Frenetic finish to Fireball Tuesdays

Post date: Aug 28, 2014 7:57:19 AM

The last Tuesday night race of the 2014 season of Dublin Bay Sailing Club was a frenetic affair with a small course, a very lumpy sea, a curious breeze and lots of inter-class traffic! At 08:00 yesterday morning the seascape in Dublin Bay was such that I didn’t think we would be racing. However, as the day wore on the wind moderated and the sky began to turn blue again. However, we still went out on heavy setting! XCWeather was suggesting that we could expect 10 knots gusting 17, but it was neither of these – more a case of somewhere in the middle, but with full trapezing upwind. Wind direction was a bit difficult to determine on the water such was the rate at which the compass was fluctuating.

Five boats were present – Stephen Oram, helmed by Phil Lawton (15061), Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley (15007), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775), Frank Miller & Joe O’Reilly (14713) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691).

Miller & O’Reilly got intimate with the pin on what was a curious start line so that cost them an early 360˚ turn. That would be the first of the night! Again the fleet spit 60:40 with Lawton & Colin taking the inshore track up the (very) short beat. Again, with an incoming tide, one would have thought that this was the way to go, but at the first weather mark, Smyth & Bradley were first, followed by the two boats that had gone inshore, McKenna & Miller.

All five boats sailed around with each trying to work the waves on the downwind leg of the 4-lap Windward-Leeward course. But there was no real “oomph” or, to quote our coaching friend from the UK, Adam Bowers, “Woompeta” in the surfing. It may have been that the distance between the waves was too short. The leeward mark was just off the east pier again and sea conditions there were that bit lumpier – possibly influenced by the onshore waves bouncing back off the pier wall.

Smyth rounded first, a short distance ahead of Lawton, with Colin in third. Smyth went inshore up the beat, Lawton went offshore. The other three varies their approaches. This time Smyth stayed ahead of Lawton but the approach to the weather mark was too tight and with the tide washing them onto the mark, Smyth & Bradley took a waltz with the mark – another 360˚ penalty taken, Lawton lost and Colin closed in! The trick with the downwind leg was to sail the majority of the leg on starboard, gybe and put in a late hitch to the mark. This allowed Smyth to get ahead of Colin by the leeward mark. Lawton never relinquished the lead thereafter but behind him the fortunes of the fleet ebbed and flowed. Smyth and Colin sailed a parallel course offshore at the start of the third beat with Colin to leeward – a consequence of independent and simultaneous tacking rather than a covering manoeuvre. But when they tacked back onto port to go up the beat, Smyth had pulled out.

By the third weather mark, McKenna & O’Keeffe were threatening Smyth & Bradley’s 2nd place on the water and these two sailed down the downwind leg barely half a boat-length apart. Behind them both Colin and Miller had closed so that with the exception of Lawton & Oram, who had a few more boat-lengths to spare, everyone was watching everyone else. For the 2nd downwind leg in a row, Smyth & Bradley were able to get enough breathing space from their immediate pursuer to round the leeward mark clear, but McKenna was very close. They split tacks with Smyth going inshore again. They met again in the proximity of the committee were a hail of “Starboard” from Smyth & Bradley put McKenna & O’Keeffe about. Miller & Colin had in the meantime gone offshore and this time Miller & O’Reilly were charging up the port layline to threaten Smyth’s 2nd place. Another hail of “Starboard” was made but Smyth was able to clear Miller with half a boat length to spare. These two went down the last offwind leg three to four boat-lengths apart with Miller slightly inside Smyth. Behind them, Colin, who was having a strangely inconsistent “yoyo” night had fallen back into fifth place. Smyth & Bradley rounded the last leeward mark without too serious a physical threat from Miller. However, a Laser now entered the fray in the hitch to the upwind finish. Pinching excessively to try and stop Smyth’s Fireball going over the top of him, he effectively stalled Smyth and then put in a tack onto starboard. A quickly executed tack called by Bradley avoided entanglement, but Miller suddenly loomed larger than had been the case. Fortunately the Laser was also going for the finish and when he tacked back to cross the line on port Smyth was able to do the same and shut the door on Miller who though he was still a “few paces away” was a lot closer than had been the case at the leeward mark.

McKenna took 4th and Colin 5th. The race had lasted just over 30 minutes but it had been frenetic!

The overall Series 3 results are as follows;

This concludes eighteen (18) weeks of Tuesday night racing. The Noel Butler/Stephen Oram combination has again confirmed their status as Masters of Scotsmans Bay for they have lost very few races over the eighteen weeks. From a wind perspective we have the full suite of conditions from light wind sessions inside the harbour to avoid foul tides to one or two slightly hairy races.

From a Class perspective we would like to thank all those volunteers who give of their time so that the rest of us can go racing – Race Officers, Committee Boat personnel, Rib drivers and crews and the secretariat of DBSC who collate all the results and post them to the website.