Accurate forecast puts off participation?

Post date: Jan 17, 2017 9:59:18 AM

Yesterday’s diminished Fireball fleet in DMYC’s Frostbite Series may have been a consequence of the actual weather mirroring the forecast. XCWeather had been predicting winds of 17 knots with gusts up to 28 knots from a WNW direction and that is what the weather station in the harbour was showing on my arrival – 20.1 knots, a gust of 28.6 knots, a wind direction of 295˚ and an air temperature of 10.6˚. While the air temperature may have been a balmy 10.6˚ for January, it still required a hat coat and gloves to stand and watch proceedings. Three Fireballs were on the start line at the designated time, Messrs Butler and Oram (15061), the Clancy brothers (14807) and the “pink ladies”, McKenna & O’Keeffe (14691). Later they were joined by Frank Miller and (possibly) Ed Butler, but I am not sure if this latter combination would be ranked as a starter. (Official results today confirm they are both a starter and a finisher).

All three boats sailed to the left-hand-side of the course on the first beat with Team Clancy, Conor & James, the first to peel off to go right. From my vantage point it appeared that they had done the right thing by going right that bit earlier, but by hanging in that bit longer on the left, Noel & Stephen gave the impression of being able to sail that bit freer up the port lay-line to power over the brothers. Spinnakers were broken out on the legs from Mark 1 to Mark 2, but in reality the course was such that Mark 2 was almost incidental from an angles perspective. At the first rounding of Mark 2, Butler & Oram gybed, but all this seems to achieve was to set them up for another gybe to get round Mark 3, followed by another gybe at Mark 3 itself. Team Clancy sailed beyond and probably 20 - 30m outside Mark 2 before they put in their gybe to get to Mark 3. The leg from Mark 3 to Mark 4 proved to be too tight for spinnakers.

On the second beat the lead pair, with Butler & Oram comfortably ahead, sailed on the RHS to the harbour mouth, relative to a weather mark that was of the order of 100-120m to the west of the end of the West Pier. This time Butler was the first to cross the course with Team Clancy hanging on to the outer edges of the course. By the time Butler & Oram reached Mark 4 the second time they had a leg lead on the Clancys. On the third beat, the pair split, with Butler going left and early on it looked as though Clancy may have closed the gap. However, when they actually crossed tacks Butler was still comfortably ahead. On the following beat, they took opposite sides again, except Butler went right this time. It made no difference as the lead was maintained.

Mark 2 had less and less of a role to play in the race as the laps passed, increasingly the lead two boats, flying spinnaker, sailed further and further outside of Mark 2, extending the starboard tack three sail reach to beyond the HSS terminal before putting in a gybe for a short hitch to Mark 3 and a spinnaker drop to two-sail to Mark 4. The “pink Ladies”, Louise and Hermine obviously decided that discretion was the better part of valour and kept their spinnaker in its bag for the day. Ditto Messrs Miller & Butler.