Howth Sailors First in Class in the Round The Island Race in Cowes
Author: Peter McCabe Posted on: 17/7/08 Print Version


The crew of Summertime with the Class Winner's trophy at the Island Yacht Club
from left: Conor Holmes, Peter McCabe, Geoff Gray,
Michael Torpey, Declan McCabe and Dara Lowry.
The annual Round The Island Race ("RTIR"), around the Isle of Wight, was held at the end of June. Five Howth sailors (Conor Holmes, Michael Torpey, Dara Lowry and the McCabe brothers, Peter and Declan) joined their English friend, Geoff Gray, on board his Southerly 110, Summertime to compete for the 7th year in the 55nm course anti-clockwise around the island starting and finishing at Cowes.

This year there were 18,000 people taking part with 1,875 boats in total. Once again there were 10 starts at 10 minute intervals.

We had 250 boats in our start (lime green race flag) and 64 boats in our class. With conditions being rather lively (wind ranging from 18 to 25 knots) it made for lots of excitement and many collisions.

The reported casualty total was one boat capsized, one boat sunk, 4 dismasted, 5 damaged and needing a tow, 11 MOBs, 5 serious injuries including one person airlifted to hospital with head injuries and 5 boats grounded.

If the health and safety people had their way they would probably ban all yacht racing.

A fearsome Viking, Dara Lowry
This year everything seemed to go right for us. Apart from the strong wind, which Summertime needs to keep her 8.5 tons moving, our tactics to stay in the tide when helpful and get out of it when not under us paid dividends - despite losing some wind on occasions.

From left: Peter McCabe, Declan McCabe, Michael Torpey, Dara Lowry
and Geoff Gray enjoying breakfast rolls in East Cowes Marina before the race.

At the Needles when we turned onto a broad reach in quite heavy seas we decided that the wind was too tight and a little too strong to risk our very large spinny so we launched our genneker and for a time, when on a dead run, we goose-winged it with the spinny pole to great effect.

We finished back up the Solent to Cowes against the tide and with the wind dropping particularly as we neared the finish line but we still managed to cover the course in our best time ever, 8 hrs 20 mins.

We knew we were dong well when we passed many boats in classes that started 10, 20 and even 30 minutes ahead of us, but it wasn't until that evening that we had any inkling of how well when the first unconfirmed reports put us around the top of our class.

The next morning when placings were confirmed and prizes were presented at the Island Yacht Club, Cowes by the English Olympic sailor, Shirley Robertson, we found that we were 1st in our class, 5th in our (lime green flag) start group and 33rd overall out of 1875 boats.

Looking like he knows what he is doing, Peter McCabe on the helm of Summertime

Declan McCabe receiving prize from Shirley Robertson

Not bad for a group of amateurs from Howth Yacht Club. Nobody was more surprised or delighted than the crew and particularly Summertime's owner, Geoff Gray. I put it down to the very competitive racing we are involved in around the cans in Howth ... and then there is always the element of luck. I doubt that we'll ever improve on this time but there's always next year.