AQUA Challenge at Howth Yacht Club sees biggest ever entry
With racing only underway for 3 weeks and bundles of pent-up enthusiasm looking for post lockdown opportunities, the 2020 AQUA Challenge saw 40 boats line up on HYC’s East Pier start line on Sat, July 18th for the first Open Event of HYC’s 2020 season. The entry listed included welcome visitors Hot Cookie (O’Gorman / Irvine) from the National Yacht Club and Out and About (McCoy / O’Malley) from Skerries Sailing Club.
The premise of the race is simple, two people aboard a boat of any size, no restrictions on sails used (apart from in the White Sails class) and a course planned to take around 3 hours for the first to finish. This year the event saw separate starts for White Sails, Cruisers, J80s and Puppeteers and a first gun at 10.00 hours to ensure plenty of time for the slower boats to get back for dinner, if not for lunch.
The White Sails, Cruiser and J80 fleets were set a course that took them around Lambay Island, via a number of diversions on the way there and back. The ebbing tide and light breeze made the journey north a test of both skill and patience. Those looking forward to a down-tide relaxed sail home found the trip back even more trying as the gradient westerly and the tentative sea-breeze struggled for superiority. First boat back to the finish line in Howth Sound from Lambay was the appropriately named Lambay Rules, coaxed along by Stephen Quinn and Dave Cotter to finish 3 hours and 15 minutes after starting. On corrected time, two of HYC’s thriving fleet of Half Tonners bagged the top places with Mata getting to the line only 46 seconds ahead of The Big Picture. In the Whitesails fleet, Changeling (Jameson / Wright) took the honours from Force 5 (R&J McAllister) on IRC while Zarquon (M&J Wenski) took the honours on HPH from Force 5.
The J80 fleet saw eight boats afloat, five of them chartered for the day from HYC’s Club owned fleet. Diana Kissane and Graham Curran took first place with Robert Dix and Richard Burrows in Jeannie second – the thirty second margin between them confirming the intensity of the racing enjoyed on the day by the J80 Class.
The five Puppeteer 22s, a fleet competing in the event for the first time, were given the concession of a shorter course that only took them part way to Lambay, saving them the extra 6 miles needed to get around it. Trick or Treat (Pearson / Blay) took the inaugural Class win with an impressive five minute margin over Honey Badger (Burke / May).
The 2020 race saw the final finisher through the line only forty minutes behind the first, a great relief to the Race Committee, who have in previous years suffered an extended wait on the pier for the tail enders to arrive.
At the socially distanced prize giving on the balcony at HYC, Dave Murnane of AQUA presented the prizes and Commodore Ian Byrne thanked AQUA Restaurant for their generous sponsorship, the competitors for the great turn-out and Susan Cummins and her race management team for their commitment (and stamina) in putting on a great race.
All who competed were agreed that yes, the 2020 season is finally underway and the sunshine, heat and fantastic racing in the first Open Event of the year, even if it was the latter half of July, was well worth the wait. HYC now moves on to the Squib Nationals, J24 Nationals and the much anticipated WAVE Regatta.
Photo credit Judith Malcolm, features Diana Kissane & Graham Curran, Winners of the J80 Class on one of the HYC Charter boats.