Frostbites on the double!

Post date: Dec 04, 2017 12:35:11 PM

The fifth round of the 2017/18 Frostbites, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, saw two races held inside the harbour, a four lap trapezoid course to start proceedings followed by a three lap windward-leeward course which I am reliably informed is a first for the Frostbites, so kudos to Race Officer Brian Mulkeen! It also saw the best turnout of Fireballs, six and a healthy fleet of Lasers, fourteen. In addition to the six Fireballs the Fast PY Class included the 470 and Tom Murphy’s K1. In the Slow PY the fleet was made up of a Wayfarer, a Solo, a solitary KONA (Windsurfer), a Feva, 2 IDRAs, 2 Enterprises, 4 Laser Vago XDs and a Hartley 12.2.The weather station in the harbour was recording 15.9knots with a gust of 21.8knots from 284˚ with an air temperature of 9˚. This meant that the “on-the-water” situation was pretty consistent with the XCWeather prediction for the afternoon. The afternoon started under partial blue skies but the skyline greyed as the afternoon progressed and there was a lit bit of drizzle later one. For the trapezoid course the weather mark had been set under the West Pier of the harbour at the location of the first “elbow” in the wall – where it changes direction. No.2 seemed to be a long way downwind of the first mark, almost disproportionately so, but during the race mark 1 – 2 was invariably tight. Mark 2 – 3 was an easier sail with some boats electing to gybe before reaching No.3 so as to set themselves up for a very tight 3 – 4 leg. Mark 3 was located off the HSS gantry and Mark 4 was of the order of 120m east of the mouth of the harbour.

In all three starts the fleet went left initially. In the slow PY, the Wayfarer was the weather-most boat and that set Monica Schaeffer and Miriam McCarthy up for the lead and the privilege of leading the Slow PY fleet around the first weather mark. However, they were kept in close company for the first lap by the Solo of Shane McCarthy before he was able to pull away from them. Both would fall victim on the water to the Kona Windsurfer of Robbie Walker who led for the majority of the race.

The Fireballs were stacked windward to leeward on a port tack coming out of the start towards the middle of the harbour. Using headgear and clothing combinations to identify boats it looked as though Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) were the furthest boat to windward with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) furthest to leeward. In between were Noel Butler & Marie Barry (15061), Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706), Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) and David and Michael Keegan (14676).

While the boats which came furthest left seemed to have got in to better wind, Butler & Barry, having tacked earlier were able to get around the weather mark first but it was close with Miller & Donnelly and Court & Syme. Colin & Casey were a short distance behind them while McKenna & O’Keeffe and Keegan & Keegan were a little off the pace.

Court & Syme powered over Miller & Donnelly on the tight reach between 1 and 2 and spent the rest of the race chasing Butler & Barry. On the subsequent beats, the addiction to going left was diluted somewhat with a preference to staying on the right-hand side as far as the harbour mouth, before tacking across to the middle of the harbour. The exception to that rule was Colin & Casey who tacked early every time to work the middle and left of the beat. On the third lap, Butler pulled away from Court and both boats put distance between themselves and the remainder of the fleet. By Mark 3 of the penultimate lap, Butler & Barry were the third boat on the water behind the Kona and the Solo and by the penultimate rounding of Mark 4 Court & Syme were ahead of everyone bar the Kona and the Solo. The tightness of the leg from 3 to 4 meant that in Round 3 Butler & Barry went for an Aussie drop two-thirds of the way down the leg while the all male combinations behind them, Court and Miller were able to hold the spinnaker all the way into the mark.

While Butler was comfortably ahead at the last windward mark, he nearly got caught by Court who was able to close in better wind with Syme on full trapeze between 1 and 2 while Barry was sitting inboard with a limp spinnaker. However, a late change in leader did not materialise and Butler & Barry won by 50 seconds with only he Kona ahead of them on the water. Court finished third on the water, getting ahead of the Solo just before the last weather mark. Colin & Casey put together a fast last lap, closing dramatically on Miller & Donnelly in the approach to Mark 4 for the last time, but Miller held on to finish third. In the slow PY fleet, the order on the water was Kona, Solo, Wayfarer, Feva, and Enterprise.

The ice was broken (figuratively) when a second race was set for the afternoon. Marks 2 and 3 were lifted and a windward-leeward was set with Marks 1 and 4 staying “as is”. Again, the majority view in all starts was to go left – there were no dissenters in the Slow PY start, 4 Lasers went right and while all the Fireballs started on port tack, two went right quite early on – McKenna and Keegan. Colin was furthest away from the committee boat at the start. At the top mark, Miller led the fleet around followed by Butler, Court and Colin. While the first three stayed on starboard tack, Colin gybed and sailed towards the harbour mouth. Behind these four, McKenna and Keegan had their own race. Miller held the lead down to 4 and stayed ahead up the next beat. In this regard he was helped by being on starboard with a Laser also being on starboard to force Butler to take evading action relative to both boats two-thirds of the way up the second beat. At the windward mark for the second time, Colin was still in fourth, but took a line that brought him down the right hand side of the run relative to the others who were all to his port-hand side. In this position he managed to sail through Court and close the gap on the first two, but Court nipped in again at the leeward mark to relegate him back to fourth again. McKenna and Keegan were also having a “ding-dong” battle on the downwind leg.

Up the final beat and Court stays right whereas the others come left. Butler gets through Miller and Colin is promoted to third as he, Miller and Butler come in on the starboard lay-line. Court’s race come to an early end when he gets caught up in a melee at the weather mark and decides that discretion is the better part of valour and retires home early. Butler and Miller dice again on the last downwind leg but Butler secures the inside berth on the approach to the leeward mark and has enough room to squeeze Miller out and to enough of a degree to make the short hitch to the finish a “safe bet”.

In the Fast PY fleets, the Fireballs all saved their time on the water in both races which means that the Frostbite Mugs for the day go to Alistair Court and Gordon Syme for the first race of the day and to Neil Colin and Margaret Casey for the second race.