Penultimate Sunday – weather the winner!

Post date: Dec 11, 2017 12:51:32 PM

It was most probably a combination of the weather forecast, the actual weather or the time of year (two Sundays before Christmas), but today’s Frostbite fleet was considerably reduced and only two Fireballs answered the starter’s call. An indication of the weather was the fact that the keelboats were cancelled in the morning and later we also heard that the Howth Autumn Series was cancelled. On Facebook I read that the sailing at Datchet Water was cancelled and seeing the waves off Hayling Island (in a photograph on Facebook), I can’t imagine that anyone was sailing there either. Even the recently acquired Dun Laoghaire based MOCRA 60 was out under reefed main and small headsail, though that may have more to do with the nature of her business for the day – looking after corporate interests!

Strangely, the forecast on XCWeather wasn’t extreme with a wind forecast of 10 knots gusting to 15 from an ENE direction and air temperatures of 3- 4 degrees. However, the conditions were a bit windier and a bit colder with snow lying on the hills behind Dun Laoghaire and a decision had been taken that only one race would be sailed.

The committee boat, under the management of Race Officer Brian Mulkeen, was located just to the west of the HSS docking gantry and he set a 4-lap triangular course for the day’s proceedings. With a weather mark located to the east of the harbour mouth and a gybe mark located to the west of the harbour mouth, the top reach of the course was a spinnaker leg for the first two laps for the Fireballs but the second reach was tighter and discretion rather than valour applied to that leg.

The majority of the starters headed off the start line on starboard tack – five boats in the Slow PY Fleet, eight Lasers in the second start and the two Fireballs, Finn, K1 and RS 400 in the Fast PY Fleet. Noel Butler & Marie Barry (15061) stayed to the outside of the committee boat so that they were able to start on the committee boat while Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley (14691) having come into the start area a little early found themselves starting further down the line. The K1 was further to leeward of them but the other starters were between the two Fireballs. Butler tacked early onto port while McKenna stayed on a starboard tack for longer and that was race over. For Butler the chase became one of closing down on the starters ahead of him, while for McKenna the challenge was to stay ahead of the Finn.

The distance between the two Fireballs at the first weather mark was respectable and McKenna got there ahead of the Finn and the RS. Both Fireballs flew spinnaker down the first reach but confusingly, Butler held it through the gybe but dropped it immediately and it was only when they did it the second time that the penny dropped – the drop was on that side so that it was correct for the hoist at the next weather mark. It was the correct call as the leg was a lot tighter than it had been on the practice lap. Around the second lap there was little to report, Butler increased his lead and McKenna got away from the Finn. But on the third beat, McKenna went right early while the Finn worked the left-hand side. A header for McKenna saw her fall behind the Finn on the water but she recovered her position before the weather mark and sailed away from him again on the off-wind legs. The second half of the race was breezier with a dark cloud outside the harbour generating the stronger stuff. Bob Hobby, marshalling g the area around Mark 1 was also of the view that this had also brought in a flurry of snow, but we weren’t specifically aware of that. By the finish the lead on the water over the Finn was approximately 1:20 in favour of the Fireball but that subsequently proved to be insufficient. In terms of his “unofficial chase” of the boats starting ahead of him, it may well have been that the Solo was the only boat to save his time on Butler.

As has been the case for all of the Sundays to date, the action at the head of the Slow PY Fleet was between the Solo and the Wayfarer and today (again) the Solo had the upper-hand. While the lead on the water stayed fairly constant, Shane McCarthy was a comfortable leader throughout the entire race. Behind them the IDRA14 of Frank Hamilton led the chase and ultimately he did enough time-wise to secure third place on handicap and taker the day’s Frostbite Mug. With Hugh Sheehy (Finn) and Butler already having Frostbite Mugs, the day’s Mug went to Louise McKenna and Cormac Bradley.

With next Sunday being the last day of Series 1, there will be a prize-giving and hot food after racing.

In other Fireball news, the new Executive Committee of Fireball International has been confirmed as follows;

Commodore: Christina Härdi-Landerer (Switzerland)

Rear Commodore Australasia: Ben Schulz (Australia)

Rear Commodore Asia: Hiroshi Kato (Japan)

Rear Commodore Africa: David Laing (South Africa)

Rear Commodore North America: Debbie Kirkby (USA)

Rear Commodore Europe East: Jakub Napravnik (Czec h Republic)

Rear Commodore Europe West: Cormac Bradley (Ireland)

My understanding is that Tom Egli (Canada) is staying on as Technical Officer, but other appointments, Secretary, Treasurer, Webmaster and Publicity Officer have yet to be discussed/confirmed.