Butler on the double!

Post date: Nov 23, 2015 8:54:56 AM

Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (15061) tightened their grip on Series 1 of the 2015/16 Frostbites by winning both races in Dun Laoghaire harbour today. Despite the suggestion that the weather of the weekend would have a more Nordic character to it, nine Fireballs started the first race and while I managed to miss the early part of that (getting tardy) by the time I got to the harbour, Noel and Stephen were comfortably in control. Behind them Neil Colin and Margaret Casey were also well ahead of Owen Laverty and James Clancy (14807). Four laps of a trapezoid course had been set with a weather mark just inside the west pier and the committee boat and start/finish line just off the gantry for the HSS. On the beats the modus operandi was to take a short hitch to the right hand side of the course after Mark No.4 and then take a long starboard tack to get onto the port lay-line. Behind the first three boats, Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706), Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (143691), Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) and Louis Smyth & Peter Doherty (15007) fought their own race. Smyth & Doherty conspicuously didn’t fly spinnaker on the off-wind legs and frankly didn’t seem to lose out very much as a consequence. Colin and Casey’s second place was good enough to win the Frostbite Mug for this race.

The weather station in the harbour closest to my observation position was showing a wind strength of 11.8 knots with a highest gust of 17.2 knots fluctuating around due north, with an air temperature of 8.9˚ and the racing was under substantially blue skies. There was cloud around but it was not the dominant feature of the weather.

Watching the two starts before the second Fireball start of the day, it was obvious that the tactic was to start on port at the pin end and get across to the RHS of the course as soon as possible. I watched two GP14s go in diametrically opposite ways up their first beat and the boat which started on port at the pin was able to watch his opponent chase him for the rest of the race. Ditto the Laser who also secured the pin position at the start and tacked onto port at the start gun.

Owen Laverty and James Clancy tried to do just this on the Fireball start but were a few seconds out. That left them dipping Noel Butler and Stephen Oram who were the next boat up from the pin who were able to tack as the gun went. Ashore after the race, there was a suggestion that Owen and James were lucky to have a boat in one piece after their manoeuvres at the start caused a severe avoidance of a collision to be undertaken by Neil Colin and Margaret Casey. Colin and Court would both go left initially while the others went right. Laverty’s early tack on the start line didn’t seem to affect him too badly because when he and Butler crossed for the first time on the far side of the course, he was ahead. But his starboard tacked approach to the weather mark fell short and he was obliged to take a hitch and tack back to round Mark 1. This of course allowed Butler to close the gap and they rounded overlapped with Butler on the inside. Each got ahead relative to the other as they rounded and hoisted before Butler got out from underneath Laverty and into the lead. Colin and Court’s initial hitch to the left didn’t seem to have had an adverse effect as Court rounded third and Colin fifth with Smyth sandwiched in between them. Smyth didn’t hoist spinnaker again and that allowed Colin into fourth. As with the first race, the fleet were able to sail past Mark 2 for approximately 50 – 60m before they needed to gybe. The leg from mark 3 to Mark 4 was also tight and would provide some fun and games later on – Aussie drops, capsizes and a crew detached from her boat with a broken trapeze wire.

On the second beat, the leaders stayed left for a longer period of time but as they followed each other in working this side the order of places didn’t change – Butler, Clancy, followed by Court and Colin. Smyth dropped out by way of a capsize after Mark 4, so Cariosa Power and Marie Barry moved into 5thplace.

At the final weather mark, (3rd lap), Butler looked to be comfortably ahead but he was chased down by Laverty over the next two legs and it looked as though he might break through at Mark 3. However, Butler held out and Laverty suffered what looked like an accidental Aussie drop. That should have been curtains but the leg was very tight and Laverty was not that badly disadvantaged. He nearly got through at the mark with Butler being forced a bit high, but in the end rounded on Butler’s transom. Colin was safely in third and Court in fourth……….but Court was to capsize, for the second time today and while it seems he was not at fault, a Laser tacked onto him, this was to be expensive in terms of claiming a Frostbite Mug. Instead that went to Cariosa Power and Marie Barry!

After five races the situation is as follows, assuming no discards;

Friday coming (27th)will see the fleet gather for their prize-giving dinner in the National Yacht Club where the season long Travellers’ Trophy prizes will be awarded in addition to Class Prizes recognising “Most Improved”, “Significant Contribution to Class”, Ladies Trophy, Captain’s Prize and the Liam Bradley Trophy. Over the past few years this has proved a great occasion for less active Fireballers and current Fireballers to get together to share our love of the boat and the camaraderie that goes with sailing the boat.

Cormac.