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'Vigorous' Start to Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Dash

15th June 2017
Ian Hickey’s veteran Cavatina makes the perfect start, bang on the gun and full speed on the line. However, Stephen Quinn’s little J/92 Lambay Rules (left) had been about to do the same, but a bigger boat (invisible behind Cavatina’s sails) just rolled over her, and then ran across her bow Ian Hickey’s veteran Cavatina makes the perfect start, bang on the gun and full speed on the line. However, Stephen Quinn’s little J/92 Lambay Rules (left) had been about to do the same, but a bigger boat (invisible behind Cavatina’s sails) just rolled over her, and then ran across her bow Photo: W M Nixon

If anyone is thinking of producing the Very Rough Guide to Making a Start in a Yacht Race, this evening’s opening episode in the continuing drama which is the 275-mile Volvo Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race 2017 produced Rules 1, 2 & 3 in jig time writes W M Nixon

Rule 1 states: “When push comes to shove, might is right.”

Rule 2 states: “When you’re in the bigger boat, never give an inch until you actually hear breaking glass”

Rule 3 states: “Whatever happens, keep smiling as though it’s all perfectly normal.”

It was of course entirely the weather’s fault. An expected veering of the southerly wind, forecast for the start time around 1900 hours, actually arrived a clear hour early. Thus, where it should have been a beat from the start line in Scotsman’s Bay to the first mark of the course at the Muglins, it was the closest of close fetches on starboard tack.

And though Race Officer Con Murphy then put a marked bias on the line to encourage people not to crowd in on the Committee Boat, the testosterone-fuelled racers setting up to get to Kerry just as fast and as soon as they could crowded towards the Committee Boat like crazed bees around a honey pot.

dingle start2Animal spirits rampant. Still about 35 seconds to go to the start, but those boats (left) are coming in far too fast with no-one easing up.........Photo: W M NixonDun Laoghaire Dingle Race Start....as seen from the pin end...Photo: Afloat.ie

dingle start3Soon the madness spreads and everyone is going for the line......Photo: W M Nixon
dingle start4.......and this is the scene with five seconds still to go to the start. Photo: W M Nixon

D2D Race Start 2017And they're off.....National Yacht Club Commodore Ronan Beirne spots the line from the NYC pin end RIB. Eamonn Crosbie's Pamela, IRL 5503, the largest yacht in the Dingle Race, makes a great start at the leeward end Photo: Afloat.ie Or at least that’s how it seemed from the Committee Boat itself. In a fleet of 43 boats, there were of course plenty of reasonable souls making civilized starts further down the line. But it was such a close fetch to shape your course right on the Muglins that the hottest competition couldn’t resist the temptation to take every bit of weathering that they could at the start.

The result was that a herd of marauding bulls came charging in, but they were going to be about ten seconds early, yet nobody seemed to be able to do a damn thing about it until a certain 44–footer realized the only option was to bear off and sail down the line as though this was normal procedure. Most of the fleet being smaller craft, those in the immediate vicinity gave way, albeit with wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Out of one sailor’s adversity comes another’s advantage, and though Stephen Quinn and Dave Cotter in the sweet little J/97 Lambay Rules, racing in the Two-handed Division, were all in order to make a proper and perfect start, some other bigger fully-crewed machine rolled over them and down across their bows, stitching up Lambay Rules good and proper.

But the canny old salts on Ian Hickey’s veteran Granada 38 Cavatina sensed that a gap was going to appear out of nowhere, Lambay Rules’ undoing was their advantage, and they swept through the gap to make the best start in the fleet.

As that seasoned observer of Dublin Bay sailing Ian Meldon drily remarked: “That was a vigorous start”. And with a beat in prospect from the Muglins at least to the Fastnet Rock, the kerfuffles of the start were soon put astern and people settled down to serious racing.

Wow Farr 42Early leader – George Sisk's Wow, a Farr 42, lead the fleet out of Dublin Bay Photo: Afloat.ie

Once the Muglins were passed, some boats made the curious decision to continue on starboard tack on out into the strongest line of the new north-going flood. But with further veering of the wind expected, it was Paul O’Higgins JPK10.80 Rockabill VI which first took the seemingly logical decision to tack inshore, with Derek Martin’s First 44.7 Lively Lady and George Sisk’s Farr 42 WOW going with her.

Yachts at Muglins Rock Dublin BayThe Spirit 54 Soufriere (Stephen O'Flaherty) leads a group of boats passed the Muglins with Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox), Cavatina (Ian Hickey) and Lambay Rules (Stephen Quinn) all leaving Dublin Bay together Photo: Afloat.ie

Yet the more you hug the shore, the flukier the winds might be. And as midnight nears, the leaders are in the tricky situation of approaching the hyper-strong foul tide in the vicinity of Wicklow Head. But WOW has been sailing a blinder, skilfully staying sufficiently clear enough of Bray Head to avoid its notorious flat spots, yet working the land from Greystones southward to such good effect that she leads on corrected time with Lively Lady second, Andrew Algeo’s Juggerknot the best of the J/109s in third, and Rockabill VI fourth.

Athough two larger J Boats didn’t make the start, we’ve even more J/109s than were officially listed. For although he and all his crew knew that of course Stephen Tudor and the 2016 ISORA Champion Sgrech knew they were doing the Dingle race, it seems they omitted to tell the organisers. But they’re in there anyway, battling as usual with sister-ship and clubmate Mojito (Peter Dunlop & Vicky Cox).

ian meldon and stephen tudor5“But surely you just knew we’d be racing to Dingle?” Very late entrant Stephen Tudor (right) with Ian Meldon of the National YC Photo: W M Nixon

Race tracker here

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