Over the weekend 22-24 September Howth Yacht Club played host to round five of the OCRI championship and round four of the OCRDA series in the annual combined Irish offshore GP.
All the previous rounds of the 2017 OCRDA Race Series has been staged in English waters, and for the penultimate race of the season the 30 strong fleet set off to race in the seas off Howth. Alan Powers, MD of Power Marine, builders of the Banshee Powerboats, had been flying the Irish flag at the majority of UK meetings, and now it was his turn to welcome a healthy fleet of English teams who had made the pilgrimage to Dublin via ferry from several ports in Britain for the first powerboat race organised by the superb venue of Howth Yacht Club.
Teams started arriving at the Howth Yacht Club, situated on Dublin’s north coast, in beautiful September sunshine, but the weather forecast for the weekend’s proceedings didn’t look promising, with strong southerly gales predicted for Saturday. However, despite the dodgy weather forecast the clubs set about laying the course on Friday evening, in the hope it would still be there in the morning.
Saturday morning saw the race pits in the club filled with the remaining teams who had arrived over night, and entries for the weekend comprised of eighteen OCRDA and six OCRI boats split between three classes. The first race was scheduled for 13.30 but was postponed for an hour to assess the weather situation and the course. Some quick thinking, and even quicker buoy laying, allowed a rough weather 4 mark course to be set on the westerly more sheltered side of the harbour. The foul weather forced the cancelation of both the yacht club’s sailing events which allowed the powerboats free reign on the waters off Howth.
After a mandatory course familiarisation, teams mustered at 15.15pm. A rolling start saw the Batboat of Brian Peedell roaring to a class and race lead, followed closely by the class 2 entries of Jeremy Gibson and Mark Mawby. The presence of the familiar class 3 red Phantom 19 ‘Y Knot’, now sporting Yamaha power, in the midst of the class 1 and class 2 front runners is testament to their high standard of preparation at this stage in the season.
Immediately behind the race leaders saw a close class 3 battle between ‘Eat Sleep Race Repeat’, ‘License to Thrill’, ‘Power Marine’ and ‘AK Racing’. Class 1 honours went to Brian Peedell in V13, with Ireland’s Jason Keely in his Pink Phantom 21 in the first runner up position. Class 2 Order was Mark Mawby in ‘Mr Bump’ followed by Jeremy Gibson and Robert Dyke in the Phantom 19 ‘Fair Play’, with Mark Sansom in ‘Foam Fury’ not far behind.
The largest class of the weekend, Class 3 which comprised of the majority of the OCRI fleet, witnessed a close battle at the front between the UK teams of Kevin Edmonson and Annika Hawthorn in ‘Y Knot’ and Craig Temple Murray with Paul Scott in their 19 ‘Eat Sleep Race Repeat’, and the two Irish Banshees of Mark and Alan Power trading positions for the duration of race one. Pit bound on Saturday were ‘The Rock’ and ‘The Edge’ due to minor mechanical issues which would be remedied overnight.
Sunday morning broke to a much welcomed drop in the gales, although a nasty lop still rolled through The Sound in Howth. After a course inspection the decision was made that the main course was suitable to race. At one o’clock all 24 teams made the start line, a true testament to the crews who worked tirelessly throughout the evening to ensure their trusty steeds were fit and primed for action. The teams’ energy was no doubt enhanced by a liberal helping of Draught Guiness on tap the night before.
Race 2 was late starting due to a herd of kayaks straying across the start line resulting in the race being red flagged, and it was not helped by a trawler encroaching onto the course.
Finishing order in Class 1 was:- Jason Keely in ‘Lilly the pink’, Jason Briggs in ‘The Edge’, while Brian Peedell retired with a mechanical issue.
Class 2 honours went to 3-55 ‘Eat Sleep Race Repeat’, Craig Temple Murry and Paul Scott, with the runner up positions going to the 2 Banshee boats of Mark Power and Alan Power, ‘Power Marine’ 2nd position and ‘AK Racing’ 3rd.
A half two muster again saw a full fleet make the start line on Howth’s final rolling start with the conditions a little more bumpy than the earlier race since the tide had turned.
First into turn one were the two black Phantom 19s of Graham Lawton and Jeremy Gibson, with ‘The Doc’ of Phil Hancock in the mix.
Race 3 results were: Class 1 – ‘Nipon Express’, ‘The Edge’, with ‘Lilly the Pink’ retiring; Class 2 – ‘Who Dares Swims’, ‘Fair Play’ & ‘The Rock’, Class 3 – ‘Y Knot’, ‘Eat, Sleep, Race, Repeat’, ‘License to Thrill’.
Class 1 – V13 Nippon Express, 1-21 Lilly the Pink, 1-80 The Edge
Class 2 – 2-19 Fair Play, 2-3 Who Dares Swims, 2-4 Mr Bump
Class 3 – Y Knot, Eat Sleep Race Repeat, License to Thrill
Class 1 – 1-21 Lilly the Pink (Jason Keely & Keith Plummer)
Class 3 – 3-2 BP Racing (Sam Osbourn & Tom de Jonge), 3-3 Power Marine (Alan Power & Kevin Walshe), 3-8 AK Racing (Mark Power & Petrol Hartlaub), 3-15 Goodwood Racing (Lee Casey & Noel Byrne), 3-23 SutteRing (Jon Kenny & Chris Quigley)
Howth’s first offshore powerboat race was deemed a resounding success and the large crowds that turned out showed it was a welcome addition to Ireland’s motorsport activity. Plans are already being discussed to include Howth in the 2018 OCRDA calender, and Alan Power and his trusty team are ready and willing to organise it.