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Howth’s Bright Motors Brass Monkeys Winter League Sails Serenely Between The Storms

6th December 2021
The Sea we Share……Sunday sport at Howth: Pat O’Neill’s J/80 Mojo chases the Quinn family’s J/97 Lambay Rules (sailed by Holly Quinn) past the Thulla in Howth Sound, while in foreground Dave Kirwan (Malahide) races his Laser for the finish
The Sea we Share……Sunday sport at Howth: Pat O’Neill’s J/80 Mojo chases the Quinn family’s J/97 Lambay Rules (sailed by Holly Quinn) past the Thulla in Howth Sound, while in foreground Dave Kirwan (Malahide) races his Laser for the finish

With the shortest day of the year only a fortnight away, winter leagues at a number of centres in Ireland can already look back on a satisfying collection of good races which somehow hit on magic days between storms such as Arwen two weeks ago, and the steadily approaching and rapidly deepening Barra.

At Howth yesterday (Sunday) for the long-running Bright Motors Brass Monkeys Autumn League and the even-longer-running KeyCapital Laser Frostbites, PRO Derek Bothwell and his team had found themselves actually wondering at dawn if an obliging high pressure ridge, which was bringing in a classic pet day, might overdo its benevolence to provide a calm.

But as Race Team Management member HYC Vice Commodore Neil Murphy tersely reports of the racing: “Sunshine, wind approx 15 knots from 290, and a very big spring tide running on the ebb. Twenty-one boats racing across the three keelboat classes”.

A neat start by Steffi & Windsor in the veteran Club Shamrock Demelza……..A neat start by Steffi & Windsor in the veteran Club Shamrock Demelza……..

Warbling wordsmiths might add that the air was like well-chilled champagne, though the keelboat numbers (mainly Howth, but from four different East Coast clubs in all) don’t reflect the initial more numerous series entry, as some boats which weren’t in with a final podium chance had seen key elements of their afterguard press-ganged into shoreside Christmas-tree acquisition and gift-buying duties in a pre-emptive move in face of Tuesday’s approaching restrictions.

But for those who did sail this fifth race to keep the series on programme, the conditions were perfect, and in Class 1 HPH Peter & Declan McCabe’s Arcturus (HYC) confirmed a solid overall lead with another win to put her on 7 pts OA to the 15 of Joe Carton’s Dehler 34 Voyager (HYC) and the 18 of Helm’s Deep (Paul Harrison, Skerries SC).

Class 2 HPH has Pat O’Neill’s J/80 Mojo maintaining the winning form she was showing in Denmark back in the summer, for although third in this fifth race (which was won by Simon Knowles’ J/109 Indian), Mojo has never been below 5th to put together a useful series pattern in a 13-boat entry, and thus she lies on 17pts to the 21 of Mark McLoughlins J’us, with Holly Quinn racing the family’s J/97 Lambay Rules equal on 21 points, but back a place on the tie break.

Simon Knowles’ J/109 Indian, winner on Sunday, sweeping through Howth Sound on the sluicing ebb.Simon Knowles’ J/109 Indian, winner on Sunday, sweeping through Howth Sound on the sluicing ebb.

Special interest is added to Class 2 as all five HYC-owned J/80s are racing under charter to likes to the likes of Darren Wright and Dave Cullen, who have learned on some of the breezier days that’s there’s more to keeping a fully-clothed J/80 under her mast than there is on one of their own Classic Half Tonners.

As for Class 3 HPH, the veteran Club Shamrock Demelza (Steffi & Windsor HYC) has been winning for more than forty years in both Cork and Howth, but although - despite a neat start - she finished second on Sunday, when the winner was Kevin O’Byrne’s Mary Ellen, Demelza continues in a shared overall lead with the Douglas/Keane Shenanigans (Malahide YC) with both on 12 pts, while the 50-years-racing classic Swan 37 Bandersnatch (brought new to Howth in 1971 by Ross & Peter Courtney) is on third at 21 points for longtime owner Kyran O’Grady of Wicklow SC.

The keelboats Brass Monkey series changes to Saturday for their final race of Series 1 this weekend (Saturday, December 11th) followed by the socially-distanced prize-giving (the traditional lunch would have been a Cheltenham-standard super-spreader), but the Lasers will keep going for another week.

Laser ding-dong – overall leader Ronan Wallace (Wexford, 166313) keeping tabs on Dan O’Connell (Derrynane perhaps?)Laser ding-dong – overall leader Ronan Wallace (Wexford, 166313) keeping tabs on Dan O’Connell (Derrynane perhaps?)

LASERS BUSY

While the keelboats may have felt quite pleased by drawing in an entry from four different clubs, they are only in the ha’penny place compared to the Lasers, whose long-running annual winter series (it goes back to 1974) has this time round drawn in entries from eleven Leinster clubs, and the first eight in the Standard Division reflect this. The current clear leader after nine races is Ronan Wallace of Wexford on 7pts, second is Daragh Kelleher of Skerries on 15, Conor Murphy maintains the honour of the host club with third overall for Howth (23 pts), Tom Fox of Rush SC is fourth on 28, Dave Kirwan (Malahide) is fifth on 34, Dan O’Connell (ISA) is 6th on 45, and Richard Tate (RStGYC) is seventh on 52 before another HYC sailor pops up with Conor Costello eighth on 53.

However, the Laser Radials are HYC all the way, with Charlie Keating leading from Fiachra Farrelly and Cillian Twomey, giving a glimpse of the future which is also reflected in the provision of racing for the RS Aero, where John Phelan leads from Paul McMahon and Daragh Sheridan.

A long way from Derrynane – Dan O’Connell on the run at HowthA long way from Derrynane – Dan O’Connell on the run at Howth

Quite how things will be next weekend in the aftermath of Barra heaven only knows, but Howth’s Happy Race Team can already claim “We have a series, we have a result”.

(Photos by Neil Murphy & Aideen Sargent)

Details here 

 The RS Aeros are also racing, and Paul McMahon (photo) currently lies second overall The RS Aeros are also racing, and Paul McMahon (photo) currently lies second overall

Published in Howth YC
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Howth Yacht Club information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New applications for membership are always welcome

Howth Yacht Club FAQs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, Howth Yacht Club has an active junior section.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Afloat 2020

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