Pick a number, any number!

Post date: Nov 14, 2016 10:27:20 AM

The Irish Fireball “Frostbiters” were almost at full strength for the second Sunday of the 2016/17 Series and were rewarded with a mild day, temperature-wise and a very shifty day wind-wise. In stark contrast to the opening session of the previous Sunday, the fleet launched in mirror conditions with the zephyrs of wind barely rippling the water. This was contrary to the XCWeather forecast which had been projecting winds of 9 – 13 knots from the SW. The committee boat was located just inside the mouth of the harbour, in readiness for wind from that direction and eventually it came. Not in any huge amount, but certainly enough to get racing underway and a small amount of trapezing was required as the afternoon wore on.

In terms of race winners, you could have put all eight sail-numbers in a bag and drawn a winner out such were the vagaries of wind on the course. That is being a tad disrespectful to Noel Butler & Stephen Oram who won both races but there were times in both races when they found themselves in odd-positions with more boats ahead of them than they might have preferred.

The consensus view of the start was committee boat end so that the option of going right was available. However, not everyone took that option and at the first weather mark of the first race, Owen Laverty and James Clancy (14807), having gone all the way up the left, took the early lead by sailing in to the mark on the port lay-line. They were followed by Butler & Oram (15061) who came in from the right, Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley (14691) who also worked the right hand side and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) who worked middle and right. The top reach was short again and at the second mark of the trapezoid, the leading three boats sailed straight on. Colin & Casey gybed and were rewarded by passing out McKenna & Bradley into third. The two lead boats gybed halfway down the leg and retained their positions.

On the second beat, Colin went hard left and picked up stronger breeze to have Casey full out on the wire. This allowed them to get into second place while Laverty/Clancy dropped back to keep company with McKenna/Bradley. However, behind them in turn, Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713) and Louis Smyth & Joe O’Reilly (15007) had closed the gap with Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) also on their radar. At Mark 3, the first three of this group were sufficiently close for water to be called from various boats going round together.

By Mark 4 of the second lap, Colin had closed on Butler and Laverty, Smyth and Miller had got ahead of McKenna. Smyth lee-bowed Laverty as the latter hailed starboard and these two and Miller went left. McKenna stayed on the right had side of the course and was rewarded by regaining the three places and distance on all of them. On the downwind legs of the last lap, McKenna was keeping an eye on her pursuers but she was able to hold them off to finish third. Colin & Casey picked up the Frostbite Mugs for their second place.

The wind eased for the second race – another three-lapper of the trapezoid course. This time Miller & Butler (14713) were the greyhounds off the start line where this time the fleet was split 50:50 in terms of going right or left. The leaders went left and were followed round the weather mark by Laverty & Clancy, Butler & Oram and Smyth & O’Reilly. Yet again, decisions had to be made at Mark 2 and Butler & Oram went well beyond the boundaries of the trapezoid on starboard tack to stay in breeze. It didn’t seem to do them any harm because they came back into the confines of the course in second place. Power & Barry were having a better race, mixing it in a busy middle section of the fleet, while the father and son combination of Michael & Peter Keegan (14676) were also mixing it with the middle. The fleet became a bit more stretched as Butler & Oram shook off the shackles to go into the lead and while Laverty & Clancy dropped into second, they were comfortably ahead of Smyth & O’Reilly. Miller & Butler must have found every snake on the course as their first place at the first weather mark became a distant memory while McKenna & Bradley found themselves having to fight off last place with Power & Barry, eventually succeeding in a slow approach to Mark 4 and the short hitch to the finish. Laverty & Clancy picked up the Frostbite Mugs for Race 3.

Given the conditions, the committee boat team did a great job in getting two races in. There was a healthy turnout of boats across the whole fleet with eight Fireballs, twenty-five Lasers and a twenty-four boat PY Fleet.

Fireball readers of this article are again reminded that the Class Dinner and Prize-giving takes place in the National Yacht Club on Friday 25th November. Please let Marie know if you are attending.