Genteel racing in Dublin Bay!

Post date: May 28, 2014 9:45:9 AM

Last night’s racing in Scotsman’s Bay was the first “genteel” session since the season opened on 29th April. The forecast was for 4-6 knots of Easterly at 19:00 (XCWeather) but on the water the wind was coming out of the South-East, though the strength was probably about right. Some evening sunshine added to the ambience of the evening.The race itself was a combination of the board games Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders, except in the latter case we were playing blind!

The “Monopoly” reference describes the start to finish domination of the lead by Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) who simply sailed away from the rest of us, picking up a proverbial €200 at each rounding mark to stretch their lead further and winning by a margin of over two minutes. As the defending Tuesday night champions, they are showing every sign of retaining their title because for the present they are almost untouchable!

Another “monopoly” reference is that of the straight line speed of the all-lady combinations of Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) and even more significantly Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) who simply sailed into the upper echelons of the pecking order of six boats.

The “blind snakes and ladders”? With a tide that was flooding for 2 hours by the race start of 19:00 and a light wind scenario, logic would appear to suggest that getting out of the tide would be the thing to do. Six boats thus took an early port tack hitch off the start line to head for shore, with the weather mark of the 3-lap triangular course off the rocks at the 40-foot. The furthest boat to sea was the aforementioned Chambers & McGuire, who one would have thought, were fighting a stronger element of tide as the fleet converged on the first weather mark on starboard tack. Not at all, they rounded in second place, even being lifted around the mark. Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) rounded third followed by Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley (15007), Power & Barry (14854) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691).

With Butler & Oram gone, the remaining five boats were set for their own race with not a great deal of distance separating 2nd from 6th. At the gybe mark Smyth & Bradley had a faster gybe to leave them upwind and overlapped with Chambers & McGuire, but Power & Barry were closer than they had been.

On the 2nd beat, first Chambers & McGuire, then Power & Barry simply sailed faster in a straight line than Smyth & Bradley who thus dropped to fifth and were fighting to keep McKenna & O’Keeffe at bay! Coin & Casey tacked out into the tide but managed to stay ahead to the 2nd weather mark. Seeing no ill effects from that tactic, Chambers & McGuire followed suit and opened up distance on Smyth & Bradley who had taken the inshore option. Meanwhile Power & Barry did their own thing to close on Colin & Casey and round third at the 2nd weather mark.

To compound the sense of blind snakes and ladders, going inshore on the downwind leg didn’t appear to cost the two proponents of this tactic any distance – McKenna and Smyth still struggling to close on Power and Colin who rounded the 2nd leeward mark bow to transom.

On the third beat, McKenna went further out to sea than the others, but unlike the 2nd beat it didn’t bring any rewards and by the top mark her opportunity to pass Smyth seemed to have gone. In the meantime, Power had overtaken Colin who was taking short hitches to sea – just to confuse the rest of us he would later claim – and Chambers closed the gap on Colin. At this stage, final weather mark, Butler & Oram were ⅔ of the first spinnaker reach ahead of the 2nd placed boat, Power & Barry, who were followed at a fairly safe distance (for them) by Colin & Casey and Chambers & McGuire. Smyth & Bradley closed the gap down the two reaches but spent the 2nd reach of the triangle looking over their shoulders at McKenna & O’Keeffe who were travelling faster.

The short hitch to the finish should have been academic but the different approaches taken to this 150m stretch meant that finishing margins came down to one or two boat-lengths (with the exception of the first placed boat – who were long gone!) and prompted some cover tacking in the final approach to the finish line!

In overall terms, Butler & Oram lead with a six point cushion over Power & Barry and Colin & Casey who are tied on 10 points each.

On the previous Saturday, three Fireballs contested the Royal Irish Yacht Club Regatta, with Smyth & Bradley taking the event with two race wins. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe and Frank Miller & Ismail Inan shared the second and third places to tie on 5pts. However, Ismail would have enjoyed the Sunday of his weekend when he attended the Ireland – Turkey soccer game at Aviva - that result went his way!!