Season’s achievements acknowledged!

Post date: Dec 18, 2014 8:32:58 AM

The Irish Fireball fleet gathered recently to celebrate the 2014 sailing season, conduct post-mortems on the past twelve months and to recognise the achievers of the past year. Of course there were other reasons to get together – good company, good food and lots of camaraderie, or, to put it in Irish terms – “lots of craic”. As ever the event brought current Fireballers and “retired Fireballers” together to compare war stories from times past with those of the present!

In many ways 2014 had been an excellent year for the Irish fleet in that we had an Irish combination who made a very big impression on the international scene after a period in which we (as a fleet) weren’t quite where we wanted to be. The same combination dominated the domestic scene, winning all five regattas of the year – a feat that I can’t recall being achieved in recent years (though having made this statement I will no doubt be corrected).

In addition to recognising achievements on the water, the evening is also used to acknowledge those who allow us to race or help with the promotion of the Fireball Class here in Ireland and further afield.

Travellers’ Trophy

The Travellers’ Trophy is a season long points series that covers all five domestic regattas with points for each regatta awarded in accordance with the overall finish at the regatta. Thus first overall at each regatta gets a single point. The best four regattas are counted to the end of season title.

1. Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella IRL 15114

2. Noel Butler and Stephen Oram IRL 15061

3. Kenny Rumball and crews IRL 15058

Barry & Conor swept all before them in terms of overall wins at the five regattas – Ulsters, Open Championships, Munsters, Nationals and Leinsters. They may not have won every race on the water but they proved to be very difficult to beat over a series of races. They won the Nationals with a race to spare and I can recall at least one other regatta where they won in the same style. The biggest comeback was recorded in Belfast Lough. On the Saturday, Butler & Oram had won two races, Rumball the third. McCartin was back in third overall. On the Sunday they won all three races to take the title.

In addition to taking the Travellers’ Trophy, McCartin & Kinsella picked up the Class’ ISA gold medals with the silver and bronze medals going to Messrs Butler & Oram (in absentia), Rumball & Byrne respectively.

Silver Fleet

The Silver fleet numbers haven’t been quite what they have been in recent years and this year the winners are Mary Chambers and Brenda McGuire – IRL 14865.

Lady Helm

The Ladies are well represented in the Irish Fireball fleet with three all lady crews – Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (IRL 14691), Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (IRL 14854) and the aforementioned Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (IRL 14865). Additionally, we have a leading crew in Margaret Casey (IRL 14775).

The leading lady helm of 2014 is Louise McKenna.

Both the Silver Fleet award and the Lady Helm awards are based on the Travellers’ Trophy competition.

The Asterix Trophy

Awarded to an individual who is considered to have made a significant contribution to the Class, this year’s winner was Bob Hobby. Bob has singlehandedly undertaken virtually every major or modestly major repair to the boats of the Irish Fireball fleet. So whether is it reconstructing a bow panel (Frank Miller), repairing trapeze hook puncture marks on the foredeck (Cormac Bradley/Louis Smyth) or simply keeping boats on the water by repairing minor holes and “dings”, Bob is “yer only man”!

He also provides a mark-laying service over the winter months in the DMYC Frostbites Series, gives logistical support to his partner Louise McKenna in getting to regattas and is always on hand to lend a spare pair of hands to any task that needs to be done. It is a commitment that didn’t just manifest itself in 2014 – it has been there for quite some time!

Bob’s award of The Asterix Trophy came as a complete surprise to him, is well deserved and was hugely popular on the evening.

The India Trophy

Awarded to the “Most Improved” combination of the season, this year’s recipients elevated their performance another notch this year after our annual coaching weekend, when we arrange to have a top UK Fireballer impart his knowledge to us. This year’s coach was World Champion crew (From Slovenia 2013) – Simon Potts.

Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire have had a good season – leading races and finishing well in Tuesday night DBSC races, doing well on DBSC Saturday afternoons and mixing it with the mid-fleeters at weekend regattas.

The Captain’s Prize

Donated a few years ago by “retired Fireballer” Frank Cassidy, who was present on the night, the “Captain” in the title is the Dun Laoghaire Class Captain. In 2014 the title of DL Class Captain is held by Hermine O’Keeffe, crew to Louise McKenna in IRL 14691, sailing out of the Royal St. George Yacht Club.

This year The Captain’s Prize goes to Frank Miller who manages the Irish Fireball Association Facebook page, which now boasts 221 “likes” including Fireballers from around the World. As a photo-journalist (I’ll get in trouble for that!) with The Irish Times, it seems rather fitting that Frank should get this award for Facebook reporting the activities of the Class.

The Liam Bradley Trophy

Donated by Cormac Bradley in memory of his father, the award criteria are discretionary – it may be awarded for excellence or for significant service or contribution.

This year, excellence was the award criteria and the recipients are Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella.

In addition to winning the five domestic regattas, Barry & Conor went to Shetland and won the Shetland Nationals, a preamble to the 9-race Europeans where they finished 4th overall, a single point off the podium. They also won two races, the first and last of the regatta. Two weeks later at the 40+ boat UK Nationals they finished 5th overall. These are the best performances that Irish Fireballs have posted since La Rochelle in 2009, when if memory serves, Francis Rowan crewed Tom Gillard to 3rd overall in the Europeans. Tom is now Fireball World Champion.

Discretionary Awards

Two other awards were handed out on the night. Olivier Proveur was given a token of appreciation for his service in managing the DMYC Frostbite Series and fulfilling the role of Race Officer on many occasions over a long number of winters. This year he also “stepped into the breach” when Fireballers weren’t able to do fulfil their line-duty commitments.

Conor & James Clancy were also recognised for consistent performance across all five domestic regattas – the worst spot of all – just off the podium, 4th in all five regattas.

Class Chairwoman, Marie Barry, was recuperating from a spell in hospital and was unable to attend the prize-giving. Immediate Past Chairman, Neil Colin (IRL 14775) was deputised to take on the role of MC – which he filled with aplomb, aided by a script prepared by Marie herself.

The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire hosted the proceedings and served a very enjoyable two course buffet meal for a very competitive price, in a room for our exclusive use. An excellent way to close out the “summer season”.