Howth winter-racing dinghies leap through weather window to clinch a contest

12 December 2023
Howth winter-racing dinghies leap through weather window to clinch a contest

Reprinted from with our appreciation

One of the advantages of East Coast sailing is that much of the weather and winds come from the west, and thus, Race Officers at Howth trying to slice a brief but real winter contest out of any approaching weather window have input from several met stations, while there’ll usually also be an informative contact in Dublin Airport.

So although Howth’s quick Sunday morning dash for dinghies was sailed with the competitors and race officers unaware that a lethal tornado was about to strike Leitrim away to the northwest, nevertheless, they knew it had to be done in jig time.

And fortunately, it was all helped by it being High Water, when the options on readily available sheltered dinghy race areas is greatly increased, although the days when racing in almost any weather could be provided inside the then-undeveloped Howth Harbour when the tides are in are now long gone.


Twenty-five sailors arrived down to Howth YC on Sunday morning after a few days of wondering whether racing could proceed at all, given the variety of ferocious forecasts available. Racing in the cruiser’s Brass Monkey series the day prior was unfortunately cancelled due to the wind conditions, but hope was held for the HYC Dinghy Frostbites participants on Sunday’s sunny morning.

Some sailors ventured to the end of the pier before racing to get a sense of what the future held, but arrived back at the club less than confident that racing would proceed. However, the Race Officer team of Harry Gallagher, Neil Murphy and Liam Dineen ventured out to the racecourse on Sea Wych, and after assessing the conditions and observing a drop in the breeze, gave the signal for the fleet to launch. Conditions while the fleet were launching were 5-10 knots from the south, giving them a fine run out to the start area, though as the course was laid, the wind began to shift to the west as forecasted, and build in strength.

A triangular course was set, and the fleets began racing in steady breeze in the late teens. An ebb tide and a westerly breeze saw boats being kept away from the start line, although as the fleet made their way up the course, they experienced some leftover easterly rollers from days gone by helping them upwind, and then some opposing steep chop against them as they came closer to the shore.

As the race progressed, the wind began building, and the race officers saw up to 28 knots on the anemometer. The decision was made to finish racing early and send everyone ashore after a single race of a shortened course, but that was more than enough to provide a real sunny sailing tonic for crews coming cheerfully ashore with only ten days to the shortest day of the year.

In the ILCA 7s, Daragh Kelleher (Skerries) continued his run of form with a win, followed closely by Conor Murphy (Howth) and Rory Lynch (Baltimore). A second discard came into effect after the race, leaving Rory on top of the series, closely followed by Daragh.

In the ILCA 6s, Peter Hasset (Dublin Bay SC) showed his experience and led through the finish line, leaving Daragh Peelo (Malahide) and Tom Fox (Rush) to round out the podium. Tom leads the series but it's all to play for coming into the final week.

In the ILCA 4s, only HYC’s Irish Optimist National Champion Harry Dunne – now racing Lasers - made it to the finish line. Oleksandr Bezpalyi (Obolon SC) leads the series with an impressive 8 points counting after 8 races, unlikely to be caught before the end of the series.

In the PYs, Daragh Sheridan's RS Aero (HYC) excelled on the broad reaches of the triangle, hitting a top speed of 15.8 knots. Conor Twohig's GP14 (HYC) couldn't compete with the Aero in those conditions, taking home 2nd place.

The pre-Christmas series of the HYC Dinghy Frostbites concludes next week, although a new series will begin on Sunday, January 7th. A New Year's Day race is also scheduled for 1st Jan, which all are welcome to, entry and details to be published shortly.

To read this article in its entirety on, please click here.

For full results, please click here.

And for some great on-the-water footage from HYC's resident videographer, Matthew Cotter, please click here.