Howth Cruiser Makes History
  Howth skipper Sean McCormack made sailing history by being first to receive the Irish Cruising Club's newest honour, the Marie Trophy
  Author: W M Nixon      Posted on: 3/1/09

Howth skipper Sean McCormack has made sailing history by being first to receive the Irish Cruising Club's newest honour, the Marie Trophy, which was established in April 2008 to celebrate the best ICC cruise by a boat under 30ft LOA.
In September, Sean's 1980-vintage First 30 Marie Claire II, which he has owned from new, returned to Howth from a four summers venture southwards which has already won awards with the HYC Cruising Group.

Marie Claire II sailed the "coastal" route out to the Mediterranean, and then last summer was sailing extensively in the Sardinia area before making an Autumn cruise in 2007 to the mouth of the Rhone via Corsica and Italy to prepare for an inland waterways venture through the length of France in the summer of 2008.

Sean McCormack
The ICC adjudicator was thus able to amalgamate the Autumn 2007 project with 2008's inland waterways passage north (you send the mast on by road), and the 816 mile cruise from Le Havre to Howth as one cruise. And as Marie Claire II is just 29ft 6ins long, she gets the new award with style.
Map of Sean's Inland Waterways trip across France >>
Sean McCormack's Marie Claire II on the French Waterways

Near Sancerre on the Canal Lateral a la Loire

In Chalon sur Saone
But the connections with Howth go even further. The original Marie was based in Howth from 1930 until the 1940s.

A 26ft cutter, she was like a miniature of the Scottish sailing fishing boats of the time, and had been designed and built in 1893 by J E Doyle of Dun Laoghaire, though it's said his daughter Mamie designed the boats he built.

In 1930-31, Marie was brought to Howth by youthful owners Desmond Keatinge and Keith McFerran.

In 1931, they cruised to Scotland on a leisurely venture (Marie didn't have an engine), and became the first winners of what is now the ICC's premier trophy, the Faulkner Cup.

The 26ft cutter Marie in Strangford Lough
in the 1960s.     Photo: W M Nixon
Marie continued to be based in Howth, and when Keatinge and McFerran moved on to a bigger boat, one of Marie's new owners was Cecil Maguire, best known these days as Neville's father.

Marie eventually ended up in the north, where in recent years she has been restored to seagoing trim at the age of 115 years. Meanwhile ICC boats have become generally bigger, so this year former Commodore Michael McKee (who owned Marie in the 1960s) decided that the little guys should be given their own trophy.

What goes round, come round. Marie was Howth-based when she became part of sailing history. The new trophy to honour her memory finds its first home in Howth. But unlike Marie's short cruise in 1931, Sean McCormack and his little ship have logged 2983 very varied miles to be the first recipients of the Marie Trophy.

Marie Claire II has definitely made her own bit of history.

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