Rules and Philosophy


The Class is  raced and maintained by the Association Members preserving the unique heritage of the Howth 17s. Association Members maintain the vibrancy of the Class by racing and cruising together as a class and also encourage new participants to the Class in order to maintain succession. This philosophy is taken account of and explained when the boats are sold.

Detailed Philosophy:

  • One-design class (nearly equal in inherent speed, with sailing ability and boat preparation the key factors in racing success).
  • A wooden boat, built in accordance with the original plans of W.H Boyd in 1897 (frames & timbers, carvel planking, timber deck and deck beams, etc., and with widely differing deck treatments accepted – laid, plywood, painted, covered, etc.) and fitted with solid wooden spars.
  • Gaff-rigged in accordance with the original drawings.
  • No winches or ratchet blocks.
  • Inexpensive to run maintain and repair (capable of being owned and raced competitively by people of modest means).
  • The existing boats are built to the plans by various builders, modified, strengthened and repaired over the years, all with slightly different layouts and fittings, all accepted as being valid 17-footers.
  • Not historically accurate as to materials and methods used at the time of original build, but using normal and inexpensive materials and methods current to the time of repair or refit. The original Seventeens were built with materials that were modern at the time (for instance, muntz metal) and were built to standards that were up-to-date at the time. This philosophy should be continued with current building and repairs without altering the ‘look’ of the boats. Examples are: Dacron sails, horizontally cut mainsails, sail windows, stainless steel and plastic fittings, man-made fibre ropes, modern glues and epoxies, laminated frames, plywood.
  • Adjusters needed to control the shape of modern sailcloth can be widely used and are accepted. These would not have been needed with cotton sails. However, these are kept as simple as possible.