Is this August!

Post date: Aug 10, 2016 10:5:32 AM

It was difficult to believe that this is the second Tuesday of August considering the weather for this evening’s Fireball race in Dublin Bay. What started out as a bright day and was still in reasonable shape for a lunch-time walk along the Dun Laoghaire seafront turned into a very cool evening with grey skies over Dublin Bay in a WNW blustery breeze that saw this correspondent almost shivering in the lee of the East Pier wall to bring you this account of the racing. So grey was the scene that the flashing light of the Kish lighthouse, some eight miles offshore was conspicuous in the gloom. The Windfinder app was suggesting 13 knots of breeze, rising to gusts of 18knots and an air temperature of 14˚. With no racing last Tuesday, due to the Bank Holiday Monday, this was a last chance for a race before the Fireball Nationals in Howth this coming weekend. With high tide just short of 17:00 and a start area that was situated to the east of the 40-foot bathing spot, the furthest east I can recall seeing a start area for a Tuesday night, the right approach seemed to be to get out of the tide and go inshore. The four-boat fleet seemed to concur as they all favoured the pin end half of the line. So far east were they that as they approached the rocks at the 40-foot they disappeared from view relative to the East Pier.

Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (15061) and Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) were closest inshore while Conor Clancy and Teddy Byrne (14807) seemed to abandon this tack first and headed significantly offshore. Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly (14713) looked to be a little off the pace, languishing a short distance behind the others. Heading for a windward mark (with spreader) located in the middle of Scotsman’s Bay, Butler & Oram proved that going inshore was the way to go when they rounded with a comfortable lead. Clancy & Byrne were second, followed by McKenna/O’Keeffe and Miller/Donnelly.

After rounding the spreader mark, Butler & Oram continued inshore before adopting a further two tack- three gybe approach to the leeward mark. Clancy & Byrne followed suit, but fouled up the second gybe under spinnaker and went for a long swim. Long enough for both McKenna/O’Keeffe and Miller/Donnelly to pass them out on the water!

All three upright boats adopted an offshore tack first for their second upwind leg with Butler/Oram so comfortably ahead that they could sail whatever course they wanted. The committee boat was soon on the move and flew a shortened course signal for all classes in just about enough time to get into position for Butler & Oram to go through the finish line. Downwind of them, Miller & Donnelly were gradually reeling in their female competition and passed them out on a starboard tack hitch going offshore. Shortly thereafter they were able to tack onto port to go through the finish line ahead of the ladies. Clancy & Byrne also got a finish after a lengthy swim.

The Nationals will be sailed over Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Howth, with a nine-race programme scheduled for the participants.