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Noel Butler and Simon Revill are the 2017 Irish Fireball National Champions winning seven of the nine races that concluded with two light air affairs on Sunday 17th September writes Cormac Bradley. Indeed, I think the mathematics meant that the pair didn’t have to sail on Sunday, but Noel professes to enjoying sailing so much that there was no question that he wouldn’t complete the series on the water. For Revill, this gives him a 2017 double – he is one half of the IDRA 14 National Champion crew, sailed a few weeks ago in Galway on the west coast. A further testament to his effort this weekend is that he was suffering with flu the entire weekend and at one stage admitted to Noel that he didn’t think he could finish a particular race he was feeling so weak.

Sunday provided a pleasant close to the proceedings! Race Officer Liam Moloney was minutes away from “blowing it off” when a fickle breeze came in from an easterly direction and built sufficiently to persuade him that at the very least a single race could be sailed. With a postponement signal flying from the committee boat’s mast rather than ashore he was able to get the fleet out quickly to provide a sunshine finale to the regatta.

While Butler/Revill were very secure in 1st Overall, the gap between second and third was only two points, in favour of Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer of Skerries Sailing Club sailing 13938, and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey of Dun Laoghaire Motor yacht Club sailing 14775. Both were out on the water early to “suss out” the racecourse.  While a windward/leeward was contemplated given the light conditions, the RO decided an Olympic configuration could be contemplated. After the start, seven boats went to one side and Colin & Casey went the other. Their bravery/confidence in detaching themselves from the rest of the fleet was vindicated when they rounded the weather mark first and were never headed again. They were followed home by the “pink ladies” Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and the new National Champions. McGrotty & Cramer finished seventh which meant there was everything to play for between McGrotty & Colin in the ninth and final race. The breeze had developed a bit more strength to the extent that there was some off-wind trapezing required on the reaches – not full-on but enough to justify the decision to race. McGrotty/Cramer led the first two-thirds of the race but Butler was never too far away and on the second beat, to the last weather mark they were passed out by Butler/Revill who then led around the final triangle with McGrotty, at most, two boat-lengths off their transom.  In the short hitch to the finish a covering match took place and McGrotty threw one perfect dummy tack that Butler swallowed “hook line and sinker” but it was not quite enough to get McGrotty into the cherished 1st place. In the meantime all Colin could do was watch from third place as he was too far off to influence the proceedings.

In the end, McGrotty & Cramer’s 2nd place was not quite enough to protect their second place overall.

Pos.

Sail No.

Crew

Club

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

R7

R8

R9

Total

1

15061

Noel Butler & Simon Revill

National

Yacht Club

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

3

1

7

2

14775

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

Dun Laoghaire

Motor Yacht Club

2

4

1

2

5

3

7

1

3

16

3

14938

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer

Skerries Sailing Club

3

3

3

3

2

2

2

7

2

17

4

14691

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe

Royal St. George Yacht Club

7

6

7

5

4

4

3

2

4

28

5

14748

Jon Evans & Aidan Caulfield

Sligo Yacht Club

5

2

6

4

8

8

4

6

7

34

6

14990

Grattan Donnelly & Joe O’Reilly

Royal St. George

Yacht Club

6

7

4

6

3

6

5

8

8

37

7

14713

Frank Miller & Ed Butler

Dun Laoghaire

Motor Yacht Club

4

5

5

7*

6

7

6

5

6

37

8

14865

Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire

Dun Laoghaire

Motor Yacht Club

8

8

8

8*

7

5

8

4

5

45

*The score card shows these as being DNF, but that is a gremlin.

The event was sailed in parallel with the Mirrors’ Southern Championships and the host club’s Harvest Regatta which generated a fleet of Shannon One Designs and three Squibs.  While Liam Moloney managed the Fireball and Mirror racing, son Damien ran the domestic racing and both “tick-tacked” with each other to ensure that races were started when fleets were available to start rather than waiting for everyone to re-assemble. Thus, Mirrors were started while Fireballs were racing and vice-versa and SODs and Squibs used the start line when it was vacated by the Fireballs and Squibs. Thus, for the Fireballs, three days of almost seamless racing was provided by Liam and his team with three races on Friday and four on Saturday. 

Ashore, the hospitality team led by Rear Commodore Ann Atkinson ensured that a warm welcome was extended to everyone with scones on Saturday morning, the bar opened when the fleets came ashore and an exceptional barbeque with salads and a dessert spread that the Great British Bake-Off would be proud of on the Saturday night.  The prize-giving was preceded by tea/coffee and pastries, again as a consequence of Ann and her team.

In his “thank-you” comments, Class Chairman Neil Cramer extended an invitation to the Mirror fleet to try out the Fireball and advised that contact could be made through the Class’ Facebook site or by E-mail.  

The Silver fleet was won by Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield, with Grattan Donnelly & Joe O’Reilly the runners-up

Neil colin margaret casey fireballNeil Colin and Margaret Casey – 2nd placed crew 2017 Irish Fireball Nationals

Neil Cramer Niall McGrottyNeil Cramer (L), Niall McGrotty (C ) and Ann Atkinson, Rear Commodore LDYC – 3rd placed crew, 2017 Irish Fireball Nationals.

Published in Fireball

Yesterday's disruption to normal service at the Fireball National Championships, when Neil Coiln & Margaret Casey won the last race of the day, was eradicated by an authoritarian performance by Noel Butler and Simon Revill when they took all four races wins on Day 2. In the last race they won by a significant margin but in the other three they did the sociable thing and initially mixed it with the balance of the fleet. Indeed Colin & Casey and McGrotty & Cramer were allowed to flirt with leading the fleet and Jon Evans & Aidan Caulfield also led around at least one weather mark. But Butler ultimately extinguished all aspirations of glory.

McGrotty and Cramer exchanged yesterday's three third places for three seconds today and a third place which theudiscard togo to second place overall.

Colin and Casey had an "up and down day mixing a 2nd with a 7th but will be happy with 3rd overall and a comfortable 12-point gap to 4th overall where there is a tie between Evans & Caulfield and Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe. The tie is broken in favour of he Ladies!

Next is Grattan Donnelly & Joe O'Reilly sailing Frank Miller's boat. My advice of it being bad karma to beat the owner of the boat you are sailing was ignored today as this pair beat Miller & Ed Butler in all today's races to lie a place ahead and three points ahead of their boat's owner.

The other all-lady combination had a better day but still prop up the fleet.

Winds were lighter today, topping out at 10 knots and dropped during the course of the day. Yet Race Officer Liam Moloney and his team got the programmed four races in mixing the Fireball racing with starts for Shannon One Designs (SODs), Squibs and Mirrors. As this is being typed, Lough Derg is under "soft rain but everyone is off the Water and looking forward to tonight's BBQ

Published in Fireball

After a Fireball Europeans where the weather was inconsistent but the hospitality was excellent, two of the three Irish Fireballs in Lyme Regis, UK, returned to do battle in the last Tuesday night race of the 2017 DBSC season writes Cormac Bradley. Indeed, due to the vagaries of the dinghy scene in Dun Laoghaire, this is also the last dinghy race of the season potentially as the dinghies do not have formal organised racing on a Saturday………..but maybe there is a plan to do something on the Saturdays of September.

Despite this rather gloomy prognosis (of the end of Tuesday evening racing), the Fireball fleet was boosted by having seven Fireballs on the water, one of whom was our class stalwart Louis Smyth who made his summer scene debut after a prolonged period of ill-health. Last night’s appearance on the water was Louis’ first venture out since March of this year. Never one to do things in halves, he and his crew Glenn Fisher had a capsize on the way in from the race course. Given the circumstances, they had a RIB in close attendance, but afterwards Louis admitted that he had enjoyed his evening out despite feeling very tired afterwards.

With a delayed departure from the office, I missed the start but arrived in time to see Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe lead the seven-boat fleet around the first weather mark of a three lap Olympic course – another boost to the fleet on the last Tuesday evening. With a westerly breeze of about 9/10 knots and high tide at 18:09, the race track was reasonably flat with a weather mark laid off the East Pier wall and a gybe mark in the direction of the 40-foot bathing spot (though not quite that far inshore). The “pink ladies” were followed by the Clancy brothers (14807, assumed), identified by their blue spinnaker in a cluster of red/reddish spinnakers that included Noel Butler & Shane McCarthy (15061), Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713), Cariosa Power & Peter Doherty (14854), in that order followed by Smyth & Fisher (15007, white & blue spinnaker) and the son and father combination David & Michael Keegan (14676, white & grey spinnaker). The top reach was a trapezing three-sail that looked very comfortable from my vantage point of the seaward side of the East Pier. Halfway down the leg one of the red-spinnakered boats had a capsize which drew a close to their competitive outing. Power & Doherty stayed out on the course for the duration of the evening but their race was over!

At the first gybe mark the “pink ladies” were holding off their male pursuers and Butler/McCarthy seemed to have overtaken the Clancys with Miller & Grattan a short distance astern. As the fleet was sailing away from me on both spinnaker reaches, the identification of boats became harder with mainsail colours, spinnaker colours and crew colours being called on to work out “Who was who”. By “Leeward 1” McKenna & O’Keeffe were still leading with Clancys in second but with Butler & McCarthy breathing down their necks. With the tide turned about an hour earlier, two of the lead three boats stayed offshore, presumably for wind as the tide would have been against them but Butler & McCarthy broke earliest for the inshore area and were rewarded by taking the lead but only by a margin of 20 seconds from the Clancys and Miller/Donnelly who rounded in tandem. “Team Blue” gybed immediately to go offshore while the other two ploughed an inshore track. The Clancys soon gybed back to re-join the battle. McKenna/O’Keeffe sailed a course that was even further inshore but it didn’t reward them with any place gains.

By the time the leaders reached “Leeward 2” the committee boat was already on the move to a position at the upwind end of the course which prompted the thought that there might be a shortened course. At the end of the downwind sausage the pecking order was Butler, Clancy, Miller, Smyth, McKenna, and Keegan.

On the following upwind leg everyone seemed to favour staying offshore and as they rounded the weather mark for the third time Butler & McCarthy had a comfortable lead. They were followed by the Clancys, Miller, McKenna, who overtook Smyth upwind, and the Keegans. Technical difficulties saw one less red spinnaker on the top reach, but Miller & Donnelly flew it on the second – the subterfuge of the committee boat sitting off the weather mark had not resulted in a shortened course!

Butler still enjoyed a comfortable lead at the last leeward mark over the Clancys and initially seemed quite comfortable sailing his own race – except we all know that his shrewdness on the water means he is always watching the opposition. For the final beat a more inshore approach was adopted and it appeared that Butler was keeping a loose cover on the Clancys. However, halfway up the leg 15061 slowed significantly and a flogging jib suggested that maybe for the second Tuesday in a row a rig problem had influenced proceedings – except that as the Clancys closed on him, the jib was sheeted again. For the remainder of the leg, a close quarter game of “cat and mouse” played out on the water with Butler/McCarthy taking the role of the cat! Noel and Shane ultimately took the win but they were overlapped on the line by Conor & James. A chat with Noel after the race, ashore, revealed that in terms of the overall points, a win for 15061 and a third place for 14807 would have allowed Noel to “steal” a series win in a countback situation. However, Noel needed Frank Miller to get into second and admitted that he had started his “manoeuvring” too late in the race to achieve this latter objective! An interesting and exciting finish to the Tuesday Night Series!

Miller & Donnelly finished third, McKenna & O’Keeffe fourth, Smyth & Fisher fifth and the Keegans were sixth.

DBSC Tuesday Nights 2017: Series 3; 7 races, 2 discards Pts
1 Noel Butler/Phil Lawton & Stephen Oram/Grattan Donnelly 15061 National Yacht Club 7
1 Conor Clancy & James Clancy/Teddy Byrne 14807 Royal St GeorgeYacht Club 7
3 Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Grattan Donnelly 14713 Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club 12
4 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe/Cormac Bradley 14691 Royal St George Yacht Club 15
5 David & Michael Keegan 14676 Royal St George Yacht Club 23
6 Cariosa Power & Marie Barry/Peter Doherty 14854 National Yacht Club 29
7 Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher 15007 Coal Harbour 33

The next fixture for the Irish Fireball fleet is the Nationals at Lough Derg Yacht Club on the weekend of 15-17 September. This is a nine race event with three races scheduled for Friday with a 15:30 start to try and accommodate those who want to have some time in the office on the Friday. Race Office is Liam Moloney and we will be sharing the venue on the Saturday and Sunday with Mirrors and LDYC’s own members sailing their Harvest Regatta. There will be a BBQ on the Saturday night when we will have to do some “self-catering”.

Published in Fireball

In contrast to the 85 Fireballs gathered in Lyme Regis, UK for the European Championships, where for the second day in a row no racing has been possible, the single Fireball out last night, in the penultimate Tuesday night race of the 2017 season, had good breeze for their laps of the course writes Cormac Bradley. Regrettably, as they were the only Fireball out, strictly speaking Stephen Oram and Noel Butler (15061) didn’t have a race. And that seems to be confirmed by way of no results for the Class on the official DBSC results this morning.

However, to give them and the race committee their respective dues, both parties went through the motions of going round the course and giving the single participant two race starts.

Twenty-two boats answered the starter’s call comprising 3 IDRAs, 1 Finns, a K1, 14 Lasers and 2 Laser Vagos and the single Fireball in a good breeze from a SSE direction. With low water at 18:22, tide and wind were in tandem with each other leaving a flat sea with a slight chop. However, there were stronger gusts on the water. A windward-leeward course of X1 was signalled – two roundings of the weather mark and a downwind finish after the second rounding.

Starting three minutes after the PY Class which was led all the way round by the Finn, Stephen and Noel had caught the last IDRA and the leading Vago by the first weather mark. Under spinnaker, they initially sailed out to sea on starboard tack before gybing and taking a long port tack back inshore to towards the leeward mark before a further two gybes saw them onto the second beat. At this stage the wind conditions were allowing Stephen to high-wire up the beat. By the second windward mark the leading IDRA had been caught and adopting a similar approach to the second downwind leg, they closed to just over a minute (1:04) behind the winning Finn with the leading IDRA 20 seconds behind them.
Before the second race got underway the wind started to build, creating whitecaps on Scotsman’s Bay and the weather mark was moved about 200m to the right (southwards).

Stephen & Noel took a long tack out to sea on the first beat and rounded the weather mark a short distance behind the Finn and the leading IDRA who had each pursued a more inshore course to the mark. While a spinnaker showed briefly on the downwind leg, it disappeared prematurely and the pair two-sailed across the downwind finish line of the shortened race. There must have been a technical problem on board because as I left the harbour area, they were being assisted ashore by one of the rescue ribs.

In Lyme Regis, the Europeans got underway on Sunday past with two races in a “mixed-bag of weather day” characterised by multiple attempts to get the racing underway and a consequent heavy toll in black-flag disqualifications. Some well-known Fireball practitioners were on the list of transgressors including one of the Irish boats. Monday was afflicted with insufficient wind to get racing underway and yesterday (Tuesday) a combination of high winds and projected sea condition persuaded the Harbour Master that racing should not proceed. Thus, on Monday we had a Facebook post of idyllic seaside conditions – sunshine, light wind and ice-creams – much to the disappointment of the competitors. Yesterday I understand that fossil-hunting was a popular distraction. The upshot is that today’s programmed lay-day now has a three-race schedule.

Published in Fireball

As the midweek racing in Dublin Bay Sailing Club gets to its close we had one of the more pleasant evenings of weather this summer with a gentle breeze and sunshine for two races outside the harbour in Scotsman’s Bay. Twenty-four boats answered the Race Officer’s call, Ian Mathews from the Flying Fifteen fleet, and of these, three were Fireballs.

With Stephen Oram unavailable due to work commitments, Noel Butler teamed up with Grattan Donnelly and with Hermine O’Keefe on hockey support duties in Europe, Louise McKenna engaged the services of Cormac Bradley, leaving David and Michael Keegan (14676) as the only regular team out on the water. Holidays and unavailability reduced the fleet to three boats.

There was a slightly eerie feel to the race course area, the tide had already started to ebb and while there was wind on the water there was no real “oomph” to it. While spinnakers were set on the sail down to the start area, there was no real energy to the boat.

For the first start the three Fireballs decided to go for the pin end and to be frank none of us were on the start line when the gun went. Possibly a tactical call, but even Noel was late across the start line as the three boats decided to embrace the flow of the ebbing tide and sail westwards towards the harbour mouth. Noel/Grattan occupied the windward slot, David/Michael the leeward slot and Louise/Cormac were the “meat in the sandwich”. Initially the latter pair seemed to have a bit more boat speed, but this was going to be a night of wind vagaries and soon Noel/Grattan had sailed over the top of the other two. A starboard hail by a Laser Vago caused Louise/Cormac to take a hitch inshore and by the time they rounded the weather mark, Noel/Grattan had a healthy lead which they never relinquished. Two laps of a windward-leeward course was the recipe for Race 1 with a weather mark set in the direction of the East Wall of the harbour. The first downwind leg saw a variety of approaches being taken with more than one gybe being executed on the way to the leeward mark. A snagged spinnaker halyard for Louise resulted in a poor spinnaker drop that allowed the Keegans to close the gap to less than a boat-length but a recovery was fashioned on the next beat to generate a final finishing order of Butler-McKenna-Keegan.

While the wind strength and direction was pretty much the same for the second race, all three boats adopted the opposite approach to the start of the first race. In tandem with the PY start that preceded the Fireballs – everyone went inshore first! Noel/Grattan played a game of “Shut the Door” at the pin end with Louise/Cormac with both boats doing pirouettes in the vicinity of the pin before all three headed off on starboard tack, Noel/Grattan having the windward slot. All three worked their way up to the port lay-line of the weather mark and took a long sail into the mark on port tack. This led to the easing of sheets as they closed in on the mark. On rounding the weather and spreader marks spinnakers were set on a starboard tack as the boats went down-tide with the sequence being Noel/Grattan, Louise/Cormac and David/Michael with a couple of boat-lengths separating each from the other. The leaders gybed first, followed a moment or two later by Louise/Cormac with David/Michael gybing simultaneously with the second pair. This left all three sailing a slightly loose reach to the leeward mark with the committee boat already on the move to relocate at the weather mark for a shortened course. David/Michael got better breeze and sailed away from Louise/Cormac. Rounding the leeward mark, there seemed little sense in Louise/Cormac following the other two out to the right of the course as there was little sense that boat speed alone would effect a place change, so an inshore tack was initiated – after all it had worked on the first beat! For a period of time it looked better, rather than good, and the sense of a possible recovery was heightened when the other two seemed to have to sail a huge distance westwards before they tacked for a starboard approach to what was now the finishing line.

While hope sprang eternal, reality bit and a finishing order of Noel/Grattan, David/Michael and Louise/Cormac closed the evening’s proceedings. David/Michael appeared to close quite a bit on Noel/Grattan but the winners gained a few more boat-lengths at the finish.

With two possible Tuesdays left the current situation in Series 2 is as follows;

DBSC Series 2: Tuesday Nights; 6 races, 2 discards.

15/08

Overall

1

Conor & James Clancy/Teddy Byrne

14807

RStGYC

12

12

12

2

Noel Butler/Phil Lawton &

Stephen Oram/Grattan Donnelly

15061

NYC

1

1

13

3

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe/Cormac Bradley

14691

RStGYC

2

3

16

3

Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Grattan Donnelly

14713

DMYC

12

12

16

5

David & Michael Keegan

14676

RStGYC

3

2

24


Four Irish Fireballs will be in Lyme Regis for the Europeans next week, with measurement on Saturday and racing starting on Sunday (20th) through to Friday (25th). The entry now stands at 85, with entries from the UK, Australia, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Canada, Belgium and Ireland. The defending champions are Ruedi Moser and Claude Mermod (SUI 14799) and as can be expected of a Fireball International event in the UK, the entry list is littered with the “Who’s Who” of the Fireball community. Race Officer is Paul Withers, an IJ and IRO and former Secretary of the Class.

Irish Fireball readers of this report are also reminded of our Fireball Nationals which are scheduled for Lough Derg Yacht Club on the weekend of 15 – 17th September, under the race management of National race Officer John Leech. This is a nine-race programme and we will be endeavouring to have a “latish start” to proceedings on Friday to try and accommodate those who might want to go to the office first. Nothing confirmed yet, but this is what we have done before.

Published in Fireball

In a break from the growing trend of setting windward-leeward courses on a Tuesday night for dinghy racing on Dublin Bay, OOD Ben Mulligan (Flying Fifteens) & the DBSC Race Management Team set Olympic courses for the August 1st DBSC Fleet – in partial response to the request from the IDRA Class that these courses be set in advance of their impending Nationals writes Cormac Bradley. It was also a good night for Olympic courses with an offshore breeze of good strength and flat water even if there were large wind shifts.

Six Fireballs were on the start line with a few crew changes in the mix. Stephen Oram (15061) engaged the services of Olympian (470) Phil Lawton to helm while Conor Clancy (14807) had Teddy Byrne on board as crew. Also out were two all-lady combinations – Hermine & Louise (14691) and Cariosa & Marie (14854). Frank Miller (14713) brought in another of his roster of “contracted crews”, Grattan Donnelly whom we haven’t seen for a while and also making a welcome return was David & Michael Keegan (14676).

The forecast was for 10 – 12 knots from a SW direction with a possibility of drizzle which thankfully stayed away. There was some movement of the breeze but it still provided a reasonable beat with the fleets spread across the course.

The first start was reasonably even with the fleet distributed along the line. However, as I was on the committee boat (sound signal) and involved in the subsequent start (Lasers), I wasn’t able to follow the “nitty-gritty” action off the start line. My recall is that the boats that went left initially, even if not for very long came out best at the top end.  Even more confusing in a six boat fleet where there are only two spinnakers that aren’t red, I got the opening sequence of spinnakers wrong at the first weather mark – assuming it was the Olympian helm leading the way round – only to find out afterwards that it was Miller & Donnelly. Clancy/Byrne rounded second, which meant that Lawton/Oram were third followed by Power, McKenna and Keegan. Immediately after the spinnaker hoist Clancy/Byrne (blue spinnaker) went over the top of Miller/ Donnelly (red) and to my mind this was the significant place change of the entire race, because Clancy & Byrne led the rest of the race to finish first.

While Lawton & Oram may have closed on occasion, it became apparent that they had to give as much attention to watching Miller & Donnelly as they were to catching Clancy & Byrne. Clancy & Byrne had the comfort of being able to watch the chasing pack with the comfort of a bit of distance between them.

A tighter race was taking place between the two all-lady teams with McKenna & O’Keeffe chasing the other pair for all of the race and ultimately being unsuccessful! On the downwind leg of the sausage the leading three boats, Clancy, Lawton & Miller went right before Clancy broke left and then gybed back again to cover the other two in the run-in to the leeward mark for the second time. Up the third beat Clancy & Byrne worked the middle and left of the course while Lawton/Oram and Miller/Donnelly worked the right hand side. It didn’t help!

The 4-lap race was shortened to three laps and a second race was set with the marks staying in their original positions. A short single lap race was signalled for the second race due to a combination of time, light and a breeze that was starting to show signs of fading.

For the second start, a wind switch and the scheduled change of the tide saw the fleet playing “chicken” at the pin end of the line, each boat in turn approaching the pin and performing a pirouette to duck out. The last boat to have the door slammed shut on them was McKenna & O’Keeffe, by Clancy & Byrne, who executed a perfectly timed start on port at the pin. McKenna went to the back of the queue and Lawton/Oram followed Clancy & Oram across the line. The latter pair then took a hitch to the left to clear their air. The Keegans were furthest to leeward of the bunch and found themselves out on the right of the beat. The wind was starting to die at this stage of the evening and given the grey skies and the time, the single lap decision appeared to be vindicated.

Clancy & Byrne rounded the weather mark first and led to the finish, followed by Lawton & Oram, Miller & Donnelly, Power & Barry, McKenna & O’Keeffe and Keegan & Keegan.

Again the “race within a race” was between the two all-lady teams with Power & Barry winning by a short distance.

DBSC: Tuesday Nights: Series 3 (4 races, 1 discard)

Pts

1

Conor & James Clancy/Teddy Byrne

14807

RStGYC

3

2

Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Grattan Donnelly

14713

DMYC

6

3

Noel Butler/Phil Lawton & Stephen Oram

15061

NYC

11

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe

14691

RStGYC

11

4

Cariosa Power & Marie Barry

14854

NYC

15

 

With next Tuesday following a Bank Holiday in Ireland (Monday 7th), there will be no racing which means there is only one Tuesday night session before the Fireball Europeans in Lyme Regis, Devon, UK starting Saturday 18th August and running through to the following Friday. Facebook posts from Fireball UK, hosting in tandem with Lyme Regis Sailing Club, this morning (02/08) state that the entry currently stands at 81 boats with entries from nine countries. Ireland will have three representatives at the regatta.

In other news, Lough Derg Yacht Club has confirmed the hosting of the Irish Fireball Nationals over the weekend of 15- 17 September. All Irish Fireballers are encouraged to attend this event in this very hospitable club. Regatta documentation will be prepared shortly.

Published in Fireball

A variety of headlines could be given to this regatta report: “A regatta of two halves”, “Consistency pays”, “Minimal mistakes pays dividends”, Fireballs survive Mother Nature”, “Happy return to Skerries” “17 tired bodies enjoy Fireball sailing at its best”.

The Irish Fireball Leinster Championships were sailed in Skerries just north of Dublin on the East Coast this past weekend. As one of the spiritual homes of Fireball sailing in Ireland it is a club that we always enjoy returning to – the welcome is warm, the hospitality is great and it is a club that always acknowledges the Fireball fleet. As befits our current numbers we sailed the Championships as part of the Skerries Sailing Club Regatta that had a very healthy turnout of Mermaids (18), a small keelboat class (E-Boats and a Ruffian), a large keelboat class and a PY Class made up of Wayfarers, GP 14s, Lasers, Laser Radials and 2 RS600s.

Even though we were not the largest class, at eight boats, we were afforded the first start under Race Officer Liam Dineen. The forecast for the Saturday had been for offshore winds in the 16-18 knots category with gusts going up to 25 knots. While the strength would be a challenge in the gusts, the advantage of the direction was that it would mean flat water. Despite being a small fleet the starts were competitive and the first one warranted an individual recall which was responded to but by the wrong boat. Every start thereafter was clean.

The forecast was accurate and in the three Saturday races Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) gave a master class in how it should be done – except they were so comfortably ahead of the rest of us that we couldn’t benefit from seeing it at close hand! At the end of the day, their score was 3 x 1st places and “half a capsize”. The host club’s team of Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) scored two second places but a complicated capsize in the last race of the day caused them to retire and were scored with nine points – good enough to lie third overall on Saturday evening. Second place overall was held by Mick Creighton & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) with a 3, 3, 4 score. Mick made his seasonal debut at the previous weekend’s Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta sailing with Hermine and their time on the water there stood them in good stead! In joint fourth were Michael Ennis & Marie Barry (14854) and Stephen Campion & Cormac Bradley (14934) who each carried a 9-point scored from one race – a retired for the first two and the aforementioned OCS in the case of the latter two. A capsize in the middle race of the day was expensive but they still managed to get back to 6th. Stephen is another Fireballer we haven’t seen for a while – occupying his sailing time away from the fleet with some catamaran sailing with his daughters and club sailing. Jon Evans & Aidan Caulfield scored an impressive 4th in the first race but then broke their boom and carried two 9-point scores for Saturday. It was great to see them back on the water! Frank Miller & Ed Butler also had to carry a 9-point score for the last race, while Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire decided that discretion was the better part of valour and sat out the last two races of the day. As did the rest of the regatta fleet for the last race of the day!

The wind was gradually building in strength and the gusts were getting fiercer. I didn’t know that Mermaids could capsize until a howler of a regatta down in Wexford last season – now I have seen the feat for a second time. At least two capsizes in their fleet plus two smashed masts was a heavy toll for the fleet and one of the capsizes may have been upgraded to a write off of one of these classic wooden boats – due to a loose steel centre board thrashing around during the capsize!

For the third race of the day the committee boat ended up very close to the leeward mark which I interpreted as a shortened course. However, on coming ashore it transpired that the committee boat had been hit by a 37-knot gust (which means all the Fireballs endured that!) and dragged a fixed mooring a tenth of a mile!

The post-mortem of the racing was held in a sun-filled clubhouse as the clouds gave way to a glorious evening and the tired bodies were resuscitated with a fabulous barbeque that gave people a choice of steak, chicken or prawns with a feat of different salads. Given the day that was in in the Fireballers broke up very early to make their way homewards to rest and recover.
Sunday was a completely different day! The wind had swung more northerly and reduced in strength but was still healthy. A rejuvenated Fireball family gathered to rig dinghies in sunshine. Noel Butler had brought in a substitute crew as Stephen had flown out of the country for work reasons. Current World GP 14 Champion helm, Shane McCarthy has sailed Fireballs very successfully in the recent past so his substitution for Stephen didn’t really offer the rest of us the hope that Noel would be closer to the fleet while he “settled “Shane in! Except that in a number of the day’s races he did have to come from behind to win. McGrotty, Campion and Chambers each led the fleet to the first weather mark in individual races only to be caught by Butler/McCarthy who went on to win all three races of the day. The fleet also compacted so that there was a lot more close quarter sailing on the downwind legs. However, the odd trip up in individual races caused everyone, bar the leaders, to carry a high score. McGrotty paired two seconds with a sixth, Ennis & Barry paired a 2, 3 with a sixth, Campion & Bradley had a windward capsize while in a good position on the first beat of the middle race to score an eighth to go with a 3 & 5 and Creighton and O’Keeffe started an upward climb with a 5, 4, 3 on the last day. Thus we all knew that we were fighting for two places on the podium and while consistency had paid for Butler & Oram/McCarthy, for everyone else the inconsistency was what would determine the final pecking order.

Fireball leinsters 2Neil Cramer Skerries SC Treasurer (left), Hermine O’Keeffe, 3rd placed crew (centre) and Mick Creighton, 3rd placed helm

Fireball leinsters 2Neil Cramer, 2nd placed crew (left), Skerries Club Commodore Kieran Brannagan (centre) and Niall McGrotty, 2nd placed helm (right)

At the prize-giving Club Commodore Kieran Brannagan was very warm in his welcome to the Fireball Class making particular reference to the fact that they were able to sail and complete the third race on Saturday when everyone else was sent ashore. Generous vouchers for helm and crew for 1st, 2nd and 3rdwere the prizes for the day.
The domestic regatta circuit for Fireballs now takes a break to accommodate those who are going to Lyme Regis for the Europeans – Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938), Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713). Our next domestic regatta fixture is the Nationals at Lough Derg Yacht Club over the Friday/Saturday/Sunday of 15 – 17 September.

Irish Fireball Leinster Championships

Skerries sailing Club – 15/16 July 2017. R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Tot.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram/Shane McCarthy 15061 NYC 1 1 1 1 1 1 5
2 Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer 14938 SSC 2 2 9 2 2 6 14
3 Mick Creighton & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 3 3 4 5 4 3 17
4 Michael Ennis & Marie Barry 14854 NYC 9 5 3 6 3 2 19
5 Frank Miller & Ed Butler 14713 DMYC 5 4 9 4 6 4 23
6 Stephen Campion & Cormac Bradley 14934 SSC 9 6 2 3 8 5 24
7 Jon Evans & Aidan Caulfield 14748 Sligo YC 4 9 9 7 5 7 32
8 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 6 9 9 8 7 8 38

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As Hermine O’Keeffe took up line duty on behalf of one boat and others were away on holidays just three Fireballs made the DBSC start line on Tuesday night. Happily it was yet another very balmy and pleasant Tuesday evening’s racing. Once again Noel Butler/Stephen Oram went into match racing mode and danced with Frank Miller/Ed Butler on the start line, ultimately allowing the third boat Cariosa Power and Marie Barry get cleanly off the start line, though Miller suffered most, gybing around to start late behind Butler. While Miller went inshore hoping for a lee-bow effect from the incoming tide Butler went right and ultimately this paid off, with Butler/Oram taking the gun. Miller/Butler were second and Power/Barry third. While the lighter all-woman team closed the gap downwind Miller/Butler were faster upwind in the 3 round w-l course. Conditions were blustery at times but extremely pleasant and warm.

Race two was groundhog day, this time the prestart dance led Miller/Butler to an OCS position and they and Power both restarted with Butler/Oram showing them a clean pair of heels. Once again the heavier pair stayed ahead of the ladies though the downwind legs saw them looking over their shoulders. While there was a degree of predictability about the outcome of racing this was as pleasant a sail as anyone could hope for on a July evening.

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Tuesday saw another DBSC outing for Fireballs in the Dun Laoghaire summer series. The wind was a blustery warm southerly with gusts reaching high teens at times. This may have prompted the race committee to set the conservative W-L course inside the harbour. While making it easier for any rescue operations needed it did present the various fleets with a shifty and patchy set of conditions reminiscent of the DMYC Frostbites. In the event three Fireballs sailed out to the start area, with several boats not set up since the previous weekends exhilarating but exhausting fray at their Open in Greystones SC. Unfortunately, Louise McKenna and Cormac Bradley had to return to shore to sort out a rigging problem and this left just Noel Butler/Stephen Oram and Frank Miller/Joe O’Reilly sharing the start line.

Inspired perhaps by the recent America's Cup coverage and the fact that it was now a two boat race Butler immediately went into dial-up mode and the two danced up and down the line in a game of chase and dodge. Ultimately Butler sailed under Miller on the line and pinned him high to get the better start, sailing away in clear air never to be caught. In race two again Butler attacked in match racing fashion but a fast series of tacks and gybes by Miller gave him the start at the favoured pin in clear air. Miller had a tiny lead on Butler and when he tacked after creating the necessary safe gap Butler tacked also but Miller managed to sail higher while maintaining speed and forced Butler to tack away. Miller/O’Reilly then led for two rounds but ultimately Butler found better boat speed and broke through, extending their lead by sailing higher angles on the run while Miller favoured a more straight line approach.

All this excitement however went to the heads of the two boats. Led by Butler they managed to sail an extra round, giving late starters McKenna/Bradley the second place although they were almost lapped on the water.

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For their 2017 Open Championship, the Irish Fireball Class Association departed from their normal two-day, six-race format for provincial championships and held a single day Championship with a target of four races.

Additionally, they negotiated a new venue, Greystones Sailing Club, a short distance south of Dun Laoghaire, the current centre of Fireball sailing in Ireland. Greystones’ fortunes have changed significantly after an extensive upgrade to the harbour. They now boast a new clubhouse in the corner of the harbour complex with changing rooms at ground floor level and an upper floor function room with bar and balcony areas that give members and visitors an uninterrupted sea view in one direction and a view of the town and hills in the background in the other direction. They have a secure dinghy park about 60m away from the clubhouse and access to two slipways that go directly to water and a third that allows beach launching. On the other side of the harbour complex, Greystones Marina provides sheltered conditions for larger boats and is home to the rescue craft operated by the club.

The Fireball Open Championships were sailed as part of Greystones’ Dinghy Regatta and we joined a fleet that consisted of Wayfarers (3), GP 14s (4), Enterprises (2), RS 200s and 400s, Lasers (2) and Fevas.

Due to Trojan work by Frank Miller, the Fireball fleet numbered eight boats including Ed Butler’s 14990 which has not seen any competitive action for a couple of years. Ed brought the boat back from Kerry and he and Frank got it into racing order in the week before the event. He then organised for it to be sailed by Teddy Byrne and Grattan Donnelly. Frank himself was crewed by Brenda McGuire, normally seen in 14865 with Mary Chambers. Also making a comeback of sorts, albeit from the close of the Frostbites in March, were Margaret Casey and Neil Colin in 14775 who have been campaigning Flying Fifteens with great success.

Race Officer Mark Usher had a challenging day with offshore westerlies setting the tone for the day. Due to the terrain behind the town – the Wicklow Hills – I can only assume that the conditions were influenced by the wind bending around one hill or the other creating huge lifts and headers and blasts of stronger breeze on occasions. From a sunshine perspective we were well served, but although it wasn’t a blue sky day, the clouds moving through at a decent “clip” meant that the Factor 20/30 or higher still had work to do.

Four full Olympic races were sailed with Fireballs enjoying the third start of the day as a single start, preceded by the PY Class and the RS classes. This should have given some insight as to which way to go up the beat, but the conditions were changing so frequently that this foresight wasn’t quite enough.

On the water, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) dominated the results with four wins. However, they were pushed on occasions by the Clancy brothers, Conor & James (14807) who scored four seconds. Note that it says they dominated the results, not the racing because they weren’t always the lead boat. There were some interactions with the Clancys on the off-wind legs where there was a sense that Noel & Steve were doing a bit of experimentation in their approaches to the gybe and leeward marks. The variability of the wind on the first reach of the triangle, parallel to the shoreline, made this a possibility and on some of the sausage legs they were seen to be very wide of the rhumb line between the weather mark and the leeward mark. Indeed there was some two-sail reaching on the top reaces on the day.

Upwind however they kept a loose eye of the Clancys – never straying too far away from their chasers. Behind these two, Teddy Byrne & Grattan Donnelly (14990) had a consistent day on the water with two thirds and two fourths to take 3rd overall. Teddy had taken the helm of Conor Clancy’s 14807 on the preceding Tuesday night in Dun Laoghaire and won the second race that night, so we shouldn’t have been surprised to see them at the front end of the fleet.

With one exception all the other boats had at least one good race – Frank Miller & Brenda McGuire (14713) had a fourth, Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) had a third, Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley (14691) had a third, Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) had a good last race, but the ladies in 14854, Cariosa Power & Marie Barry didn’t have their best day.

Two boats each claimed two capsizes – McKenna & Bradley - Bradley caught on the wrong side of an obvious tack on the first beat of the second race and a blow-over on the “first second reach” of the last race with the spinnaker filling with water. In the third race however, they redeemed themselves by leading the fleet around the first weather mark and finishing 3rd in the race. McGrotty & Cramer also had one capsize off-wind, that I saw, but don’t have the details on the other.

Unfortunately, the results fell victim to a gremlin that started awarding “half-points” to certain finishing positions, as in 1.5pts for Butler & Oram’s fourth race win and the same score to McGrotty & Cramer in the same race and 6.5pts for 3rd in McKenna & Bradley’s third race. Even after a stewards’ enquiry, the gremlins persisted!

This caused a delay in the prize-giving but Commodore Darragh Cafferky was very generous in his welcome to the Fireball Class and commended them for the standard of their sailing as observed from the balcony of the club. He insisted that the Class would be most welcome to return to the club. Due thanks were also given to Monica Schaefer, Sailing Secretary, and her “on-the water” team for making the regatta a success and to the Usher family for the donation of their boat as Committee Boat for the regatta.

Irish Fireball Class Association – Open Championships 2017

Greystones Sailing Club, 24th June 2017.

Pts

1

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

National Yacht Club

15061

3

2

Conor & James Clancy

Royal St George Yacht Club

14807

6

3

Teddy Byrne & Grattan Donnelly

Wicklow Sailing Club

14990

10

4

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer

Skerries Sailing Club

14938

 

5

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

14775

 

6

Frank Miller & Brenda McGuire

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

14713

 

7

Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley

Royal St George yacht Club

14691

 

8

Cariosa Power & Marie Barry

Dun Laoghaire Motor & National Yachts Clubs

14854

 

Entry to the event included a post-racing barbeque which gave the Fireballs a chance to conduct a post-mortem on the racing and the challenging physical conditions.

Race activity in Dun Laoghaire continues on Tuesday night and our next event is the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta over the weekend July 7th – 9th, with the Leinsters the following weekend in Skerries. Note that the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta is not part of our Traveller Series, but is an event we are supporting as a Class.

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