Fast, Furious and Frosty!

Post date: Feb 02, 2015 11:1:59 AM

Nine Fireballs enjoyed two races yesterday in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in deceptive conditions. It was a blue sky day but the air temperature was down to just less than 5˚ and with a cold breeze blowing the chill factor would have dropped that further. The weather station adjacent to my vantage point recorded a base wind strength of just over 10 knots but the highest gust of the day was 18.2 knots, air temperature was 4.7˚ and wind was recorded at 316 - 320˚ - WNW.

Again the course was a trapezoid, with a weather mark close to the starter’s hut on the west pier and Marks 2 and 3 sitting either side of the HSS gantry, so much so that the gantry had to be negotiated, i.e. you couldn’t sail a straight line between the two marks. Mark 4 was towards the weather station on the east pier.

The fleet hogged the committee boat end on the first start, all on starboard tack, but the peel-off to the right-hand side was initiated quite early by Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691), followed by Louis Smyth & Glen Fisher (15007). In contrast, Frank Miller & Joe O’Reilly (14713) worked the LHS and it paid dividends as they rounded the weather mark in first place. However, close on their tales were the Clancy brothers Conor and James (15113). A flawless hoist by the brothers saw them surge into the lead, a position they never relinquished! In contrast Miller & ‘Reilly went swimming and the complicated capsize, with spinnaker, took them out of the race altogether. The leg from 1 to 2 was quite tight and successfully negotiating this leg was key to race success. Behind the first two Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061), Kenneth Rumball & Brian Byrne (15058), Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) were in close company.

The leg from 2 to 3 required two gybes, either immediately at the mark, or delayed when sailing past the gantry for the HSS was impossible. The bottom reach was already quite tight and as the afternoon progressed, it would get even tighter wit even the top boats reduced to sailing it with two sails.

For the second beat the fleet went right with Team Clancy in a very comfortable position. At the 2nd weather mark the order was Clancy, Butler, Court, Rumball, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (15114), Smyth, McKenna & Colin.

For the third beat the fleet worked the middle and left of the course with McCartin and Court out on the LHS. As Miller had proven on the first beat, this was advantageous and McCartin rounded the last weather mark in 4th, behind Clancy, Butler & Rumball. 1 to 2 was now becoming a judgement call – spinnaker or not and Court in particular sailed the leg conservatively at no cost to his place in the pecking order. His 5th place earned him the Frostbite Mugs.

For the second race the committee boat was again the favoured end but this time there was a more distinct split in the fleet with four boats going right at the first available opportunity. McKenna, Miller, McCartin, Smyth & Butler worked the left hand side of the course and this paid dividends for McCartin and Butler who rounded the top mark in first and second. Again, the hoist was critical and Butler & Oram won this manoeuvre, but McCartin & Kinsella, sailing that bit higher, powered over the top of them to take the lead. Rumball & Byrne rounded ahead of Team Clancy, followed by Colin & Casey, McKenna & O’Keeffe, Smyth & Fisher, Court & Syme and Miller & O’Reilly.

Almost all the Fireballs gybed immediately at Mark 2 before a second gybe was required to get back to Mark 3 where a third gybe was required. For the first lap the top boats flew spinnakers along the bottom of the course but Aussie drops were being utilised before mark 4 was reached.

For the second beat the top three went right but Clancy worked some shifts to round the second weather mark in third place ahead of Rumball. This gave a revised order of McCartin, Butler, Clancy, Rumball, Colin, Smyth, Miller and McKenna. After a capsize on 2- 3 on the previous lap, Court & Syme retired. The legs from 1- 2 and from 2- 3 were manageable but care had to be exercised, particularly when gusts came in over the backs of the crews on 1 – 2. Leg 2 - 3 was all about timing the gybe correctly and 3 – 4 was now a high wire two sail reach.

On what was to be the last beat, McCartin and Clancy worked the left hand side while Butler and Rumball worked the middle and right. A combination of good boat speed and a more favourable angle to the weather mark on the port layline meant that McCartin was able to hold onto his lead. Clancy slotted into fourth behind the other two, with Butler ahead of Rumball. However, before the finish, Rumball would pass out Butler.

Colin & Casey were holding off Smyth & Fisher who by virtue of this 6th place were in line to take the second set of Frostbite Mugs and so it evolved.

After 5 races, assuming no discards, my assessment of the overall situation is as follows;

On reviewing the official posted results, it seems that Messrs McCartin & Kinsella were recorded as OCS in the day’s first race.