National Champions make dominant debut at Fireball Frostbites

Post date: Jan 05, 2015 7:35:55 PM

Irish National Fireball Champions, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL15114) made their Frostbite debut in Dun Laoghaire yesterday and utterly dominated proceedings, leading from start to finish and putting three-quarters of a lap between themselves and the chasing pack at the finish. Eight Fireballs initiated Series 2 of the Frostbites, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club and they enjoyed lighter and more fickle conditions than were forecast for the day. The Windfinder app was suggesting 12 knots of SSW, but the weather station adjacent to my observation position suggested that the base wind strength was around 6 knots with a highest recorded gust of 10 knots and a direction of 162˚. The air temperatures of the two systems – app and weather station – were consistent at 7˚. Still, after a gap of five weeks, with the last three Sundays of Series 1 lost to adverse weather, the fleet would have enjoyed being on the water in any conditions.

Again, I missed the start (New Year’s resolution – get there on time!) and arrived as a cluster of Fireballs rounded the first weather mark. Even after a single beat, McCartin & Kinsella had some distance on the fleet. They were followed by Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (IRL 14706), Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (IRL 15061) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (IRL 14775). A trapezoid course was the order of the day with a long beat and a shorter top leg between 1 and 2. The weather mark was set just off the ferry gantry with the committee boat anchored off the west pier.

For the second beat, McCartin & Kinsella took a short port tack hitch before setting off on a long starboard leg to the weather mark. What appeared to be a healthy lead on the water as they approached the mark seemed to evaporate, but it was an illusion because on time they were 45 seconds up on the next boat. Court & Syme were still in second place, followed closely by Louise McKenna & Joe O’Reilly (IRL 14691), with Colin & Casey, Butler & Oram, Frank Miller (IRL 14713), Louis Smyth & Glen Fisher (IRL 15007) and Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (IRL 14865) following on.

The leg between 1 and 2 stayed as a tight reach throughout the race and the bottom leg, 3 to 4 was likewise tight but the leg between 2 and 3 saw two different approaches being taken, continue on starboard tack towards the harbour mouth, or gybe and sail a slightly higher line to Mark 3. At Mark 4 the second time the fleet compacted, with the exception of the leaders who at this stage were in a “world of their own”. The tactic now appeared to be to tack earlier rather than later as the boats which went too far left found themselves in lesser breeze.

At Mark 1 for the third time, the lead was out to 2 minutes, the length of the leg between 1 and 2. The chasing pack seemed to have an established order with the sequence being Butler, Court, Colin, McKenna, Smyth, Chambers & Miller. However, for the balance of the race this group of seven had a persistent game of snakes and ladders before the finishing order was confirmed.

There were two elements to the beat now – stay in breeze and stay on starboard tack for as long as possible, taking the port hitch when the wind allowed. This meant that the fleet generally stayed inside the box created by the four marks of the course.

At the next rounding of the weather mark the sequence, apart from the leaders, who now had a two leg lead, was Colin, Butler, McKenna, Court, Miller, Chambers, Smyth. However, at Mark 3 they compacted again and in the process Chambers had the “door shut” on her, forcing her to drop spinnaker and tack to round the mark.

By the next rounding of the weather mark, Colin had got ahead of Butler, but his approach to the mark was interrupted by starboard tacked boats approaching the same mark. This allowed Butler to close but not pass Colin. McKenna and Court also rounded in close company followed by Smyth, Miller and Chambers, now slightly adrift due to her travails at the previous rounding of mark 3. By mark 2, Butler had taken Colin.

As the afternoon progressed, staying in wind became the primary challenge. On the last lap, Colin sailed on past mark 2 even though both McKenna and Court who had gybed at mark 2 seemed to have gained the upper hand on the water by this manoeuvre. However, he managed to sail “a circle route” to 3 and by staying in better breeze got his third place back again.

This result gave Barry & Conor the day’s Frostbite Mugs.

The DMYC clubhouse also hosted the prizegiving for Series 1 which had not taken place in December due to the last three races being abandoned due to adverse weather. DMYC Calendars were the prizes for the Series.

Kenny Rumball was not in attendance to receive his prize as he was in Australia returning the boat in which he finished seventh in Class and 12th overall (IRC) in the 2014 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race. He raced with two other Irish sailors with strong Fireball connections – Barry Hurley and Kenny’s younger brother Alexander.

In other Irish Fireball related news, Conor Byrne was in 25th overall, after two races, in a fleet of 124 Tasars at their World Championships in Australia. Two other Fireball “connections” are also in action at this event; Chris Payne & Heather McFarlane were 15th overall after the same two races (and they won the Practice Race) and Ben Schulz was lying in 35th overall.