For the first time ever, one of the Howth Seventeens has been sailing on the Shannon. And Ian Malcolm and his family have a trophy to prove it.
They were racing their 110-year-old Seventeen Aura in the Waterways Ireland Classic Boat regatta at Dromineer on Lough Derg over the weekend of September 13th-14th, and when racing concluded, Aura was awarded first prize in the keel yacht class.
She was much-admired, for a classic jackyard tops'l has not been seen on Lough Derg since the 1920s.
But for those of us who simply breezed down to the shores of the Shannon and back again, the Aura journey was the real achievement.
Seventeen Footer Aura
The Howth Seventeen is not a user-friendly boat for road trailing. But with input from the mighty brain of Brian Murphy, a proper road trailer was built, and Ian and regular shipmate Dave O'Shea towed the classic - one of the five original Howth Seventeens from 1898 - straight down to Derg through the Friday traffic.
Crew of Aura at Dromineer (L-R) Ian Malcolm, helmsman Artie Corbett (85) and Christopher Malcolm (14) Photo: Dave O'Shea
It was worth the effort. They were among people who truly appreciated the boat. And with 72 racing entries in six historic classes, there were plenty of enthusiasts to savour the Aura's unique presence. Notable among them was Artie Corbett, Peter Courtney's uncle, who lives on Lough Derg but learned his sailing in Howth and had his first sail in a Howth Seventeen - Pauline - a very long time ago. But the years fell away, and Artie (85) was as skilled as ever on the helm.
Classic boats from north of the Liffey had a good time of it at Dromineer. Aidan Henry from Sutton took the award for the International 12s, while Jonathan O'Rourke of Clontarf was tops in the Mermaids, and Alan Carr of Sutton took the IDRA14 prize with the Sargent-built Starfish.
Overall winner was Cillian Dickson, 15-year-old son of David Dickson of Lough Ree with the family's 1961-vintage Shannon One Design No. 73. In the midst of all these high-powered classic dinghies, it was good to see the elegant shape of Aura out on Lough Derg. But it was even better to see her safe home again in Howth, ready and willing for the remainder of the racing in the Autumn League.
Home again. Aura on her new road trailer after the Dromineer expedition
Photo: W M Nixon