officer on HYC’s highly individual Committee Boat, there was a sense of occasion, but the imperatives of racing took over. It could have been any start in any venue, it was the here and now that mattered, and with Colm Bermingham with his successful Elan 333 Bite the Bullet not giving us an inch of spare space, the hefty big Mystique of Malahide found herself right at the Committeee Boat very close on the line as the start sounded.

First 40.7 Tiger 10The First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen Harris & Frank Hughes) calmly keeping things under control before the start of a race she was to win convincingly.

Bite the Bullet 11 They didn’t give us a square inch to move about in. Colm Bermingham’s Bite the Bullet gives Mystique a hard time with 17 seconds still to go and the space evaporating in at the committee boat. Photo: W M Nixon

It was a start so good it was surely too good to be true, and almost immediately the recall sounded and the radio squawked: “One boat over the line”. It was something which could have been debated on board Mystique, but being minimally crewed we’d had no-one at the stemhead. The only option was taking the medicine. There was soon a gap through which we could make our escape and gybe back round the Committee Boat to re-start. Not a doddle by any means with a hefty big boat like a Sun Fizz 40, but here we were, starting again, but this time lying very sixteenth with an awful lot of work to do to get back in the races.

mys tique12Mystique starts to mix it again with the rest of the fleet after losing out with a recall. Photo: W M Nixon

mark rounding 13Anticipating what’s going to happen in a mark-rounding makes up about 50% of racing success. Micko looking remarkably calm on the helm after picking up four places with one particularly good rounding. Photo: W M Nixon

But Mystique and her helmsman did themselves and us proud. Gradually we started picking off the other boats, and in one memorably perfect mark-rounding, we took four places at a stroke. The pace intensified towards the finish as we began to get among boats we should have been racing with throughout - it was real racing with the Howth and Ireland’s Eye coastline looking its best in the returned sunshine. As we squeaked across the line to snatch sixth on the water by three seconds from Richard McAllister’s Force Five, it was with a feeling we might even be in single figures on corrected time.

Mystique of Malahide YachtThe final stages of the race provided a proper ding-dong with another Malahide owner, Richard McAllister with Force Five……..Photo: W M Nixon

Richard McAllister Force Five yacht …..and at the finish, Mystique was three seconds ahead. Photo: W M Nixon

Later in the evening, we learned it was rather better than that. Although there was no way we were going to challenge Stephen Harris with the all-conquering First 40.7 Tiger which had sailed a wellnigh perfect race to win every which way from Harry Byrne’s Sunrise 34 Alphida with Dermot Skehan’s MG 345 Tough Nut third, it turned out we’d the three three sixes – sixth on the water, sixth on IRC, and sixth on ECHO.

More than reasonable in the circumstances. But as our day generally had been more than reasonable in terms of sailing enjoyment, we were in no particular hurry to get ashore to find out the actual results, and lingered over the traditional post-race sausages in the cockpit in more summery conditions than Howth has experienced for most of the supposed summer.

mystique of Malahide Yacht CrewOnly five to race a forty footer – Mystique’s crew are (left to right) Lucy Michael, Rose Michael, Robert Michael, John O’Reilly and John Derham. Photo: W M Nixon

Ian Malcolms 1898 built Aura16aIt wouldn’t be Howth without the Seventeens….The Harbour’s oldest class return to their moorings after Ian Malcolm’s 1898-built Aura had won from Peter Courtney’s Oona with Hera (Michael & Jane Duffy) third. Photo: W M Nixon

Post Race Sausages17Summer comes to Howth at last, but in September. The Post Race Sausages are a Mystique tradition, but you can’t always enjoy them in the cockpit. Photo: W M Nixon

Up in the club the joint was heaving within and without, as they’d to get through all the post-race business of the first contest of the Mercedes-Benz Autumn League, and then re-focus the place entirely for the black tie ball which was to mark the final rounding out of Gary “Ted” Sargent’s epic One Wild Ride sail round Ireland in a Laser during the first part of the season, a project which has raised a truly remarkable €27,000 for ChildVision.

So with one thing and another it was Sunday evening by the time I phoned the skipper of Mystique to thank him again for Saturday’s sport and the sheer pleasure of sailing with good shipmates on a properly-used boat. We yarned of this and that, and then he closed the conversation in typically Micko style.

“Just one final thing before you go” says he. “I think you should know we weren’t actually over the line at the start. It was Terry McCoy who was OCS……”

Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide18The gallant war horse rests up after busy day. The Sun Fizz 40 Mystique of Malahide has been giving exemplary service for 33 years now, and is very well with it. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in W M Nixon

Howth Yacht Club's 37th year of its Autumn League begins this Saturday at 2:30pm and repeats each Saturday (with the exception of October 1st) until the final day on the 22nd of October. 

As the entries to Howth Yacht Club's autumnal 6-week keelboat racing series still keep coming, it looks as though the weather will provide a kind window for the competitors, race management teams and sponsors MSL Park Motors and their Mercedes-Benz brand. Led by the experienced heads of Harry Gallagher and Richard Kissane, the race management team have put together a series of courses for the 6 weeks that include the option of setting Windward-Leeward races. Two fleets will be managed on separate race courses - the 'Inshore Fleet' includes the one-design classes (Squibs, Howth Seventeens, Puppeteers, Sailfleet J80s) and also Class 3. The ISA Sailfleet J80s will race in a class themselves - the 'Taste of Racing' class, which brings together many of those people who took part in the club's Adult Sail Training courses during the year and offers individuals an opportunity to mix and race with different team each week. They will be skippered by experienced and notable Howth keelboat racing–types including Noel Davidson, Fergus O'Kelly, Brian McDowell and others.

The 'Offshore Fleet' will include cruiser racing Classes 1 and 2, as well as the non-spinnaker Classes 4 and 5. Class 2 includes the club's newest assets, where up to five of the HYC J80s (and at least one notable addition in Dominic O'Keefe's J80 'Graduate' from RIYC) will compete in a class that appears to be the 'centre of gravity' for Howth keelboat racing and also includes the Half-Tonners - Harmony, Checkmate, King One and The Big Picture.

In a step away from the traditional 6-weekends-in-a-row, the event breaks for a week on October 1st - perhaps to allow sailors to get the grass cut, watch the Ryder Cup, sail in the J109 Nationals or perhaps representing their class at the ISA Senior All Ireland Sailing Championships in RCYC. But for those that won't fall into those categories, HYC will be running a 'Coastal Race' for all classes.

Published in Howth YC

Like the Last Supper the best weather was kept for the final day of the CH Marine Autumn League in Cork Harbour writes Claire Bateman. A brisk nor westerly breeze greeted the Royal Cork Yacht Club competitors. As usual, there were three race areas. Whitesail One and Two with Class Four were sailing down off the Eastern Bank and due to the nor westerly nature of the wind the courses were somewhat shorter with a lot of mark rounding .

The 1720s elected to go out an hour early to get an extra race in such was the enthusiasm of the class and they were able to get the full benefit from the direction of the wind by sailing right across the harbour where they were like greyhounds chasing around the course.

Classes One, Two and Three were in the outer harbour again today and they were given the B type course, which is the triangle course, and this gave great racing. R0 Peter Crowley decided that they would not finish in at the grassy today because it was felt the wind could be a bit flukey inside the harbour.

It was a day that one could use the old reliable description of champagne sailing with blue sea and sky, perfect breeze, and a very fitting end to the CH Marine Autumn League.

Published in Royal Cork YC

On Saturday Howth Yacht Club celebrated the completion of one of its most successful Autumn Leagues, managing to complete the full series of six consecutive races for the second year in a row. One hundred keelboats entered this year's MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz sponsored event, with nine classes racing and boats competing for 17 trophies across the scratch, IRC, ECHO and handicap divisions. The major overall prizes were won by Checkmate XV (Heineken Trophy for top boat) and the team Splashdance-Starlet-Trick or Treat (Olympus Team Trophy)

The final day's racing conditions belied the calendar date and seemed more like late-spring sailing with a 10-12 knot northeasterly wind and sunny skies. The 060 degrees wind direction meant that many of the race leaders in the Offshore (Cruisers) and Inshore (One-design) fleets had to strain their eyes to find the windward racing marks such as 'Talbot' and 'Osprey' in a lumpy sea state. But they did, and this final race turned out to be the deciding one in many of the fleets. Pat Kelly's J109 Storm continues to be the boat to beat in Class 1 IRC at this event, although the Gregory/ Breen/ Hogg owned Beneteau First 34.7 Flashback finished just 2 points behind, having had a recent flurry of good form and also winning the final race as well as the overall ECHO prize.

With their worst score being a discarded 2nd place, Dave Cullen and his team on their half-tonner Checkmate XV capped an excellent season by winning Class 2 IRC and by 3.5 points from Stephen Quinn's J97 Lambay Rules. Jonny Swan's half-tonner Harmony won the ECHO prize.

Their fourth win from the six races put Howth's young K25 Team firmly at the top of Class 3 IRC in their J24 Kilcullen and a full 6 points clear of Vince Gaffney's Alliance II. On the ECHO leaderboard in the same class, a premature start and resulting OCS score that had to be discarded did not stop Joss Walsh and team on White Hunter celebrating their first event victory in the ECHO division from the Ray/ Costello Jeanneau Sunlight 30 Tobago.

Bringing the sponsor on board for their Class 4 race was to add extra pressure for Howard McMullen and Mossy Shanahan's on Splashdance, but MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Brand Manager Dean Fullston helped them to win the IRC prize by the closest of margins from Paul Tully's White Lotus. The ECHO prize was one by Kieran Jameson's Changeling.

One might have expected the light winds during this year's event to hold back the performance of some of the heavier boats, but not so for Harry Byrne's Sunrise 34 Alphida, taking first place in Class 5 IRC from Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis's Club Shamrock Demelza. Richard McAllister's Force Five won the ECHO prize by a huge 14 margin over Rum Doodle.

With the ISA Sailfleet J80s being used in Dun Laoghaire for the All Ireland Senior Sailing Championships, only one race was completed in the series, won by Howth's Alistair Kissane. The Puppeteer class had no such distractions and their scratch division was a hard-fought event for the top half of the fleet and eventually won by Alan Pearson and his team on Trick or Treat from Scorie Walls and Declan Browne's Gold Dust. A finish-line 'altercation' in the 5th week and the resulting protest would appear to have been the decisive moment in this fiercely fought series and occupied lots of time in the bar conversations afterwards! Gerry Kennedy and his team on Schiggy won the handicap prize.

Jeff Kay and Emer Harte shared the respective scratch and handicap spoils in the Squib class on Jeff's Chatterbox and Emer's Puffin and another very close finish saw the top boats separated by just a few points in the Howth 17 class - with Peter Courtney's Oona winning from the 117 year-old Hera (Michael and Jane Duffy). Roddy Cooper's Leila won the handicap prize.

This year's Autumn League finished with the usual lively dinner - with over 250 people dining and staying late to enjoy the live entertainment afterwards. MSL Park Motors' Dean Fullston was full of praise for the sailors and Howth Yacht Club in his address at the prizegiving, saying that 'it was a great pleasure for the Mercedes Benz team to come to Howth each week during the event' and that the Autumn League continues to be 'a great event for MSL Park Motors to be associated with, affording a unique opportunity to be part of the event, club and sport'. In reply, HYC Commodore Brian Turvey added that 'MSL Park Motors and their Mercedes Benz brand add huge value and support to the event and the club members, sailors and visitors are delighted with this association.' He also thanked event chairman Feargal Kinsella and his race management teams, shore and organisational teams, as well as the club staff for helping to continue to ensure that the Autumn League remains a premier keelboat event in the annual racing calendar.

Results here

Published in Howth YC

Five out of five races have been sailed for Autumn League competitors in the MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Autumn League  at Howth Yacht Club. With all races now completed by the competing classes, hopes are high that this year's event will replicate the success of last year and that the full schedule of racing will be completed, assisted so far by the fair weather conditions.

Next week's final race sees an earlier start time with the first warning signals for both Inshore and Offshore fleets scheduled for 13:00. 

HYC's Autumn League will conclude with the final day's racing followed by the prizegiving for the last 2 races and then the overall prizegiving at approximately 18:30. It is expected that more than 250 diners will enjoy the 'Food From the Seven Seas' themed event dinner which begins immediately after the prizegiving and includes some special prize draws after which the entertainment continues with the excellent 'Harleys' - playing live in the lounge.

Published in Howth YC

With six races already sailed at Royal Cork Yacht Club's CH Marine Autumn Series and one discard, there are now four races left to sail in the event writes Claire Bateman. It was a regular autumnal day yesterday, a bit grey in the harbour but at Roche’s Point it was somewhat brighter but with a bit of a lop brought about by a largely E/NE light wind and a flood tide going in the opposite direction. Fleets One, two and three were given a windward/leeward course and at the weather mark in Class One Rob McConnell’s Fools Gold came in on port with Conor Doyle’s Freya arriving on starboard and Fools Gold having exonerated herself then proceeded to go on to win in IRC.

fools gold Royal cork

Fools Gold and Freya close in at the weather mark. More photos in Bob Bateman's gallery above.

Alpaca royal cork

Paul Tingle's Alpaca leads in Class two

In Class Two IRC Paul Tingle’s Alpaca had two firsts and has a good lead over her two closest rivals, the Crosbie family on No Excuse and the Desmond/Ivers/Deasy Bad Company. For the second race RO Peter Crowley did his usual clever trick of giving the fleet a race and then finishing them off the Grassy.

white magic royal cork

Celebrations on the Albin Express White Magic

Class Four sailed inside the harbour as did White sail One and Two. Class Four has turned into a cracker (no pun intended)of a battle between Clare competitor Denis Byrne in his Ed Dubois TS 250 and Alan Mulcahy’s Albin Express White Magic. Both had a win today and are joint leaders on seven points each in IRC.Blank Zig Mosaic copy

The 1720 fleet were having their usual exciting racing but with the lighter winds did not produce any unexpected surprises. Denis Murphy’s Aquatack took the three bullets today.

Next Sunday will see the penultimate day of racing for the league with the final day of racing on the following Saturday, October 24th.

Published in Royal Cork YC

After what might prove to be the last of the mild autumnal weather for the MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Autumn League in Howth Yacht Club this weekend, the completion of the fourth race in this series means that a discard now applies, allowing the competing boats to rid themselves of their worst score and concentrating the minds of the strategists.

On the Inshore 'one-design fleet' Course, some very close racing has led to four boats battling for the scratch prize, with Algie Pearson's Trick or Treating leading the chasing pack that includes Gold Dust, Yellow Peril and Harlequin. The Murphy/ Costello owned Yellow Peril is also in the leading position on handicap scoring, with 3 points separating them from Gerry Kennedy's Schiggy. Discarding an initial 'Did Not Start' for the first race of the series, Jeff Kay's Chatterbox completed a hat-trick of wins in the Squib class ensuring top spot in the scratch competition as well as dominating the handicap division. As per the Notce of Race, it should be noted that boats receiving scratch or IRC prizes (daily and overall) are not eligible for performance-rated handicap prizes. A second place this week for Peter Courtney's Howth 17 Oona consolidates their team's position at the top of the scratch leaderboard, putting it up to the chasing fleet within the 117 year-old class. They also top the handicap division which, as noted previously, sees 2nd placed Hera as the real contender once not appearing on the scratch division podium.

On the more northerly racecourse, the cruiser classes also encountered light winds and tricky conditions. However Pat Kelly's J109 Storm demonstrated that it's name belies the ability to manage the light airs with equal authority and will give 2nd placed Flashback no favours as both boats contend the Class 1 IRC honours over the remaining 2 weeks. Whilst it's far from over just yet, Flashback and Dear Prudence may be left to battle for the ECHO prize. Another win for Dave Cullen and crew on Checkmate XV sees them just 2 points clear of 2nd-placed Lambay Rules in Class 2 IRC while all the prominent IRC teams also dominate the ECHO pole positions - that prize is certainly up for grabs.

In Class 3, the HYC K25 team on Kilcullen showed their strength in their squad by finishing second in IRC and consolidating their top spot despite many of their team contending the ISA Senior All Ireland Helmsman's Championships in Dun Laoghaire this weekend. It would appear to this writer that Tobago could be prominently positioned to battle for the ECHO prize by the end of the series. In Class 4, White Lotus and Splashdance share top spot in the IRC division, while the maths suggest that Changeling might be clearing a spot on the mantlepiece for the ECHO prize. The Class 5 fleet is an extraordinary combination of experience and racing prowess, with Harry Byrne's Alphida leading the IRC division from Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis' Demelza and Robert Micheal's Mistique of Malahide. With 2 races to go, and in the ECHO division, all eyes will be on Kevin O'Byrne's Mary Ellen and Richard McAllister's Force Five.

Published in Howth YC

Last week may have produced conditions lulling us all into a mood of ‘A Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness’ but today sharply reminded the Royal Cork Yacht Club Autumn League competitors of the march on of the season writes Claire Bateman. To day was a gray day with a bite in the wind that came from the E/SE producing 15/20 knots with occasional gusts into the mid twenties. Skies were dark with occasional shafts of sunlight but none of this deterred the enthusiastic sailors as they set out all geared up for the weather.

Even as your scribe was heading out for the start there was already a 1720 limping home with a broken mast a sure indicator there might be a few more incidents to come and such turned out to be the case. The tales in the club bar afterwards were stories of crew overboard, torn sails, gear damage and protests. One of the Archambauld 35s was seen to be doing something akin to the dance of the seven veils off the Holy Ground at Cobh, fine girl you are!!

CH Marine Autumn League at Royal Cork

While heading out the Owenabue River to the start the harbour looked as if there were no seats left in the house. All racing was inside the harbour today due to the conditions so what we saw first on our port side were the dinghy classes with the Optimists, Toppers and Lasers. Looking ahead one could see the 1720 fleet all on starboard tack as they headed off on their first race of the day and on our starboard side we could see White Sail One and Two and Class Four heading for the Corkbeg mark and looking further in the harbour were Classes One, Two and Three. To complete the picture we had the Irish Lights Vessel Granuaile down off Spike with the Naval Service L.E James Joyce close by and finally to complete the scene a large oil tanker tied up at Whitegate.

All in all it was an extremely busy day for all the willing volunteers who help with the running of the events, the working out of handicaps and all that is necessary for the smooth operation of racing.

There was a short sharp sea as there was an ebb tide going in the opposite direction to the wind making for exhilarating racing if a little uncomfortable for some of the smaller boats at times. A full complement of racing was achieved for the day and so far four races have been held in the CH Marine series and racing will continue next Sunday

Published in Royal Cork YC

The first race of this year’s Howth Yacht Club MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz sponsored Autumn League turned out to be a firm ‘shake-down’ for many of the competitors and their boats this Saturday. The overnight gales had subsided in time for the afternoon starts and almost 100 entries enjoyed lively racing across their nine participating classes in 18-21 knots of wind, flat seas and warm sunshine.

The fresh south-westerly wind enabled the ‘Inshore’ and ‘Offshore’ race management teams set up courses that spanned the full width of the racecourses from the Cush and West marks which are close to the Baldoyle and Portmarnock shores, across to the ‘East’ mark which is positioned north-east of Ireland’s Eye.

The ‘Cruiser’ classes were given a 2-hour race and it was no surprise to see many of the more experienced racing teams finish at the top of each fleet. Pat Kelly’s J109 ‘Storm’ revels in Howth’s annual autumnal keelboat series and emerged victorious in Class 1 while Stephen Quinn’s ‘Lambay Rules’ proved that the team’s recent run of form (including a top spot the Welsh IRC Nationals) will be one to watch in the seriously competitive Class 2 fleet. Other boats racing in this class include Dave Cullen’s ‘Checkmate XV’, the Colwell/Cobbe Corby 25 ‘Fusion’, Anthony Gore Grimes’s ‘Dux’, Michael and Ritchie Evans’s ‘The Big Picture’ and other Half Tonners – Jonny Swan’s ‘Harmony’ and the Kelly/ Boardman owned ‘K1’. The 20 boats entered in this class are all capable of podium positions and many have been champions at other regattas already this year.

Class 3 will see Howth’s K25 team challenge for top spot and affords them the opportunity of rotating their newly expanding team for some competitive racing against the very experienced racers in that Class. The Non-Spinnaker Classes saw a margin of less than a minute separate ‘White Lotus’ and ‘Splashdance’ (Class 4) and a formidable 1,2,3 in Robert Michael’s ‘Mystique’, Harry Byrne’s ‘Alphida’ and Windsor Lauden and Steffi Ennis’s ‘Demelza’ challenge the first race of a very interesting line-up in Class 5.

The ‘Inshore’ classes enjoyed 90-100 minutes racing in the fresh conditions. Alistair Kissane (1st) and Simon Rattigan battled it out on the J80 racecourse, which should see very close racing throughout the series. It was business as usual in the Puppeteer class, where the Walls/Browne partnership in ‘Gold Dust’ started the series with the same determination that won them last year’s overall prize – crossing the finish line 3 seconds ahead of Alan Pearson’s ‘Trick or Treat’. Keeping their powder dry for the remainder of the series, the Squib class boats travelled across the bay to compete in their Eastern Championships this weekend. In the Howth 17 Class race, the average wind speed of just less that 20 knots proved to present a reward for the three boats that dared to fly ‘topsails’, with the respective podium places won by Peter Courtney’s ‘Oona’, the Turvey’s ‘Isobel’ and the ‘Deilginis’ conglomerate. 

The series continues next week….

Published in Howth YC

The final day of the MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz Autumn League was a fitting culmination of a hugely successful 6-weeks keelboat racing for this 35th year of Howth Yacht Club's annual autumnal regatta. The 15-25 knot southerly wind, accompanied by clear blue skies and very warm sunshine, afforded the two race management teams the opportunity to set superb courses north and west of Ireland's Eye.

While rights on some of the silverware had already been secured in the previous week, the boats within the 9 participating classes engaged in a fiercely competitive finish to this series which saw Scorie Walls and Declan Browne's Puppeteer Gold Dust win the Heineken Trophy for the overall prize and the 3-boat team of Rita (Howth 17), Harmony (Class 2) and Gold Dust win the Olympus Trophy team prize.

The forecasted strong wind with gale gusts led some teams to stay ashore on Saturday morning, but those that went to sea were treated with superb racing conditions for the 90-120 minute courses. The one-design fleet was led by the J80 Sailfleet class and a race win for the Phelan/ Sheridan/ Knowles partnership secured them the title from the Flynn/ Buckley boat. In the Puppeteer class, the aforementioned Gold Dust won their final race and the result meant that their margin of 6 points over second-placed Trick or Treat (Alan Pearson) was enough to win the overall regatta prize. In the handicap division, Cyprian Feeley's Cloud 9 took the honours from Susan Sheridan's Ibis which finished level on points but Cloud 9's two race wins early in the series ensured their winning separation from Ibis.The Squibs travelled to the inland regatta at Lough Derg, so their standings from last week's race remained as final. (Fergus O'Kelly's Selik winning on scratch and Ronan McDonnell's Fantome won the handicap prize). Having to do penalty turns early in the Howth 17's race ensured that Brian & Conor Turvey's Isobel put itself out of contention with event winners Rita (Marcus Lynch and John Curley) - the 116 year old did enough to take the scratch prize. Mary Faherty's Sheila won the handicap prize, despite finishing the last race with a DNF (did not finish).

Sailing due east of the one-design courses, the cruiser classes raced in stronger winds and bigger seas and Pat Kelly with his team on Storm revelled in the conditions, securing their 5th win in Class 1 IRC while ICRA Commodore Norbert Reilly and Alan Chambers' Crazy Horse won the ECHO prize. Their 3rd win in Class 2 IRC placed Anthony Gore Grimes and his crew on Dux firmly on the winner's podium. Findlater Viking (Kevin Darmody and Mark Patterson) won the ECHO trophy.

An excellent race win by the HYC Under 25 Keelboat team on Kilcullen was not enough to steal the Class 3 IRC prize despite finishing on the same points as Vince Gaffney's Alliance II as the latter team's 2 race wins in the series afforded them the trophy. Lionel McMurtry's Hellyhunter won the ECHO prize by just half a point from Jonathan Wormald and Sean Walsh's Stagefright.

A 4th place finish in the last race by Colm Bermingham's Bite the Bullet helped Tiger (Frank Hughes and Stephen Harris) win Class 4 IRC, but the Tiger team also did it in style by winning the final race. David Sargent's Indulgence had won the ECHO trophy after 5 races and they were happy to take a 2nd place in the last race to compete a very successful series.

Class 5 IRC was won by Emmet Dalton's Jebus and the Denis Wickham Trophy for Class 5 ECHO was collected by Gordon Knaggs and his team on Jokers Wild. The Mini Series prizes were won by Storm (Class 1IRC), Patrick Cruise O'Brien's Dear Prudence (Class 1 ECHO), Kilcullen (Class 3 IRC), Cri Cri (Paul Colton) in Class 3 ECHO, Tiger (Class 4 IRC) and Indulgence (Class 4 ECHO).

Afterwards, MSL Park Motors Group Managing Director Brendan Grace thanked Feargal Kinsella and his event team as well as all the competitors for taking part in the very successful event and looked forward to growing their relationship with Howth Yacht Club with this event in the coming 2 years. Commodore Brian thanked the sponsors and said that they had added real value to the event and had integrated seamlessly with the club. MSL Park Motors Mercedes-Benz also ran a prize draw in aid of the RNLI - to which they donated €1500 in respect of all the entries to the draw. A further competition and draw for 2 GoPro cameras in aid of St Francis Hospice raised €1785 including a substantial donation by the sponsors.

Almost 250 diners were treated to a 'Viking Banquet' in the dining room on Saturday night

Almost 250 diners were treated to a 'Viking Banquet' in the dining room on Saturday night

Howth 17s Cronin Trophy presented by MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Brand Manager Dean Fullston with crew of 'Rita' - Jim Potter, Cordula Hansen and John Curley
Howth 17s Cronin Trophy presented by MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Brand Manager Dean Fullston with crew of 'Rita' - Jim Potter, Cordula Hansen and John Curley
Howth 17's Alphida Cup winner 'Sheila' - Mary Faherty with MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Brand Manager Dean Fullston
Howth 17's Alphida Cup winner 'Sheila' - Mary Faherty with MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Brand Manager Dean Fullston
Joanne Kavanagh presents the Duropal Trophy to Puppeteer Scratch winners 'Gold Dust' - Josh Kelly, Conor McGowan, Scorie Walls, Declan Browne, Nigel Harrison
Joanne Kavanagh presents the Duropal Trophy to Puppeteer Scratch winners 'Gold Dust' - Josh Kelly, Conor McGowan, Scorie Walls, Declan Browne, Nigel Harrison
Joanne Kavanagh presents the Puppeteer handicap 'Snowgoose Trophy' to Jacqueline Feeley (Cloud 9)
Joanne Kavanagh presents the Puppeteer handicap 'Snowgoose Trophy' to Jacqueline Feeley (Cloud 9)
Rachel Grace presents the Impala Regatta Trophy (Class 5 IRC) to Conor Howard and Emmet Dalton from 'Jebus'
Rachel Grace presents the Impala Regatta Trophy (Class 5 IRC) to Conor Howard and Emmet Dalton from 'Jebus'
'Jokers Wild' team: Fergal Corkery, Len Gallagher and Gordon Knaggs with MSL Park Motors' Rachel Grace
'Jokers Wild' team: Fergal Corkery, Len Gallagher and Gordon Knaggs with MSL Park Motors' Rachel Grace
Stephen Harris and Chris Howard receive the Sleator Salver from Ronal McCaul
Stephen Harris and Chris Howard receive the Sleator Salver from Ronal McCaul
Ronan McCaul presents Michael Fleming with the Class 4 ECHO trophy
Ronan McCaul presents Michael Fleming with the Class 4 ECHO trophy
Vince Gaffney collects the Habu Trophy from Ronan McCaul
Vince Gaffney collects the Habu Trophy from Ronan McCaul
Gordon Stirling, Cian Manly and Harry Cronin collect the PAB Travel Trophy from MSL Park Motors Group Managing Director Brendan Grace
Gordon Stirling, Cian Manly and Harry Cronin collect the PAB Travel Trophy from MSL Park Motors Group Managing Director Brendan Grace
Dean Fullston presents the Cuffe Smith Trophy to 'Dux' - Evan Dolan, Anthony Gore Grimes, Andy Mollard and Ken O'Neill
Dean Fullston presents the Cuffe Smith Trophy to 'Dux' - Evan Dolan, Anthony Gore Grimes, Andy Mollard and Ken O'Neill
Kevin Darmody collects the Class 2 ECHO prize from Dean Fullston
Kevin Darmody collects the Class 2 ECHO prize from Dean Fullston
Pat Kelly (Storm) with the Evora Trophy and Dean Fullston
Pat Kelly (Storm) with the Evora Trophy and Dean Fullston
Ian McCormack (Crazy Horse) is presented the Joliba Trophy by Dean Fullston
Ian McCormack (Crazy Horse) is presented the Joliba Trophy by Dean Fullston
Overall winners of the Autumn League's 'Heineken Trophy' - Gold Dust with Brendan Grace from MSL Park Motors
Overall winners of the Autumn League's 'Heineken Trophy' - Gold Dust with Brendan Grace from MSL Park Motors
The MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Marketing team - Joanne Kavanagh and Andrea Byrne
The MSL Park Motors Mercedes Benz Marketing team - Joanne Kavanagh and Andrea Byrne
The celebrations continued into the small hours....
The celebrations continued into the small hours....
Published in Howth YC
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