Bigger Fireball fleet in record Frostbite Fleet!

Post date: Nov 11, 2013 4:45:29 PM

Twelve Fireballs, up 50% from last week’s entry, were part of a record 78-boat fleet for the 2nd round of the 2013/14 Frostbite Series in Dun Laoghaire. An E-mailed survey during the week canvassed opinion from the entrants on possible changes to the format of the racing and two changes were implemented yesterday – the RS fleet had their own start and we had a four-lap trapezoid course – trapezoid in shape only rather than in terms of mark-roundings.

With the National Team Racing Championships taking place inside the harbour, the “Frostbiters” were sent outside but the weather and sea conditions were favourable with a modest breeze blowing from an easterly direction and a flooding tide, with high water due at approximately 17:00.

With the RS fleet getting their own start, the Fireballs made up the 4th and last start of the day and they were given a separate weather mark. Another fleet was also given a separate weather mark but only one of their number read the sailing instructions!

An assortment of approaches was taken to the first beat in the Fireball class with most of the fleet congregated at the committee boat end of the line. This, presumably, was to facilitate an early tack to go inshore and certainly that appeared to be the way that paid…….though not for everyone! Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) were first to go inshore and they took a second bite of that side of the course about halfway up the beat. It didn’t help and they spent the rest of the race trying to catch up. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) stayed on the left hand side of the beat and that left them in a most unusual position at the first weather mark – behind five of six other boats! The leading boats on the first beat were Conor Clancy (14807) and Ed Butler (Jnr) and Conor Kinsella (14990) who also hadn’t read the sailing instructions and initially went for the wrong weather mark. This allowed Kenneth Rumball & David Moran (15058) and Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley (15007) to get into the frame and after a few hails of starboard and some close crossing, the pecking order at the first weather mark was Butler & Kinsella, Rumball & Moran, Smyth & Bradley, Clancy, Andy Boyle & Teddy Byrne (14934), Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706) and Butler & Oram.

The second and third legs of the trapezoid were spinnaker legs and initially the front three got away from the chasing pack. The short fourth leg of the trapezoid was a two-sailer and only Rumball/Moran took a hitch to windward at the turning mark. Butler/Kinsella & Smyth/Bradley continued inshore. Clancy sailed that bit higher than Smyth and not only closed the gap on Smyth, but provided himself with a platform to pass Smyth further up the beat. Boyle/Byrne also closed on Smyth but by the second weather mark Smyth had limited his losses to one boat. At the head of the fleet Rumball was sticking very close to Ed Butler and followed him closely around the course. These two had a gap on Clancy who in turn was comfortable relative to Smyth.

Up the third beat, Butler & Oram, who had persisted with their offshore philosophy on the beats, dramatically closed the gap on Smyth and Boyle, with all three rounding the third weather mark in close company. Smyth held them off to Mark 2, thanks in part to an RS400 who arrived at the mark with the three Fireballs, behind Smyth but simultaneously with Boyle & Butler. The RS pushed Butler wide allowing both Smyth and Boyle to stay ahead onto the third leg.

Up the fourth beat, Butler & Oram went offshore again, though they fell behind Court & Syme at Mark 4, and this time took both Boyle and Smyth. Court & Syme also went offshore and they went ahead of Smyth in the early stages of the approach to the 4th weather mark. Smyth tacked just inside and ahead of them at the final stages of the approach to round behind Boyle who had been taken by Butler. Butler & Kinsella were still leading but were unable to shake Rumball & Moran or indeed gain any distance on their pursuers. So, of course, the inevitable happened! In the dying stages of the race they were overtaken by the latter pair to finish in 2nd place. However, as Rumball & Rumball had picked up the Frostbite mugs on the previous Sunday, Butler & Kinsella won them today.

Today’s debutants included Andy Boyle and Teddy Byrne from the Royal Irish Yacht Club. Andy has just returned from Malta where he was on a 2nd in Class entry in the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Also making their winter debut were Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (Royal St. George Yacht Club) (14691), Eamonn Bourke & Robert Slater (14817) from Howth Yacht Club and the Mug winners, Ed Butler (Jnr) & Conor Kinsella.