Volvo Regatta 2013 Report

Post date: Jul 24, 2013 8:31:11 PM

The nine Irish fireballs that contested a very successful Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta this past four days, had a great work out in advance of the Class Nationals which take place at the end of this week in Skerries. The Fireballs, like the other dinghy classes were sailing on the Salthill Course, in an area to the west of Dun Laoghaire harbour and enjoyed exceptionally favourable conditions with blue sky days and enough wind to make the racing fair. Could we have done with more wind? Yes! But what we had was enough to provide good racing which turned out to be very tight.

A new combination, sailing an established boat, won the event by taking four of the ten races. Bryan Byrne & Stephen Campion (Royal Irish Yacht Club, 14934) haven’t sailed together as an established Fireball combination but have lots of Fireball pedigree in their individual rights. Despite sailing the wrong course in Friday’s middle race, necessitating a “Retired after Finish” they came back with a vengeance on the Saturday to score three bullets to open up the regatta to a two boat challenge.

Brothers Conor & James Clancy (Royal St. George Yacht Club, 150**), Team Clancy, also won four races but had a slighter wider range of results, after discard, than the winners. They dominated the early part of the regatta, claiming three race wins over Thursday and Friday, but given the small size of the fleet, their Saturday results didn’t help their overall aspirations.

Louise McKenna and Francis Rowan (Royal St George Yacht Club, 14691) are another new Fireball combination with substantial experience and success in their respective capacities. Their scoring results were in a very tight range but the absence of any wins on the water meant that they would have a hard job catching the lead pair.

Positions four to seven were very tight with only three points separating them at the finish. Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, 14713) had a purple patch on Friday, scoring a 2, 3, 1, which at that stage left them in second place in the rankings.

Gavin Doyle & Dave Sweeney (National Yacht Club, 14953) took the tenth and last race of the regatta to squeeze into fifth overall, just a point ahead of Class Chairman and Class Secretary Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, 14775).

The overall sense of the regatta is that the racing was very tight. While sailing trapezoid courses reduced the amount of tight spinnaker reaching to just one leg of the course, the offwind legs were just as tactical as the upwind workout. In one particular race six of the eight boats racing were spread across the course, each overlapped with the other, on their way to the leeward gate. Picking which side of the gate to use could be a springboard to heightened upwind success. While it may appear that the regatta was “carved up” by two combinations of Fireballs, in truth a number of boats led races but didn’t register a win; Colin & Casey, McKenna & Rowan and Smyth & Bradley. While the National Champions were campaigning a “big-boat” for the regatta, the post-mortem in the DMYC after the close of the regatta was that the racing had been excellent because everyone was going for the race win. When our National Champions are on the water, there is a sense that the rest of us are racing for the minor placings. Two different individuals, from different ends of the competition/success spectrum, commented on how competitive the regatta was: - the first person stated how pleasantly surprised they were at the level of competition and the intensity of the racing, the other stated how much they learned from being in the “body” of the fleet sailing in close quarters – thus sharpening their tactical awareness.

The dinghy course was served exceptionally well by National Race Officer Harry Gallagher and his team who ran ten excellent races for the various fleets. Fireballs raced under his expert control for all four days, together with the PY Classes – IDRA 14s, Lasers, International 14 (1), International Moths (3) but he also “hosted” Squibs, Mermaids and Flying Fifteens who fluctuated between Salthill and another course. Separate start and finish lines were used which meant that harry could get one fleet away while another sailed up from their finish. This mechanism was used a few times to “declutter” the start line. Some of the other course may have had wind problems, but Salthill always had enough to keep things ticking over.

The sun shone for four days which meant that the atmosphere onshore was superb. The four host clubs looked after the fleet in the style to which Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta participants have become accustomed to!

In summary, an excellent 4 days! Let’s hope Skerries can continue where we have just left off!