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Displaying items by tag: Howth Yacht Club

It's not often that universally-agreed forecasts of exceptionally good weather will cause a reduction in numbers for an upcoming sailing race. But as the week drew on and yesterday (Saturday's) annual Aqua Restaurant-sponsored Two-Hander at Howth came steadily up the agenda, the number of authoritative predictions of "no wind at all unless a sea breeze happens to develop" were such that where in 2020 - in a lockdown-emerger - they'd 38 entries, this time round there were 29, and they'd to wait out a two-hour postponement until the sweetest sea breeze came in from between east and southeast.

The JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Conor O'Higgins) and the First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen Harris) getting into the groove. Photo: Annraoi Blaney.   The JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI (Conor O'Higgins) and the First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen Harris) getting into the groove. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Former winner Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen and Aidan Beggan) gathers speed as she gets into open water. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyFormer winner Checkmate XV (Dave Cullen and Aidan Beggan) gathers speed as she gets into open water. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Dun Laoghaire visitor More Mischief (right) went home with a First Prize. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyDun Laoghaire visitor More Mischief (right) went home with a First Prize. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Their patience was rewarded many times over, for as Annraoi Blaney's selection of Mediterranean-but-better photos indicate, this was the purest essence of summer sailing. This was a day which – when the dark damp glooms of winter are upon us – will be contemplated in loving wonder. And all power to Dave Murnane for having thought of it all some years ago and kept it going ever since, for the fact of everyone being two-handed forms a special bond, even in socially-distanced après sailing.

The only real danger was heat-stroke, and happily it seems that the only victim of this was the HYC Computer Results System. That said, it was trouble enough, for the electronics experienced such a wobbler that Race Officer Scorie Walls had to resort to pencil and paper to produce a reasonably accurate set of results in time for a prize-giving before two visitors from Dun Laoghaire – Conor O'Higgins with his family's renowned JPK 10.80 Rockabill VI, and Greg Kalinecki with his First 31 More Mischief – had to head for home.

Floating living history – the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock Class Silver Shamrock (Conor Fogerty & Suzanne Ennis) was Half Ton World Champion at Trieste in 1976 under Harold Cudmore's command. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyFloating living history – the Ron Holland-designed Shamrock Class Silver Shamrock (Conor Fogerty & Suzanne Ennis) was Half Ton World Champion at Trieste in 1976 under Harold Cudmore's command. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

A busy ship is a happy ship – Robert Dix and Carla Fagan racing Jeannie to third place in the J/80s. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyA busy ship is a happy ship – Robert Dix and Carla Fagan racing Jeannie to third place in the J/80s. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

It's at times like this that you realise why a J/80 is normally raced with a crew of four………Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIt's at times like this that you realise why a J/80 is normally raced with a crew of four………Photo: Annraoi Blaney

As ever, it was a remarkably diverse fleet, with cruiser-racers ranging from the new J/99 Snapshot (Evans brothers, sailed by Mike Evans and Graham Curran) fresh from overall success at the Sovereigns in Kinsale, all the way back to the almost-fifty-years-old Shamrocks – Silver Shamrock (Conor Fogerty), the Half Ton World Champion of 1976, and Windsor Laudan and Steffi Ennis's Club Shamrock Demelza, which also started her winning career in the 1970s, in those distant days in the ownership of the Mansfield family of Crosshaven.

Are the East Coast of Ireland's tectonic plates shifting? Rockabill closes up on Ireland's Eye. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyAre the East Coast of Ireland's tectonic plates shifting? Rockabill closes up on Ireland's Eye. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the Puppeteer 22s, Trick or Treat (Alan Blay & Alan Pearson, right) was to have the best of it. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyIn the Puppeteer 22s, Trick or Treat (Alan Blay & Alan Pearson, right) was to have the best of it. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In the One-Design categories, the J/80s had a very healthy turnout, with Dan and Dylan O'Grady in Jammie getting first from Bryan Byrne and Keith Glynn in Beeboop & Ricksteady, while Robert Dix and Carla Fagan were third in Jeannie. And in a more modest fleet, the Puppeteer 22s saw the honours go to Alan Blay & Alan Pearson in Trick or Treat.

The cruiser results were worked every which way, but in straightforward line honours Snapshot – with Mike Evans teamed with Graham Curran – was first home, 28 seconds ahead of the First 40.7 Tiger (Stephen & Jennie Harris).

Provisional HYC Aqua Challenge 2021 results:

IRC Spinnaker Class: 1st Snapshot (J/99, Mike Evans & Graham Curran) 2nd Lambay Rules (J/97, Stephen Quinn & Dave Cotter).

IRC Spinnaker Class Under 940 Rating: More Mischief (First 31, Greg Kalinecki & Jakub Gajewski, Dun Laoghaire)

ECHO Spinnaker Class: 1st Indian (J/109, Simon Knowles & Colm Buckley); 2nd Checkmate XV (Half Ton Classic, Dave Cullen & Aidan Beggan).

IRC White Sails: 1st Tiger (First 40.7, Stephen & Jennie Harris).

ECHO White Sails: 1st Toughnut (MG34, Dermot Skehan & Conor Macken).

J/80: 1st Jammy (Dan & Dylan O'Grady); 2nd Beeboop & Rocjsteady (Bryan Byrne & Keith Glynn); 3rd Jeannie (Robert Dix & Carla Fagan).

Puppeteer 22: 1st Trick of Treat (Alan Bay & Alan Pearson); 2nd Odyssey (Philip & Barry Byrne)

Captain cool. Mike Evans brings Snapshot cleanly through the boats summer-anchored in Howth Sound at Ireland's Eye, on his way to line honours and the IRC win. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyCaptain cool. Mike Evans brings Snapshot cleanly through the boats summer-anchored in Howth Sound at Ireland's Eye, on his way to line honours and the IRC win. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Published in Howth YC
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After their first overall in the 2021 J/80 Danish Opens which acted as the preliminary for the upcoming Worlds at the same venue, Pat O’Neill of Howth and his crew knew the stakes would be much higher in the big one, as the Royal Danish YC is a J/80 magnet attracting a Worlds fleet in which getting into the top ten would be a major achievement. But they managed that - in fact, they were well clear of ten, finishing overall at sixth. The crew were Pat O’Neill, Shane Hughes, Ryan Glynn and Steve Ryan.

Published in Howth YC
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With good weather in prospect for the weekend, interest is quickening in Saturday’s (July 17th) Aqua Two-Handed Challenge at Howth Yacht Club. Contrary to popular opinion, this is an open event. But over the years, the Howthmen have managed to keep the prize of a gourmet dinner at the classy pier-end Aqua Restaurant on Howth Harbour as something to be enjoyed only by one of their own. Thus it’s surely time and more that sailors from neighbouring clubs dealt with this overly-possessive attitude…...

In 2020s truncated season, it was one of Howth YC’s highlight happenings afloat, with an entry of 38 boats on a magically sunny day seeing Sam O'Byrne and Ryan Glynn winning the IRC Division with the Wright Brothers/Rick De Neve-owned Classic Half Tonner Mata, while a good turnout in the J/80s - a seriously interesting boat to race two-handed - saw the honours go to Diana Kissane and Graham Curran in one of the HYC-owned boats.

Down the years, the Half Tonners seem to have been particularly favoured, and the word is that former winners Dave Cullen and Aidan Beggan with Checkmate XV were spotted doing some special training last weekend. This Saturday, the first gun is scheduled for 10:00, there’ll be separate starts for Cruiser-racers, White Sails, J/80s and Puppeteer 22s, and in a course which is expected to take in Lambay, the plan is to be finished after about three hours of racing. Full details here

Dave Cullen and longtime shipmate Aidan Beggan head into Howth Sound after a session of open water training for the Aqua Two-Handed Challenge with the classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: HYCDave Cullen and longtime shipmate Aidan Beggan head into Howth Sound after a session of open water training for the Aqua Two-Handed Challenge with the classic Half Tonner Checkmate XV. Photo: HYC

Published in Howth YC
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When the Royal Cork Yacht Club unveiled the fresh concept of the Tony Castro-designed 1720 Sportsboat back in 1994, one of the tongue-in-cheek suggestions was that finance in developing the class could be through some grant scheme for Job Creation, as it was envisaged that each of these 26ft boats would be raced by a crew of five, and this was something which could surely be monetised.

Thus it means that any club hosting an event for this currently regenerating class can expect a good turnout of hungry and thirsty enthusiasts even when there's a modest entry list. And with a healthy entry of 15 boats sweeping into Howth on Friday for their BNRG-sponsored Eastern Championship, the pandemic-modified HYC hospitality machine was delighted to find that around a hundred extra consumers were grafted on to a home customer base which is already increasing with every race as people adjust to the new possibilities.

BNRG (David Maguire) heading out of Howth Harbour on Saturday morning with all the promise of an idyllic day of sea breeze racing. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyBNRG (David Maguire) heading out of Howth Harbour on Saturday morning with all the promise of an idyllic day of sea breeze racing. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

In short, in addition to boats in club racing and the developing Fingal Series for cruiser-racers, it meant that in Saturday's sunshine the joint was jumping – in socially-distanced style, of course. And in all, for the 1720s - in addition to three boats from the host club - nine other clubs were represented. Their geographical spread went halfway round the coast of Ireland, starting from Skerries (David Love with Mini Apple), and finishing with Galway Bay (Aodhan FitzGerald with After Midnight).

Western entry – Aodhan FitzGerald and his crew from Galway Bay SC with After Midnight find that the "soft" east coast can serve up its own cliffs with features like the gannet-laden Stack at Ireland's Eye off Howth. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyWestern entry – Aodhan FitzGerald and his crew from Galway Bay SC with After Midnight find that the "soft" east coast can serve up its own cliffs with features like the gannet-laden Stack at Ireland's Eye off Howth. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

The breeze firming in to provide a neat start for an entry list that came from ten very diverse clubs. Photo: Annraoi Blaney   The breeze firming in to provide a neat start for an entry list that came from ten very diverse clubs. Photo: Annraoi Blaney  

It tells us much about the ports which are hitching themselves to the accelerating 1720 train that the other clubs were Royal Irish, Royal St George and Irish National SC from Dun Laoghaire, Arklow SC, Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club, Waterford Harbour SC (Dunmore East), Royal Cork YC, and Baltimore SC, whose Rob O'Leary is the defending overall 1720 champion.

The two days of racing both provided easterly winds, but of very different type. Saturday's was a strongly sunlit-strengthened sea breeze of a sparkling type which we'd thought had almost become extinct for all the talk of global warming, whereas Sunday's was an eventually rain-bearing grey wind which showed that normal service had been resumed, but both days provided super racing nevertheless.

"Blue days at sea" – summertime for the 1720s off the coast of Fingal. Photo: Annraoi Blaney   "Blue days at sea" – summertime for the 1720s off the coast of Fingal. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Action stations! If the 1720s were provided with neat furlers for their jibs, it might lead to job losses in a vulnerable sector of the maritime workforce………Photo: Annraoi BlaneyAction stations! If the 1720s were provided with neat furlers for their jibs, it might lead to job losses in a vulnerable sector of the maritime workforce………Photo: Annraoi Blaney

And everything seemed to be going to plan with the first race, as the winner was the sponsor' own boat, BNRG sailed by David Maguire of Howth. But then for those following the leaderboard, a mystery of sorts emerged, as the remaining five races were won by some boat called Atara, registered as raced by the Mc Bearla clan under the Howth YC colours.

The battle lines are drawn – Atara emerging ahead of Wet & Ready. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe battle lines are drawn – Atara emerging ahead of Wet & Ready. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

We got Poirot on the job, and he came up with the info that McBearla is the Irish name for anyone called English, and the last time the name Atara figured in really big headlines in Irish sailing was when John Storey's Farr 43 of that name was overall winner for Ireland of the 1991 Sydney-Hobart Race, with promising young fellows like Harold Cudmore and Gordon Maguire on the strength.

The ancestral and direct links in the current 1720 class to that giddy time when Ireland also won the Southern Cross Series would take for ever to detail, but sufficient to say that the McBearlas on Atara are Ross McDonald and Aoife English on Rope Dock, and after they'd won the second race there was no stopping them.

Neck and neck for the new Easterns Champion Atara (aka Rope Dock) and Wet & Ready. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyNeck and neck for the new Easterns Champion Atara (aka Rope Dock) and Wet & Ready. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Dan O'Grady, a personal veteran of that 1991 Australia campaign, managed to keep ahead of Rob O'Leary for the second overall, but it was close enough with the Baltimore skipper comfortably third overall by the finish, and thereafter in the body of the fleet there was enough variety in the scorelines to suggest that the 1720s in their new wave are on a healthy learning curve.

Full details here

Published in 1720
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Sportboats have started to arrive in Howth Yacht Club for the BNRG sponsored 1720 Eastern Championships to be hosted by the club this weekend.

The event has 15 confirmed entries with teams from Dublin, Cork, Galway and Northern Ireland. Seven races will be sailed over Saturday and Sunday, and racing is expected to be tight in this one design sportsboat fleet. 

Under strict class rules, teams must weigh in before starting to ensure they do not exceed the maximum weight of 450 kg. This means that crews are limited to between five and six on each boat.

As Afloat previously reported, as the first open event for the class, this year is expected to be exciting as the teams have been waiting to get the season started for some time.

'Dutch Gold' is Favourite for 1720 Honours

Rob O'Leary on Dutch Gold is tipped as event favourite but there are also a number of Olympians and National Champions in the fleet aiming to give the current Champion a run for his money. Local Howth talent includes Dan O'Grady's Wet N'Ready, Ross McDonald on Altara and David Maguire helming BNRG. This trio will hope that a little local knowledge may give them the edge.

A training event is scheduled for 2 pm on Friday, when most of the fleet is expected to test their starts against one another. With such tight racing expected and the first race for some time, there may be some close encounters.

Event sponsor BNRG is an Irish renewable energy company that has been building solar projects globally for over 14 years.

Published in 1720
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The Provident CRM Optimist Leinsters finished up on Sunday at Howth Yacht Club with three more great races in a fresh breeze, with both the Junior & Senior titles not being decided until the final race. The 60+ competitors were a model in focused restraint and control, with 6 clean starts in the series and not a U Flag or Black Flag in sight.

The Junior Fleet finished with a clean sweep of the prizes for RCYC, with Olin Bateman just pipping his clubmate Lucy Moynan by a single point, with Andrew O'Neill coming through into 3rd place just ahead of Conor Cronin from Malahide. Bateman really turned on the power on Sunday, winning all three races to add to another race win on Saturday.

The fleet approach the weather markThe fleet approach the weather mark

The Senior fleet was even closer, with Caoilinn Geraghty McDonnell from RStGYC storming through on the last day with 2 race wins to pip the overnight leader JP Curtin from RCYC on countback, both having scored an impressive 11 points in the 6 race series. Cillian Twomey from Howth was 2 points back from them, with a bit of a gap to the rest of the fleet. Joseph O'Leary from RCYC won the Senior Silver fleet from Patrick Foley (RStGYC) and Isha Duggan of RCYC. Optimist sailing is very much alive and well in Crosshaven.

Olin Bateman (RCYC) with Gary Cullen (Provident CRM) and Neil Murphy (Vice Commodore Howth Yacht Club)Olin Bateman (RCYC) with Gary Cullen (Provident CRM) and Neil Murphy (Vice Commodore Howth Yacht Club)

The racing was exciting and moved along briskly on both days under the expert leadership of David Lovegrove on the water, with an active and visible team of HYC volunteers ashore keeping the event running smoothly and safely.

Next stop is the Leinsters for the Regatta Fleet in Malahide next weekend, with the Connachts following on 17/18 July in Lough Ree Yacht Club. The Optimist scene is back up and running and very much alive and well.

Published in Optimist
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A steady performance with a second and third in races 4Q and 5Q in the mega-fleet 58-nation Optimist Worlds Day 3 on Lake Garda has enabled Howth's Rocco Wright to discard his blip of a 19th yesterday, and move into fifth place overall on 11 points to the 10 of the USA’s Gil Hackel at 4th, and Italy's Alex Demurtas in third. Thailand’s Weka Bhanubandh continues to lead clear overall with his score at 5 points after discarding a fifth, while Brazil’s Alex di Francesco Kuhl is second on 9 points.

Published in Optimist
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The Provident Optimist Leinsters got underway at Howth Yacht Club today, with 61 boats on the start line. There was lots of excitement and adrenaline running in the young sailors, delighted to be racing again. Three races were sailed, with remarkably a clean start in each of them under the expert and watchful eye of David Lovegrove and his team. The training during the pandemic must have included the price for being over the line at the start...

JP Curtin from RCYC got off to a fast start in the senior fleet, with a bullet in the first race followed by two seconds to take the lead after day 1. This was a fair reward for very consistent sailing. Seth Walker from RStGYC is hot on his heels though on 8 points, followed by Cillian Twomey from the host club back on 13 points. Caoilinn Geraghty McDonnell is only one more back, with her eyes focused on more than the prize for 1st girl.

Optimist racing for Leinster honours at Howth Yacht ClubOptimist racing for Leinster honours at Howth Yacht Club

In the junior fleet, Conor Cronin from Malahide YC has jumped into a halfway lead, with an impressive two wins and a second. The Cork contingent though are chasing hard, with Andrew O'Neill from RCYC and Matt Mapplebeck from Kinsale with eyes still very much on the Leinsters title tomorrow.

And then the fog really rolled in... and the sailors were quickly and safely brought ashore.

Three races tomorrow will decide the Leinster Championships - it's all to play for.

Published in Optimist
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Pat O'Neill with a Howth Yacht Club crew and a local foredeck man has won the Danish J80 Championships at the Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub this afternoon.

The sole lrish competitors in the 23-boat fleet sailing 'Mojo' ended the eight-race series with an eight-point winning margin from Spain's Peru Mugica Elorza. 

O'Neill, sailing with regular crew Ryan Glynn, North Sails sailmaker Shane Hughes and Jakob Nybo on his J80 Mojo are in Denmark for the 2021 World Championships that begins this weekend at the Royal Danish Yacht Club in Copenhagen. 

As regular Afloat readers will know, O'Neill is the reigning Irish champion having taken a 2020 victory at the Royal St. George last September. 

See full results here

Scrub to 1.43 on the timeline to see the dockside interview with Pat in Denmark in the Facebook vid below

Published in Howth YC
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It's a serious-looking big poster that they've had newly-displayed for the past three days on Howth Yacht Club's gable wall. But then, the prospect of Rob Dickson of Howth and Sean Waddilove of Skerries representing Ireland in the Tokyo Olympics in the 49er in three weeks time is a serious business, a serious business given an extra edge as they only finally secured their Olympic place in the Last Chance Saloon Selection Series at Lanzarote at the end of April.

In fact, it's arguable that had the Olympics not been COVID-postponed for a year, they wouldn't be there at all, as their longterm target had been Paris/Marseille Olympics 2024, and they'd only suddenly been added to the 2020 possibilities when they won the 49er U23 Worlds in September 2018, but subsequently hadn't made the grade for Tokyo under the original 2020 schedule.

Yet for two months now, their place in Enoshima has been secured, and their two home clubs in Fingal have been factoring in a total Olympic dedication in their memberships from the first heats on July 27th until the Medal Race on August 2nd, while Silver Medal defender Annalise Murphy of the National YC has her first race on July 25th, and the Medal Race is August 1st.

All over Ireland and abroad, our sailing community will be closely following a global event which - let's face it, as the reality of the Delta variant sweeps the world - is still not 100% certain. Be that as it may, the resilient Irish sailing community has come vibrantly to life as the opportunities and regulation-easings permit, and in Howth they currently are on one of those rolls of concentrated success which, for one reason or another, come visiting – and welcome visitors too - at the Peninsula club from time to time.

Let the sunshine in – the serious new poster is centre stage at Howth. Photo: W M NixonLet the sunshine in – the serious new poster is centre stage at Howth. Photo: W M Nixon

Thus although the big poster – developed from an image secured during the Lanzarote trials – looked sombre enough as it was being put in place, next day saw a return of the bright sunshine which may be turning the moorlands of the Hill of Howth into a tinderbox, but it more accurately reflects the current mood of Howth sailing.

CHALLENGING ON LAKE GARDA, MEDALS IN MONTENEGRO

Right now on Lake Garda, HYC's Rocco Wright is in the thick of it among 51 nations and nearly 300 boats in the first days of the Optimist Worlds, having progressed towards them through two big preliminary regattas on the mighty lake, in which he took Bronze in the first, and Gold in the second.

Right in the thick of it – Rocco Wright (IRL 1636) working his way through a very international fleet on Lake GardaRight in the thick of it – Rocco Wright (IRL 1636) working his way through a very international fleet on Lake Garda

Before that, Eve McMahon – just one of three prodigiously accomplished McMahon sailing siblings from Howth - placed fourth overall in the ILCA/Laser U21s in Montenegro, which was then upgraded to the Silver Medal in the U19s, while on the home front the J/24 U25 Development Programme – pioneered in Howth – continued to reap rewards with Head Case – helmed by Cillian Dickson and with HYC clubmate Sam O'Byrne on the strength – winning the season-starting J/24 Southerns at Foynes in convincing style.

 Eve McMahon on her way Silver Medal in the U19s in MontenegroEve McMahon on her way Silver Medal in the U19s in Montenegro

SOVEREIGN'S SUCCESS IN KINSALE

But it was at the Sovereigns Cup in Kinsale at the end of June where the Howth machine moved into top gear. Perhaps it's because the two ports are so utterly different, with Kinsale being a picturesque natural port on a serenely sheltered winding river, while Howth is a totally artificial harbour on a rugged and characterful peninsula – whatever, but Howth somehow always seems to aim for the Sovereigns with a special attitude of group determination. And even with social distancing, 2021 was a vintage year, with Bob Rendell's impressive new Grand Soleil 44 Samatom winning the biggest class – the IRC Coastal Division – while Mike and Richie Evans new J/99 Snapshot – with Howth's 1996 All-Ireland Champion Helm Laura Dillon on the strength – put in a hugely impressive performance in the hyper-hot IRC 1 to win the Sovereigns Cup itself.

Neither today nor yesterday…..Howth Yacht Clubs fondness for invading Kinsale at Sovereigns Cup time goes back a long way.Neither today nor yesterday…..Howth Yacht Clubs fondness for invading Kinsale at Sovereigns Cup time goes back a long way.

Sovereigns Cup Kinsale 2021, and the successful Howth crews of Snapshot and Samatom get together.Sovereigns Cup Kinsale 2021, and the successful Howth crews of Snapshot and Samatom get together.

Here it is, only the 3rd July in a season which was really only properly underway on June 7th, and Howth is already piling on the silverware in a way which is reminiscent of certain special periods in the Club's history. Not that they're resting on their laurels – this weekend they host the Optimist Leinsters, and in a week's time, it's the 1720 Championship – but nevertheless, a minute or two's pause to reflect on this almost freakish club 2021 scorecard is surely merited.

HOWTH UP AGAINST IT

For it seems that Howth and its sailing appear to thrive on adversity, and environmental adversity in particular. When Afloat.ie published the latest chart of the serious silting of the harbour recently, people elsewhere wondered how on earth they'd any keelboat sailing going on at all. In some places, there was practically dry land with grass growing where there should have been a clear all-tides channel.

The most recent survey of Howth Harbour shows depths continuing to deteriorateThe most recent survey of Howth Harbour shows depths continuing to deteriorate

Yet despite that, Howth Yacht Club managed a more-than-useful programme in 2020 even with the lockdown limitations. And this year after the preliminary starting signals had been given for some return towards normality from Monday June 7th, not only did five of the venerable Howth 17s make a point of having an official race at 10:30 hrs on that Monday morning, but the following Saturday – June 12th – saw a fleet of 78 HYC-only keelboats heralding the new season in the time-honoured Lambay Race, so they're definitely sailing well underway, even if the bigger keelboats sometimes find themselves ploughing a lonely furrow getting in and out of the harbour.

Some of the 78 keelboats which raced in HYC's Lambay Race on June 12th. The larger ones may have found themselves ploughing gently through soft mud as they left the harbour. Photo: Annraoi BlaneySome of the 78 keelboats which raced in HYC's Lambay Race on June 12th. The larger ones may have found themselves ploughing gently through soft mud as they left the harbour. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Now admittedly the depths shown in that new chart will only bottom out three or four times a year. But you'd think – particularly when you compare it with a splendidly deep harbour like Dun Laoghaire – that the very fact of having to worry about those depths much of the time would impinge on Howth sailors' pursuit of their sport.

Work on Howth's Middle Pier is already well underway to expand trawler berthing. Photo: W M NixonWork on Howth's Middle Pier is already well underway to expand trawler berthing. Photo: W M Nixon

Not a bit of it. On the contrary, as we've seen, Howth sailing in 2021 is already on a mighty roll of success. Yet this is despite the harbour engineers already intruding on the place with their work in progress on the Middle Pier. As to the village generally, work is at last underway on the waterfront Techrete site (formerly Parsons) immediately to the west of the harbour for the construction of a handful of 8-storey apartment blocks.

THE ESSENTIAL HOWTH HARBOUR DREDGING PLAN

Howth Harbour as it was until recently, as seen from the northeast. Work is now underway to enlarge the middle pier for trawlers with dredging, while outside the harbour immediately to the west on the north-facing waterfront (at centre of photo), work has started on building a development of apartment blocks on the former Techrete Factory site.Howth Harbour as it was until recently, as seen from the northeast. Work is now underway to enlarge the middle pier for trawlers with dredging, while outside the harbour immediately to the west on the north-facing waterfront (at centre of photo), work has started on building a development of apartment blocks on the former Techrete Factory site.

The future Howth Harbour? The proposal to infill the dredged spoil from within the harbour to the westward of the West Pier will create a completely new geographic and hydrographic dynamic, with a real possibility that the sand-carrying ebb tide running along the beach from the west will no longer be so distinctly re-directed as a silt-carrying offshoot into the harbour.The future Howth Harbour? The proposal to infill the dredged spoil from within the harbour to the westward of the West Pier will create a completely new geographic and hydrographic dynamic, with a real possibility that the sand-carrying ebb tide running along the beach from the west will no longer be so distinctly re-directed as a silt-carrying offshoot into the harbour.

Thus already the insistent natter of the pile-driver blends with the liquid call of the curlew, the shrill trill of the oyster-catcher, and the demanding yapping of the herring gull far into the Howth summer nights. And beyond all that, once the much-anticipated dredging programme gets underway, it'll be like the re-building of central Dublin after 1916 on steroids, as the idea is that everything coming out of the harbour bed in several identifiable phases will in-filled to the west of the West Pier to create what we're told will in time be a new marine park, and getting it there could involve lorry-loads in their thousands unless special ways can be devised to get barges to take the spoil – after treatment – round to the new location.

The current plan for the phased dredging of Howth Harbour also indicates the stages for the creation of new land to the westward of the harbour. With the dredging area now clearly defined, alterations in the timeline and order of work might be a possibility, but either way, it will be quite a lengthy process.The current plan for the phased dredging of Howth Harbour also indicates the stages for the creation of new land to the westward of the harbour. With the dredging area now clearly defined, alterations in the timeline and order of work might be a possibility, but either way, it will be quite a lengthy process.

For those who are wondering how the harbour came to be so silted, please don't ask. Were Howth a port in the Netherlands, the harbour would be dredged as a matter of course every five years. But once the major project which broadly gave us today's Howth Harbour was completed in 1982, that was it - the place has seen only small-scale piecemeal dredging since, and the fishing fleet and recreational boats alike have been increasingly hampered in their activities as the siltation quietly builds up such that in the Outer Harbour, a drone photo at low water reveals each boat to be reposing in its own circular mud bed.

Low water in the Outer Harbour, where 40 years of siltation have resulted in an all-enveloping layer of soft mud where each boat on a swinging mooring has gently created its own bed, normally invisible except from an aerial photo. Photo: Tom RyanLow water in the Outer Harbour, where 40 years of siltation have resulted in an all-enveloping layer of soft mud where each boat on a swinging mooring has gently created its own bed, normally invisible except from an aerial photo. Photo: Tom Ryan

In the circumstances, the default attitude among Howth's maritime population is quiet yet not undue pessimism, for we know that official grand schemes such as that now being contemplated - or indeed relatively standard schemes - tend to run over time and over budget, and we know that in Howth that is not necessarily an undesirable outcome.

And even when underway, such major projects can be overcome as environmental obstructions. For instance, in 1981 in the midst of the biggest harbour works programme of all, Howth Yacht Club hosted the Optimist Worlds simple by moving all operations westwards along Claremont beach to a new HQ at the Claremont Hotel.

As for Howth's own sailing performance at such times, the impetus is strong to seek success elsewhere, and thereby get away from the noise and inconvenience of harbour works at home. This happened with one major dredging project in 1966-1970, it happened again in 1979 to 1982, and though some very clever and creative minds are being applied to seeking out the least disruptive ways of implementing the current dredging proposals, the results thus obtained in 2021 suggest an increase in HYC's already healthy tendency to look outwards.

"ACCIDENTAL" BENEFITS

When the major scheme of 1979-1982 was nearing completion, it was found there was nothing left in the public kitty to demolish the haphazard row of ancient buildings down the West Pier, as had been planned. For long enough, they simply stayed there with many of them empty. But as Howth Yacht Club's stratospheric sporting, social, and hospitality success in the 1980s and 1990s contributed to the harbour developing its own special attraction as a destination venue, that quaint row of buildings – which you could never have planned deliberately - became such successful little restaurants that on a warm summer's evening the atmosphere and aroma is like a good Breton or Galician fishing port.

So who knows what may come of the creation of a new bit of Ireland to the west of the harbour? Admittedly if it's carried through to completion as planned, the popular over-water Aqua Restaurant at the end of the West Pier will have lost its unique sea-dominated position, something which we can't see being lightly relinquished.

But beyond that, the proposed overall shape will affect the tidal flow in a way which may reduce the future need for dredging. At the moment, when the flood comes through Howth Sound north of the East Pier lighthouse nib, it flows on clear in a west to northwest direction. Yet when the ebb starts to run eastward, there's a strong line of it starting from Baldoyle Creek and sweeping along Claremont Beach, with a significant sand-carrying offshoot being deflected into Howth Harbour.

Yet if the most northwesterly "headland" of the new bit of Ireland west of the pier is at the location shown, there'll be much less inclination for the sand-carrying ebb to be side-tracked into the harbour, and with any luck the tendency towards silting will be reduced.

But whether or not people see this new little bit of land to the west of the harbour as attractive recreational space is another matter. The fact is, when people go out for a bracing walk at a harbour, they want to be able to stride down a pier with the sea close bedside them left and right.

The new land to the west, showing clearly how it will direct the ebb tide stream further away the harbour entrance. And surely it has many more possible uses – such as Kite-Surfing Central - than just another a dull seaside mini-park and strolling areaThe new land to the west, showing clearly how it will direct the ebb tide stream further away the harbour entrance. And surely it has many more possible uses – such as Kite-Surfing Central - than just another a dull seaside mini-park and strolling area

However, that amorphous green space planned to the west of the West Pier looks altogether too vague. Its exposure to the prevailing westerlies will limit any green space and mini-park development potential, and its very location relatively out of sight and out of mind on the perimeter of the harbour suggests nefarious purposes – in fact, they might as well put up a sign saying: "This Way to the
Flash Mob Rioting and Anti-Social Behaviour Zones".

KITE-SURFING CENTRAL?

Yet not so far away along Claremont and Burrow Strands, the new building or up-grading of trendy beachside houses is currently going on at such a pace it makes you think it should be re-named Dermot Bannon Boulevard. Is it unthinkable that some west-facing waterfront properties on that new bit of Ireland is an idea that is out of the question? Or how about a choice location for a kite-surfing centre…..?

Stranger things have happened. And these are strangely exciting times in Howth, both in sailing and in harbour and village development alike.

MORE HYC SUCCESS ABROAD

But meanwhile in the real world of current sailing achievement, as of yesterday evening (Friday), HYC’s Pat O’Neill with his J/80 Mojo has been confirmed as the Danish Open J/80 Champion in Rungsted in advance of the Worlds there next week, Eve McMahon is returning very impressive results in the Laser Radial Youth Europeans in Croatia, and Rocco Wright has got off to a cracking start in the Optimist Worlds on Lake Garda with a 1st and a 5th.

Published in W M Nixon
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