Huge year ahead as Howth YC gets busy

The Irish Times – Friday, January 27, 2012


SAILING: THE MAMMOTH task of staging 20 championships for the coming season was announced at the country’s single biggest sailing club this week in an attempt to capitalise on major events taking place in Ireland this year

More than 100 volunteers will be involved in running the programme.

Howth Yacht Club’s highlight championship will be the Irish Cruiser Racing Association nationals for four IRC handicap divisions in May in addition to its regular events such as the popular Autumn League, Lambay Regatta and local class championships.

After staging the Etchells World Championship in 2010 and the J24 Europeans last season, the club has retained the support of BMW, who will sponsor the ICRA event that is expected to attract more than 100 boats and 700-plus competitors.

Feeder races are planned from around the Irish Sea for the three-day series that takes place from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th of May and will be the third time the Fingal club has hosted the championship.

“Howth has an awful lot going for it terms of attracting these events,” said Brian Turvey, Rear Commodore. “One of the attractions we have here is our race area between Ireland’s Eye and Lambay, where the prevailing westerly winds are coming across flat land, relatively shallow water deep enough to run keelboat events but with no commercial traffic.”

In addition to the racing programme, the club will also hold an international cruising-week in early July.

With more than 2,000 members, Howth’s economic outlook also provides a bell-weather for the sport nationally and its season fixtures form part of a strategy of delivering activity for participants.

Turvey points to the Olympic sailing team, the ISAF Youth World Championships on neighbouring Dublin Bay and the conclusion to the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway as highlights to build participation in the sport and counter-measures to the economic climate.

But in terms of infrastructure and development, it’s “batten down the hatches” time and concentrate on sailing activities to maintain the club.

Meanwhile, in Miami the key Irish crews that have already earned places for the London 2012 Olympics have found form after an unsteady start to the first event of the new season. Peter O’Leary and David Burrows had climbed up to fifth place overall in the Star keelboat fleet and are also getting to grips with a borrowed boat for this Grade One event. Annalise Murphy has also found form, winning her first race on Wednesday and resuming her more typical top 10 standing in the Laser Radial.

“Miami was always going to be a challenge coming just after a peak event like the worlds,” commented ISA performance manager James O’Callaghan. “There was always going to be a little bit rustiness and I think we’ve seen that.”

The series continues today with the medal races in all classes scheduled for tomorrow.

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