HYC Puppeteers Trip to the Liffey on 12th & 13th August
Each year the Puppeteers spend a weekend on the Liffey racing
Author: David Clarke Posted on: 20/8/06 Print Version

Photos : David Clarke

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The Puppeteers travel to the Liffey once a year for a series of 4 races between the East Link (lift) bridge and the new footbridge. 11 boats travelled this year, sometimes there are 15 or 16.

Being surrounded by tall buildings on the Liffey makes it a challenging event as the wind is very variable.

It usually blows either East or West and sometimes both East and West at the same time! - depending on where you are on the relatively short legs.

David Clarke - Harlequin
It can be a little frustrating, as the conditions are very different to racing in open waters. Even if you are doing well at the front end, you can quickly fall into a hole and the boats behind zip past on Spinnaker, leaving you in their dirty air. It is therefore a big challenge to get to the top end and then to stay there!

Where there is always some wind sheer when sailing, a much higher degree of sheer is encountered on the Liffey because the wind swirling around the buildings results in one direction low down near the water and a different angle higher up.

So its better to ignore your windex - it points to the wind direction at the top of the mast, but half way down the mast, the wind (which drives the boat) is at a very different angle.

The jib and main therefore should have lots of twist. Put the car back on the genoa, have the traveller up to windward with the main sheet eased and no kicker. In the first race we sailed to the windex and we got 3rd. So we gave up watching the windex in the next race and won.

Saturday - Howth to the Liffey
The Puppeteers travelled over from Howth on the Saturday in a pursuit race. Each boat started at a different time depending on its handicap - the fastest boat with the highest handicap started last.

In Harlequin, we started 10 minutes behind the first boats - but some of them had already started 5 minutes earlier than they should have - which meant that we were 15 minutes behind them. We therefore had no chance to catch them.

Above : Going up the Liffey passing under the East Link bridge
Right : Evelyn McAuliffe & Suzanne Carroll from Harlequin at the BBQ in Gerry Kennedy's house

On Saturday night the Puppeteers attended a BBQ in Gerry Kenney's fabulous 3 story house in Clontarf.

Sunday Racing on the Liffey
Going into the final of the 4 races, it was between Snowgoose and ourselves in Harlequin for overall winner. Had David Lovegrove in Snowgoose won the last race he would have won the event. Snowgoose and Harlequin would then have equal scores so if they won the last race they would have been the overall winner.

Snowgoose was leading in the last race when on the spinnaker run they fell into a hole. Harlequin was behind and fell into the same hole but with a bit of momentum which carried us alongside. When a puff came we got it marginally first and gathered momentum. Snowgoose was then in our dirty wind and that was that. So, Harlequin won by a narrow margin.

Prize Giving

Harlequin - David Clarke

Snowgoose - David Lovegrove

Cloud 9 - David Flood was helming
(David is Jimmy Flood's son)

Photo : At the prize giving

Carmel receiving
a bouquet of flowers

2nd Prize
Snowgoose - David Lovegrove

1st Prize
Harlequin - David Clarke
Shortly afterwards the boats gathered for exiting the liffey in a group.
Sunday - Returning from the Liffey to Howth
We all exited the liffey at the Poolbeg Light at about the same time and one boat launched their spinnaker. Within about 3 minutes all the boats had their spinnies up and an unofficial race started!

That race was more fun than the pursuit race on the way over. The crew changed roles on a number of boats - swapping helm etc. Spinnakers were dropped at the Baily and we had to tack against the tide to the nose of howth. Those who went in very close to the Howth rocks came out ahead.

It certainly was a very enjoyable event with a variety of sailing and racing combined with an entertaining social scene.