Rugby influences the fleet size………and breaks Irish hearts!

Post date: Nov 26, 2013 5:4:54 PM

Yesterday’s Frostbite race produced a fleet that had all the appearance of being adversely influenced by the Ireland – New Zealand rugby fixture taking place a short distance away with kick-off very close to the scheduled start of Frostbite racing. How the Irish Rugby Football Union could negotiate a fixture with the No.1 rugby side in the World without reference to the Frostbite organizers I don’t know!!

Eight Fireballs contested yesterday’s race and seven of those were fighting to be the boat closest to the committee boat at the start. The exception to that skirmish was Messrs Butler & Kinsella (14990) who would have been pleased to have had the pin to themselves, even though they were distinctly late for the start. Neil Colin and Margaret Casey (14775) won the battle to be on the starboard end of the line and then proceeded to the LHS of the beat initially. Kenneth Rumball & David Moran (15058) took the first hitch to the RHS but they didn’t go all the way. That tactic was reserved for Alistair Court and Gordon Syme (14706). Messrs Clancy & Devlin (14807) and Butler & Oram (15061) approached the first weather mark of the 4-lap, trapezoid course along the port layline, but the latter combination seemed to have gone that bit further left and were not enjoying the same breeze as Messrs Clancy & Devlin. That allowed Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) to get into second place at the weather mark, and the rounding sequence was as follows:- Clancy & Devlin, McKenna & O’Keeffe, Butler & Oram, Rumball & Moran, Court & Syme, Colin & Casey, Butler & Kinsella and Cariosa Power & Brenda McGuire (14865).

The race was sailed in less than 4 knots of wind throughout although the weather station on the east pier was recording occasional gusts in excess of 6 knots. Directionally, the wind was quite stable starting with a bearing of 315º and ending up at 289º.

Key decision points were at Mark 2 where the fleet had the choice to gybe immediately or sail further to the right and outside the course before gybing back to come into Mark 3. At Mark 4 the choice was weather to sail to the starboard side of the beat or tack immediately to go to the port-hand side.

Clancy and Devlin led from start to finish and although they would have been wary of the positions of Messrs Butler (N) and Rumball for the first rendition of Mark 2 to 3, where the latter two boats closed on them, by the time he got to Mark 4 he had opened up a short distance on the chasing two! Thereafter, they sailed away from the fleet, extending their lead significantly, particularly on the upwind legs. It was the short of day that staying in wind was more important than being on the right side of the course – though those two tactical challenges are intertwined. By the finish Clancy & Devlin had a lead in excess of the bottom leg of the trapezoid.

Butler & Oram went into 2nd place by getting water on McKenna & O’Keeffe at Mark 4 and Rumball & Moran were only just behind these two. The leg from 2 to 3 still offered the protagonists a choice of spinnaker approach, stay right after two and gybe further down the leg, or gybe immediately to go left and gybe again to come back into Mark 3. In the second and third laps, this choice was of more significance for Colin, Court, McKenna and Butler (E) as the “action” in the latter stages of the races was concentrated among these four. On the second lap between 1 and 2, Colin had a late hoist of spinnaker but still managed to catch and then pass Court who had all three sails operating. On the second and third laps between 2 and 3, these four took different approaches to the leg and at one stage Court who had gone into fourth at the Mark 1 for the third time, looked as though he might this slot and two more when his decision to come left on the downwind spinnaker leg left him looking decidedly “pear-shaped”. He did however, recover but the 3-boat limit at Mark 3 was an aide to his cause in regaining his spot in the pecking order!

The rest of the Frostbiters were docked their fourth lap when the Committee Boat signaled a shortened course for them, however, the Fireballs went the “whole hog”. The front three boats were very secure in their respective positions, Clancy and Devlin had done a horizon job, Butler and Oram were comfortable relative to Rumball and Moran. The next four boats stayed in close company around the final lap with none of them overly secure relative to the other three. However, at the finish their finishing order was McKenna & O’Keeffe, Court & Syme, Colin & Casey and Butler (E) and Kinsella, with Power and McGuire closing it out.

By this correspondent’s reckoning, the day’s Frostbite Mugs went to Noel Butler & Stephen Oram.

Next Saturday (30th Nov.) sees the Irish Fireball Class host an open day for those who want to sample the excitement of this wonderful boat. We have two sessions with a start time of 11:00 and 13:30 respectively, based at the premises of the Irish National Sailing School in Dun Laoghaire harbour. To those who read this article, but who are not currently Fireball sailors, please come and join us.