Summer racing at last!

Post date: Jul 20, 2016 2:55:0 PM

On the third day of the Irish summer, we had our first seasonal race of the Tuesday night series and the warm weather enticed a fleet of eight boats onto the water. The projected forecast, using my favoured website was for 6-9 knots of SE and 21˚ at 19:00 becoming 8 – 11 knots Southerly and 19˚ by 22:00. However, on-site rigging beforehand there was a quietness about the breeze which was quite surprising given the heat of the day, a sea-breeze was the least I was expecting.

An errant rudder downhaul delayed this correspondent’s arrival at the start, but given that the racing took place inside the harbour, the damage was not as bad as it might have been. Our tardy arrival meant that we were able to assess the fortunes of our classmates who had started on time. Those who had started on the pin – and No, contrary to recent practices Frank Miller and Ed Butler (14713) weren’t one of them – found themselves sailing very high relative to the windward mark of the W/L X1 designated course. And the further they went up the “beat” the more they had to bear off to approach the weather mark. Indeed on their port lay-line approach to the weather mark, Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher (15007) were sailing a parallel course to that between the windward mark and the spreader mark.

A cluster of Fireballs rounded together with Daragh McDonagh & crew (15058) leading the bunch. Also “in there” was Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865), Team Clancy – Conor & James (14807) and Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854). Stephen Oram with Olympian Phil Lawton helming (15061) was hovering as well. On the downwind leg the fleet sailed marginally high and then bore off over the latter stages of the leg to get to the leeward mark, just upwind of the committee boat.

For the second beat nobody went to the left hand side of the course, rather the trick was to try and maintain height, or climb just a marginal amount to defend one’s weather. It was a bit processional!

The only real piece of excitement took place between the second weather mark and the spreader when Smyth and Power had a coming together. Glenn Fisher seemed keen to let the girls know what was happening as he struggled with a spinnaker that had gone between jib and mast! Even though Smyth was in the windward berth, the girls took a turn in the melee of the spreader mark and this allowed your correspondent, crewing for Louise McKenna (14691) to get out of last place. The downwind leg to the finish didn’t generate any place changes that I could see, but there was a tight finish between Chambers & McGuire (14865) and McDonagh & crew (15058/Boat #14330) with information on the water suggesting Mary & Brenda had taken 3rd place confirmed in the DBSC results on-line this morning. Team Clancy took the win with Lawton & Oram 2nd. While Power & Barry took a turn on the water, Smyth & Fisher were recorded as a DNF, so this may be a declaration of fault for the incident between them. In fairness to the Race Committee, it appears the race was victim to a last wind shift just before the start which made it the soldier’s course it became.

For the second race, the Race Committee relocated to a position close to the ferry terminal which is in the throes of being dismantled. A weather mark was initially located towards the end of the East Pier in the harbour mouth, but then relocated to a new position about midway between the East Pier weather station and the memorial on the upper wall. X2 was the designated course length.

The recommendation on our boat was to go for a committee boat start and it seemed we weren’t the only ones thinking that way as Lawton & Oram were immediately below us and Daragh McDonagh and Team Clancy were to weather though Clancy was a little further back. Twenty metres off the start line and Team Clancy were going hard right in isolation while the rest of the fleet headed towards the harbour mouth. The Clancys hit the jackpot by taking a lead that they never relinquished and they were never threatened thereafter. Lawton & Oram rounded second followed by McKenna & Bradley who had a slight gap on the chasing pack, headed by Smyth & Fisher and Power & Barry. A short hitch on starboard after the spreader mark was followed by a gybe under spinnaker to sail in to the leeward mark. McKenna & Bradley seemed to close a short bit on Lawton & Oram and that sensation was confirmed when on the second beat, a starboard/port meeting of the pair caused Lawton & Oram to tack. Smyth too was closing the gap, sailing to weather of McKenna but slightly further astern. The top three stayed as was at the second weather mark and for most the recipe for the downwind leg was the same. Power & Barry broke the trend by going further right than everyone else and at one stage gave all the appearance of being able to sail round most of us on the outside. Smyth too was showing signs of closing the gap on McKenna.

Up the third beat and Lawton & Oram broke free. McKenna & Smyth got into starboard/port territory before, on the final approach to the weather mark, McKenna was able to get back into the third slot. Again, McKenna found herself with attackers inside and out with the wind in the middle seeming to ease. However, there was still enough for her to get over the line in third, followed by Chambers & McGuire.