Howth's Beshoff Motors Autumn League Fits In Another Super Sailing Day
06 October 2021
Afloat Magazine's WM Nixon reports 'Anyone doing a crew call last Wednesday to firm up arrangements for Saturday's Day 4 of the Beshoff Motors Autumn League at Howth might well have been greeted with a brief but thoughtful silence from the shipmates, as the wind prediction charts were determinedly proposing gale force-plus conditions. But the Gods of the Weather have a wicked sense of humour, for on the day it turned out that sweet and sunny September 2021 had suddenly renewed its lease for the first Saturday of October. And though there was a bite to the air by the time Jeremy Beshoff - purveyor of classy specialist cars to Peninsular People and Those in Nearby Ireland - was distributing the day's many prizes, Annraoi Blaney's stylish photos convincingly reveal that the racing conditions had become wellnigh perfect, with a westerly brisk enough to bring everything to life, yet not so strong as to prevent most of the Howth 17s from carrying their topsails.
Where else in the world would a varied fleet of mostly modern craft rate the real pressure of the day's breeze on whether or not one of the planet's oldest one-design keelboat classes was capable of setting an archaic sail with which many of those out racing have no personal acquaintance whatever? Yet that is the way it is at Howth, and has been for 123 years since the Seventeens were founded. So much so, in fact, that it was all taken for granted as crews sharpened themselves for a race which enabled the first series discard to kick in, and gave the organisers the satisfaction of already having a basic championship result with two weekends still to sail.
The hotshots in IRC 1 were if anything too keen to notch this crucial fifth race, with the two Classic Half Tonner Checkmates – Nigel Biggs' XVIII and Dave Cullen's XV - being checked out for OCS. But though Mike & Richie Evans J/99 Snapshot moved into first ahead of the Colwell/Murphy J/109 Outrajeous and the Wright/DeNeve Classic HT Mata, the Biggs boat continues to lead overall
The preponderance of X Boats in IRC 2 saw the Gore-Grimes team in Dux notch another win, but overall they're now level pegging with the Wormald/Walsh/O'Neill squad on No Excuse, while Paddy Kyne's Maximus was third on Saturday, and is now third overall on points.
In IRC3 S & D Mullaney's Insider – already 2021 Irish Sigma 33 National Champion – looks well set to add another trophy to the cabinet, as Saturday enabled them to discard a sixth to leave clean sweep of four firsts, putting them well ahead overall of the J/24 Scandal raced by the Nippers, and Vincent Gaffney's Laser 28 Alliance II.
The Non-Spinnaker fleets in IRC Classes 4 and 5 likewise saw a consolidation of established places with Stephen Harris in the First 40.7 Tiger now able to count four wins in 4, as can Steffi & Windsor in the Club Shamrock Demelza in 5. But in these two much more cruiser-oriented divisions, it's the ECHO handicap system which brings the racing to life, and though Tiger holds her lead in ECHO 4, in the 15-strong ECHO 5 it is M Carroll's Blues Xtra which holds the overall lead from Joe Carton's Dehler 34 Voyager, with Terry McCoy's vintage First 38 Out & About now third overall, having logged first and third in the two most recent races.
In Howth's three One-Design Keelboat Classes, the Puppeteer 22s seem to emerge stronger from the pandemic with each passing week - they now have seventeen boats on the starting line, and the pace at the sharp end is ferocious. But although Algy Pearson and Alan Blay with Trick or Treat notched a win on Saturday from Scorie Walls in Gold Dust, it is Gold Dust which still has quite a strong overall point lead on T-o-T, with the May/Burke team on Honeybadger third.
The Squibs likewise are seeing a week-on-week increase in numbers, but we're told it will be next year before their latest renaissance fully manifests itself. Be that as it may, Emmet Dalton with Kerfuffle is looking at a scoreline of three first and a second after the discard, putting him well ahead overall on Crackertoo (S Kay).
By contrast the venerable Howth 17s – now racing fourteen boats every Saturday – have Oona (Peter Courtney), Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny) and Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey) tied overall for first on 9 points with the discard made, with Saturday's winner Oona - after some great racing for the class-leading on the tie break. Those three are now in something of a world of their own, as next in line – Ian Malcolm's Aura - is back on 17 pts.
However, with the Seventeens – as with all classes – there are many boats in the next-in-line category who have great hopes of reversing overall points leads if every proposed race in their series can be sailed over the next two weekends. In the volatile weather of October, that would be little short of miraculous. But as one normally pessimistic skipper observed with satisfaction as he enjoyed the panorama of sunlit sail racing on a lively blue sea on Saturday: "This just wasn't meant to happen at all at all".'
For full results of Beshoff Motors Autumn League Click Here
Article Courtesy of WM Nixon, Afloat Magazine
Photos Courtesy of Annraoi Blaney Photography