Optimism pays off………..but only just!

Post date: Dec 13, 2016 10:28:23 AM

The penultimate Sunday of Series 1 of the DMYC’s Frostbite Series 2016/17 saw a mirror-like appearance on the inner reaches of Dun Laoghaire harbour and the light air nature of the day was confirmed as the” keelers”, sailing their Turkey Shoot race were only just moving outside the harbour. Despite this scenario, the principal organiser of the racing was heard to say that a single race would be sailed, of five laps, but that a shortened course signal would be close at hand. This correspondent, sailing with Alistair Court, was towed out to the race area by RIB and other Fireballs paddled & sailed in order to get to the start area. Given that the principal organiser, Olivier Proveur, is French, it seemed appropriate to say “Nous somme ici, mais pourquoi”, which I hoped translated to “We are here now, but why” as we drew alongside the committee boat. There was no apparent wind on the water and the Race Officer & Olivier were on the bow with a burgee, seeking some form of indication as to where a weather mark might go!

Eventually a few zephyrs made their presence felt and a weather mark was put in place just to the north of the approach to the marina, suggesting that what little wind there was was coming from a westerly direction. Mark No. 2 was located just off the HSS gantry with Marks 3 & 4 down towards the East Pier Wall, with 4 about 50-60m inside the end of the East Pier.

No-one was straying too far from the start line in the fickle winds that were blowing and our assessment was to pick a spot to start and see how the wind gods treated us. Clearly, we got this wrong as minutes after the start, we were stone last. Three boats hogged the pin-end on port tack, Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) and Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061). Slightly behind them, also on port were the Clancy brothers, Conor & James, (14807), and between the pin and the committee boat end were Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher (15007) and the “pink-ladies”, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691), so called because of their matching pink woolly hats.

For a change, Butler & Oram were not the leading boat; that went to Colin & Casey, who also lead the fleet round the first weather mark in the second race last Sunday, but weren’t credited for the achievement in the corresponding report. Next came Miller & Donnelly followed by Butler & Oram, but as the wind switched off, the tail-enders caught up with the leaders and all seven boats rounded in a relatively short window. No-one bar Smyth & Fisher tried to fly spinnakers and Miller, taking a hitch to windward was rewarded when he overtook Colin to lead around Mark 2.

In the lightest of winds, places changed quite regularly between Marks 1 & 3 with a wide variety of approaches being taken to Mark 3. Colin for example gybed immediately at Mark 2 to sail a course inside the trapezoid. Court went out wide with Clancy, towards the East Pier, while Smyth and McKenna sailed more of a straight line course to Mark 3. By 3, Clancy had gone ahead of Court who then found that both Smyth and McKenna had water on him at the mark so he took a slow rounding for his pain. Colin had dropped further back.

The passage from 3 to 4 was “trying”. Miller & Donnelly led past 3 and onto 4 where, assuming a beat to 1, they dropped spinnaker. Butler & Oram decided that bag could be flown thus giving the hint to everyone else. The Clancys, sailing higher than the rest of the fleet, carried it the furthest, but no-one managed to hold it all the way. Smyth & Fisher having sailed a positive 2 to 3 to 4 were now in third place, without really closing on the front two where Miller was still the rabbit to Butler’s greyhound. The top leg of the trapezoid was a “two-sailer” again and had more of a beat to it as more than one boat took a hitch to try and get into clear wind. Miller was still leading at 2 and held that until very late on when Butler was able to make a faster manoeuvre at Mark 4 when a shortened course was signalled.

Smyth & Fisher took third, Clancys fourth and Court & Bradley and Colin & Casey were overlapped going over the line with Court getting the nod.

Next Sunday, 18th, sees the last race of Series 1.

Meanwhile in sunny South Africa, the Fireball Worlds got underway in strong wind, big seas and sunshine in Mossel Bay on the country’s Garden Route.

At the Pre-Worlds last week, which doubled up as the South African Class Nationals, the Swiss pair of Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser, current European Champions, (SUI 14799) had a perfect week winning all bar one of the races, the last, which they didn’t need to sail. The last race win went to Ben Schulz and Jack Lidgett (AUS 15113), allowing them to finish second overall, ten points adrift of the Swiss. Third overall were Johana Koranva Napravnikova & Jakub Napravnik (CZE 15109) who scored two seconds in a nett score of 17 points. The early part of the Pre-Worlds was heavy winded with Day 1 seeing no racing. However, it seems that by the end of the week a lack of wind was the bigger problem.

After a flag-raising ceremony yesterday morning, the Worlds fleet went out in big winds and even bigger seas. The Swiss paid “second fiddle” to reigning World Champions, Tom Gillard & Richard Anderton (GBR 15127), with Schulz & Lidgett, third. Facebook posts show huge seas, high speed Fireballing and Fireballs cresting waves with half their hulls out of the water. The matching reports suggest an exhilarating day but tired bodies as a consequence.

(Attached photos are copyright Fireball Worlds 2016.)