Frostbite Racing January

Post date: Oct 13, 2009 12:35:55 AM

Thirteen Fireballs braved the waters of Dun Laoghaire harbour yesterday on what must have been the coldest day of the series thus far. The Wicklow hills, viewed from the harbour were covered in a thick blanket of snow, while the closer Dublin hills were also covered in white but not to the same intensity. While temperatures hovered at 3º for the afternoon, there was neither snow nor rain for the race duration. The east pier weather station was recording winds of approximately 20 knots from the SE with gusts getting up to 25 knots, but on the water the wind didn't seem to be quite that strong and crews later suggested an ambient wind strength closer to 15 knots. There were lots of squalls on the water which meant that capsizes were the order of the day - not so much in the Fireball class, but in the other classes quite a few impromptu baths were taken.

Given the weather conditions, the Race Officer set a four lap race for the Fireballs and they had a clean start with the entire fleet heading left initially, in contrast to the preceding class starts, PY Classes and Lasers, who went exclusively right and a mix of left and right respectively.

Alexander Rumball & Conor Kinsella (14820) worked the left-hand side to best effect to round the weather mark in first place, chased by Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775), Mick Creighton & Joe O'Reilly (14937) and Kenny Rumball & Dave Moran (15058). Down the first spinnaker reach, Rumball/Moran appeared to take Creighton & O'Reilly to weather, but as the fleet went around the gybe mark and sailed off to the leeward mark and away from my vantage point it was difficult to see whether they retained this position to the bottom of the course. The first gybe mark was treated conventionally by the fleet - tight gybe on the mark - but the line to the leeward mark soon showed up as having a number of variants.

Sitting just inside the harbour mouth, the gybe mark was in relatively heavy swell which would provide fun and games later in the race.

By the second weather mark Butler/Oram had taken over the lead. They had worked the middle and left of the beat. Rumball/Kinsella, more easily identified by the red spinnaker that was not fully into the spinnaker bag after the leeward mark, took more of a right hitch before chasing the leaders up the middle. Team Clancy, Conor and James, were well back, by their standards, on the first lap but worked hard/got the second beat right to pop into 3rd place at the second weather mark. Colin/Casey and Creighton/O'Reilly closed out the top five.

In their first appearance of 2013 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) made their seasonal debut and their position on the first lap suggested there might be some rustiness in their sailing. However, as the race progressed they made significant progress to join the group of boats chasing the lead bunch of five. An unscheduled bath on the third gybe mark put a halt to their progress.

The wind shifted as the race progressed so the gybe mark was no longer the significant turning mark of the first lap. Some boats chose to sail past it on starboard tack to the end of the west pier before gybing while others did the conventional thing, gybing immediately but then requiring another gybe to set themselves up for the leeward mark. Thus the fleet were criss-crossing each other (and the other fleets) on the second reach which had become that much broader. The growing swell at the gybe mark, with hulls disappearing in the troughs of the waves meant that gybe management took on extra emphasis. The off-wind legs were fast and furious without being overpowering.

Butler/Oram still had the lead at the third weather mark with two Rumballs chasing them, Alexander ahead of Kenny! The two "Rs" were then followed by three "Cs" Clancy, Colin and Creighton. Butler & Oram looked in a comfortable position but as the boats emerged from the melee of the leeward mark (from a visual perspective) it was the Clancy brothers who were in the lead, their distinctive 3-number main making identification easy. Where had Butler/Oram lost out? Post-race it turns out they had an interaction with a Laser in the approach to the leeward mark and rather than run the risk of disqualification they took turns. Team Clancy stayed hard right and rounded the fourth weather mark in the lead. Rumball/Kinsella, sailing a very consistent race, rounded in second followed by Butler/Oram with Alexander's older brother Kenny & David Moran in third. The battle of the remaining "Cs" was being led by Creighton in 4th with Colin in 5th.

These positions remained to the finish - a race that had taken less than an hour. Given the cold and wind chill factor there were no protests at the short duration of the race. Alexander Rumball has now sailed two races in this series and after last week's 5th place has followed it up with a 2nd. While we all know about the Rumball pedigree on the race course, these performances are significant for this fleet for a young man that we speculated afterwards is probably only 17 or 18! Unfortunately for Alexander, after yesterday's race a protest panel sat to hear the protest lodged by Team Clancy last week. Rumball & Kinsella were the protestees and the panel found in favour of Team Clancy.

For the second week in a row, the Frostbite Mugs have gone to the northside of Dublin Bay and Howth Yacht Club. Luke Malcolm and Shane Divinney finished eighth on the water but were rewarded for their perseverance by getting the day's prizes.