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The Irish Fireball fleet raced their Open Championships by joining Greystones Sailing Club for their 50th Dinghy Regatta with a schedule of four races for the Saturday. The Irish East Coast has been enjoying glorious sunshine over the past couple of weeks but that hasn’t always translated into great sailing/racing weather. Dun Laoghaire was like the Mediterranean on Friday – gloriously hot, but with very little wind!

Greystones on Saturday morning offered the same sunshine conditions but along with it was what looked like a decent sea-breeze. The breeze lasted all day but wasn’t as strong as it looked from the shore, offering only some off-wind trapezing in the early stages of the day, before it came on a little stronger for the 4th race, allowing some limited upwind trapezing.

Race wins were shared on a ratio of 3:1 between Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) from Skerries Sailing Club and Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley (14713) from Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, with Bradley making his summer racing debut in the Fireball. In terms of 2nd places, Miller & Bradley took the “win” by three races to McGrotty & Cramer’s one. Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775), also from Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club and also making their summer debut in Fireballs took third place by having three 3rd places in the first three races.

Greystones were their normal hospitable selves and gave the Fireballs a start with the Fast PY Fleet, consisting of the RSs – 400s and 200s, but set the two classes separate courses – the Fireballs sailing triangle-sausage-triangle while the RSs sailed two laps of a windward-leeward course. This dispensation still managed to generate some interaction between the Fireballs and the leading RSs at both the windward mark and the leeward mark and on more than one occasion, the Fireballs tried to put an RS between themselves and their class opposition.

The Slow PY Fleet was a combination of GP14s, Wayfarers, Lasers, Fevas and Hartley 12s, with one prominent Wayfarer personality sailing single-handed.

Despite the small turnout, Greystones gave prizes to the 1-2-3 in the Fireball class – engraved crystal prizes with the Greystones club logo incorporating a “50th”.

Irish Fireball Open Championships; Greystones Sailing Club

R1

R2

R3

R4

Tot

1

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer

14938

Skerries Sailing Club

1

1

1

2

3

2

Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley

14713

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

2

2

2

1

5

3

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

14775

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

3

3

3

5

9

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The 2020 Fireball World Championships have been awarded to Howth Yacht Club in Dublin.

As David O'Brien in the Irish Times Sailing Column reveals here, the top-flight dinghy event will bring competitors from as far as Africa and Australia to North Dublin waters in two years time. 

The club, established in 1895, is one of the largest yacht clubs in both Ireland and the UK offering exceptional facilities for dinghy and keelboat sailors. Howth Yacht Club has the depth of experience required to provide consistently high standards of race management at club, national and international level. The club has a resident national and international race management team along with dedicated committee boats and a professionally maintained racing infrastructure. The race area is exceptional with a large expanse of open water, free from tidal anomalies and with flat water from the prevailing westerly winds crossing a low flat plain to the west. For the Fireball Worlds a highly experienced regatta team has been assembled led by event chairperson Judith Malcolm and Principal Race Officer David Lovegrove, one of Ireland’s most experienced International Race Officers and a former Fireball sailor himself.

"A highly experienced regatta team has been assembled"

Barry McCartin FireballIrish Fireball champions Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella from the Royal St. George Yacht club are leading contenders for the 2020 title on home waters Photo: Afloat.ie

The venue is located on a peninsula some 18km from Dublin city centre in a high amenity area of exceptional natural beauty and is the second most popular tourist location in the Dublin area. The clubhouse is only 20mins drive from Dublin’s international airport, adjacent to the coastal DART suburban train line to Dublin City and 30 mins from the ferry terminals at Dublin Port. The main event takes place from 9th-14th August 2020 with a short warm-up event expected in advance.

Howth yacht club dublinDublin's Howth Yacht Club is the venue for the 2020 Fireball World Championships

Howth Yacht Club has previously hosted the Etchells, J24, Optimist and Mirror world championships, many national and regional Laser Regattas and IRC championships and is delighted to have been chosen for the Fireball Worlds in 2020.  Read WM Nixon's review of the 2013 HYC J24 Worlds.

The Fireball class is very popular in the UK and Ireland across all ages and has a large international following. The event is expected to attract teams from the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Canada, the US and Australia.

A traditional Irish welcome

Speaking at the announcement HYC Commodore Joe McPeake said he was ‘looking forward to providing a traditional Irish welcome to the Fireball crews and their families and providing them with an unforgettable experience afloat and ashore’.

Speaking from Switzerland Fireball International commodore Christina Haerdi-Landerer said ““Fireball International welcomes this great opportunity to deepen our friendship with the Irish fleet, and to experience a great championship at the prestigious Club of Howth and in the beautiful surroundings of Dublin. I am personally excited at the opportunity to visit Ireland for the first time and meet my longtime Irish Fireball friends in their home country! We feel honoured to being part of such an exceptional event. We will thoroughly enjoy combining the treasures of the Fireball tradition with the excitement of young sailors for our lively and challenging sailing activity. I am certain that many Fireball sailors around the world will be attracted to this superb venue.”

Neil Cramer Irish Fireball Association chairman commented “For several years Ireland’s Fireball fleet has seized upon every opportunity to compete out of Howth Yacht Club in the waters around spectacular Ireland’s Eye. When the class was approached by the club seeking a major international event to coincide with their 125th anniversary we were delighted to approach Fireball International about bringing a major Fireball International event to Howth.”

"Competitive race-ready Fireballs can be bought at the moment in Ireland and the UK from €2,500 – 6,000"

The event will be the first International Fireball event in Ireland since 2011 which saw some 60 boats compete in exciting conditions in Sligo. Ireland has previously hosted several Fireball World and European championships including a Europeans in Skerries in 2000 and a Worlds at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in 1995 which saw local sailors John Lavery and David O’Brien carry away the trophy. The Irish Fireball Association hopes that the forthcoming worlds event will attract a new generation of sailors into one of the most exciting yet stable racing dinghies in the country. The local association is keen to see as many Irish boats as possible participate in the 2020 worlds and is embarking on a campaign to encourage young teams to take on the Fireball challenge. In recent weeks at least two competitive Winder Fireballs changed hands in advance of the formal announcement for relatively modest sums. The good news for any sailors interested in campaigning towards to 2020 worlds is that competitive race-ready “white” Winder fireballs can be bought at the moment in Ireland and the UK from €2,500 – 6,000 euros.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is based at The Middle Pier, Howth Harbour, Howth, Co. Dublin.

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Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella are the newly crowned Fireball National Champions after nine races at Skerries Sailing Club over three days. The pair had an almost perfect score winning every race bar the first when a technical issue delayed them getting to the start line on time. The event took place in stunning conditions for those seeking a sun tan but was on the distinctly light side in terms of breeze.

Day one saw very light and patchy airs but the two woman race officer team of Micheline Shiels and Helen Ryan under the direction of PRO Liam Dineen put in a bravura performance. On a day where some race committees would have been very stretched they managed to get four races in. The preferred "Olympic Triangle" courses were rounded off with a windward leeward. The trick for the competitors was to keep the boat going in the light stuff, avoiding holes and avoiding adverse tide as far as possible. Behind McCartin/Kinsella the most consistent performers were local team of Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer. The pair rarely put a foot wrong and sailed smart and fast for the entire three days. The dark horses of the event were a young 420 team in their first Fireball outing. The "two Dans" Daniel Thompson and Dan Quaid from Wexford took to the Fireball like proverbial ducks to water.

Fireball sailors 2Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer were second overall

The light airs probably suited the duo but even so they quickly got an unfamiliar boat up to full speed and their boat handling and general racing awareness was exemplary. The pair found themselves in close quarters with regulars Louise McKenna and Hermine O'Keeffe. By the end of day two the two teams were on equal points for third place. Day two weather-wise was a bit steadier than day one but with fewer holes. It was still however a day of crews hunched down in the boat or even to leeward. Once again the race management team played a blinder and got four races in. Their thinking was undoubtedly shaped by a forecast promising almost no wind on Sunday.

Fireball sailors 3Third were Daniel Thompson and Dan Quaid

Ironically then Sunday dawned with a very solid breeze out in the bay at Skerries with a very lumpy sea built up by the easterlies.. While McCartin/Kinsella had the trophy in the bag there was a close match in play for 3rd place in particular. By the time the fleet got out and the wind steadied in direction the breeze and the sea state had settled somewhat. The start was tricky, with the pin favoured and the breeze on the line light the fleet got away in reasonable shape. The McKenna/O'Keeffe team edged ahead of the two Dans and carefully covered them around the triangular course. A strong ebbing tide, a sloppy sea with now light winds and a biggish shift to the right made the beats tricky. The all-woman team were unlucky at a mark rounding when a wayfarer got inside them and that was enough to allow the two Dans seize their moment and nip ahead, a position which they held to the finish.

In the Silver Fleet Sligo visitors, Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield sailed consistently well and took the main prize from the Keegans, father and son team of David and Michael.

Next outing for Fireballs sees their Open Event at Greystones as part of the regatta. Then four teams head to Carnac, France for the Worlds where Irish hopes rest mainly on team McCartin/Kinsella, back in the Fireball after an absence of a year but already showing great form.

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The second Fireball coaching session of the season took place in the stunning surroundings of Killaloe Sailing Club at Lough Derg on last Thursday and Friday evenings. Aimed primarily at the enthusiastic and growing silver fleet at KSC Frank Miller coached some 12 sailors in 6 boats on the optimum techniques for handling one of the most competitive yet manageable dinghies sailed on this island. The first evening was a bit of a baptism of fire for the local fleet who found winds touching 16 knots somewhat daunting. Despite a few capsizes with shouted advice and careful rescue cover the local fleet grew in confidence and eventually began to believe Miller's assertion that the boat, if properly set up, is capable of being sailed safely in 25 knots and more. The debrief ashore was indeed brief, primarily a group slagging for straying too far from the core exercise area. Further advice was absorbed over quiet pints in the local Pipers pub..

The following evening saw medium conditions fade to light which gave the fleet time and opportunity to practice hoisting, gybing and dropping their kites on a windward/leeward course. The lighter conditions allowed Miller to help the teams fine tune their sailing skills with an emphasis on boat trim and perfecting the sequence of actions needed for simple and effective spinnaker handling. Great things are sometimes achieved in baby steps and this nascent Fireball fleet may point the way forward for the next generation of Fireballers. The most recent success of Fireballs in Killaloe is down to the energy of Steffany Gorski who with Philip Despard has built upon the ongoing dedication of Jim Ryan and others. Their campaign to grow the local fleet is greatly helped by the incredible value now of Fireballs. One classic boat recently changed hands for 350 euros while good "white" Winder boats can be had for as little as 2,000 euros. One of the participating boats in the coaching sessions was the class-owned Winder composite Fireball currently on loan to Domnick O’Sullivan and Kieran Ruane, two big boat sailors who are quickly learning how much more fun Fireballs are than big boat sailing. The loan boat will be available again at the end of the summer, perhaps to a team who want to take on the DMYC frostbites next winter.

Besides teaching the obvious techniques common to all dinghies the participants learned how to quickly tune the Fireball on land and water to depower and power up the boat so that sailing it is comfortable and easy in a huge range of conditions. While the range of controls can look daunting at first one of the key differences between the Fireball and many other dinghies is how very manageable it is when set up properly. Miller demonstrated the initial set-up to get optimum pre-bend and then explained the various controls and showed how effective they are. He also emphasised how important it is to get everything working properly on the boat so that sailors can get on with enjoying their sailing. This is especially true of the older boats which might need more TLC but with care are still extremely competitive. By the time of the final debrief in the Pipers pub, the sailors were tired but happy and enthused for the season ahead. The next Fireball event is the National Championships at Skerries SC on 8th, 9th and 10th June being run in tandem with the Wayfarer class – all welcome! Other upcoming events include a one-day open event at Greystones on Sat 23rd June, the Worlds (and pre-worlds) in Carnac, France from 22nd-31st August, the “Ulsters” in Lough Derg YC on September 8th& 9th and the (postponed from last weekend) Munsters in Killaloe at a date to be confirmed.

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Fireballs enjoyed champagne sailing in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday for a pre-season coaching session with Ger Owens, thanks to the support of Irish Sailing. Ger's wry and funny delivery once again reduced the most complex of questions to the key fundamentals, the ones we all know but so often forget. In the briefing he spoke especially about body symmetry and muscle memory and how those of us sailing for many years have effectively trained our muscle memory to do things in a less efficient way than we should.

The key being to break down the series of actions needed for a manoeuvre into a set of steps which are practiced slowly to get them embedded in the brain, and then speed up the routine through practice. Another incredibly simple but important tip is to keep the majority of the fleet "under your boom" to consolidate gains and avoid big losses, especially in larger fleets. After about 30 minutes of briefing the four boats took to the water with several others helping and learning from the RIB. Any fears that the beautiful weather might mean drifting conditions were thankfully banished as by now a very decent wind had become established in the harbour.

fireball sailorsFireball sailors at the DMYC for the training session

On the water sailors were put under pressure in an intense series of bear aways, hoists, reaches, runs, drops and round-ups and beats. Suffice to say that even those who sailed through the winter found they were rustier and less fit than they realised.

"Top of the class were Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella who provided near textbook examples of how to dance around a racecourse"

Top of the class were Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella who provided near textbook examples of how to dance around a racecourse. Other participants included regular teams Louise McKenna with Hermine O'Keeffe and Frank Miller with Ed Butler. A hybrid pairing of Stephen Campion with Michael Keegan completed the watery learners while Neil Cramer, Brian O'Hare and others had the pleasure of learning from the drier vantage point of the RIB.

A lunch break was accompanied by a debrief and some more discussion and then it was time to go back on the water. This time the action took place outside the harbour with even better wind. The exercises were similar but were led off by "follow the leader" style sequences with breaks downwind and up signalled by the unforgiving whistle. Such were the gusts and the pressure from the whistle that a couple of capsizes were witnessed. Those on the RIB remarked that they could already see a significant improvement in performance over the morning session. That was good to hear as those in the Fireballs were by now well stretched, especially the crews who were doing most of the hard work...
Ashore a final debrief took place at the DMYC and the fleet took to the bar for a well earned cuppa, cobwebs well and truly blown away and the fleet energised for the season ahead.

Speaking of which the next Fireball event is the Munsters in Killaloe on 12th & 13th May, with coaching and advice evenings on the preceding Thursday and Friday evenings.

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The new Executive Committee of the International Fireball Class includes Irish representation with Dublin Bay Sailor Cormac Bradley appointed as Rear Commodore, Europe West.

The Committee has been confirmed as follows;

Commodore: Christina Härdi-Landerer (Switzerland)

Rear Commodore Australasia: Ben Schulz (Australia)

Rear Commodore Asia: Hiroshi Kato (Japan)

Rear Commodore Africa: David Laing (South Africa)

Rear Commodore North America: Debbie Kirkby (USA)

Rear Commodore Europe East: Jakub Napravnik (Czech Republic)

Rear Commodore Europe West: Cormac Bradley (Ireland)

Afloat.ie understands Tom Egli (Canada) is staying on as Technical Officer, but other appointments, Secretary, Treasurer, Webmaster and Publicity Officer have yet to be discussed/confirmed.

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The fifth round of the 2017/18 Frostbites, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, saw two races held inside the harbour, a four lap trapezoid course to start proceedings followed by a three lap windward-leeward course which I am reliably informed is a first for the Frostbites, so kudos to Race Officer Brian Mulkeen writes Cormac Bradley. It also saw the best turnout of Fireballs, six and a healthy fleet of Lasers, fourteen. In addition to the six Fireballs the Fast PY Class included the 470 and Tom Murphy’s K1. In the Slow PY the fleet was made up of a Wayfarer, a Solo, a solitary KONA (Windsurfer), a Feva, 2 IDRAs, 2 Enterprises, 4 Laser Vago XDs and a Hartley 12.2.

The weather station in the harbour was recording 15.9knots with a gust of 21.8knots from 284˚ with an air temperature of 9˚. This meant that the “on-the-water” situation was pretty consistent with the XCWeather prediction for the afternoon. The afternoon started under partial blue skies but the skyline greyed as the afternoon progressed and there was a lit bit of drizzle later one. For the trapezoid course the weather mark had been set under the West Pier of the harbour at the location of the first “elbow” in the wall – where it changes direction. No.2 seemed to be a long way downwind of the first mark, almost disproportionately so, but during the race mark 1 – 2 was invariably tight. Mark 2 – 3 was an easier sail with some boats electing to gybe before reaching No.3 so as to set themselves up for a very tight 3 – 4 leg. Mark 3 was located off the HSS gantry and Mark 4 was of the order of 120m east of the mouth of the harbour.

In all three starts the fleet went left initially. In the slow PY, the Wayfarer was the weather-most boat and that set Monica Schaeffer and Miriam McCarthy up for the lead and the privilege of leading the Slow PY fleet around the first weather mark. However, they were kept in close company for the first lap by the Solo of Shane McCarthy before he was able to pull away from them. Both would fall victim on the water to the Kona Windsurfer of Robbie Walker who led for the majority of the race.

The Fireballs were stacked windward to leeward on a port tack coming out of the start towards the middle of the harbour. Using headgear and clothing combinations to identify boats it looked as though Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) were the furthest boat to windward with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) furthest to leeward. In between were Noel Butler & Marie Barry (15061), Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706), Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) and David and Michael Keegan (14676).

While the boats which came furthest left seemed to have got in to better wind, Butler & Barry, having tacked earlier were able to get around the weather mark first but it was close with Miller & Donnelly and Court & Syme. Colin & Casey were a short distance behind them while McKenna & O’Keeffe and Keegan & Keegan were a little off the pace.

Court & Syme powered over Miller & Donnelly on the tight reach between 1 and 2 and spent the rest of the race chasing Butler & Barry. On the subsequent beats, the addiction to going left was diluted somewhat with a preference to staying on the right-hand side as far as the harbour mouth, before tacking across to the middle of the harbour. The exception to that rule was Colin & Casey who tacked early every time to work the middle and left of the beat. On the third lap, Butler pulled away from Court and both boats put distance between themselves and the remainder of the fleet. By Mark 3 of the penultimate lap, Butler & Barry were the third boat on the water behind the Kona and the Solo and by the penultimate rounding of Mark 4 Court & Syme were ahead of everyone bar the Kona and the Solo. The tightness of the leg from 3 to 4 meant that in Round 3 Butler & Barry went for an Aussie drop two-thirds of the way down the leg while the all male combinations behind them, Court and Miller were able to hold the spinnaker all the way into the mark.

While Butler was comfortably ahead at the last windward mark, he nearly got caught by Court who was able to close in better wind with Syme on full trapeze between 1 and 2 while Barry was sitting inboard with a limp spinnaker. However, a late change in leader did not materialise and Butler & Barry won by 50 seconds with only he Kona ahead of them on the water. Court finished third on the water, getting ahead of the Solo just before the last weather mark. Colin & Casey put together a fast last lap, closing dramatically on Miller & Donnelly in the approach to Mark 4 for the last time, but Miller held on to finish third. In the slow PY fleet, the order on the water was Kona, Solo, Wayfarer, Feva, and Enterprise.

The ice was broken (figuratively) when a second race was set for the afternoon. Marks 2 and 3 were lifted and a windward-leeward was set with Marks 1 and 4 staying “as is”. Again, the majority view in all starts was to go left – there were no dissenters in the Slow PY start, 4 Lasers went right and while all the Fireballs started on port tack, two went right quite early on – McKenna and Keegan. Colin was furthest away from the committee boat at the start. At the top mark, Miller led the fleet around followed by Butler, Court and Colin. While the first three stayed on starboard tack, Colin gybed and sailed towards the harbour mouth. Behind these four, McKenna and Keegan had their own race. Miller held the lead down to 4 and stayed ahead up the next beat. In this regard he was helped by being on starboard with a Laser also being on starboard to force Butler to take evading action relative to both boats two-thirds of the way up the second beat. At the windward mark for the second time, Colin was still in fourth, but took a line that brought him down the right hand side of the run relative to the others who were all to his port-hand side. In this position he managed to sail through Court and close the gap on the first two, but Court nipped in again at the leeward mark to relegate him back to fourth again. McKenna and Keegan were also having a “ding-dong” battle on the downwind leg.

Up the final beat and Court stays right whereas the others come left. Butler gets through Miller and Colin is promoted to third as he, Miller and Butler come in on the starboard lay-line. Court’s race come to an early end when he gets caught up in a melee at the weather mark and decides that discretion is the better part of valour and retires home early. Butler and Miller dice again on the last downwind leg but Butler secures the inside berth on the approach to the leeward mark and has enough room to squeeze Miller out and to enough of a degree to make the short hitch to the finish a “safe bet”.

In the Fast PY fleets, the Fireballs all saved their time on the water in both races which means that the Frostbite Mugs for the day go to Alistair Court and Gordon Syme for the first race of the day and to Neil Colin and Margaret Casey for the second race.

DMYC Frostbites: Overall Fast PY Fleet

 

R1

R3

R4

R5

R6

Tot

1

Noel Butler & Marie Barry

FB 15061

1

2

1

1

1

6

2

Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Cormac Bradley/Grattan Donnelly

FB14713

2

5

2

3

2

14

3

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

FB14775

3

7

3

4

3

20

4

Alistair Court & Gordon Syme

FB14706

7

3

5

2

8

25

Published in DMYC

The fourth Sunday of the 2017/18 Frostbite Series, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, saw blustery conditions from a westerly direction and cool temperatures under a blue sky that clouded up as the afternoon wore on! The XCWeather forecast was for 12/13 knots with gusts of 18 – 20 knots and that was pretty much how it felt on the water. Five Fireballs made the start with a sixth ashore, afflicted by a broken gooseneck, and they enjoyed some close racing on the trapezoid course with five laps set as the course duration. In addition to the five Fireballs there was a Finn (Hugh Sheehy) a 470 (Gerry Ryan & John McAree) and a RS400 (Stuart Harris) making up the PY fleet. 

Two practice laps followed by a reconnaissance of the start line suggested that a) the pin was the place to start and b) that spinnaker flying would be very much dependent on the wind conditions at the time rather than the course configuration and geometry.

Our (Miller & Bradley, 14713) to a pin-end start was thrown awry when Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) came charging down the line from the committee boats end. Additionally we found ourselves a few seconds too early and both boats were obliged to gybe out and start on port tack. Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706) and Noel Butler & Marie Barry (15061) were closer to the committee boat but when Miller cut the start line he had to duck both these transoms on his way out to the right-hand side of the course……..which was not the original plan!

The other four Fireballs went hard left and as the two contingents converged on the weather mark it appeared as though the left-hand side had paid off. Miller crossed behind Butler but ahead of Court as he came across on starboard and by the time he had tacked to finalise his approach to the mark on the port lay-line, Court had also eked ahead. Meanwhile Colin & Casey were not too far away and as the first four boats rounded the mark the order was Butler, Court, Miller, Colin though only about eight boat-lengths separated 1st to 4th. Butler’s spinnaker hoist got snagged which allowed Court and Miller to go through his wind while Colin also closed the gap from behind. While Mark 2 was geometrically in the right location, and in the channel leading to the inner marina, the wind had gone slightly forward and the leg from 1 to 2 was a tight reach. Mark 2 to Mark 3 was broader and the places changed again with Court consolidating his place at the front and the other three boats closing in on each other. Court led around Mark 4 and went right initially. Butler rounded second and took an early hitch to the left. Miller rounded third and followed Court, while Colin also went left.

Miller was obliged to tack away to the left as he was starting to suffer from Court’s dirty wind and this proved to be an astute move because when the fleet converged again in the vicinity of the second weather mark, Miller had taken the lead followed by Court and Butler with Colin only just behind them. Again the wind was variable in direction, relative to the geometry of the course, and this time the legs from one to two and two to three were broader than before. Miller led for the next two laps (3 & 4) until the penultimate rounding of Mark 3. At this stage Colin had moved into second place, followed by Butler while Court had dropped off the pace. Later it transpired that Court’s outhaul on the main had come undone and while he got it back in place it wasn’t perfect. On the leg from 2 to 3, Colin occupied the inside berth relative to Miller with the boats overlapped. Rather than gybing immediately at Mark 3, Colin sailed on for a short distance, pinning Miller on the outside. Butler rounded behind them, unfettered, gybed immediately and sailed off inside the two boats to lead the race round the last lap. Colin’s spinnaker gybe went skewwhiff allowing Miller to get to windward and into second place though Colin came back with a vengeance to close the gap at Mark 4 to half a boat length.

While Butler sailed the last lap in clear air, Miller kept an eagle eye on Colin and at the finish the time intervals were:- Butler to Miller, 25 seconds, Miller to Colin, 10 seconds, Colin to Court, 38 seconds.

While the conditions had started blustery and gusty they eased as the afternoon wore on but the crews were “full-trapezing” on the upwind legs.  In real-time terms Butler had 4:25 on the Finn and 5:14 on the 470 on the water but after the application of handicaps this reduced to 56 seconds and 4:48 respectively. The Fireballs finished 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 with the Finn fourth on corrected time and the 470 in sixth. As Butler & Barry had won the Frostbite Mugs on the first Sunday, the day’s Mugs went to Miller and Bradley.  

DMYC Frostbites: Round 4; 26/11/17:

Fast PY Fleet

1

Noel Butler & Marie Barry

15061

NYC

2

Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley

14713

DMYC

3

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

14775

DMYC

4

Hugh Sheehy (Finn)

2

 

5

Alistair Court & Gordon Syme

14706

DMYC

6

Gerry Ryan & John McAree (470)

777

 

7

David & Michael Keegan

14676

RStGYC

DMYC Frostbites: Overall Fast PY Fleet

R1

R2

R3

R4

Tot

1

Noel Butler & Marie Barry

1

Cancelled

2

1

4

2

Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Cormac Bradley

2

5

2

9

3

Hugh Sheehy (Finn)

7

1

4

12

4

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

3

7

3

13

5

Alistair Court & Gordon Syme

7

3

5

15

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On the Friday evening, preceding Sunday’s Dun Laoghaire Frostbites, the Fireball Class convened for their prize-giving dinner in the National Yacht Club.

The NYC put together an excellent meal for the Fireball attendees and in addition to recognising success on the water, the Class awarded its perpetual trophies.

The recipients were as follows;

                Travellers’ Trophy: Awarded to the 1st placed boat counting four best scores from 4 provincial regattas and the Nationals.

                Awarded to: Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, IRL 15061; National Yacht Club

                Silver Trophy: Awarded to the leading Silver Fleet Boat (after 4 provincials and the Nationals).

                Awarded to Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire, IRL 14865; Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club.

                Lady Helm Trophy: Awarded to the highest placed Lady Helm in the Travellers’ Trophy.

                Awarded to Louise McKenna, IRL 14691; Royal St. George Yacht Club (Crewed by Hermine O’Keeffe).

                Asterix Trophy – Awarded to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the Class.

                Awarded to Olivier Proveur for his contribution to the Fireball Class in the form of organising and managing the DMYC’s Frostbite Series over a significant period of many years.

                India Trophy – Awarded to the Most Improved Fireball combination in the season.

                Awarded to Frank Miller & his crews Ed Butler & Grattan Donnelly, 14713; Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club.

                Class Captain’s Prize – Awarded at the discretion of the Dun Laoghaire Class Captain (Hermine O’Keeffe).

                Awarded to Louis Smyth, 15007; Coal Harbour.

                The Liam Bradley Memorial Trophy – Awarded at the discretion of Cormac Bradley.

Awarded to Noel Butler & Stephen Oram:- For winning a “Grand Slam” of events in 2017 – Nationals, all four provincials and the DBSC Tuesday Night Series and for setting a standard in Fireball sailing that the rest of us are still aspiring to.

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The Irish Fireball regatta season came to an end with a four-race Munster Championships in Dun Laoghaire yesterday (Saturday 14th). The irony of course is that Dun Laoghaire isn’t in Munster at all, of course, but the Association is cutting its cloth according to its numbers and an offer from the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club to host the event was readily accepted. With an expectation of low numbers, the regatta organisation structure was minimised to two ribs and 3 people and the course configuration was reduced to a windward-leeward option.

Race Officer, Cormac Bradley, ably assisted by Alistair Court and Charles Dunn, was tasked with getting four races in and watching the weather forecast during the week before, the challenge would be to get them in before the weather closed in. While XCWeather was suggesting that the base wind strength would be of the order of 12 – 15 knots, the gusts were projected to start off at 20 knots and grow to 27 knots as the day wore on. At the briefing the six-boat fleet were made aware of the forecast , the impending gustiness of the day and the programme to get 4 races in and to get off the water before the weather got “hooligan”…………and this was not due to the impending blast of Ophelia!

The saving grace on the day was that the wind direction was SSW meaning that the sailing area was in flat water. The sailing area was to the west of Dun Laoghaire harbour and with the slimmed down organisation the start, finish and gate of the windward-leeward course were coincident. This meant that the windward mark could be moved relative to the other two fixed points of the course.

Contrary to the weather forecast, only the first race was a blustery affair that generated a few capsizes, but none of the capsizes I witnessed were due to wind strength, so maybe only one was due to wind strength and that happened before the start. As the day wore on the wind eased, the sun came out and “full-on trapezing” upwind gave way to sitting on the windward deck. Race lengths were of the order of 30 – 40 minutes and 3 or 4 laps, with race times and laps increasing as it became apparent that the projected wind conditions were not going to materialise.

Proceedings on the water were dominated by the usual suspects – Messrs Butler and Oram (15061, NYC) – but they didn’t have everything their own way. Class Chairman Neil Cramer, crewing for Niall McGrotty (14938, Skerries Sailing Club) led Race 2 until the last leeward mark before they were passed before the last weather mark. Indeed, at one stage they had dropped back to third on the water, with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775, DMYC) getting into second. However, the ultimate measure of success is the sequence across the finish line and in this regard Butler and Oram reigned supreme with four wins.

The competition for second and third was a tighter affair between McGrotty/Cramer and Colin/Casey and went the way of the former combination by way of a more favourable ratio of second places on the water, 3:1. It might even have been a bigger margin if the Skerries combination hadn’t capsized in Race 3 when they were in a strong second place – they finished sixth.

For the balance of the fleet – Frank Miller & Peter Doherty (14713, DMYC), Mick Creighton & Marie Barry (14854, NYC) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691, RStGYC), the “pink ladies”, it was a case of sharing the lesser places and two of the three had race capsizes that cost each of them.

2017 Fireball Munsters, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

October 14th

R1

R2

R3

R4

Gross

Nett

1

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

15061

National Yacht Club

1

1

1

1

4

3

2

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer

14938

Skerries Sailing Club

2

2

6

2

12

6

3

Neil Colin & Margaret Casey

14775

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

3

3

2

3

11

8

4

Frank Miller & Peter Doherty

14713

Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club

8

4

3

4

19

11

5

Mick Creighton & Marie Barry

14854

National Yacht Club

4

6

5

5

20

14

6

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe

14691

Royal St. George Yacht Club

8

5

4

6

23

15

 

For 15061 this completes a season “Grand Slam” of all the Provincial titles, the Nationals and the Dublin Bay Sailing Club Series. While Stephen was absent for the Nationals, Noel helmed the boats to each of these titles.

After the racing, prize-giving and post-mortems the Class held its AGM in the DMYC clubhouse.

In his Chairman’s address Neil Cramer highlighted the fact that although Noel & Stephen had dominated the top spot on the podium there had been a wide spread of combinations filling the lowers steps of the podium.  His report also reflected the various formats the regattas of the season had taken – a three-day, nine race Nationals at Lough Derg with SODs, Mirrors and Squibs as part of their Harvest Regatta, a two-day six race Leinsters co-sailed with the Skerries Club Regatta, a one-day four race Open at Greystones, a two-day six race Ulsters in Ballyholme with the 420s and today’s one-day four race Munsters. The Mirrors in particular have expressed an interest in teaming up again with a view to getting their members a taste of Fireballing and a provisional arrangement to do that in Mullingar is on the agenda.

The turnout for the DBSC Tuesday Series was less than last year but was still healthy and the competition ran for the entire season.  A number of the dinghy classes are anxious to get some weekend racing organised under the burgee of DBSC in 2018 and it appears the best way to achieve this objective is to nominate specific Saturdays on which this will happen. 

In terms of the committee structure, there was a resignation and a slight shuffling of the seats around the table – Neil Cramer remains as Class Chairman, Frank Miller takes on the Secretary portfolio and Marie Barry that of Treasurer. Other committee members are staying on. Neil thanked all those who had served in 2017 and thanked them for their continued support.  

An update on the affairs of Fireball International as discussed at the Europeans in Lyme Regis in August was tabled and the meeting was advised that we are in election mode. Current FI Commodore Steve Chesney is not seeking re-election and his successor is likely to be a lady Fireballer from Switzerland. Further discussions revolved around a motion by the UK Association that the class be able to use twin spinnaker poles and it prompted a lively discussion in the DMYC as well.

Given the numbers we have had on the water this season, the meeting closed out with a soul-searching discussion on how we get our numbers back to a respectable level. Some of the issues to be discussed were;

  •        The need to get younger people interested in the class.
  •        Diluting the perception that the Fireball can only be competitive if it is brand new.
  •        Undoing the perception that it is an overly expensive class to get in to.
  •        Marketing the flexibility of the crew combinations that can sail the boat competitively.
  •        Sharing venues with other classes to showcase the class
  •        Putting energy and training into club fleets that aren’t travelling to get them onto their own water.

The meeting was particularly encouraged that a couple had come up from Killaloe for the meeting and were able to report that two Spanish guys had joined their fleet and were keen to get a Fireball presence going again.

The day closed with a gathering of the fleet in the Purty Kitchen, a hostelry around the corner from the DMYC for dinner.

The Frostbite Series starts on the first Sunday of November and this year we will be part of the fast PY Fleet. The expectation is that we will have 6-7 boats contesting the event.

The Class Dinner takes place on November 25th in the National Yacht Club.

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Page 5 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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