Better weather allows two races!

Post date: Nov 24, 2014 11:10:5 AM

A cloudless sky and bright sunshine allowed the Race Management Team for the 2014/15 Frostbites to get in two races on a trapezoid course yesterday. A new app on my phone, “Windfinder”, gave me a reading of 8 knots of breeze at 15:00 coming out of the West and the nine Fireballs in the first race and the eight who finished the second race were certainly having reasonable trapezing conditions all afternoon.

I missed the first start from my shore-side location but was able to see the entire fleet go right on the first beat before tacking onto starboard in the vicinity of the harbour mouth to take the hitch in to the weather mark, which was located to the west of the approach to the inner marina.

The rounding order at this first weather mark was Kenny Rumball & Teddy Byrne (15061), Conor & James Clancy (15113), Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15058), Luke Malcolm & Harry O’Reilly (14790) and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706).

The top leg of the trapezoid was a tight spinnaker reach with the gusts coming out of the approach to the inner marina adding a bit of spice to the leg. Mark 2 was situated close to the end of the HSS gantry which gave boats the choice of gybing immediately at No.2, or continuing towards the HSS gantry and gybing later. In the first round, Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly were the only ones to exercise the first option.

This leading group of five boats were not really pressing each other; the two which were closest were Court and Malcolm at the tail end. However, at Mark 3, a red spinnakered boat capsized and it was only at the next weather mark that I was able to establish that it had been Messrs Butler & Oram who has slipped up – most unusual – leaving them behind the entire fleet.

Rumball appeared to pull away from Clancy between 2 and 3 and on rounding 4 went all the way across to the harbour mouth on port before tacking for No.1 for the second time. Clancy followed suit. A number of boats went left but this did not have any real effect on the top order.

An established running order of Rumball, Clancy, Malcolm and Court saw out the balance of the race while Butler & Oram started their chase from the back of the fleet. Rumball played a slightly conservative game on the third and fourth beats seeming to take a hitch to the left before going right again to cover Clancy. The distance between these two fluctuated over the last two laps but Rumball was never really threatened.

Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) decided that conditions were right to give their sails a wash in the briny with a slow motion capsize on the top leg of the third lap. The bottom leg of the course was becoming tighter with some boats two sailing from Mark 3 to Mark 4.

By the last weather mark Rumball was comfortably in the lead, Clancy was secure in second and Luke Malcolm was in the Mug winning slot. This remained the status until the finish, but Butler had recovered to sixth (by my count) at the line.

The course was tweaked for the second race and at the start the nine Fireballs were jockeying around the committee boat. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691), were furthest away while Luke Malcolm hovered outside the starting box and came in slightly later to hog the slot closest to the committee boat end. Three boats bailed early to go right towards the harbour mouth, while Frank Miller and Louise McKenna worked the left hand side. By the time the fleet converged on the first weather mark, there were five boats in a tight bunch – Clancy, Rumball, Malcolm, Butler and Miller. Alistair Court bailed at this stage with a breakage of some sort, leaving eight boats to contest the race.

Again the top reach was a proper 3-sailer, but the change in position of Mark 2 took the HSS gantry further out of the equation and boats had to make a distinct change of course at 2 to get on the rhumb line for 3. Clancy and Rumball sailed these two legs in close company and a flurry of gybes in the latter half of the leg to 3 saw Rumball get the inside slot at 3 and the lead of the race. He didn’t let it go! From 3 to 4, Miller and McKenna had their own private race going hard to weather in a tight luffing match.

For the second beat, the majority of the fleet went right again, but “three Amigos” went left – Miller, McKenna and Chambers. Miller worked the left hand side to maximum effect and running out of sea-room executed what should have been a normal tack – except that he hovered on the brink of a capsize for a short time before good crew work got the boat back on an even keel. Trouble was that the exertions to keep the boat upright led to his crew’s “centre of gravity” being outside the boat, so a secondary scramble was required to prevent him going overboard.

At what was to become the last weather mark, the order was Rumball, Clancy, Malcolm, Butler, McKenna, Neil Colin & Mary McGuinness (14775), Chambers and Miller. However, between 1 and 2 Butler overtook Malcolm by sailing a higher line and extending that line beyond 2. Malcolm gybed at two to head into the body of the harbour, but by the time 3 came round, he had lost to Butler.

As the leaders approached Mark 4, the Irish Lights vessel Granuaile entered the harbour prompting a shortened course signal by the Race Committee.

Thus the finishing order, based on the sequence of spinnakers on the bottom of the trapezoid, was, Rumball, Clancy, Butler and Malcolm. This result gave Messrs Butler & Oram the second Mug of the Day.

Neil Colin didn’t have regular crew Margaret Casey on board yesterday but a former Fireballer, Mary McGuiness. Since leaving the fleet 10 years ago Mary McGuinness, the former owner of 14374 , has become a fully-fledged Jedi (J109) with a Fastnet T Shirt in her wardrobe. They launched early and experimented with the joys of symmetrical kites, re-familiarised with the trapeze and balance factor and were then ready for the off, after some encouraging comments from the front runners, whom they later came across in a soggy state!( A rare swim for 15061).