Howth Yacht Club Shines in Challenging 2024 Round Ireland Race

07 July 2024
Howth Yacht Club Shines in Challenging 2024 Round Ireland Race

The Round Ireland is Ireland's premier offshore yacht race, and with a race distance of approximately 704 nautical miles, it is the second longest race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club calendar. At a glance, the sailing instructions seem straightforward:

Start in Wicklow. Leave Ireland and all its islands (excluding Rockall) to starboard. Finish in Wicklow.

However, it is an incredibly challenging race with the course changing at each corner of Ireland, an open ocean passage up the west coast, complex tidal gates, and sometimes a summer gale thrown in for good measure! This keeps competitors coming back again and again for this epic biennial race.

Howth Yacht Club is no stranger to the Round Ireland and with two HYC entries in the inaugural race in 1980, the club has been well represented ever since.

The 2024 edition of the Round Ireland race was no exception and Howth Yacht Club were once again well represented with two entries - Checkmate XX (Nigel Biggs and Dave Cullen) in class 1 and Indian (Simon Knowles) in Class 4.

Check out some of the great photos in the following Album:

The race started at 12 noon on Saturday 22nd June with the Irish Naval vessel George Bernard Shaw as committee vessel and HYC's David Lovegrove running the Race Management as Principal Race Officer.

It was a tough start to the race with a beat to Tusker and very little letup for the fleet as they continued upwind all the way to Fastnet in changeable conditions. Light winds and no wind prevailed after Fastnet where a lot of the fleet parked up for hours.

Both Checkmate and Indian were in the top 10 overall up to Fastnet but after the parking lot at Mizzen head, both fell down the rankings. In fact Imp from RCYC took a 10-mile lead on Indian (both boats having a similar rating) having sailed around the wind hole. Indian then worked hard to recover those 10 miles and by Black Rock in Mayo had her within 1.5 miles!

More painfully light winds and parking occurred around Eagle Island, which had quite an effect on the results. Wind was coming in the form of a low depression moving quickly, and a number of competitors chose to head for safety with a 40-knot gale beckoning! Indian climbed the rankings in a building breeze and once over the top of the country was once again back in the top 10. A favourable tide at Rathlin Island helped to push her to 6th place overall, and getting ahead of IMP on the water had a great impact in crew morale!

As the race continued, Indian's crew faced the most challenging conditions yet. The forecast of the pending gale was on everyone's mind and was deadly accurate so they were expecting heavy winds on the nose for all of the Irish sea leg. It picked up to sustained wind of 35 knots when they were at Strangford Lough with gusts of 39-40 across the bow. Indian had a No3 headsail and two reefs in the main and kept pace doing 7 knots in boat speed upwind. At that stage they had climbed to 5th overall in the rankings. The conditions were relentless and the strong to gale force conditions persisted right up to the finish. That day took a heavy toll on the crew and boat but thankfully there was no physical damage to either!

The crew of Indian played a blinder down the Irish sea to hold their hard fought 5th overall position. They also secured 1st place in the Corinthian crewed boat division with a podium result of 3rd in Class 4. Indian was also part of a team with Searcher (Pete Smith who sailed in HYC with his brothers and his Father) and Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins). This team took the top team prize and curiously those three boats individually sailed the shortest distances of all the boats that finished.

Congratulations to the Indian Crew: Simon Knowles, John Flynn, Guy Molyneux, Matthew Knowles, Oscar Langan, Rima Macken and Cillian Macken.

Checkmate XX also had a great race and took 3rd place in Class 1.

For a visual recap of the race, from the pre-race excitement to the challenging conditions at sea and the post-race celebrations, check out this compelling video summary of the 2024 Round Ireland Yacht Race:

The 2024 Round Ireland Yacht Race proved to be another exciting and challenging event, with Howth Yacht Club's entries demonstrating skill, perseverance, and teamwork throughout the competition.

Report by Simon Knowles