An exciting evening of sailing!

Post date: Aug 17, 2016 8:31:57 AM

After the excitement of seeing Dun Laoghaire’s Annalise Murphy win her Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics in the Laser Radial Class, the five boat Fireball fleet on the DBSC Tuesday night course had lots of their own excitement. With a forecast of 11 – 18 knots from SSE, the actual wind strength was at the upper end of this range, even inside the harbour, and cat’s paws of harder wind were scudding across the waters of the harbour. A windward-leeward course with spreader was set with the weather mark in the vicinity of the bandstand on the East Pier. All five boats set off the start line towards the harbour mouth on starboard tack with Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) appearing to be closest to the pin. About mid-line were the recently crowned National Champions, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and within a short period of time they were powering over the fleet in the windward berth.

At the weather mark Butler & Oram were comfortably ahead followed by the Clancy brothers Conor & James, runners-up in the Nationals, and both boats scorched off towards the harbour mouth under spinnaker on starboard tack. Next around the weather mark were Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly followed by the third placed boat at the Nationals, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and the son and father combination of David & Michael Keegan (14676). These latter two exercised caution and two-sailed the leg to the leeward mark.

Rounding the leeward mark, Butler and Clancy both went right initially, but Clancy peeled off earlier to head towards the harbour mouth. By staying right for longer, Butler & Oram were able to take a long tack up the middle of the course to leave themselves with an approximate port lay-line approach to the weather mark. Clancy was further to leeward. However, possibly on the penultimate tack to the weather mark, Butler & Oram capsized, leaving Team Clancy with a comfortable lead at the weather mark.

The Clancys again adopted a starboard tack spinnaker leg to the harbour mouth while Butler & Oram gybed immediately at the spreader mark to work the opposite side of the course. It made no difference in terms of the placings as the Clancys crossed the finish line in first place. All five boats flew spinnaker on this leg but in making their final gybe to the finish, the ladies capsized to allow the Keegans to overtake them. Though the father and son had a messy drop of their spinnaker short of the finish line, there was still enough distance between them and the ladies to record fourth place on the water.

The finishers crossed the line to a three flag signal, blue for being on station for the finish and “N over A” for the abandonment of a possible second race. Given the wind conditions, it was hardly surprising! It was a fast and furious race and with hindsight, a good call to have it inside the harbour. Proceedings were concluded within 35 minutes of the start signal.