Huff n’ Puff in Scotsman’s Bay, not Hufflepuff at Hogwarts School!

Post date: Jul 16, 2014 9:7:11 AM

After two gentle Tuesday night sessions in a row on Dublin Bay, the wind gods upped the ante for last night’s DBSC racing. Viewing the Optimist Europeans on Dublin Bay (entry of 255 boats) during the day from the office window and comparing the forecast for the evening there seemed to be some confusion as to what we would be getting with my favoured website suggesting southerlies of 11 – 15 knots. Rigging up in the Coal harbour didn’t help the wind assessment either as neither the flags in the harbour complex nor the wind in the rigging were consistent!

Having made our choice of rig setting, we went out to a lively Scotsman’s Bay. Those trapeze wires, which had been redundant for the past two Tuesdays, were going to be worked tonight!

Wind direction - 160˚, ebbing tide, full-on trapeze conditions! Five Fireballs bid for a position on the short start line, all congregated at the committee boat end. Messrs Butler & Oram (15061) were shepherding the flock, keeping an eye on Smyth & Bradley (15007) and Colin & Casey (14755). The “all-lady” teams of McKenna & O’Keeffe (14691) and Chambers & McGuire (14865) were close to the action as well. All five boats flew of the start line on starboard tack sailing parallel to the shore for a 4-lap triangular course. All five boats used the right hand-side of the course but Butler & Oram led the charge to the weather mark followed by Colin and Smyth who were keeping close company with each other. Getting snagged on the boom in the penultimate tack to the weather mark didn’t help Smyth’s cause but having the “avoirdupois” of Bradley on board avoided a costly capsize!

At the weather mark the pecking order was Butler, Colin, Smyth, McKenna and Chambers. Butler went for spinnaker and screamed off. The next two were more cautious, but Smyth launched spinnaker halfway down the slightly short reach. He still didn’t get to the gybe mark before Colin and when they each flew bag down the second reach which was more comfortable, Colin stayed ahead.

On the second beat, Smyth & Bradley went inshore in contrast to Colin and Casey, Butler & Oram being already gone! This allowed the former pair to close on the latter but down the sausage, Colin & Casey pulled out some distance though they would still be watching over their shoulder. McKenna & O’Keeffe also came back into the picture closing to within a few boat-lengths of Smyth at the second leeward mark. Again, Colin and Smyth adopted different approaches to the third beat, Smyth closed but couldn’t overhaul the 2nd placed boat. The gybe mark had been relocated further out to sea giving a longer and tighter reach. Colin & Casey’s spinnaker hoist got fouled allowing Smyth & Bradley to pass them out and sail into second place at the gybe mark. The second reach was now much tighter and while Butler & Oram and Smyth & Bradley flew bag, neither were able to make the mark, forcing early drops and a two-sail close out of the second reach. These two were of course flying the bag from very different positions on the leg! Colin & Casey had eschewed the spinnaker for the second reach and flew two-sailed down the second reach to round the leeward mark on Smyth’s transom. Up the fourth beat Smyth & Bradley were able to open up a short distance on Colin & Casey but this would not be sufficient to provide any comfort for the heavier combination on the final downwind leg of the sausage. Initially they sailed together on starboard tack, heading offshore – playing chicken – Who would gybe back first. Colin was first to twitch his tiller prompting Smyth to do the same and they watched each other all the way down the leg.

At the rounding of the last leeward mark they were very close but the presence of a Mermaid, a Laser and a single-handed K1 complicated Colin’s rounding and left him a boat-length to leeward of Smyth and a boat-length and a half behind. The two Fireballs quickly escaped the company of the other boats, but Smyth was in the preferred position – to windward and ahead. This gave him the freedom to dictate his final approach to the finish while still keeping an eye on the opposition.

A magic night – fast reaches, waves and a great race on the water, in keeping with the Harry Potter themed heading to this article!!

This combination of results has created an interesting three-way tie in the overall standings for Series 2.

The Irish Fireball scene relocates this weekend to Wexford and the hospitality and race management of the Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club for our Munster Championships. While the core of the fleet are expected to attend, if there are any readers of this column who are looking to put the bits and pieces together for a weekend of racing at the venue but who haven’t got all these bits and pieces, please contact us to see how we can help.

Wexford will provide the last chance for practice before four Irish boats head off to the Shetlands for the European Championships. Shetlands Chairman John Manson has put a huge effort into the organisation of this event and promises the traditional Shetland welcome to all those who are making the journey…………..including boats from the Czech Republic.