Light and (very) variable winds make life difficult for Frostbites.

Post date: Dec 02, 2013 12:14:19 PM

When taking up my station on the east pier of Dun Laoghaire’s harbour to watch the day’s Frostbite racing for this report, the wind direction was 289º. By the start of the Fireball race it had gone to 002º, then during the race the readings were 353º, 320º, 220º and by the end the reading was 49º. So it doesn’t take much to imagine what it was like on the 4-lap trapezoid course set by the Race Committee. Though it was the 1st of December and the start of Advent, the wind gods didn’t bring any presents as the highest recorded wind strength of the afternoon was 5.1 knots and the highest recorded gust just over ten knots – though I don’t think I saw that on the water and I’m sure none of the Fireballers did!The first start for the nine Fireballs was aborted - to the relief of Teddy Byrne & Conor Kinsella (14934) and Luke Malcolm & Shane Diviney (14790) as they had the door of opportunity at the committee boat end of the line firmly shut in their respective faces by the rest of the fleet. For this start a slightly oversized blanket could have covered the fleet as they fought to be at the committee boat end. A significant shift of the limit mark for the second start saw a much more even spread of boats along the line with Malcolm/Diviney securing the committee boat end and Byrne/Kinsella down towards the pin.

Eight of the nine boats went substantially left, but Malcolm/Diviney took a hitch to the right immediately after the start and another one halfway up the beat. This left them in pole position on the right-hand side of the course in the approach to the first weather mark, but by their own admission, after the race, they overstood to allow Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) to lead round the mark, followed closely by Malcolm/Diviney and Kenneth Rumball and David Moran (15058). These three had a gap on the balance of the fleet who rounded in the following order – Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691), Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865), Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713), Teddy Byrne & Conor Kinsella, Conor Clancy & Paul Devlin (14807) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775).

By Mark 2, Rumball & Moran had taken the lead, which they would not subsequently relinquish, and Malcolm/Diviney had passed Butler/Oram. The legs from 1 to 2 and 2 to 3 allowed spinnakers to be flown but the leading three boats dropped their spinnakers early on the leg from 3 to 4.

Those who took a short hitch at Mark 4 to stay on the right hand side of the “beat” scored best on the second lap. Rumball and Malcolm adopted this tactic and it paid dividends for them. Butler had lost distance to them both by the time he arrived at mark 1 for the second time but all three sailed the same course to Mark 2. Further back, Colin & Casey gybed immediately on rounding Mark 1 in an attempt to catch up with the boats that had got ahead of them. The lead three boats were comfortable in their positions, but behind them McKenna, Clancy, Byrne, Miller and Colin were having their own race within the race.

Rumball/Moran grew their lead even further on the remainder of the second lap and the subsequent laps to record a winning margin of over 6 minutes. Malcolm & Diviney also managed to break away from the chasing pack until the last lap when their lead over the remainder of the fleet all but disappeared between Marks 2 and 3 for the last time. McKenna/O’Keeffe also occupied third place for a while but ultimately Butler/Oram passed them out to close to within a few boat-lengths of Malcolm/Diviney at Mark 3 for the last time. Clancy/Devlin extracted themselves from the “van” to close on these two as well.

At Mark 4 for the last time, with only the short hitch to the finish left, Butler/Oram looked as though they had done enough to pass Malcolm/Diviney, but the latter pair just managed to hold onto 2nd place by staying to windward of Butler/Oram. Clancy/Devlin did exactly the same thing to Butler/Oram and then to Malcolm/Diviney. The short hitch to the finish was now a lot freer and two of the three boats flew spinnakers! Not Clancy/Devlin who ghosted past the other two boats to snatch 2nd place ahead of Malcolm/Diviney and Butler/Oram. The former combination must have been enormously frustrated to see what had been such a healthy lead over the third place boat(s) disappear over the three legs of the fourth lap, but that frustration would have been tempered by winning the day’s Frostbite Mugs in the Fireball Class.

As an indication of the competitiveness of this year’s Frostbites, it is interesting to note that Noel Butler and Stephen Oram have yet to pick up a set of mugs and we are now into December. Noel acknowledged as much in the post-mortem in the DMYC afterwards saying that it is encouraging to see where the competition is at this year.

(This prompts a correction to last week’s report which awarded the Mugs to Messrs Butler & Oram. The report should have read that the Round 4 Mugs went to Conor Clancy and Paul Devlin.)

With only two Sundays left in Series 1, there is still going to be a number of combinations trying to secure the daily prize before the Christmas break!