Disjointed start to proceedings!

Post date: Mar 09, 2015 1:43:10 PM

To a racing observer from the shore, the start of yesterday’s Frostbite was very odd! At the scheduled start of 14:00, the first two classes the PY Class and the Lasers got away in proper order. Quite a bit later there was a start for the RS Classes but as soon as they appeared to go over the line they were all called back. The confusion and delay in the starting sequence meant that the Fireball fleet on the start line was doubled in size, going from three to seven boats, and the fleet got a competitive race in! Initially the three boats in the start area were Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (15114), Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691). Having been at a Fireball –connection house-warming the night before I thought that the others had succumbed to the hospitality of the house-warming and decided to give the racing a miss. Because it was gone 14:20 before Kenneth Rumball & Brian Byrne (15058), Louis Smyth & Joe O’Reilly (15007), Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) joined the other three starters. It transpired in the clubhouse afterwards that the fleet emerging from the Coal Harbour end of Dun Laoghaire harbour had been stalled by the Race Committee who were considering their options for the day.

The aborted start for the RS Classes was due, it appears, to two class flags being flown, when only one was required. The nett effect was that all seven Fireballs got a race, sharing the one start.

Having observed the previous starts from shore, I imagined that the Fireballs would be fighting for the committee boat end in order to be able to go right, to a windward mark that was just to the west of the harbour mouth. So it was rather surprising to see McCartin & Kinsella halfway down the start line coming up the beat on starboard tack. The error of that approach manifested itself early on when they went behind the transom of Colin & Casey.

The one boat that did go hard right was rewarded with third place around the weather mark – Smyth & O’Reilly having gone all the way right before they took the hitch into the mark. Rumball & Butler rounded first and second and would keep each other in close company for the balance of the race. Behind Smyth came McCartin, who powered over Smyth between Marks 1 and 2. Miller led Colin and McKenna.

What had looked like a broad reach for the PY and Laser Classes between 1 and 2 was now a tight three sail reach for the Fireballs. Rumball held the spinnaker all the way to 2, Butler did an Aussie drop with about 100m to go, McCartin sailed higher managed to bear of in the tougher gusts to hold the bag all the way to 2. Determining when to gybe after 2 was a key factor in the comfort level of the leg between 2 and 3.

On the second beat the fleet all went right to varying degrees but Rumball & Butler pulled out distance on them all to leave themselves having their own race. A cluster of Fireballs rounded after them, one of whom took a 720˚ penalty turn to leave the sequence as Colin, Miller, Smyth, McCartin and McKenna. At Mark 2 McCartin gybed immediately whereas Smyth and Miller delayed with the result that McCartin took them both. However, by the next mark, McCartin had lost his gains again as the others passed him out. His day got even worse when his spinnaker wouldn’t come down at Mark 4 so he retired from the race.

On the third beat the fleet was working inside the area defined by the four marks of the course as opposed to sailing on the extremities. By this stage they were each covering the other with the comfort of knowing that the chasing pack were too far back to threaten. At the end of this third lap however, Rumball fell foul of other boats, at Mark 4 and again when he needed to avoid a capsized 29er. The nett effect was that at the fourth weather mark, Butler & Oram had assumed the lead which they held onto until the finish. Colin led the chasing pack home, followed by Miller, Smyth & McKenna.

These provisional results (by me) are based on the idea of a single discard for Series 2.

After a balmy but very breezy Saturday here in Dun Laoghaire, the fleet enjoyed more modest temperatures of 8˚ with wind out of the NW (313˚) at 12.5 knots with a highest recorded gust of 21 knots, according to the weather station in the harbour.