Newsletter Number 2 - May 2013

Post date: May 23, 2013 12:43:33 PM

Despite the fact that the seascape of Dublin Bay this morning is more akin to October than the 2nd last week of May and the fact that the first evening racing session to have a sense of the time of year was last Tuesday, our sailing season is well underway. We have had four Tuesday nights of DBSC, though one was lost to a lack of wind, and four Saturday sessions. In the Tuesday night series race wins have been shared between Conor Clancy (150**), Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691). This leaves the overall situation as follows;

A variety of wind conditions have been encountered on Tuesdays, with the latest session seeing only three finishers from the eight boat fleet, the biggest to date, – the rest of us were timed out by finishing outside the 15 minute window set by Louise and Hermine as the winners.

Reports on the Tuesday night racing appear on the Afloat website and the Yachts & yachting website, but are reproduced here for your entertainment.

Seven-boat Fireball fleet inaugurates

the 2013 DBSC Tuesday Night Series.

The Flying Fifteen fleet provided the Race Committee, high tide was at 16:00 and the XCWeather forecast had got it right with predictions of SSE wind when the Fireball fleet initiated their 2013 DBSC Tuesday Night Dinghy Series.

Defending Tuesday night champions Stephen Oram and Noel Butler were there, as was Class Chairman Neil Colin with regular crew Margaret Casey. A relative newcomer to Tuesday nights was Conor Clancy, sailing with an unidentified crew, as far as this correspondent was concerned. Also making a rare but welcome appearance was Stephen Campion, sailing with Louise McKenna.

Three quarters of the way up the first beat a very premature assessment might have suggested we were sailing on the wrong night as Louis Smyth led the fleet with his rivals split left and right, offshore and inshore. Butler & Oram were back in third with Conor Clancy separating the pair! However, in the final approach to the weather mark, Clancy got through to lead and while he kept a wary eye on his competitors he was never headed thereafter.

Smyth & Bradley held off Butler & Oram across the top reach of the trapezoid course and for a reasonable section of the subsequent leg. However, with both crews working hard to make use of the wind and waves the younger combination got ahead but unusually for them did not streak away from the rest of the fleet. Behind the leading three boats, Colin & Casey and Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly led the chase.

On the second beat the majority of the fleet had tacked immediately at Mark 4 to head to sea. However, not everyone stuck with that game plan as first Colin & Casey and then Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire peeled off to the right. Smyth/Bradley closed the gap on the lead two, hailing starboard on Butler/Oram when they headed inshore for the second turning of the weather mark. Clancy & crew were clear ahead but by a shortened margin.

For the run down to Mark 4, the fleet initially went out to sea again on starboard tack. Miller/Donnelly stayed inshore of everyone and at one stage looked very healthy indeed. Colin/Casey went further out to sea and seemed to lose the distance they had gained on the earlier part of the leg. Chambers/McGuire and McKenna/Campion sailed a much more “middle of the road” course and the former combination was rewarded by rounding Mark 4 in 4th place. However, while the lead two were never in trouble, the fleet actually condensed somewhat, creating a much shortened finishing sequence for the class.

Tuesday night Fireball racing, Dun Laoghaire, 14th May.

Who would be a forecaster?

Last Tuesday, 7th May, my favoured web-based weather forecast site suggested that we would have a genteel sail in Dublin Bay for the Tuesday night Series with winds of 6 knots, fading away as the evening progressed. Before we could get to the mouth of the harbour, the Race Committee had abandoned the race due to the combination of a dearth of meaningful wind and a strong flooding tide, meaning boats would have been swept towards Dublin.

Last night the same web based site was suggesting that at 19:00 it would be blowing 2 knots from the south, gusting to four knots. We could expect some light rain! By 22:00 it would be blowing from the north! In reality it was blowing quite healthily from the SSE with ample grey rain clouds surrounding the race course. Immediately before the race we were subjected to hailstones and heavy rain. And so we find ourselves in mid-May with the air still cold and the sea temperature bracing to put it politely.

Tuesday night Fireball order was restored last night (14th) when Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) led from start to finish on a trapezoid course with 3 laps.

7 boats took to the water and six started with one boat going ashore before the starting sequence. The first start was aborted, probably due to an errant pin mark, which is a pity because this correspondent had the second best start behind Noel Butler & Stephen Oram.

On the second start, Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley (15007) started at the pin! ............too early it seems, so their effort was recognized by the flying of a flag with a blue cross on a white background.

All the starters went out to sea initially to benefit from the ebbing tide. Virtually everyone went to the port lay-line before tacking onto port for their approach to the weather mark. At Mark 1 the running order was Butler/Oram, Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775), with Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713), Louise McKenna & Hermine O Keeffe (14691) and Smyth/Bradley rounding in close company, followed by Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854).

Butler/ Oram were the only boat to fly bag across the top of the course and sailed away as a consequence. Colin/Casey maintained the gap on the next three who indulged in a boat on boat surfing challenge all the way from Mark 2 to Mark 4.

Up the second beat Miller and Smyth were in close company going to sea. McKenna went inshore. But at the 2nd weather mark the order was intact; Butler, Colin, Miller, McKenna, Smyth, Power. An immediate gybe at the 2nd weather mark gave Smyth an advantage over the two boats immediately ahead of him which allowed him to round Mk 4 the 2nd time in third place.

On the last beat an inshore lift on starboard tack benefitted those who went that way. McKenna dropped behind the other two by going to sea. But on legs 2, 3 and 4 of the final lap, the three boats closed up again to round Mk 4 for the last time in tight order. Smyth held off Miller to the finish but crossed the line in silence.

Ladies lead from start to finish as tense race

becomes a light wind lottery!

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) led tonight’s Tuesday race (21/05) in the DBSC Series for Fireballs. The best turnout for the series so far, eight boats, contested what started off as a tense race with everyone in close proximity to each other and devolved into a light wind drifter as the wind ultimately disappeared.

Our reading of the wind direction in the racing area gave us SE as the direction and while getting out of the harbour had been a bit of a struggle, once we were in Scotsman’s Bay there seemed to be a healthy breeze for the evening’s proceeding. Nobody was trapezing but there was wind!

With a flooding tide the sensible thing to do seemed to be “go inshore” and the majority of the fleet did that. What resulted was a procession of boats approaching the first weather mark on the starboard layline. Louise & Hermine were the most offshore of the group and ahead with Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) leading the layline procession, followed by Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley (15007), Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061), Conor Clancy & Hugh Butler (150**) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775).

The first five went marginally out to sea while Colin & Casey gybed immediately onto an inshore track for the downwind leg of the windward/leeward course. McKenna/O’Keeffe were the first to gybe back inshore, while Miller/Donnelly were the last to do so. The other three played more of a middle course. The Colin/Casey gamble paid off as they rounded in close company with Butler/Oram & Clancy/Butler. McKenna/O’Keeffe were gone and Smyth/Bradley managed to round second.

2nd beat, with a modified weather mark position, and the lead group played the inshore card. Miller/Donnelly went to sea initially but then came back. Smyth/Bradley held their 2nd place but Butler/Oram closed the distance and Clancy/Butler weren’t far behind them. Still leading McKenna/O’Keeffe held their nerve and played the 2nd downwind leg much the same as the first. Butler, Smyth, Clancy & Colin went down to the second leeward mark in close company. Miller/Donnelly dropped off the pace and lost distance. At the 2nd leeward mark, McKenna/O’Keeffe were still comfortable. Smyth/Bradley got caught in a pincer movement by Butler/Oram outside and Clancy/Butler inside to drop two places instantaneously at the leeward mark. Interpretations of 3 boat-lengths would provide an interesting discussion among these three!!

Now it was time to “hit the shore” which the ladies did. Butler and Clancy kept each other in close company up the third beat. Smyth was obliged to try something different which didn’t work – distance lost! Colin/Casey also went to the beach but didn’t gain the distance they craved.

At windward 3 the order was McKenna, Butler, Clancy, Smyth, Colin, and Miller. But Miller wasn’t finished yet. The dying breeze all but evaporated on the third downwind leg. Boats were pointing in all sorts of directions to try and keep spinnakers filling. There was a sense of almost sailing away from the shortened course finish line, between the leeward mark and the committee boat, just to keep spinnakers full.

Butler/Oram appeared to close the gap on McKenna/O’Keeffe, but the ladies held out to win. Smyth initially closed on Clancy and Colin closed on him. Behind Miller & Donnelly were the first to drop their spinnaker and ghosted past both Smyth and Colin to regain the places they had lost earlier.

Footnote: Only the first three boats got a finish. The rest of us were timed out!!

Six races have been sailed for the Saturday series and this competition enjoys less support than the Tuesday racing. The biggest fleet to date has been four boats and thus far Louis Smyth and Cormac Bradley have an unblemished record. The wind conditions for these races have generally been more consistent but that may be due to the fact that we are racing to the west of the harbour rather than inside Scotsman’s Bay.

We have also had our first regatta of the year with the Open Championship at Killaloe. A report by Frank Miller on the events and the social side of the Killaloe event follows;

Irish Fireball Open Event – Killaloe SC, Saturday May 11th 2013

(Report by Frank Miller)

You might imagine that an event with over forty knots of wind recorded on the racecourse and with only nine Fireballs entered would be a disaster. In fact you would be wrong. The Irish Fireball Open event hosted by Killaloe SC at the UL Activity Centre on Lough Derg was memorable for all the right reasons. From the moment we arrived in the beautiful village of Killaloe a sense of holiday and fun pervaded. Boats were rigged at the activity centre in near calm while a young swan paraded nearby and mallards flew overhead. The venue for activity then switched to Goosers pub where really excellent food was had, washed down by a few pints. Stragglers left by the back door at about 1am, several heading for John Bolger’s home where he hosted wayward Fireballers. John, of whom more later, surely went above and beyond the call of duty by evicting wife and child for the weekend to provide more room for waifs and strays.

Saturday saw the dawn of a beautiful but blustery day. From our perch in John’s surrendered bedroom we watched as everything in sight flattened in gusts. Undaunted the fleet gathered its sandwiches and drinks and headed for the venue. The official forecast for the lake gave a force 4-6 with gale gusts but PRO Geoff O’Donoghue cautioned that with the wind direction there would be some funnelling and gusts could be higher. The fleet took to the water, launching between squalls. The squalls were now coming through with monotonous regularity, about ten minutes apart, almost like clockwork. A dragging boat anchor and ground tackle made setting the course difficult and the start was delayed for over an hour as crews screamed around the lake trying to get used to quite odd conditions. If you set up for the squalls you were a bit underpowered in the lulls but there were no settings available for the extremes of the windiest squalls.

Finally the race course was set and a start sequence initiated. About two minutes before the start gun however almost the entire fleet was flattened by a gust. The postponed flag was raised while crews recovered their dignity. A few minutes later and the fleet finally got away cleanly from the line. We reached the windward mark as a bunch, water being given without complaint in the extreme conditions, safety now being as significant a factor as the RRS. Looking over their shoulder at another black squall approaching at least one boat kept sailing on for shore. Those of us who rode the 30 knot plus squall downwind had the ride of our lives, mainly under two sails though at least one boat carried a kite. Regardless of the sail-plan there was absolutely no prospect of gybing, tacking or changing course in any way during this squall. Happily there was plenty of lake and everyone rode the squall downwind well past the gybe mark, towards the village. Only when the pressure dropped for a minute did anyone attempt a tack. Almost everyone capsized. Those who recovered quickly continued to race, others more winded headed for shore.

When the spray finally settled three boats had remained upright long enough to complete the course. Noel Butler and Stephen Oram won the race, having clawed back the lead from Gavin Doyle and Dave Sweeney who were second. Third place went to John Bolger and his crew Serguei Belochapkine, a fantastic result for the local team who normally sail in the silver fleet. With conditions showing signs of increasing rather than abating the PRO called it a day. Thus the one-day Open event came to an end with that one race determining the result. While Noel Butler and Stephen Oram carried away the main prize hero of the day was surely event organiser John Bolger with Serguei winning not just third place overall but the silver fleet and also the classic trophy.

That evening the fleet gathered at the Cherry Tree restaurant, availed of it’s great early bird menu, and then repaired to Flanagan’s for a glass. When a local band arrived to set up there were groans but we were wrong. The band proved brilliant, especially it’s female lead singer, and led by dance queen Marie Barry the fleet took to the floor until well past midnight. The following day conditions had not changed enough to go ahead with the mixed fleet Killaloe SC Spring Challenge so we packed up exhausted but definitely happy with as good a weekend as you could possibly have with so little sailing. Thanks are due to all at Killaloe SC for their terrific welcome, to Race Officer Geoff O’Donoghue and his team, augmented by visiting Fireballer Dave Coleman, to KSC’s Jim Ryan, Suzie Coote and all the other club volunteers who stretched the resources of their small club to make this event happen against all the odds.

Regatta Schedule.

Our next regatta is the Ulster Championships which are due to be hosted by Carlingford Lough Yacht Club on the weekend of 15th/16th June. CLYC is in Killowen on the northern shore of Carlingford Lough. We have always enjoyed great hospitality at CLYC and it has been a regular venue for the Fireball fleet for quite some time. Our last visit was in 2008 on the occasion of their 50th Anniversary. As Frank’s report indicates we only had 10 boats in Killaloe so we need an injection of enthusiasm for our trip north.

The venue is easily accessible from the greater Dublin area with a journey time of around 2hrs. Their racing area is immediately off the shore and they are happy to accommodate camping at their club site.

Directions: Take the M1 north as if going to Belfast. Take the off ramp at Cloughogue for Newry/Warrenpoint/A2 Coastal Route. At the roundabout at the end of the off-ramp, take the 2nd exit to go down the hill into Newry. At third set of lights (1st set at shopping centres, 2nd set at Albert Basin/Canal) turn right to take the A2 to Warrenpoint. At the Greenbank roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto the dual carriageway and drive to Warrenpoint. At roundabout at the golf course (with a stainless steel elk in the centre of the roundabout) take 2nd exit. On arriving in the Square, take 2nd exit on roundabout (driving straight on effectively) along main street to seafront. At T-junction on seafront (with Whistledown Hotel on your RHS), turn left and follow coast road to Rostrevor. At mini-roundabout take 2nd exit to Kilkeel – continuation of the coast road. Drive for approximately 3km. (At maybe 2km there is a fork in the road, keep right.) Turn-off for Killowen (and CLYC) is first right after SELB Outdoor Activity Centre.

The regatta documentation for the Ulsters at CLYC is up on our own website and also on CLYC’s website.

Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2013

After the Ulsters the action moves back to Dun Laoghaire and the Volvo Regatta. A four day event that starts on the Thursday afternoon (11th) and closes on the Sunday afternoon (14th) it is an event that we have always supported enjoying our own start on the dinghy course. In times past we have sailed the Open Championship as part of this event, but this year that isn’t the case. Thus entries to this event will be for the four days. So far we have six or seven entries which means we may have to sail in the PY Class in a mixed class start. As an opportunity to showcase the class to a wide racing audience this is not a situation we want to see. So your support for this event would be greatly appreciated by getting your entry organized. Class Chairman Neil Colin is a member of the organizing committee and he is advising that we would probably need a ten boat fleet to get our own start, while a 12-boat fleet would make that a certainty.

Nationals 2013 – Skerries Sailing Club – 19/20/21 July.

Skerries has been a stronghold of Fireball sailing for many years and in our quest to take events to clubs that have Fireballs, Skerries “ticks all the boxes”. Good hospitality, good racing area, easy access and easy travelling time. Yes, it is close to the Volvo event and Yes it does require the taking of a day’s leave……….but if summer weather ever arrives, it would be appropriate to take time out to enjoy it.

International Events.

Fireball International’s Andrew Davies has confirmed that Thailand will host the 2014 Worlds. The venue will be the RVYC in Pattaya and the dates are 22 March to April 4th 2014.

The 2015 Worlds are scheduled for the UK but the venue is yet to be confirmed.

Class Captains.

You will probably be of the opinion that this newsletter has a distinctly Dun Laoghaire theme to it…….at least in terms of stories. If any of the Class Captains (Clontarf, Skerries, Howth, Killaloe, East Down Yacht Club and Dunmore East) or any of the individual DL Clubs that might want Fireball stories or news circulated, please let me know.

Could the Class Captains also make sure that the Fireballers in their clubs, who may not be know to the Class nationally are E-mailed this newsletter.

Membership Reminder.

Remember that to race Fireballs in 2013, both the helm and crew are required to be individual members of the Class Association. The boat owner must also register the boat. The Irish Class Association have NOT changed the cost of this revision – the total package stays at €30 – boat (€20), helm and crew (€5 each) = €30. Regatta documentation has been amended to reflect this position and to allow organizing authorities for our regattas to ask for proof of individual membership – as evidenced by the possession of a 2013 Fireball International Membership Card. These are available from Marie Barry, our Treasurer, on payment of the appropriate fee.

Irish Sailing Association (ISA) & Irish Fireball Class Association.

Following the motion placed before the AGM of the ISA by Bryan Armstrong (Sligo Yacht Club) and Robert lee (Blessington) and the workshop that was hosted by the ISA a couple of weeks after the AGM in response to the Armstrong/Lee motion, we, like other classes, have received some correspondence from the ISA.

They have proposed to make some monies available for coaching in non-Olympic Classes, but on further investigation the coaching would have to be provided by ISA approved and registered coaches. Thus, for example, the coaching that we as a Class provide to our own members would not qualify for financial support under this scheme. Likewise, the Adam Bowers training session would have to be funded from our own resources