Five go sailing!

Post date: Jun 21, 2017 3:13:27 PM

It didn’t really look like racing would be possible yesterday evening! Having enjoyed another sunny day in Dun Laoghaire, though it was not as “blue sky” as the previous three days, the expectation of a reasonable sea breeze was not met! Instead the seascape was a very flat Dublin Bay and an even flatter harbour seascape. Consequently we launched in hope rather than expectation and the trip from the Royal St George to the start area at the West Pier was as slow as the weather suggested it would be. The race management team initially postponed the start and then set a mark that was in line with the end of the East Pier, about 60m inside the harbour mouth. Course X1 was indicated giving us two roundings of the weather mark and a downwind finish.In the PY start, Pierre Long in his IDRA started on the pin, on port and gained a huge early advantage over the rest of his fleet – he went on to win, as well. This was the prompt for the five Fireballs to gather at the pin, each attempting to do something similar. Though neither was on the pin, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (15061) and Teddy Byrne & Conor Clancy (14807) started on port, while Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) and Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713) started on starboard and went left initially. Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley (14691) started on starboard, tacked immediately onto port and found themselves chasing the other four.

The “better” wind was on the outside of the course and Power and Miller benefitted from being on that side. Byrne & Clancy, with Byrne helming, were sailing in close company with Butler & Oram. Subject to correction, my recall of the order of rounding was Power, Miller, Byrne, Butler and McKenna. For the downwind leg, the standard route seemed to be to sail straight on starboard after the spreader mark and then put in a gybe to get to the leeward mark. Of course, the challenge was when to gybe.

On the second upwind leg, the fleet worked the left hand side to varying degrees and Miller found himself in second place rounding the top weather mark. Staying high on the next downwind leg Miller was able to sail around the fleet and take a well-deserved win. Behind him the order was Butler, Byrne, Power and McKenna.

For the second race the weather mark was moved a significant distance to the right and again course X1 was signalled. Again, the pin end was favoured but the jockeying to get to it was a little less intense, with intense being an exaggeration given the wind strength. Four of the boats were on one side of the course, while McKenna ploughed a solitary furrow on the right hand side. For the early stages of the beat, this looked as though it might pay, but as she put in a starboard hitch to get to the weather mark, three of the four “lefties” went ahead of her. Butler led, followed by Byrne and Miller. The fleet stayed on the right hand-side of the run, leaving the gybe to the leeward mark late.

At the next weather mark Miller and Clancy found themselves in the reverse situation to last Tuesday night. Miller was the starboard tacked boat, Clancy was in the port tacked boat trying to get round the mark………and this time by way of my proximity to the two boats………turns were required which Byrne duly did! In the wind conditions, this might have signalled “game over”, but forced into a different downwind strategy by way of the penalty turns, Byrne & Clancy went over the line first. Miller meanwhile had got ahead of Butler but to my mind was in a position where Butler controlled his destiny – Miller couldn’t gybe across until Butler went! The gybes were triggered with Butler going first, but Miller managed to wriggle his way over the line before him by the tightest of margins.

The regatta scene returns for the Fireballs with an event at Greystones this weekend. In a departure from our normal format, this year’s Open Championship will be sailed as a one-day event, Saturday, with Greystones also being a debutant venue for the Fireballs. Frank Miller has been “banging the drums” to generate numbers for this weekend and it looks as though we will have a bigger number than we had in Ballyholme. Frank and Ed Butler have put the latter 14990 back into commission to sail this weekend and I believe our “Fireballers in Flying Fifteens”, Margaret Casey & Neil Colin will also be in Greystones. The class is also reminded that we are entering the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as a class, but we will only get a separate start if we have sufficient numbers.