Halloween has gone……it must be Frostbite Time!

Post date: Nov 04, 2013 10:42:54 PM

With the celebrations of ghouls and ghosts gone for another year, the Irish Fireball fleet can embrace the prospect of Frostbite and Sunday afternoon sailing for the next 5 months. A modest fleet of eight Fireballs initiated the 2013/14 Frostbite Series in the company of RS 400s, RS 200s, Lasers, Lasers Radials, IDRAs and one 470.

On Saturday the wind was very strong and both the Met Eireann and XC Weather websites were suggesting that we were in for a battering on Saturday night, but that the winds would ease during the course of Sunday – so much so that by 18:00 on Sunday evening XC Weather was saying that there would be as little as 1 – 2 knots. The Race Committee went out into the main body of Dun Laoghaire’s harbour under blue skies and a modest breeze out of the West. With the obvious intent of taking advantage of the benign weather a programme of two races was declared.

As the last start of the day, the Fireballs were clustered towards the pin-end of the line with a group of probably five boats fighting to be the pin end boat. Kenneth Rumball, with brother Alexander as crew (15058) was in the mix with Noel Butler and Joe O’Reilly (15061), Neil Colin and Margaret Casey (14775), Alistair Court and Gordon Syme (14706). The quest for the pin was to facilitate an early tack onto port to sail up the port-hand side of the course. There had to be a victim in this quest and so it was as an individual recall was signaled after the start. No-one went back.

Those boats who had not pursued the pin-slot were of course subject to the prospect of being sailed over by those who were to windward of them. One of these was Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley (15007) who saw Court/Syme go over them. Others who were slightly to leeward of the ideal line to the first weather mark were Mary Chambers and Brenda McGuire (14865), Conor Clancy (14807) and Luke Malcolm and Shane Divenny (14790). An adverse wind shift as they approached the weather mark saw Smyth & Bradley round this mark in last place. In reverse order, the sequence was Smyth, Chambers, Clancy, Malcolm, Court, Colin, Rumball & Butler. Messrs Butler & Rumball tagged each other round the rest of the course with never more than a few boat-lengths between them. The lead changed hands a number of times, even on the same leg! This gave Colin & Casey a bit of leeway to do their own thing and on occasion they sailed a very different upwind leg to the rest of the fleet, staying right rather than going left immediately after the leeward mark.

Three laps were set for this first race of the Series to accommodate a second race so the pressure was on to recover places. The top three had a slight gap over the rest of us, so the bulk of the changes were among the 5-boat chasing group. Smyth got ahead of Chambers on the first downwind leg, but Malcolm, sailing with us for the first time since the last Frostbite Series, lost out to Smyth and Clancy as the race progressed. The lead alternated between Rumball and Butler but the brothers led at the critical stage – over the finish line. Colin & Casey went over the finish line to silence, meaning that those behind them were elevated by one place.

As XC Weather predicted, the wind then began to switch off and the plan to have a second race was abandoned. The mark-laying ribs helped to get the fleet ashore by offering tows to shore.