Lambay Races go large – racing, weather and après-sail provide a day to remember
Howth YC’s Lambay Races were raced on Saturday, June 3rd, as a fully fledged Open Event for the first time since 2019. Everything about it was on the grand scale – entry, sunshine, competition, tide, and après-sail were all maxed on the dial whilst the wind blew at a modest 6 to 8 knots and ensured that sailors, apart from frazzled tacticians, had plenty of energy left for socialising afterwards.
86 boats started, including visitors from Dun Laoghaire, Clontarf, and Malahide, who had a particular interest in checking out the Lambay to Ireland’s Eye course area that will host the 2023 ICRA National Championships this coming September. The fleets started from two lines, with Race Officers David Lovegrove and Derek Bothwell overseeing proceedings, to ensure a minimum of delay before the various classes got their racing underway. A spring tide with high water twenty minutes before the first starts and a starboard rounding of Lambay promised a challenging leg north against the ebb. The light north-easterly ensured a sea-breeze never established and was steady in direction for the duration of the race, apart from the local effects in the lee of Lambay. After short first legs to windward marks for the two fleets, the leg to the island was initially a fetch but turned into a starboard tack-dominated beat, once the Perch at Lambay was reached and the boats commenced the challenge of navigating the channel between the island and the Donabate shore. Those who chose the middle of the channel in the hope of avoiding the island’s wind shadow soon found that they had backed the wrong horse, while those opting for the rock-hopping test of local knowledge / bravery along the Lambay shoreline escaped the adverse tide, held their breeze and reaped their reward. In many of the classes, the Perch marked the restart of the race, with the strong ebb down the channel quickly putting manners on those who thought they had a comfortable lead but lost it by venturing too far from the Lambay shore.
Once the Taylor Rock Cardinal at the north-west corner was rounded, the beat across the north side offered the multitude of roosting sea birds the spectacle of the fleet making a close inspection of their cliff-side homes; but with some skippers wishing that depth-sounders scan forward, rather than just confirming that a clunk and sudden stop means tacking 30 seconds earlier would have been prudent. After the challenge of the north shore, the leg back south towards Ireland’s Eye provided idyllic sailing conditions with all, apart from the White Sail classes, being wafted along under spinnakers in the sunshine. The upwind and uptide work slowed progress for the first two-thirds of the race and most of the classes enjoyed at least three hours of racing, some more than four. With a 17.00 time limit and the tide about to turn on some parts of the race area, the Race Committee took the prudent decision to shorten all the classes north of Ireland’s Eye and allow the sailors an early return ashore to the hospitality of Howth YC, a measure well-appreciated by those in need of rehydration.
Class 1 had an entry of 11 boats with Checkmate XX (Biggs/Cullen), a First 50, being the biggest boat afloat while Samatom (Robert Rendell) enjoyed the privilege of the Grand Soleil 44 being scratch boat in the fleet. The two of them put on a great exhibition of close-quarters competition around the course before Samatom finally took line honours by just 19 seconds after nearly three hours of racing. On corrected time, victory went to Indian (Simon Knowles) with Ghost Raider (Norbert Reilly) and Lambay Rules (Stephen Quinn) tying for second, only four seconds spanning the first three boats. Ghost Raider also took first on the HPH results.
13 boats competed for the honours in Class 2, and Pat O’Neill’s J80, Mojo, enjoyed the mix of conditions to take first on both IRC and HPH. Three X302s battled it out for the other IRC podium positions before Dux (C & N Gore Grimes) and No Excuse (Wormald, Walsh and O’Neill) took second and third, leaving Maximus (Paddy Kyne) in fourth.
Class 3, with six boats, saw close racing between Insider, Stephen Mullaney’s champion Sigma 33, and Gecko, the rejuvenated and ‘breathed upon’ Bolero 26 of Kevin Darmody. Insider took the IRC win by 36 seconds from Gecko while the Bolero took the HPH victory by a margin of over two minutes.
The White Sails boats were divided into Class 4 and Class 5 with nine and eight competitors respectively. On IRC the victories went to Bite the Bullet (Colm Bermingham) and Toughnut (Dermot Skehan) whilst Equinox (John McDonald) and Bandersnatch (Kyron O’Grady) topped the HPH lists. Class 4 saw the return to competition of the beautiful Tritsch Trasch IV (David Delamer), which took second place on HPH.
The One Designs saw the Howth 17s, Puppeteer 22s, Squibs, E Boats and Ruffian 23s commit to a much longer race than they usually sail. The Howth 17s continued their 125th Anniversary celebrations and a 16-boat entry gave them bragging rights as the largest class afloat. Erica (Davie Nixon) showed the fleet a clean pair of heels and enjoyed a winning margin of 3.54 minutes over Hera (J and M Duffy) with current class champion, Rosemary (Curley, Jones and Potter), taking third place. Zaida (Houlihan, Hurley and Carrol) won on handicap.
In the 10-strong Puppeteer fleet, Trick or Treat (Blay and Pearson) held the lead from the first mark to the finish. Despite some intense racing up the west side and around the back of Lambay with runner-up Yellow Peril (Costello and Murphy) and third placed HoneyBadger (Garrett May), Trick or Treat lead around all the marks and went on to win by three minutes. Odyssey (P & R Byrne) were awarded the HPH trophy.
The E Boats and Ruffian 23s shared a start, and the respective race wins were taken by Smile E Too (Arnold Neeskens) from Clontarf Y&BC and Ruffrider (Finnie, Lee, Bell and Irvine) from Dun Laoghaire Motor YC.
The Squibs continue their revival at Howth YC and the 8-boat entry included Killyleagh YC visitor Robert Marshall, who borrowed Kerfuffle from local class stalwart Emmet Dalton for the event. Robert, perhaps with the benefit of his Strangford experience, provided a masterclass of how to sail a Squib well in light wind and a strong tide, and built a winning margin of nearly six minutes over the course of the afternoon, leading home class newcomer Tom McMahon’s Tears in Heaven and Cool Beans (Thomas O’Reilly). Tom McMahon also took first place on handicap, a great result after just four weeks' experience in the class.
The Lambay Lady is the trophy awarded for the best performance of the regatta and there was no surprise when Robert Marshall was announced as the very deserving winner.