Blustery start to the evening!

Post date: Aug 13, 2014 9:20:18 AM

Five Fireballs enjoyed a blustery start to the third evening of the third Series of Tuesday night races last night in Dublin Bay. Rigging up in the harbour beforehand, the wind appeared to be quite squally prompted by rain clouds coming out of the west. The passage through Hell’s Gate, between the ice house and the west pier was also a bit hairy, but in the main body of the harbour it was a bit more settled. With the tide due to bottom out at 19:00, coincident with our race start time, there was a modest swell outside the harbour created by a wind against tide situation but in truth it gave us a dry and fast three sail trip out to the start area.

With the wind coming out of the west, a windward-leeward course of four laps was set with a windward mark off the east pier and a leeward mark just east of the 40-foot bathing spot.

Stephen Oram, joined by guest helm Phil Lawton, (15061) and Neil Colin & Margaret Case (14775) picked a fight with each other for the pin. However, this left them too early and they had to bear off, gybe and revise their starting plans. A boat-length off their transoms, Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley (15007)inherited the pin slot but needed to tack onto port to clear the line. The two other all-lady crews of Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) and Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) were further back along the line, closer to the committee boat. Lawton, Colin and Smyth went off on their port tacks, away from shore with Smyth to windward of the other two. Colin bailed first to head inshore, and when Lawton tacked, Smyth followed suit. It looked to be a keen contest!

Bang! Smyth’s main outhaul broke and the advantage was gone. Fortunately a lull in the wind allowed the outhaul to be re-secured and the chase was on! In the meantime, Colin had closed on Lawton but was in the weaker position and Lawton sailed them away from the first weather mark.

The ladies meantime were doing their own thing and combined with Smyth’s gear failure, the pecking order at the first weather mark was Lawton, Colin, Chambers, Smyth and Power. All five boats stayed on starboard tack under spinnaker, sailing parallel to the shore. Until halfway down! Colin put in a gybe that, on the water, didn’t seem to make sense. We could see the leeward mark which was downwind of us………so why where they going hard left? It seems that there was some confusion as to where the leeward mark was, not helped by the fact that the committee boat was “off-line” in terms of being in a median position relative to the two marks of the course. Colin’s mistake didn’t cost him as he rounded the leeward mark in 2nd place. Smyth overtook Chambers however.

Up the second beat, Smyth & Bradley closed on Colin & Casey, helped by taking an inshore hitch halfway up the beat. This left them within attacking distance of Colin’s transom for the second downwind leg. Lawton had pulled clear, so these two were the only ones to have close encounter action on this leg. Travelling on a slightly more inshore line than Colin, Smyth was able to pull ahead just enough to gybe and cross ahead of Colin to take the inside slot for the rounding of the 2nd leeward mark. Behind, Chambers & McGuire took a swim at the weather mark to allow their “sisters” to overtake them into 4th.

Smyth applied a loose cover to Colin on the next beat and was able to pull away to put some distance between the boats at the third weather mark. By now, with the tide turned, the tactic was to go offshore for the beat and put in a starboard tack hitch to make the weather mark. With the wind starting to ease the beats were less demanding than they had been. There were no further changes for the remainder of the race but Power & Barry did close on Colin & Casey as the final stages of the 4th downwind leg and final beat were completed. Slightly unusually, the finish was upwind of the weather mark but this made no difference to the final placings.

Two Irish crews will be in action at the UK Fireball Nationals in Tenby, Wales next week. Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella, fresh from their successes in Shetland at the Fireball Europeans (Winners Shetland Nationals, 2 x Race wins at the Europeans and 4th overall) will be joined by Team Clancy, Conor and James, in a 40+ boat championships in the Principality. We wish them every success.

And as part of the build-up for our own Nationals, in Lough Ree, readers and Fireballers are reminded that this event will take place in four weeks’ time at the Athlone venue. We will be sharing the waters on the Saturday and the Sunday with the Wayfarers who will also sail their Nationals.

We also offer best wishes to two former Fireballers from the Irish fleet, Shane McCarthy & Damien Bracken who are contesting the GP14 Worlds in Strangford. They had plenty to contend with on Monday and after yesterday’s racing they are in the top ten (along with two other “Irish-flagged” boats).