The plans of the Howth 17 class were originally designed by W. Herbert Boyd in 1897 for Howth Sailing Club. In 1907 the class was also adopted by Dublin Bay Sailing Club, when agreed class rules were finalised. However, it was not until 1921 that these plans were first published in the Journal of the Humber Yawl Club in Yorkshire. By that time, the designer had succeeded his father and assumed the title of Sir Walter H. Boyd.
The design was conceived from the need for a 3-man single-design keelboat to race in the waters off Howth and Dublin Bay and it would replace Boyd's previously successful 'Half Rater' design. It was also thought that the boat should be able to be sailed single-handed.
The basic specification was for a stem and keel of oak and elm, deadwood and frames of oak, planking of yellow pine above the waterline and red pine below, a shelf of pitch pine and a topstrake of teak, larch deck-beams and yellow pine planking and Baltic spruce spars with a keel of cast iron.
Other than the 'luxury' inclusion of teak, the boats were designed to be built of materials which at that time were so common as scarcely to be worthy of comment. But today yellow pine and pitch pine are scarce, their properties of endurance and longevity much appreciated and very much in evidence on the original five boats.