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So, as the sun rises hopefully on a welcome return to international regattas, the Irish Fireball Class, in tandem with Fireball International and the Lough Derg Yacht Club are delighted to announce that the World Championships of the Class with be hosted at the Lough Derg venue in August 2022.

The Covid pandemic has decimated the sailing calendar worldwide for the past 15 months, and the Fireball Class has not been immune to the inability to host regattas due to a plethora of reasons, including health issues, quarantining and the absence of international travel. Countries around the globe have had to endure different regimes of quarantining and rates of recovery from the initial and subsequent surges of the virus, and this has played havoc with the original schedule of international regattas for the Fireball Class.

However, a combination of circumstances allows us to make this announcement now, and a number of parties need to be acknowledged as being fundamental to the return of the Fireball Worlds to Ireland.

Host to the 2022 Fireball Worlds – Lough Derg Yacht Club, Ireland. Host to the 2022 Fireball Worlds – Lough Derg Yacht Club, Ireland.

Howth Yacht Club initially sowed the seed of bringing the event back to Ireland to mark their 125th Anniversary in 2020. However, the onset of Covid caused that event to be abandoned and subsequently, Howth's commitment to another international regatta in 2022 and the lack of certainty to the timetable for dredging works to Howth harbour in 2022/23 precluded them from hosting in 2022 or 2023. We thank them for their support of the Irish Fireball Class in promoting the 2020 event, which included their Principal Race Officer and Regatta Organisers attending the 2019 Worlds in Canada.

The Australian Fireball Association were due to host the Worlds after Howth in 2022, but their domestic situation with respect to Covid led them to request Fireball International to defer this regatta. Fireball International was persuaded that with the time-lapse since Canada in 2019, a European-based Worlds was more likely to attract a bigger fleet of boats. On that basis, Fireball International consented to the Irish Fireball Association seeking a venue for 2022, and we are delighted that Lough Derg Yacht Club have stepped up to the plate to host the event. Within the past few days, we have had confirmation from Fireball International's Executive Committee that the event can go ahead.

Established in 1835, Lough Derg Yacht Club (LDYC) is based in Dromineer on the shores of Ireland's third largest lake with a surface area of 118km². Their most recent international regatta was the Mirror Worlds which was a very successful event, and they have a long pedigree of hosting National, Provincial, and domestic regattas and the Fireball Class have been regular visitors to their club. The club is ideally situated with easy access to a multitude of racing areas, has ample space for mobile homes, caravans and tents and has additional "roof and four walls" accommodation within easy access of the club. While it is an inland venue, travelling to the club from Ireland's major airports and ferry terminals is relatively simple with good roads, and the journey will afford competitors a chance to see more of Ireland and its "forty shades of green"!

For the Irish Class Association, this regatta provides an opportunity for a re-building of the domestic fleet with the incentive of a locally based Worlds. It also affords the Race Management Team, which will be led by a well-recognised International Race Officer the chance to run a Worlds on "their own doorstep".

All parties to the regatta are excited by the return of international sailing with the regatta scheduled for August 2022 between the 18th and 26th consisting of a two-day Pre-Worlds, a day for measuring and the normal Sunday to Friday race timetable with a Wednesday lay-day.

We look forward to a great event and invite more Irish sailors to consider our high-performance two-person dinghy for their next international challenge!

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Eight Fireball teams participated in an intensive coaching session at the DMYC with Barry McCartin at the weekend. The Dun Laoghaire Harbour based coaching was as intensive as training gets with a huge variety of conditions from near calm to 15 knots plus with big waves.

As the day started extremely light and patchy McCartin used the opportunity for some socially distanced whiteboard work outdoors.

To say that he covered a lot of detail would be an understatement, but there was something in this for everyone, from the adult silver fleet sailors to the veterans and the newest but very talented younger sailors graduating up from 420s and Lasers. When the wind settled the fleet got afloat and completed multiple exercises in the light winds which emphasised boat handling with a particular significance placed on using body weight to steer the boat around the course and especially around the marks. McCartin emphasized what we all know but often choose to neglect, that body weight and team balance steers the boat, and excessive rudder movement simply acts as a brake. In a perfect world, we steer boats by crew weight adjustment and the rudder follows.

Fireball Champion Barry McCartin used the opportunity for some socially distanced whiteboard work outdoorsFireball Champion Barry McCartin (above) used the opportunity for some socially distanced whiteboard work outdoors

In a high-performance dinghy like a Fireball, the temptation at the windward mark is to place all the emphasis on getting around the mark quickly and getting the spinnaker up and set, and getting away from surrounding boats as fast as possible. However, this often happens at the expense of smooth roundings when using rudder rather than crew weight therefore slowing or even stalling the boat at a time when there is the greatest opportunity to make gains on the opposition.

To drive this home the fleet was initially made to sail a microscopic windward-leeward course under two sails, then using spinnakers without poles and finally allowing the spinnaker pole. Thus only when the "basics" of body movement steering was appreciated were spinnakers introduced into the mix. When the wind finally kicked in to full strength the fleet headed down in the direction of Dalkey Island to be greeted by a big wind-against-tide sea, necessitating mast raking for the lighter teams and at least one swim. Upwind and downwind exercises resumed with close hand advice on sail trim and achieving optimum sail/crew/settings balance for the conditions.

In short, this translated to keeping the boat dead flat with centreboard somewhat up, outhaul bar tight, jib cars out and sailing for maximum speed to get ideal vmg upwind for the conditions. Downwind it was a case of playing the very impressive waves with some coordinated pumping and careful steering. The sailing day finished off with a number of short triangular races designed to put teams under pressure to set and hold spinnakers at very close reaching angles.

Ashore there was a final debrief outdoors followed up by a series of videos with commentary to the participants via WhatsApp.

This on-the-water day was actually part two of specialist coaching by McCartin who mid-lockdown gave the fleet some intensive and detailed coaching via Zoom.

The training comes at an ideal time for the resurgent Fireball class who look forward to a lively Leinsters in Skerries SC in just three weekends time and who are hopeful for a significant international Fireball event in Ireland in the not too distant future.

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With no Frostbite dinghy racing to distract us over the winter, everyone is yearning to get their feet wet in a Fireball so understandably there was a healthy audience for an online training session last Thursday night. The coaching was provided by Barry McCartin who is a recognised RYA and Irish Sailing Coach of twelve years' standing. In that time, he has coached Toppers, Lasers and 420s. A competitive sailor in his own right, he has enjoyed success in Fireballs at National and European level and has sailed a number of Worlds in the class in recent years. He also campaigns in the RS class and team races as well. An audience of 48 people were in "virtual attendance" on the Zoom platform, with three attendees from the UK, including UK Fireball Association Chair, Derian Scott, a very good friend to the Irish Fireball Fleet.

To paraphrase a well-known chat show host, "there was something in the audience for everyone"! Barry started his presentation by challenging everyone to say what the critical factors are in campaigning a double-handed boat like the Fireball. Some of the obvious suggestions were - teamwork, willingness to learn, communication, commitment, time which are all very relevant, but he added that is was important that you do it for FUN. As he stated, all the others require an effort, or planning, but they are of limited value if there is no fun to be had from the sailing/racing.

An audience of 48 people were in "virtual attendance" on the Zoom platformAn audience of 48 people were in "virtual attendance" on the Zoom platform for the coaching session

In the current climate, Barry made the point that there is no reason not to be getting ready for the season ahead. In this regard, he recommended that exercises that can be done at home should mirror the movements that you are likely to execute in the boat. The emphasis should be on getting the CORE strengthened and advised that the purchase of a resistance band, gym ball or dumbbells would help in this regard. Mimicking movements in the boat with suitable exercises at home will mean that you are fitter and less likely to be struggling after a heavy session on the water.

Look after your boat and it will look after youLook after your boat and it will look after you

Murphy's Law – just when you need it, it will fail

With no racing taking place, for those who have their boats at home, this presents a great opportunity to check systems, give attention to foils and hulls, check halyards and sheets – if a sheet or halyard is showing any sign of wear and tear, no matter how minor, the advice was to replace it – otherwise, it will be subject to Murphy's Law – just when you need it, it will fail.

In terms of preparing for a major event where long hours can be spent on the water, the advice was to get your body attuned to an increase in fluids a couple of weeks ahead of the event so that when the regatta comes round and the intake of fluids is increased, your system is already accustomed to processing the increased fluid intake. With regard to nutrition, the advice was to have a good meal 3hrs ahead of the start of the day's proceedings – that way the energy benefit is in the body when it is needed.

Value of GRIB style synoptic charts

Closer to the event/race, the emphasis is on getting a forecast and interpreting what the wind will do over the duration of the event In this respect, Barry said that popular wind forecasting sites that are already well-known may have limited value and advocated that GRIB style synoptic charts have much more value. On the water, this exercise is continued to compare and contrast the forecast with the REALCAST – is the wind doing what it was predicted to do, is it blowing from the predicted direction. This is particularly pertinent when you go to a new venue! Make time to have a few practice beats and runs to get an assessment of what the wind is doing on the course area. This should include a check of spinnaker systems, including a trial tight reach to make sure pole height is correct.

First beat

For the start and first beat, Barry's advice was to make sure that you develop a plan and that you make every effort to put the plan in place. Things to look out for include line bias, are you where you want to be, is there space to leeward that you can use to your advantage. In practice terms, he highlighted the importance of being able to accelerate off the line and referenced the work done by Adam Bowers in previous Fireball training sessions.
For the off-wind legs, he highlighted the importance of good communication, with the crew concentrating on the spinnaker trim and the helm watching the wind conditions.

While Barry suggested that he various topics he had covered could of themselves take a much longer period of time, the practical limitations of an online session meant that he could only touch on a multitude of issues. However, in terms of training, his advice was that training should be used to improve specific aspects of our racing. So, if heavy weather technique is an issue then practice in heavy weather. That means when you go racing, you are going to compete!

In addition to his own material, Barry made use of YouTube videos and footage shot by Adam Bowers.

In all the session lasted over an hour and concluded with questions and answers

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Impatience with the ongoing pandemic has led the Irish Fireball Association to bring forward its first coaching session of the season with Barry McCartin. The session will now take place as a Zoom Webinar on Thursday, March 4th.

The plan is to go divide up the typical race elements into segments with Barry emphasising the key actions in each phase to improve speed and position. Each short segment will be followed by a question & answer session and will be interspersed with video clips and illustrations. While the focus will be on getting around the course fast in a Fireball amongst the topics to be addressed will be – On Land Preparation, Pre-Start, Start and First Beat, First Reach Speed using Shifts, Gybe and Broad Reach, 2nd Beat and Run.

A highly experienced coach, McCartin, with crew Conor Kinsella has proved to be the fastest Irish International Fireball helm in recent years, scoring a top ten position in the 100-boat World Championships in Carnac in 2018 and a fourth and several race wins in the 2014 Europeans.

As well as Fireballs McCartin has coached 420s, Lasers and also races an RS400. While the virtual coaching session will be Fireball specific the tips and guidance may well be of interest to other fast dinghy classes and subject to number limitations guests are most welcome. The webinar, supported by Irish Sailing, will take place via Zoom at 8.30 pm, Thursday, March 4th.

Fireball sailors will receive an automatic invitation through the usual class channels but interested sailors from other classes should email class secretary Frank Miller [email protected] for an invitation.

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The Irish Fireball Class Association held its AGM a few weeks back, and we had one individual who chose to take a break from the committee but compensated for that with the addition of a number of new members. Hermine O'Keeffe has previously served as Dun Laoghaire Harbour Class Captain but has stood down from the committee after a number of years. She is replaced as DL Class Captain by Owen Sinnott, a new committee member, and Paul Ter Horst has taken on Silver Fleet Class Captain's mantle.

Like most classes, Fireball spent more time in 2020 cancelling events than promoting them as the COVID crisis decimated the sailing calendar from April onwards.

Even when the Dublin Bay Sailing Club made the decision to extend the season to compensate for the late start to the year, Level 5 restrictions snuffed out the opportunity to race into October.

However, hope springs eternal and a new calendar for 2021 has been formulated to try and get back to a full suite of regattas.

The 2021 calendar still has a small element of flux to it in that not all the dates are completely tied down. As things currently stand, the regatta schedule is as follows;

Irish 2021 Fireball Dinghy Regatta Schedule 

  • April 17/18 – Coaching weekend hosted by DMYC.
  • May 15/16 – Ulster Championships, Newtownards Sailing Club (Strangford Lough).
  • June/July* - Open Championships, Skerries Sailing Club.
  • 2/3/4 July – Leinster Championships, Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.
  • 23 – 25 July – National Championships, DMYC.
  • 25/26 September – Munster Championships, Killaloe Sailing Club.
  • 31 August – 6 September – UK Nationals in Abersoch.
  • 11 – 17 September – Europeans, Piombino, Marina di Salivoli, Tuscany.
  • 7- 18 February 2022 – Fireball Worlds, Royal Geelong, Australia.

*Dates to be confirmed/negotiated.

This represents a return to a domestic five-regatta schedule which given the health circumstances we are living in might be deemed ambitious. However, I think the policy has to be to plan on a full regatta schedule now if it has to change as time passes, it is less hassle to cancel than to reschedule at short notice.

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With the triennial elections for Fireball International now completed and all the Executive positions currently filled, FI is once more ready to chart a way forward for the Class. This year's elections saw a number of stalwarts of the Class stand down after protracted periods of service. Ben Schulz retired as Rear Commodore Australia to lend his expertise to the Geelong Worlds organisation, scheduled for February 2022. In North America, Debbie Kirkby has also stood down, and in South Africa, David Laing has stood down as Rear-Commodore Africa. They have been succeeded by Heather McFarlane, Evelyn Chisholm and Alistair Bush (Kenya) respectively.

Other specific offices have been filled by Linus Eberle (SUI), Secretary, Guy Newsom (GBR), Treasurer, David Hall (GBR), Chairman Technical Committee and Mianne Erne (SUI), Minutes Secretary. In the case of the David Hall appointment, a Technical Committee has been formed to share the load, and it consists of David Hall, Tom Egli (CAN) and Metja Nemec (SLO).

Further support to the Executive and the overall administration of the Class is provided by Reudi Moser as Webmaster and Hanseuli Bacher as Financial Reviewer.

Fireball International Executive

  • Commodore: Christina Haerdi Landerer (SUI) [Second Term]
  • Rear Commodore Africa: Alistair Bush (Kenya)
  • Rear Commodore North America: Evelyn Chisholm (USA)
  • Rear Commodore Asia: Hiroshi Kato (Japan)
  • Rear Commodore Australia: Heather McFarlane (AUS)
  • Rear Commodore Central Europe: Jakub Napravnik (CZE)
  • Rear Commodore Western Europe: Cormac Bradley (IRL)
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As Zoom is the lingua franca of our online communications these days, twenty-odd Fireballers congregated on the online platform on Thursday night past, 29th October, for the Class AGM.

A 40-minute session certainly concentrated the mind for a prompt meeting, managed by Secretary Frank Miller. Class Chairman, Neil Cramer (Skerries) presented his report that opened the meeting by stating that 19 boats had sailed events in 2019 so rumours of our demise were well off the mark. Events in 2019 included the Ulsters, hosted by Newtownards, with 9 boats, won by Noel Butler & Ismail Inan; the Munsters, hosted by Killaloe, with 13 boats, won by Noel & Stephen Oram and a Howth-hosted Nationals with an entry of 13 boats, again won by Noel & Stephen. A training day was provided by Barry McCartin with 18 people in attendance.

The onset of Covid curtailed regatta fixtures in 2020 but we still managed to get two regattas sailed, our Nationals, won by Stephen & Noel and our Leinsters, won by the same combination. Both events were hosted by DMYC, the latter being sailed with the National Yacht Club's one-day event to celebrate their 150th. A very successful and enjoyable training session was provided by Olympian Phil Lawton in July. Other proposed regattas included Skerries, Newtownards, Killaloe and a Nationals doubling up as a Pre-Worlds ahead of the World Championships in Howth – all of which had to be abandoned.

We had regular meetings with Howth to plan the 2020 Worlds until Covid forced their postponement. Sponsorship from Gul and Fingal County Council to the tune of £5k and €5k respectively for the event had been secured. Fireball International have sanctioned the event being sailed in 2023 and at this stage, Howth is keen to host again – subject to planned dredging works being completed.

The triennial election of office bearers of Fireball International had taken place and Ireland proposed Cormac Bradley for the position of Rear Commodore Western Europe, supported by the UK, France and Belgium. Ireland had also supported the nomination of Christine Haerdi-Landerer as Commodore for a second term. The outcome of the election process should be announced shortly.
Secretary Frank Miller (Dun Laoghaire) presented a short report highlighting the meetings with Howth and the positive working relationship that developed, the multiple meeting of the committee and the fact that members had not been charged membership fees due to a parallel gesture by FI to National Class Associations around the globe.

Marie Oram (Dun Laoghaire) presented the Treasurer's Report highlighting the reduced level of financial transactions due to the reduced level of sailing/racing activities. Class subscriptions had been paid to Irish Sailing. A financial contribution had also been made to Afloat. The financial status of the Class is healthy.

Election of Fireball Class Officers

The Election of Officers saw little change, but Hermine O'Keeffe stood down as DL Class Captain and was acknowledged with a vote of thanks. Paul ter Horst (SID) comes on board as Silver Fleet Captain and Owen Sinnott (DMYC) replaces Hermine.

Officers: Chairman – Neil Cramer, Secretary – Frank Miller, Treasurer – Marie Barry/Oram, DL Class Captain – Owen Sinnott, Silver Fleet Captain – Paul ter Horst, Committee Members – Neil Colin, Margaret Casey, Louise McKenna, Jim Ryan and Cormac Bradley.

Potential Regattas 2021 (subject to Covid situation). Preliminary plans, pencilled in, are for Skerries, Newtownards, DMYC, DL Regatta & Killaloe. Other regattas that are on the radar are the UK Nationals in Abersoch, Wales, and the Europeans in Tuscany in September. All venues are in principle only until there is a sense of the lie of the land in early 2021.

Series 1 of the Frostbites has been cancelled. Series 2 is scheduled for a 3rd January start but a later decision will be required on its chances of proceeding. Neil Colin advised that the entry system is live, but monies will only be taken if Series 2 gets the go-ahead.

Any Other Business.

Cormac Bradley gave an update on FI matters.

Glenn Fisher raised the prospect of more regular training as per the Laser model. Stephen Oram said the Laser & Aero training had been very good and wasn't expensive. Neil Colin offered the resources of the DMYC to support training initiatives.

The Class-owned boat has been transferred to Sailing in Dublin (SID). The relationship between the Class and SID had been very positive leading to the boat being introduced to a wider audience.

Colin Thompson raised the question of having one-day regattas a la 420s. Neil Cramer stated that Greystones host a one-day event and stated that we had been told we would be welcomed back again.

A virtual prize-giving is pencilled in for late November.

We offer our condolences to Marie Barry and Grattan Donnelly who lost family members during the last year.

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It was a lively day of racing for Fireballs during the NYC 150th Race Day today at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. While the class was dismayed to hear that racing would be confined to the harbour the wind gods smiled on the fleet and sailors enjoyed westerly winds between 12 and 24 knots.

In race one, Frank Miller/Ed Butler led to the weather mark but a sudden vacuum of air at the mark caused a significant teabagging ceremony which allowed Noel Butler with crew Neil Cramer fly past into a lead which they never relinquished. Miller/Butler shook themselves down and gave chase, with Louise McKenna/Hermine O'Keeffe hot on their heels. The latter overtook downwind but were reeled in again when Miller/Butler gybed and regained inside overlap before the leeward mark. In race two, Butler/Cramer got clean away at the start and were never challenged. Miller/Butler had a disastrous start and spent the entire race recovering. Owen Sinnott and Grattan Donnelly sailed an excellent race, especially upwind where they perfectly judged the shifts and variations in pressure to stretch their lead on the chasing pack and were rewarded with a second place. In race three Butler/Cramer again got away from the pack with Miller/Butler closest behind. With the wind up a notch that pair pulled away from the followers to score 2nd, followed by McKenna/O'Keeffe, Sinnott/Donnelly.

Three wins (one to discard) gave Butler/Cramer the overall event with Miller/Butler second and Sinnott/Donnelly 3rd. Mention should be made of those relatively new to Fireballs who took part in fresh and exciting conditions and lived to tell the tale including Paul Ter Host and Colm Breen from SID and young Clodagh Fischer with her father Glen on the wire.

As the class had designated this event as it's Leinsters Butler got to keep the trophy which carried along in his sailing bag. All in all a great day's racing and thanks are due to the NYC, the organisers, race committee and rescue volunteers who made it possible.

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At a time when the Irish Fireball fleet should have been in Howth, welcoming Fireballers from all over the World to the 2020 Fireball World Championships, a 13-boat fleet was contesting what we think is the first National Championship to be hosted in a Covid-ravaged summer calendar. When the Worlds and Nationals in Howth were cancelled due to COVID, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club offered to host the event and principal regatta organiser, Neil Colin, secured sponsorship from Helly-Hansen.

The headline for this report could have come from any number of sources, “Fireball women to the fore” with reference to the three race wins achieved by our all-lady crews, “Tight racing for Fireball Nationals” despite the points tally on the final score, “Challenging conditions for race management and competitors” reflecting the dearth of healthy wind, or “DMYC step up to the plate to host Fireball Nationals”.

Second Overall  Louise McKenna & Hermine O'KeeffeSecond Overall Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe

What is most important, however, is that I am able to bring to you a report on a regatta that a few short weeks ago might have been deemed impossible such is the impact of the health crisis. Instead, due to the specific efforts of DMYC and the Irish Fireball Class Association in our case and Irish Sailing who have engaged with the relevant bodies in this crisis to get people back out on the water across the country, there is a regatta report to be written.

Third Overall - Daniel & Harry ThompsonThird Overall - Daniel & Harry Thompson

Six different clubs were represented in the fleet, with DMYC claiming the biggest representation at 5, the National Yacht Club, the Royal St George Yacht Club and Sailing in Dublin 2 each and Wexford Harbour Boat and Tennis Club and Lough Ree Yacht Club one each.

Irish Fireball Championships - Silver Fleet Winners, Clodagh Nash & Glen FisherSilver Fleet Winners, Clodagh Nash & Glen Fisher

That’s who were present and at a dinner on Saturday night we worked out that there could have been at least another five boats sailing which weren’t due to a series of personal circumstances.

Classic Fireball Winners Colm Breen (left) & Cormac Power Breen with DMYC Commodore Frank GuilfoyleClassic Fireball Winners Colm Breen (left) & Cormac Power Breen with DMYC Commodore Frank Guilfoyle

In addition to the Fireball stalwarts, we had Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell representing Lough Ree Yacht Club in Frank Miller’s “Blind Squirrel” 14713. These two young men have been campaigning a 420 and showed us that the step up to Fireballs isn’t that severe in the conditions that we “enjoyed” over the weekend. The two SID boats were Colm Breen & Cormac Power Breen and Nick Miller & Cearbhall Daly, respectively while Paul Ter Horst and Pavlo Tishkin made their Fireball regatta debut in the recently acquired 14790. And carrying on from last year, Clodagh Nash had Glen Fisher crewing in 14691.

Irish Fireball Championships 2020 Prizegiving MC Neil Colin with Margaret CaseyIrish Fireball Championships 2020 Prizegiving MC Neil Colin with Margaret Casey

Proceedings got under late on Friday afternoon in pleasant conditions even if the wind was a little on the sparse side – a subsequent feature of the entire weekend. Defending champions Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) stamped their mark on proceedings with a comfortable win in Race 1 but a tighter win in Race 2. An early indication that this wasn’t going to be a fun regatta for the “420 boys” was confirmed when they took two second places with the third places being shared by Neil Colin & Cormac Bradley (14775) and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706). However, a bit like the first round of the USPGA the day before, there was a log jam of boats in third place after two races all counting 9 points – included in the cluster were Colin & Bradley, Court & Syme, Daniel & Harry Thompson (15156, 5&4), Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (15016, 4&5). At the other end of the fleet, Nash, Ter Horst & Breen were covered by 2 pts.

Regatta organiser, Neil Colin arranged for socially-distanced refreshments to be available after racing where post-mortems were undertaken – but all in good spirit – no pun intended.

The fleet reconvened at 09:30 on Saturday in glorious sunshine but again the wind was conspicuous by its absence. With DBSC racing scheduled and the SB20s also racing in Dublin Bay, Race Officer Suzanne McGarry and her team took the fleet off towards the west to make sure that all of the fleets on the Bay had their “own turf”. Butler & Oram took another win in Race 3, followed home by Graf & Farrell – Was this going to be the pattern for the rest of the regatta? The Thompsons clearly decided that it wasn’t because they started their assault on the title with a third place, followed home by Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14990). McKenna & O’Keeffe counted a 5th place.

However, in Race 4, the applecart was overturned and shortly after the start the leading two boats appeared to be in very close company at the back end of the fleet – surely the “fun and games” wasn’t going to start this early! Butler later conceded that he had had a poor start and it was just coincidence that Graf was in the same vicinity. In persistently light and challenging conditions, the finishing order was; the Thompson brothers, McKenna & O’Keeffe, Court & Syme, with Graf & Farrell 4th, Miller & Butler 5th and Butler & Oram back in 6th, a most unusual result for them – it would become one of their two discards. An early halt to the racing saw the fleet ashore by 16:00 as the fickle wind was getting just too fickle!
With five races down the situation was unusually tight at the top of the leader-board, Butler & Oram (7.0) led by 1 from Graf & Farrell, with the Thompsons a further 3pts adrift but only one ahead of McKenna & O’Keeffe who had a six-point cushion on Court & Syme. Nash & Fisher led the Silver fleet by a one-point margin over Breen & Power-Breen who had a point less than Ter Horst & Tishkin.

Post-mortems followed in glorious sunshine (suitably distanced) and a significant number of the fleet then relocated to dinner in the National Yacht Club.

The forecast for Sunday didn’t promise any more wind and a lot less sunshine. And just as the horse-racing fraternity have a “Ladies Day” at the big meetings, so the Fireball fleet had their own version of a Ladies Day when first Louise & Hermine and then Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) scored race wins. Louise and Hermine won their race in pressured circumstances as the racing at the front of the fleet was tight, but Power & Barry romped home with a “Butler-esque” lead – they got further away from the fleet the longer the race went on! It was a fantastic fillip for the four women and the regatta in general even if Butler, Thompson and Graf might not have shared their joy on the water (in regatta terms).

Butler & Oram scored a second place behind McKenna & O’Keeffe in Race 6 but they were unable to drop their spinnaker completely at the last leeward mark of the Windward-Leeward course. Further investigation, on the water, found that the spinnaker halyard had shredded within the mast, but some very clever manipulation of the main halyard allowed them to get back into racing format with an operational spinnaker halyard. It was a close call! The Thompsons took third in Race 6 and followed up with a 4th in Race 7. Graf & Farrell had a bigger problem in Race 6, scoring a DSQ for going through the start/finish line while the blue flag was flying. They then scored a 6th in the seventh race and these two scores were to be their discards. McKenna added a fifth place to her first place from Race 6 in Race 7 and impressively, considering the pre-race drama, Butler & Oram scored a third in Race 7. Court & Syme had a “purple patch” race in Race 7 to finish 2nd, their regatta high point.

In Race 8, Butler & Oram closed their account in the same way they had opened it – with a win. Behind them the finishing order was the Thompsons, McKenna & O’Keeffe, Owen Sinnott & Grattan Donnelly (14865) – a great result for them – and Graf & Alexander.

As I hope this report confirms, the winners didn’t have the regatta all their own way, even if they had a 7pt margin at the end. Noel Butler acknowledged as much at the prize-giving and the fact that we had four different race winners is a testimony to the competitiveness of the regatta. For the two all-women crews to take three race wins was very encouraging and livened up the competition for everyone. Racing in the Gold Fleet was tighter than the numbers will reflect and some well established Fireballers struggled to keep big numbers off their score cards – no names, no pack drills. The fact that the younger combinations of Daniel & Harry Thompson and Ben Graf & Alexander Farrell enjoyed individual race successes, if not race wins, then certainly podium places, was also good for the regatta.

In the Silver fleet, the final finishing order was Nash & Fisher, Breen & Power Breen, Ter Horst & Tishkin and Miller & Daly.

In addition to the perpetual prizes for 1,2,3 Overall, 1st Silver and 1st Classic, Helly-Hansen provided sponsor prizes which were the subject of a raffle open to the competitors and Race Management team alike. The prize-giving was conducted by DMYC Vice Commodore Neil Colin with assistance from Margaret Casey.

Irish Fireball Championships 2020 Race Officer Suzanne McGarry with her present from the Irish Fireball Class AssociationIrish Fireball Championships 2020 Race Officer Suzanne McGarry with her present from the Irish Fireball Class Association

Irish Fireball Championships 2020 Race Officer Suzanne McGarry with her present from the Irish Fireball Class Association

A special word goes to Suzanne McGarry and her race management team who worked very hard to provide eight of the nine scheduled races. While the sun-gods might have shone on them, particularly on Saturday, the wind gods were less generous. At the prize-giving, due thanks were recorded to Suzanne, her team and the organising team of DMYC. Club Commodore Frank Guilfoyle presented the prizes and closed out the proceedings by thanking the competitors, the race management team and his own DMYC team for their collective efforts in making the regatta happen. Frank Miller, representing the Irish Fireball Class, thanked the club and Suzanne McGarry was presented with a variation on the usual gift from the Class Association.




Sail No.














Noel Butler & Stephen Oram













Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe













Daniel & Harry Thompson













Ben Graf & Alexander Farrell













Alistair Court & Gordon Syme













Clodagh Nash & Glen Fisher













Colm Breen & Cormac Power Breen











Published in Fireball
Tagged under

A decent south-easterly breeze averaging about 12 knots greeted the three Fireballs competing in last night's DBSC racing in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. With another giant fleet of Lasers participating the start line was very long. Miller/Cramer opted for the slightly favoured pin end which took them towards the harbour mouth before tacking back under the layline to the weather mark Cariosa Power with Marie Barry had taken the exact opposite approach going inshore and their route proved the better one as they rounded the mark a few boat lengths ahead. Owen Sinnott and Grattan Donnelly seemed to take a middle course which left them a close third for the entire race. Power/Barry stayed ahead for the run and the subsequent beat but on the second run Miller/Cramer found a couple of gusts which helped them get an inside overlap before the gybe to the mark, leaving them ahead for the remainder of the race.

Cariosa Power with Marie Barry to windward in IRL 14854 and Frank Miller and Neil Cramer in IRL 14990Cariosa Power with Marie Barry to windward in IRL 14854 and Frank Miller and Neil Cramer in IRL 14990

For race two Miller/Cramer again started at the pin and this time led to the weather with Sinnott/Donnelly close behind. They maintained their lead for most of the 5 lap race but a problematic gybe-set during lap four gave the chasing Sinnott/Donnelly team their opportunity and they slipped into the lead. On the final downwind leg to the finish Miller/Cramer gybed a little early and attempted to reel in the leaders but the attempt failed miserably in a thicket of Lasers as the finish line drew near. Sinnott/Donnelly were the deserving winners with Power/Barry a close third.

Full results here.

Published in Fireball
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Page 2 of 39

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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