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Howth Yacht Club Develop Their Annual IceBreaker Series for Dinghies

3rd March 2019
It could well be Connemara, but it’s actually Howth Sound in late March, when the annual eight-race IceBreakers series gets under way It could well be Connemara, but it’s actually Howth Sound in late March, when the annual eight-race IceBreakers series gets under way

Howth Yacht Club will soon be hosting their annual IceBreaker Dinghy Series, kicking off this year on the 24th March, and running for four Sunday mornings with two races each morning writes Cormac Farrelly. It’s a great eight-race opportunity to dig out those dinghies from their winter resting areas, and get sailors out of hibernation to kick off the 2019 season. 

The inaugural event last year was very successful, attracting 50-plus entries across six different dinghy fleets - RS400s, Lasers, RS Feva, 420s, Oppies and Toppers. IceBreakers is now a firm fixture on the HYC event calendar, and its status as an Open Event has been endorsed by Irish Sailing, who have added it to their racing line up.

howth icebreakers2A well-mixed fleet at HYC IceBreakers 2018, with RS Fevas, 420s and Optimists

The user-friendly formula certainly seems to work. Start all races on time at 10:25 and have everyone off the water by 12:30. Then a quick burger in the club afterwards, and for those who have travelled, you’re out of Howth before the Sunday traffic builds up. Then just Rinse and Repeat the following weekend……

Top Laser sailor David Quinn comments: “I’ve always enjoyed the Frostbite Series in Howth, and the Icebreaker Series is an exciting new development of that proven programme. It combines the superb organisation and race format of the Frostbites, with the nicer Spring conditions. The Sunday morning start time and quick race turnaround is perfect for those with busy weekend schedules and today’s family demands”

dave quinn3IceBreakers enthusiast Dave Quinn (HYC), who was runner-up in 2018 to overall winner Alan Ruigrok of Rush SC.

RS200 National Champion Neil Spain adds: “Ourselves - and the rest of the RS400s competing - found the series a great way to get back into the swing of things after the off season. The race area right outside the harbour is only a short sail away from the club, and the races were the perfect balance between quality time on the water with great race management as usual from HYC, and getting packed up and home by lunchtime.”

neil spain4Neil Spain in RS 400 racing highlights the convenience of the race area location

Last year, Howth’s neighbouring clubs like Skerries, Malahide, Sutton, Clontarf, Dun Laoghaire and Bray provided entrants, and HYC looks forward to welcoming them all back again this year, plus first-time IceBreakers too. 

Overall, the event in 2018 enjoyed perfect weekends with some great racing. The RS400, 420s, and Lasers competed under the Sundry fast division while Fevas and Toppers were under 'Sundry slow'. A large contingent of 25 Optimists made up the last division, and it was great to see the club buzzing with over 60 dinghy sailors coming out to race each Sunday.

howth fevas5The local RS Feva fleet is growing

In the eight race series, dinghies in the Sundry Fast and Slow divisions compete for an overall prize under PY handicap, while individual prizes for scratch results within each class are awarded for classes with more than 3 entries. It’s really interesting and very encouraging to see how well the PY handicap works. 

Even though the RS400s are lightning-quick on the racecourse, three different classes were featured in last season’s overall results – Alan Ruigrok and crew sailing their RS400 from Rush finished first overall, with veteran Laser sailor Dave Quinn a close second.

This year HYC is putting added focus on the event to encourage the continued growth of dinghy sailing at the club, and an important part of this renewed focus includes a dedicated Dinghy Race Management team, led by Harry Gallagher and Derek Bothwell to reinforce the promise of excellent racing for all classes.

varadkar juniors6The HYC Optimist sailors had a chance to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD during his recent visit to Howth Yacht Club.

The dinghy sailors of Howth are currently on a roll with the club’s sailing achievements being recognised during the recent visit from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, when he met Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, HYC’s U23 World Champions in the 49er class, and also got to meet with some of the club’s young Optimist sailors.

Enter Icebreakers 2019 online here

Afloat.ie Team

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Howth Yacht Club information

Howth Yacht Club is the largest members sailing club in Ireland, with over 1,700 members. The club welcomes inquiries about membership - see top of this page for contact details.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is 125 years old. It operates from its award-winning building overlooking Howth Harbour that houses office, bar, dining, and changing facilities. Apart from the Clubhouse, HYC has a 250-berth marina, two cranes and a boat storage area. In addition. its moorings in the harbour are serviced by launch.

The Club employs up to 31 staff during the summer and is the largest employer in Howth village and has a turnover of €2.2m.

HYC normally provides an annual programme of club racing on a year-round basis as well as hosting a full calendar of International, National and Regional competitive events. It operates a fleet of two large committee boats, 9 RIBs, 5 J80 Sportboats, a J24 and a variety of sailing dinghies that are available for members and training. The Club is also growing its commercial activities afloat using its QUEST sail and power boat training operation while ashore it hosts a wide range of functions each year, including conferences, weddings, parties and the like.

Howth Yacht Club originated as Howth Sailing Club in 1895. In 1968 Howth Sailing Club combined with Howth Motor Yacht Club, which had operated from the West Pier since 1935, to form Howth Yacht Club. The new clubhouse was opened in 1987 with further extensions carried out and more planned for the future including dredging and expanded marina facilities.

HYC caters for sailors of all ages and run sailing courses throughout the year as part of being an Irish Sailing accredited training facility with its own sailing school.

The club has a fully serviced marina with berthing for 250 yachts and HYC is delighted to be able to welcome visitors to this famous and scenic area of Dublin.

New applications for membership are always welcome

Howth Yacht Club FAQs

Howth Yacht Club is one of the most storied in Ireland — celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 — and has an active club sailing and racing scene to rival those of the Dun Laoghaire Waterfront Clubs on the other side of Dublin Bay.

Howth Yacht Club is based at the harbour of Howth, a suburban coastal village in north Co Dublin on the northern side of the Howth Head peninsula. The village is around 13km east-north-east of Dublin city centre and has a population of some 8,200.

Howth Yacht Club was founded as Howth Sailing Club in 1895. Howth Sailing Club later combined with Howth Motor Yacht Club, which had operated from the village’s West Pier since 1935, to form Howth Yacht Club.

The club organises and runs sailing events and courses for members and visitors all throughout the year and has very active keelboat and dinghy racing fleets. In addition, Howth Yacht Club prides itself as being a world-class international sailing event venue and hosts many National, European and World Championships as part of its busy annual sailing schedule.

As of November 2020, the Commodore of the Royal St George Yacht Club is Ian Byrne, with Paddy Judge as Vice-Commodore (Clubhouse and Administration). The club has two Rear-Commodores, Neil Murphy for Sailing and Sara Lacy for Junior Sailing, Training & Development.

Howth Yacht Club says it has one of the largest sailing memberships in Ireland and the UK; an exact number could not be confirmed as of November 2020.

Howth Yacht Club’s burgee is a vertical-banded pennant of red, white and red with a red anchor at its centre. The club’s ensign has a blue-grey field with the Irish tricolour in its top left corner and red anchor towards the bottom right corner.

The club organises and runs sailing events and courses for members and visitors all throughout the year and has very active keelboat and dinghy racing fleets. In addition, Howth Yacht Club prides itself as being a world-class international sailing event venue and hosts many National, European and World Championships as part of its busy annual sailing schedule.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club has an active junior section.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club hosts sailing and powerboat training for adults, juniors and corporate sailing under the Quest Howth brand.

Among its active keelboat and dinghy fleets, Howth Yacht Club is famous for being the home of the world’s oldest one-design racing keelboat class, the Howth Seventeen Footer. This still-thriving class of boat was designed by Walter Herbert Boyd in 1897 to be sailed in the local waters off Howth. The original five ‘gaff-rigged topsail’ boats that came to the harbour in the spring of 1898 are still raced hard from April until November every year along with the other 13 historical boats of this class.

Yes, Howth Yacht Club has a fleet of five J80 keelboats for charter by members for training, racing, organised events and day sailing.

The current modern clubhouse was the product of a design competition that was run in conjunction with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in 1983. The winning design by architects Vincent Fitzgerald and Reg Chandler was built and completed in March 1987. Further extensions have since been made to the building, grounds and its own secure 250-berth marina.

Yes, the Howth Yacht Club clubhouse offers a full bar and lounge, snug bar and coffee bar as well as a 180-seat dining room. Currently, the bar is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Catering remains available on weekends, take-home and delivery menus for Saturday night tapas and Sunday lunch.

The Howth Yacht Club office is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm. Contact the club for current restaurant opening hours at [email protected] or phone 01 832 0606.

Yes — when hosting sailing events, club racing, coaching and sailing courses, entertaining guests and running evening entertainment, tuition and talks, the club caters for all sorts of corporate, family and social occasions with a wide range of meeting, event and function rooms. For enquiries contact [email protected] or phone 01 832 2141.

Howth Yacht Club has various categories of membership, each affording the opportunity to avail of all the facilities at one of Ireland’s finest sailing clubs.

No — members can join active crews taking part in club keelboat and open sailing events, not to mention Pay & Sail J80 racing, charter sailing and more.

Fees range from €190 to €885 for ordinary members.
Memberships are renewed annually.

©Afloat 2020

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