Davy Jones’ locker is now the champion’s trophy cabinet

Even by the long-term standards of the 124-year-old Howth 17 class, the 48-year-old ownership partnership in the 1907 Rosemary vintage between David Jones and George Curley – with David Potter most recently joining the force when George turned 90 year. year – is a particularly long-lasting relationship. And during their nearly half-century ownership, Rosemary has competed in hundreds of races and won numerous trophies.

But never before had she reached the heights of this weekend, when she became the 2022 Howth 17 National Champion after a particularly deft bar and tactics from Davy Jones, in a five-race series in which the Team Rosemary has fulfilled the golden rules of making fewer mistakes than everyone else rather than trying to be perfect, and seeing the series as a whole rather than a collection of individual races.

Being the Howth 17s, their national championship format is unusual in that they hold a dock race on Friday evening without trimming their distinctive topsails, then on Saturday they target four committee boat races under full sail.

In theory, Sunday morning is kept in reserve if necessary to make a championship. But with a racing officer of the caliber of David Lovegrove with his special knowledge of Howth racing waters, they had someone who could deal with the rising barometer’s determination to kill the sloping westerly breeze, and he started well on Friday night. with a skillfully laid course in Howth Sound, where summer evening breezes off land and occasionally off Ireland’s Eye made racing possible despite an outgoing tide.

Friday night racing in Howth Sound, without the use of topsails. Photo: Patricia Nixon

Friday's race finish along the pier to avoid the tide was a notorious line-up of stars, with Deilginis winning ahead of Oona and Isobel.  Photo: Patricia NixonFriday’s race finish near the pier to avoid the tide was a range of noted trouble spots, with Deilginis winning from Oona and Isobel Photo: Patricia Nixon

And that first run seemed to set the shape of things to come. Because although the Howth 17 Nationals as a stand-alone event have been around since 2001 (they used to call it the Howth 17s Worlds, but modesty has prevailed ever since), only eight different boat names have made it onto the trophy. And the top four in Race 1 all came from that roll call of distinction, with current pacemaker Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny) leading Peter Courtney’s Oona, with Brian & Conor Turvey’s Isobel third and Ian Malcolm’s Aura fourth, with the first non-former champion being Orla (Marc FitzGibbon & Donal Gallagher) fifth.

We say “seemed to set the shape of things to come” because it meant that going into Saturday’s four open courses, the beginnings of private battles were already in place, and that coverage of rivals expected by established hotshots left the Clear path for Ian Byrne and Eddie Ferris with Gladys to win Race 2 of the Hera, Michael Duffy’s beautifully maintained purple boat, which cruised at truly purple speeds, as its crew had significant input from the Sutton Dinghy Club GP14 class .

Michael Duffy's purple Hera showing off a pair of Orla and Aura's own heels.  Photo: Patricia NixonMichael Duffy’s purple Hera showing off a pair of Orla and Aura’s own heels. Photo: Patricia Nixon

The Aura, built in 1898 by Ian Malcolm - a former title winner - gets a burst of speed to haul it past a trio of leading boats.  Photo: Patricia NixonThe Aura, built in 1898 by Ian Malcolm – a former title winner – gets a burst of speed to haul it past a trio of leading boats. Photo: Patricia Nixon

However, third at only 30 seconds behind was Rosemary with her usual crew, at the start of what was ultimately to be a great series. Admittedly, it didn’t look like it at the finish of race 3, since she came back to 8th while the resurgent Hera won. But between them were an assortment of proven performers who were now more tightly locked in personal point challenges than ever.

There was a slight cloud buildup later on Saturday, but as it kept the breeze alive, it was welcome.  Photo: Patricia NixonThere was a slight cloud buildup later on Saturday, but as it kept the breeze alive, it was welcome. Photo: Patricia Nixon

This cleared the way for Rosemary to win Race 4, with second going to Oona (Peter Courtney), who almost invariably has the best-tuned topsail in the entire class, but her family has been involved since 1907. Meanwhile, aboard Rosemary they had already calculated that if they could win the final race with their new speed, Hera managing to stay ahead of Oona in second and third while private battles kept the half-dozen favorites at bay, then they would be home and dry.

A tall order, perhaps, but sometimes things are meant to be that way. In retrospect, everything looked beautifully choreographed. There was a confidence in the way Rosemary was the first to finish, crossing the line even as other boats crossed in the opposite direction, still towards the leeward mark.

Rosemary wins the last race while other boats were still heading for the leeward mark.  Photo: Patricia NixonRosemary wins the last race while other boats were still heading for the leeward mark. Photo: Patricia Nixon

The big picture.  To win overall, Rosemary not only had to finish first, but she had to make sure that somehow Hera (right) was ahead of the yellow Oona, who she managed by just two seconds.  Photo: Patricia NixonThe big picture. To win overall, Rosemary not only had to finish first, but she had to make sure that somehow Hera (right) was ahead of the yellow Oona, who she managed by just two seconds. Photo: Patricia Nixon

And on top of that, after taking the Oona and Hera fights all the way to lay-line weather, Rosemary’s crew had the satisfaction of seeing them pay, with Hera just taking advantage of the position under the sure wind. She was second just two seconds ahead of the Courtney boat, with the now winning crew (having themselves been half a minute ahead of Hera) bursting into a fit of punches that would have baffled the founders. Victorians of this old class. .

What would the Founding Fathers think?  Some distinctly un-Victorian punches and beers from Rosemary's crew when they figured out they were the 2022 Howth Seventeen Countdown National Champions.  Photo: Patricia NixonWhat would the Founding Fathers think? Some distinctly un-Victorian punches and beers from Rosemary’s crew when they figured out they were the 2022 Howth Seventeen Countdown National Champions. Photo: Patricia Nixon

The air punch was well deserved as they had already calculated that despite finishing tied with Hera on 12 points after the gap, they had dropped an 8th to 10th off the Duffy boat, making the final composition:

2022 Howth 17 National Championship:

1st Rosemary (David Jones, George Curley & David Potter) 12 pts; 2nd Hera (Michael Duffy) 12 pts; 3rd Oona (P. Courtney, 13pts; 4th Isobel (Brian & Conor Turvey) 15pts; 5th Deilginis (Massey/Toomey/Kenny) 16pts; 6th Orla (M FitzGibbon & D Gallagher) 21pts. 18 boats raced.

It is done!  Rosemary's crew consisted of Jack Haydon, David Potter and Davy Jones.  Photo: Patricia NixonIt is done! Rosemary’s crew consisted of Jack Haydon, David Potter and Davy Jones. Photo: Patricia Nixon

One of the Howth 17’s survival secrets is that they maintain a diligently implemented handicap system, and by virtue of this the winner was Eileen (R Macken), the stellar Rosemary taking second place, while Silver Moon (Susan Morgan) was third.

Another secret to class survival is their stubbornness. In March 2018, after Storm Emma hit seven pupils in the class when it destroyed their storage shed on Howth’s east pier, the most impatient and pessimistic observers considered Rosemary a loss, because then that some boats had only suffered superficial damage, it had been reduced to a flat pack.

Beyond hope?  Rosemary reduced to a flat pack by Storm Emma in March 2018Beyond hope? Rosemary reduced to a flat pack by Storm Emma in March 2018

But when you’ve been in partnership with a boat for that long, different values ​​prevail, and in Larry Archer, Rosemary’s team had a boatbuilder eccentric enough to accept that it could be reshaped, and made fully seaworthy. with him. Four years after that scene of disaster, Rosemary has shown how right they were all. And now she’s queen of the class as they look forward to their 125th birthday celebrations in 2023.

    The path to healing.  Rosemary is gradually encouraged to regain her form with a new deck and more work from Larry Archer over the winter of 2018-19.  Photo: David Jones The path to healing. Rosemary is gradually encouraged to regain her form with a new deck and more work from Larry Archer over the winter of 2018-19. Photo: David Jones

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