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.
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 .
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.
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.
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. .
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.
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.
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.