Thaw allows Frostbiters to sail!

Post date: Mar 05, 2018 3:42:22 PM

During the latter half of last week few would have expected that by Sunday it would be “warm” enough to permit racing in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the Frostbite Series hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. While the “Beast from the East” and Storm Emma wreaked havoc in Irish (and UK) airspace from Wednesday through Friday, dumping inordinate amounts of snow on us all, the thought of “sailing on Sunday” must have been far removed from everyone’s mind. However, by Saturday the thaw had set in and by Sunday the temperature had gone up a notch or two to make racing semi-attractive from a shore-side perspective. Race Officer, Cormac Bradley, in consultation with Frostbites Co-ordinators Neil Colin and Olivier Prouveur decided that the challenge for the day was to get a race in and the fleet ashore promptly! In that regard a decision (in principle) to have a triangular course of three laps was taken before the committee boat left the pontoon at the DMYC.

A steady wind out of the East made the setting of the weather mark a relatively easy task. The committee boat anchored just beyond the exit from the marina which allowed a beat the length of the harbour to be set. A gybe mark was set about 60m inside the harbour mouth but midway between the ends of the two piers while the leeward mark was about twenty metres off the transom of the committee boat. The ambition was to have two off-wind spinnaker legs but the normal guinea-pig for that test spent a large part of the pre-race period undoing wine-glass knots in their red spinnaker, leaving the acid test of spinnaker flying on the top reach to the RS400 of Niels Warburton and Peter Doherty. The appropriateness of the spinnaker leg was confirmed by radio via the gybe mark boat.

The Slow PY Fleet had nine starters – two KONA Windsurfers, the Enterprise, the Wayfarer, with a replacement helm, Norman Lee, the IDRA of Pierre Long, the Feva XL of Conor Galligan, the Hartley 12.2 of Odhran Prouveur and two Laser Vago XDs and in a very conservative start all nine went left initially before spreading themselves across the width of the course. The IDRA 14 of Pierre Long and John Parker led around the first weather mark and flew spinnaker. Behind them the red- sailed Kona of Robbie Walker and the Wayfarer followed. The IDRA led to the gybe mark but surprisingly dropped spinnaker which allowed the Wayfarer to close the gap. Up the second beat the Wayfarer took the lead which it held to the finish, recording a race time of 29:58. In 2nd place, forty-four seconds later, was Walker in the first KONA, followed by his class-mate, Des Gibney, forty-nine seconds later, with the IDRA next, forty-one seconds behind. However, on handicap they were all outdone by the junior crew in the Feva XL, with Conor Galligan helming, who converted a race time of 33:18 into a handicap time of 26:51 and a 21-second winning margin over the Wayfarer.

The biggest fleet of the day were the Lasers with 13 boats on the water. Their start was more competitive than the Slow PYs but was still a clean start and again they all resolved to go left initially. However, they too spread themselves across the course going upwind and rounded the top mark with regularity to provide a well spread-out fleet with no single boat very far ahead or very far behind. At the close of the first lap, the lead was held by Chris Arrowsmith (201829) with Gavin Murphy (173062) about a boat-length off his transom. Sean Flanagan (177854) was in close proximity, waiting to pounce on any mistakes by the front two. In contrast to the Slow PY fleet the Lasers approached the leeward mark on a much higher line to windward before ducking off to leeward to round the mark. On the second lap, Murphy had moved into the lead with Arrowsmith the chasing boat. The finishing order was Murphy (30:37), Arrowsmith (30:56), Flanagan (31:30), Coakley (31:32), O’Leary (31:53) and Ella Hemeryck (Rad) (31:54), but on corrected time the sequence changed to Murphy (27:55), Hemeryck (28:00), Arrowsmith (28:12), Shirley Gilmore (Rad) (28:32) and Flanagan (28:43).

Four fast PY boats took to the start – three Fireballs and the RS400. While it may have been the smallest start it was the most competitive in terms of the clock counting down. Yet again Noel Butler & Marie Barry (15061) had an easy race, leading from start to finish, but the other two boats, Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) had a race all the way round the course. Indeed, the position of “chasing Fireball” changed a number of times during the race. At the end of the first lap it was Miller & Donnelly, who had been relegated to third on the water, but by the time they were rounding the leeward mark for the second time, negotiating their way around Lasers, Miller & Donnelly had gone into the “chase boat” position. They retained that positon for the finish, but only by a margin of 15 seconds. While the official results had the result the other way round, I heard Miller claiming afterwards that he and Donnelly had finished second……..the ladies didn’t appear to be challenging that assertion. The favourable spinnaker legs – spinnakers were flown on both reaches with the two chasing Fireballs going to windward of the committee boat on the second lap en route to the leeward mark –allowed a Fireball to take the fastest corrected time. That honour went to Butler & Barry by a margin of 14 seconds.

While the race had started in misty conditions and a cool enough temperature, once the mist lifted there was a sense that it got a bit “warmer” and the committee boat contemplated a second race. However, as no-one seemed to be unhappy at the lack of a signal for a second race, and one prominent helm indicated that he wasn’t unhappy with just a single race after crossing the finish line, it seems that an early departure from the race area was a welcome call. Indeed, only one partially “bare-legged” Laser helm had suggested at the start of the afternoon that two races should be sailed!

The Mug winners on the day were Odhran Prouveur & Helen Sheehy in the Hartley 12.2 in the Slow PY Fleet and Evan Dargan Hayes in a Laser 4.7 in the Laser fleet. Frostbiters are again reminded that there will be racing, weather permitting on Sunday 18th March; the day after St Patrick’s Day.