Mixed bag of weather for season’s biggest turnout

Post date: Sep 14, 2015 9:51:59 AM

The biggest Irish Fireball fleet of the year, seventeen boats had a mixed bag of weather over the weekend just past for their Munster Championships at Lough Derg Yacht Club. On Saturday we had healthy winds, rain squalls that upped the strength of the breeze but fortunately didn’t give us too much rain, followed by sunshine. On Sunday we had much lighter breezes and drizzle that turned to heavy rain as the racing concluded. With two of the more successful skippers missing this weekend, there was going to be change to the podium places at this regatta and so it proved. Another combination who have had a lean time of it in terms of regatta wins recently got back to winning ways in a dominant style and there was a healthy turnout of boats for the Classis Trophy. In addition to the Dun Laoghaire cohort we had participants from nearby Killaloe, Youghal and Skerries. The event was shared with the 420s who were sailing a Connaught Championships and the Wayfarers who were enjoying the latter stages of a cruising event that had started the previous weekend.

At the skippers’ briefing on Saturday morning, Race Officer John Leech, and Vice Commodore of LDYC, postponed the start of proceedings as rain squalls over the race area were producing a white water scape and given the amount of time we had, discretion was deemed to be the better part of valour.

A more subdued race area met competitors when proceedings did get underway and a trapezoid course was set – a compromise position to accommodate both Classes. However, the physical size of the course proved to be much too small as stronger breeze came in to render the race a 20-minute session – an unusual error for the Race Officer to be caught out on his home waters.

The balance of the day’s racing was in this stronger breeze and more than one of the top combinations took a swim for their pains. After the first race aberration, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) dominated proceedings to record five race wins, allowing them to throw away the 3rd place of the first “sprint” race. On Saturday evening in the racing post-mortem they admitted to capsizing on one of the downwind legs, but they were sufficiently far ahead that it didn’t cost them any places.

The first and second placed boats in the first race “sprint” also built on their success to secure podium finishes overall and their success was warmly applauded by their peers at the prize-giving. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) finished second overall, tied with Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield (14748) on eighteen points but taking second place on the basis of a third in the final race versus a seventh for the latter boat.

The Clancy brothers, Conor & James, secured yet another fourth place overall – a habit that most of us would envy, but one I’m sure they would prefer to break. Fifth place went to Mike Murphy & Alex Voye.

At the close of racing on Saturday evening the first three boats in the Classic Trophy were separated by a point. However an excellent fifth race for the “Youghal youngsters” Adrian Lee and Edward Coyne (14044), finishing ninth, combined with a conversely poor race for the division leaders, saw a major swing in the points in favour of the younger combination. John Bolger & Jay Dalton of Killaloe (14150) also scored well on Sunday to secure second overall in the Classics. In the Silver Fleet, the victors were the Class Chairman, Marie Barry and Cariosa Power (14854), who finished in 9th place and they were also the first ladies, followed immediately by Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691).

LDYC were excellent hosts with a superb meal served in the clubhouse on the Saturday night and a late bar. Race Officer John Leech and his team turned races around very quickly and set good courses which was quite a challenge in Sunday’s lighter airs circumstances. At the prize-giving he complimented the Class on their racing prowess and indicated that LDYC would be keen to host the Fireballs again. The hosting of three classes at the one venue over a single weekend worked well – though in reality the Wayfarers were doing a distance race on the Saturday so the rest of us only saw them onshore.

The concluding regatta of the season was intended to be over the first weekend of October in Dun Laoghaire. However, the combination of date and venue is not confirmed so Irish Fireballers should watch for a communication on when and where the Leinsters will be sailed. It is expected that this will be within the next few days – watch for E-mails and Facebook posts.