St. Patrick's Day Frostbites

Post date: Mar 19, 2013 9:51:49 PM

The decision to race the Frostbites on St. Patrick's Day, 17th March, neither attracted a big fleet nor nice weather. The smallest Fireball fleet of the entire series, 9 boats, was greeted by damp grey, flat conditions and no obvious sign of the means to have a race. Getting out of the harbour was an extended exercise in kinetics and some of those who mistimed their departure from shore in the conditions will have been grateful for the postponement enforced on the Race Officer who had nothing to work with at the scheduled start of 14:00.What little wind that did appear came out of the NE but it was very fickle and at its strongest on the first lap of the initial three lap course. Eight of the nine boats in the fleet worked the middle and left of the course. The exception was Conor Clancy, crewed by James Devlin (150**) who went right off the line. Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) also went right but at a later stage of the first beat. The leaders in the series Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) worked the middle to keep a watching brief on Kenny Rumball who had a guest crew in the form of Shane McCarthy (15058).

Clancy's right side play was rewarded when he rounded first but the second boat was Alistair Court and Gordon Syme (14706) who approached the weather mark on the port layline. Third round were Butler & Oram, followed by Colin & Casey and Rumball/McCarthy. However, at this stage the fleet was in close company and only a few boat lengths separated each of the boats from the one in front of them. The two reaches of the first triangle didn't conjure up any place changes.

On the second beat it was a case of not getting too far removed form your nearest opposition and as a consequence everyone ended up working the middle of the course to varying degrees. At this stage the wind was still reasonable in the context of the day. At the 2nd weather mark the leaders, Clancy/Devlin, Butler/Oram and Court/Syme gybed immediately to head inshore whereas Colin/Casey, Rumball/McCarthy and Louise McKenna and Hermine O'Keeffe (14691) stayed offshore. The second gybe mark was now a tidal challenge as the ebbing tide held the upper hand on the fading wind. It claimed one victim who then retired altogether.

As the leaders approached the leeward mark a shortened course was signalled. Clancy/Devlin and Butler/Oram were having a close quarter battle for the lead and they took slightly different approaches to the finish. Clancy/Devlin took a short hitch before tacking to the finish whereas Butler/Oram did the opposite. This promoted a very tight finish with the winning margin very much less than a boat-length.

The Series 2 points table sees Butler & Oram with a healthy margin over Rumball & Kinsella/Moran who need to be aware of Team Clancy over their shoulders. A quick perusal of the score sheet for Butler & Oram confirms that their worst result in this Series is a 2nd.

The combined Series 1 and Series 2 table was also available yesterday and this promotes the prospect of a last race duel for the outright win as only two points separate 1st and 2nd. Rumball/Kinsella/Moran lead by 2pts from Butler/Oram and neither of them has to worry about the third placed combination, Team Clancy who are 13pts further back. Of course what actually happens on the water is a different story and putting boats between themselves and Rumball will be the prime objective of Butler & Oram. Let’s hope there is wind to make the finale a good one!