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Gusty Winds in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Serve Up Great Day of Fireball Racing at DMYC Frostbites

20th February 2017
Louis Smyth at the helm of his Fireball dinghy during Sunday's DMYC Frostbites which saw two excellent races Louis Smyth at the helm of his Fireball dinghy during Sunday's DMYC Frostbites which saw two excellent races Photo: Bob Hobby

Sunday's DMYC Frostbites saw two excellent Fireball races in lively conditions in Dun Laoghaire harbour. According to the DLH weather site the wind was mostly westerly about 10-12 knots but gusting at times more than 20 knots.

In both races the pin end was favoured but given that the start line was in the crook of the East Pier there was arguably an advantage to starting at the committee end to get the benefit of lifting gusts at the harbour mouth and also the advantage of the incoming tide through the mouth of the harbour. Anyway spoiler alert; the two races were dominated by the rockstar team of Gerbil Owens and Phil Lawton standing in for Noel Butler and Stephen Oram.

From the start of race one the pair worked the right side of the course and led around the trapezoid course without their lead ever being under real threat. Closest boat was veteran Louis Smyth with Glen Fisher who were looking good until they capsized in round 2 of the 4 lap course near the leeward mark, where for some reason the wind always seemed to ramp up a couple of notches.

Frank Miller with Ed Butler snatched second place and appeared comfortable in that position until the gybe mark in the 4th round where an all too casual gybe delivered the traditional punishment. When the pair recovered from their turtle they were about last but they closed the gap on those who zoomed past and finished 5th in the end with Alistair Court and Gordon Syme taking 2nd and Neil Colin/Margaret Casey 3rd.

The start of race 2 once again saw the seven boat fleet stretched along the line. For this race Lawton / Owens switched roles but continued to dominate the race with a lead of a least a half leg. The pair started at the (technically unfavoured) committee end with a burst of speed which allowed them to drive low almost reaching across the fleet positioning them for first tack to weather of the fleet on the port layline to the windward mark.

The first reach was always tight but the configuration of the harbour discouraged going too high too soon so for both races it was a tricky and close first reach with a near run on the second and a beam reach for the third.

Following Owens/Lawton were Court/Syme and then Miller/Butler. The latter took over the 2nd place on the beat by taking the lifting gusts available on the right side of the course.

This time they kept their noses clean and their mast in the air and held onto that place till the end. Hot on their heels remained Court/Symes but special mention should go to Dara McDonagh who was never far off the lead in his composite fireball proving that a well maintained 20 year old boat is perfectly competitive in the right hands . Spare a thought for Smyth/Fisher; in the second race they had a close encounter with Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe which resulted in their outhaul being flicked off the end of their boom and sent them home earlier than planned.

All in all this was a terrific days racing in mild but gusty conditions snatched from the jaws of an Irish February ...

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At A Glance – Fireball Dinghy Specs

Crew 2 (single trapeze)
LOA 16 ft 2 in (4.93 m)
Beam 4 ft 6 in (1.37 m)
Hull weight 175 lb (79 kg)
Mast height 22.3 ft (6.8 m)
Mainsail area 108 sq ft (10.0 m2).
Jib / Genoa area 35 sq ft (3.3 m2).
Spinnaker area 140 sq ft (13 m2).

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