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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

Published in Fireball

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.

Published in Fireball

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.

Published in Fireball

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.

Published in Fireball

It didn’t really look like Fireball racing would be possible yesterday evening! Having enjoyed another sunny day in Dun Laoghaire, though it was not as “blue sky” as the previous three days, the expectation of a reasonable sea breeze was not met! Instead the seascape was a very flat Dublin Bay and an even flatter harbour seascape. Consequently we launched in hope rather than expectation and the trip from the Royal St George to the start area at the West Pier was as slow as the weather suggested it would be. The race management team initially postponed the start and then set a mark that was in line with the end of the East Pier, about 60m inside the harbour mouth. Course X1 was indicated giving us two roundings of the weather mark and a downwind finish.

In the PY start, Pierre Long in his IDRA started on the pin, on port and gained a huge early advantage over the rest of his fleet – he went on to win, as well. This was the prompt for the five Fireballs to gather at the pin, each attempting to do something similar. Though neither was on the pin, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (15061) and Teddy Byrne & Conor Clancy (14807) started on port, while Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) and Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713) started on starboard and went left initially. Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley (14691) started on starboard, tacked immediately onto port and found themselves chasing the other four.

The “better” wind was on the outside of the course and Power and Miller benefitted from being on that side. Byrne & Clancy, with Byrne helming, were sailing in close company with Butler & Oram. Subject to correction, my recall of the order of rounding was Power, Miller, Byrne, Butler and McKenna. For the downwind leg, the standard route seemed to be to sail straight on starboard after the spreader mark and then put in a gybe to get to the leeward mark. Of course, the challenge was when to gybe.

On the second upwind leg, the fleet worked the left hand side to varying degrees and Miller found himself in second place rounding the top weather mark. Staying high on the next downwind leg Miller was able to sail around the fleet and take a well-deserved win. Behind him the order was Butler, Byrne, Power and McKenna.

For the second race the weather mark was moved a significant distance to the right and again course X1 was signalled. Again, the pin end was favoured but the jockeying to get to it was a little less intense, with intense being an exaggeration given the wind strength. Four of the boats were on one side of the course, while McKenna ploughed a solitary furrow on the right hand side. For the early stages of the beat, this looked as though it might pay, but as she put in a starboard hitch to get to the weather mark, three of the four “lefties” went ahead of her. Butler led, followed by Byrne and Miller. The fleet stayed on the right hand-side of the run, leaving the gybe to the leeward mark late.

At the next weather mark Miller and Clancy found themselves in the reverse situation to last Tuesday night. Miller was the starboard tacked boat, Clancy was in the port tacked boat trying to get round the mark.........and this time by way of my proximity to the two boats.........turns were required which Byrne duly did! In the wind conditions, this might have signalled “game over”, but forced into a different downwind strategy by way of the penalty turns, Byrne & Clancy went over the line first. Miller meanwhile had got ahead of Butler but to my mind was in a position where Butler controlled his destiny – Miller couldn’t gybe across until Butler went! The gybes were triggered with Butler going first, but Miller managed to wriggle his way over the line before him by the tightest of margins.

DBSC Tuesday Nights: Series 2 (4 sailed, 1 discard)

R1

R2

R3

R4

Tot.

Conor Clancy/Teddy Byrne & James Clancy

14807

RStGYC

1

2

3

1

4

Frank Miller & Ed Butler

14713

DMYC

2

3

1

2

5

Cariosa Power & Marie Barry

14854

NYC

3

1

4

5

8

Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley

14691

RStGYC

4

4

5

4

12

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

15061

NYC

8

8

2

3

13

The regatta scene returns for the Fireballs with an event at Greystones this weekend. In a departure from our normal format, this year’s Open Championship will be sailed as a one-day event, Saturday, with Greystones also being a debutant venue for the Fireballs. Frank Miller has been “banging the drums” to generate numbers for this weekend and it looks as though we will have a bigger number than we had in Ballyholme. Frank and Ed Butler have put the latter 14990 back into commission to sail this weekend and I believe our “Fireballers in Flying Fifteens”, Margaret Casey & Neil Colin will also be in Greystones. The class is also reminded that we are entering the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta as a class, but we will only get a separate start if we have sufficient numbers.

Published in Fireball

While Tuesday was a warm blustery day by the time Fireballers descended on the waterfront clubs the breeze was fading. Early birds Frank Miller and Ed Butler sailed to the harbour mouth to be greeted by 180 degree shifts and finally zero air.

The DBSC committee boat and ribs made a brief foray outside but faced with almost no wind and a strong incoming tide signalled the gathering sailors to remain in the harbour. Miraculously a reasonable breeze returned from the same SW direction as earlier and a W-L course was set up with the X1 board signalling (in the unique language of DBSC Sis) two windward-leeward rounds with a downwind finish. So it was that five Fireballs took off in the second start following the slow PY fleet, with Miller/Butler favouring a pin end start and the rest distributed along the line.

The pair went further left than the rest and picked up a slightly better breeze and after a shift managed to edge ahead of the Clancy Brothers and Noel Butler/Stephen Oram. They held that lead over the course though as they approached the finish noticed that Butler/Oram had carved a sharper angled approach towards the committee boat end and the leeward mark. The pair crossed to line to silence and saw to their horror that Butler/Oram had rounded the leeward and were cheerfully chewing their way back up the beat for another round. Only Miller/Butler and the Clancy’s gave chase but the game was over and the just rewards went to those who took a closer look at the number of rounds to be sailed in the 3 minutes before their start was signalled.

Race two took place in similar conditions, this time Butler/Oram stamped their authority on the race early and although the Clancy’s and Miller/Butler stayed close the pair won race two, with Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe in 4rd and Cariosa Power/Marie Barry in 5th. Despite some frustrations this was a very pleasant evening’s racing in warm pleasant conditions.

Published in Fireball

When Ger Owens’ 'Loopies' replace Adam Bower’s 'Woompatah' you know it must be Fireball Training Weekend writes Neil Cramer.

With generous sponsorship from the ISA Class Training Scheme and hosting by the DMYC, the Fireball Class assembled in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday for the first day of its annual training camp under the coaching of Ger Owens, the renowned 470 Olympic and GP14 sailor.

Under bright, clear skies with only the odd passing shower to dampen the mood, the weather was perfect for a full-on day of training. The group of 12 sailors started the day in classroom mode where Owens managed to condense the entire world of race-winning strategy into five concise pointers designed to instill a belief in one’s ability to hit the front of the fleet without wondering how one got there and how long one could hang on before being passed out by ‘better’ sailors!

Once, these topics had been unravelled, the fleet took to the water to undergo Ger’s infamous ‘Loopies’, created to induce ‘muscle memory’ for all points of sailing. Maybe, Ger thought the fleet was suffering from mild dementia because they were certainly dizzy and sweaty when they came out of ‘loopie’ mode and moved on to point-to-point circuit sprints.

Following a brief lunch ashore combined with detailed de-briefing, the fleet proceeded to the end of the harbour where a testing sequence of ultra-short races had everyone’s stress levels reach limits not seen in even the most difficult of event conditions. What is it about the sound of a whistle or hoot that gets Fireball crews all wound-up & ready to take no prisoners? Extremely short races, with no respite in between gave the participants a thorough workout & tested that ‘muscle memory’ to the limit.

As a result of the session the participants now understand why:

* the Kicker could sometimes become a liability,
* why the most important piece of equipment on the boat is a €10 piece flimsy material &
* why what goes on under the boom is a vital source of information.
* The way up is not necessarily the way back down

Want to know these secrets too? Why not acquire a Fireball and join the fray ? For as little as little £2k you can be the new owner for an “all white” Winder foam sandwich boat or as little as £800 for a restored timber boat. Then come along to our 2nd Fireball Training date later on this summer & learn why you too belong at the top of the fleet looking back...

Published in Fireball

Four Fireballs came under the starter’s orders for the third Tuesday night of the DBSC Summer Series. Given the warm conditions during the day and the strong tide outside, the decision was made to keep the dinghy fleets inside – presumably on the basis that the sea breeze would fade as the evening wore on, leaving the fleets exposed to a flooding tide. While it may not have made immediate sense on sailing out to the start area, it was the right thing to do.

The four boats were in a close bunch at the pin end of the line when the start signal went and three of the boats stayed on a starboard tack to the extreme left of the course, adjacent to the harbour mouth. Messrs Butler(N) and Clancy (C) with regular crews Oram (S) and Clancy (J) respectively gave all the indications that they were going to stick close to each other and while Butler had the upper hand initially, Clancy took it off him and was never headed thereafter. The ladies, in the form of Cariosa Power and Marie Barry, also went left but having fallen behind the other three off the start, the fourth boat, which went up the middle of the course, Miller (F) and Bradley (C) had hopes that they might slot into 3rd. No such luck and continuing their form of the weekend, this pair found themselves in splendid isolation, ploughing a furrow up the middle. It didn’t get any better for them as the race progressed! During the race the girls closed on Butler & Oram, to within a boat-length at the second windward mark, but on the downwind leg to the finish Butler & Oram sailed away to take a comfortable second to the Clancys.

The Race Officer moved the weather mark to port (northwards) before re-instating it in its original position to get the second race of the evening away. Again the four boats bunched together off the start and this time Miller and Bradley stayed with them. It paid dividends because they rounded the first weather mark in third and that sense of security was enhanced when the recently crowned Ulster Champions, Butler & Oram took a penalty turn on the water, presumably for a mark infringement.

The girls were enjoying the easing wind as they sailed into second but the Clancys were not threatened at all. Up the second and last beat, Clancy took a hitch left to ensure he stayed to weather of the chasing boats. Miller and Power sailed up the middle of the beat and while Power appeared to be going marginally faster, she was also slipping to leeward as well. Butler went left but was initially unable to close the gap. Miller rounded second but his discomfort level was doubled as Power went one way and Butler the other on the downwind leg to the finish. Butler closed initially and then gybed to go into the middle of the course while Miller and Power stayed out towards the harbour mouth. Miller gybed late for the finish and despite being on a converging course with Butler was able to comfortably cross him as Miller finished second at the committee boat end. Power, too, finished ahead of Butler.

DBSC Tuesday Nights: Series 1 – 9th May 2017.

R1

R2

Nett

1

Conor & James Clancy

14807

RStGYC

1

1

2

2

Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley

14713

DMYC

4

2

6

3

Cariosa Power & Marie Barry

14854

NYC

3

3

6

4

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

15061

NYC

2

4

6

 

Published in Fireball

Nearly 30 sailors attended the joint  420 and Fireball Ulster Championships last weekend with a mixture of conditions to test out the sailors writes Mark Mackey. Most of the visitors travelled up from Cork and Dublin to compete in the two different classes – both are double handed dinghies with a single trapeze wire for the crew, but there the similarities end.

The 420 is a rounded more plastic style mini version of the 470 class which is sailed at the Olympic Games by both male and female crews. The 420 is used as a youth pathway class and many of the teenage sailors had already visited Ballyholme over Easter at the ISA Youth Championhips. All-girl crews dominated the event despite the strong winds on Saturday, occupying the first 3 places overall. It was great to see local sailor Adam Lockart getting a run out having struggled to find a regular crew – Daniel Thompson from Wexford Harbour helped out this weekend.

The Fireball is a much sleeker craft orginially built in wood – in fact many were built in the Ballyholme chnaging rooms over the winters back in the 1970's. These days they are glass-fibre with lots of controls and tweaks to be made whilst racing. As opposed to the teenage crews of the 420's, the Fireball attract the older generation with many of the sailors well into their 60's and some their 80's – a marvellous example of the length of time that people can continue to compete and enjoy sailing. These are not sedentiary boats however with big mainsails that power them up to speeds that are only surpassed by the Olympic skiffs and multihull dinghy classes. See Fireball class report here.

After Saturday's breeze and lumpy seas, the sunshine came out for Sundays races with a light 5-8 knot breeze and flat water. A range of conditions is always useful to test out the best sailors who still manage to excel no matter what they are faced with. Malahide's Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher followed their second place 2 weeks ago with top of the podium in the 420 class, while Noel Butler and Stephen Oram are no strangers to the top of the Fireball fleet either. Both classes gave their thanks to the club, sponsor P&O Ferries and Race Officer Robin Gray. 

420 Ulsters: 

1st Gemma McDowell and Emma Gallagher, Malahide YC
2nd Grace O'Beirne and Kathy Kelly, Royal St George YC
3rd Nicola and Fiona Ferguson National YC

Published in 420

A small group of Fireballs, combined with a slightly larger group of 420s enjoyed a light weather start to the regatta season under the burgee of Ballyholme Yacht Club, on Belfast Lough’s southern shore for the Ulster Championships this past weekend. Ballyholme has always been a popular destination for the Fireballs with a combination of an excellent Race Officer in Robin Gray and traditional northern hospitality the mainstays of that attraction. While our smaller numbers changed the requirement for on-site hospitality, Robin Gray was as excellent as ever, getting six races in in challenging circumstances, particularly on the Saturday. Sunday was easier in terms of the wind direction but for the competitors, the challenge of going the right way and avoiding the wind lulls on the course was just as demanding.

Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (National Yacht Club, 15061) dominated the winners’ enclosure by taking five race wins. In the sixth race they swapped roles on the boat, with Stephen taking over as helm. That led to an opening of the door to another winner, Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer (Skerries Sailing Club, 14938) which was enough to secure second overall ahead of Michael Ennis & Marie Barry (National Yacht Club, 14854). However, while Butler & Oram won all the races, they didn’t have things completely their own way even in those races. In the first race of the Saturday, Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley (Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, 14713) led around the first weather mark and Michael & Marie pushed them all the way in the fifth race before a tight cover had to be applied on the last leg of the course from Mark 4 of the trapezoid to the finish to make sure Michael & Marie didn’t sneak out from underneath them. Niall & Neil also pushed the eventual winners and the “pink ladies”, Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe (Royal St George Yacht Club, 14691) while not quite pushing the overall winners were also close enough to benefit from any mistakes the leaders made. Saturday started overcast and cool but cleared and warmed as the day progressed, to the extent that we came ashore after three races to blue skies and glorious sunshine. Saturday’s wind was better than Sunday with some trapezing being possible. The consequence was that the racing was reasonably tightly bunched. Dinner was eaten al fresco at a nearby by pub/restaurant. Our weather was made all the more intriguing by hearing that DBSC’s racing in Dun Laoghaire had been cancelled due to strong wind.

On Sunday we woke to clear blue skies and a much more fickle breeze but Race Officer Robin Gray made an early declaration of his intent by not appearing at the club but rather, going afloat on the committee boat directly from Bangor marina. While some of the other light crews may have had some trapezing on Sunday, this correspondent only hooked up very rarely during the day’s proceedings. As the biggest combination on the water, Miller & Bradley were off the pace in the lighter first two races and it was only in the last race when there was a bit more wind that they were able to stay with their opposition. Trapezoid courses were the order of the weekend in order to accommodate the two fleets and the preference of the 420s for this course configuration.

Fireball Ulsters – Ballyholme Yacht Club

(with 420s)

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

Nett

1

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

NYC

15061

1

1

1

1

1

5

5

2

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer

SSC

14938

2

5

2

3

3

1

11

3

Michael Ennis & Marie Barry

NYC

14854

4

3

4

2

2

3

14

 

Published in Fireball
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