Double bonus for Dun Laoghaire Fireballs!

Post date: Jan 25, 2015 9:28:38 PM

The Dub Laoghaire Frostbites got back on track today, Sunday 25th January, with two races in weather conditions which were also a bonus. As far back as Thursday the suggestion was that it would be blowing hard today. The Sea Area forecast from Met Eireann last night was also suggesting it would be “draughty” and lastly, the “Windfinder” App was suggesting that there would be as much as 18 knots at 15:00, this afternoon. In the end, none of them were right as the Frostbite fleet enjoyed good but challenging wind conditions in mild temperatures just into double figures. The weather station close to my vantage point was suggesting that winds of between 4 and 6 knots were blowing with gusts that got up to 12 knots. Directionally, there was some agreement on all the forecasts with a direction of SSW to SW being predicted and recorded.In the first start the majority of the fleet were at the committee boat end but Neil Colin and Margaret Casey (14775) were at the opposite end and that certainly appeared to be the side that was favoured going up the beat. Those boats that hung out right were punished as they found themselves over-standing the first weather mark of the trapezoid course.

For a change, rather than attempt a blow by blow account of the race, the roundings of the weather mark on each of the four laps is recorded to give readers an idea of the “yo-yo-ing” that afflicted the fleet today.

Initially the off-wind legs of seemed to be quite simple. The top leg of the course, 1 – 2, was a tightish reach which most people three-sailed for the first couple of laps, but as the afternoon progressed this became a tighter leg and at least one Fireball sailed it as a two-sail reach and didn’t appear to lose out as a consequence. The leg from 2 – 3 was also simple enough initially, ease sheets as one rounded Mark 2 and sail to Mark 3, but on the last two laps of the trapezoid a variety of approaches were being adopted and Rumball & Byrne executed four gybes between 2 and 3 on the last lap before they went round the latter mark. The plan of attack for the beats was to stick to middle and left as going right did not pay at all. As the wind flicked one way and then another, the leg from 2 to 3 became ever more tactical and places could be snatched if you got into wind that those around didn’t have.

Frank Miller and James Murphy (14713) used this to launch a platform to attack the leaders and when the leading six boats appeared to concertina into the rounding of Mark 4 for the last time, they were able to take best advantage and pop out with a possible second place over the finish line.

As the finish was at the opposite end of the harbour to my vantage point, adjacent to the HSS gantry on the windward shore, my view of the finish was poor, but the suggestion is that the order was as follows;

For the second race of the day, the Fireball fleet all started on port tack with the pin appearing to be the favoured end. Luke Malcolm and Harry O’Reilly (14790) were furthest away from the pin. Yet again the left-hand side of the course was where everyone wanted to be. At the weather mark the initial rounding order was Clancy, McCartin, Rumball, Butler and Colin and all five boats got a tight 3-sail reach as their reward. Again the fleet was able to ease sheets for the leg from 2 to 3 rather than gybe and as a testimony to the consistency of the breeze at this early stage the initial pecking order hadn’t changed by the time they got to Mark 3.

For the second beat the fleet went right with Rumball & McCartin keeping in very close company. Clancy was a little bit further to windward of this pair but he appeared to have lost some ground on them, meaning that despite the apparent close attention they were giving each other, he couldn’t capitalise on being the “third man”. At the second weather mark, Rumball was still in control and the leading three boats enjoyed a fast 3-sailer to Mark 2. 2 – 3 was no longer the simple leg it had been on the first lap and at the end of the leg McCartin had taken Rumball, Clancy was secure in third and Butler who though he was in fourth wasn’t anywhere near enough to get to the lead three boats.

Up the third beat and the lead two were watching each other again……..with Clancy waiting to pounce if they made a slip up. No joy! McCartin & Kinsella rounded the last weather mark in the lead but then nearly lost it all when a gust came through as they were putting up the kite. Rumball & Byrne must have seen a “literal door open and slam shut again” as the leaders escaped a swim and got control back again. As the two boats approached Mark 2 Rumball & Byrne were going faster and words could be heard between the two boats as Mark 2 loomed in front of them.

It seemed that all was “set fair” for a simple finish. The lead three boats negotiated their way to Mark 3 and for 2/3 of the leg from 3 to 4, the order seemed to be equally settled. However, even from my observation post on the opposite side of the harbour I could see that there was fun and games going on at Mark 4 – lots of overlapping spinnakers suggested that the leaders had closed in on themselves again. Rumball & Byrne got squeezed out, capsizing in the process (I found out later – from the “horse’s mouth) to leave a finishing order of Butler & Oram, McCartin & Kinsella and Rumball & Byrne.

In my estimation – without sight of the results – Miller & Murphy will pick up the Frostbite Mugs for the first race of the day, with Colin & Casey getting them for the second.