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The early morning forecast told the waking masses that snow had fallen on high ground overnight and on coming ashore after two races, the hills behind Dun Laoghaire had a light dusting of the white stuff.
But for the Fireballs racing on the first Sunday of the second half of the Frostbite Series, the predominant weather was sunshine and blue skies. The wind was a “bit all over the place” with some strong gusts sweeping over the race course but the average wind strength was quite modest. The weather app, “Windfinder” has recorded the wind as being 12 – 18 knots from the SW, with an air temperature of 6˚.
The reconnaissance of the course in advance of the race suggested that there was better wind on the right hand side of the course, the problem with going left was that you got under the lee of the land that bit sooner. The bias of the line favoured a pin-end start so the debate was whether to commit to that end or to hedge one’s bets and start on the middle of the line to facilitate an early departure to the right.
Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and the Clancy Brothers, Conor and James were in close company at the pin end and at the starting signal they both tacked onto port to set off for the weather mark. Those closer to the committee boat did the same thing but at slightly different times to the two boats mentioned. The starting manoeuvre by Butler & Clancy effectively sealed the race for them as they were never headed thereafter. On days such as these, Neil Colin and Margaret Casey (14775) come into their own and they worked the left hand side of the course as well to round the weather mark in 3rd place. 4th place at this first mark of the course went to Frank Miller and Cormac Bradley (14713) who had tacked off the line earlier than most and were looking good on the right hand side until a header on starboard tack allowed the aforementioned Colin & Casey to get ahead of them. The first reach of the 4-lap trapezoid course was tight but spinnakers were flown. On the next leg there were a variety of approaches to getting to Mark 3 Butler, Clancy, Miller went right, Colin and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706) went left as did some of those who were immediately behind Miller at Mark 1. This led to a convergence at Mark 3 with two boats exchanging views of the applicability of water at the mark to the rounding. Miller & Bradley couldn’t catch Colin & Casey and for the balance of the race, the first four boats weren’t challenged on the race course.
The top reach of the trapezoid became tighter as the wind shifted eastwards and on the second lap no spinnakers were flown, but the wind eased again and three sail reaches reverted to being the order of the day.
Behind the first four boats the competition was between Court/Syme, the all-lady crew of Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and Darragh McDonagh (14330).
A second, shorter race was sailed in wind that was starting to ease in strength with less frequent gusts. The weather mark stayed where it was, just off the approach to the marina in the harbour, but No. 2 was dropped a little further into the harbour to make the reaches less testing.
Colin & Casey stole the march on the fleet for the second start with a port tack start on the pin. They managed to clear the “cluster” of boats at that end of the line and headed off with a distinct advantage on the rest of the fleet. Miller & Bradley has a poor start, having to duck transoms but the advantage was that they got out to the right hand side. Colin held the lead to the weather mark, chased by Butler & Clancy with Miller pulling in to 4th place. Behind them the other all-lady team of Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) were leading the chase. Again the first four places stayed stable for the first lap. At Mark 4 Butler & Clancy decided to work the left hand side of the course while Colin stayed right, as did Miller. Halfway up the beat it appeared that the left hand gamble hadn’t paid off as Miller stayed in better breeze on the right. At the weather mark for the second time, Colin was still in charge but now Miller was in 2nd. Past Marks 2, 3 and 4 and Miller was able to stay ahead of Clancy who has passed out Butler.
Up the third and last beat, Butler and Clancy took the same left-ish approach. Miller, sailing between these two and Colin to his lee, but ahead, picked up his own independent supply of wind to sail through Colin’s weather and through the lee of the other two, and was lifted in to the mark. Now sitting in the lead, Miller & Bradley had to keep a watching brief on the Clancy brothers who had “squeaked” into 2nd place just ahead of Colin. From 1 to 2 to 3 Miller didn’t lose distance to the brothers but after the gybe at Mk. 3, taking a slightly windward course to 4, Miller ran out of breeze and despite having to go to leeward of two-single-handers, the brothers slipped into the lead just before Mk.4 and covered Miller up the short hitch to the finish.
2015/16 Frostbites, Dun Laoghaire, 2nd Series R1 R2
Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 2 1
Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 1 4
Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley 14713 DMYC 4 2
Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 14775 DMYC 3 3
Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 5 5

Published in Dublin Bay
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By any reasonble logic it should not have been possible to sail in Dun Laoghaire today Sunday for the final race in part one of the Frostbite Series. Wind Guru was predicting gusts of forty knots and there was nothing in the morning conditions to suggest that they were wrong. It was a beautiful fresh morning but the gusts were indeed savage, the kind capable of upending dinghies in the boat park, never mind afloat. By midday however all had changed and it was looking not just very sailable but warm and pleasant too.

There was a scramble in several quarters for sailing bags and a rush to the clubs but many regular racers had read the earlier predictions and taken on Pre-Christmas duties instead. So it was that four Fireballs lined up in the harbour for the final dance. It was still very gusty however and the conditions were tricky with a capsize to windward the greater danger as pressure was liable to vanish as quickly as it arrived. This saw Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly take a pre-start swim and was enough to persuade Cariosa Power/Marie Barry head for shore. Two of the three boats which started headed left up the first beat but Miller/Donnelly having won the start at the favoured pin end tacked clear of the other two and took a hitch in. This turned out to be a big mistake as the lift to the mark across the breakwater entrance was not enough to make up for the reduced pressure in that corner of the harbour. By the windward Noel Butler/Stephen Oram had a commanding lead on Miller/Donnelly who were just ahead of Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe. There followed a chasing game around the frostbite version of a trapezoid course. Miller/Donnelly gained marginally on Butler/Oram on the second beat and McKenna/O'Keeffe closed to within a boat length of Miller/Donnelly but over the course of the 5 laps the leaders pulled away again and the middle boat pulled well clear of the pursuit team thanks mainly to one very windy reach under kite. At the DMYC prize-giving event organiser Oliver Prouvier reminded sailors that with the harbour sheltered from the South West sailing was often possible even in extreme conditions.

Winners of part one of the series were Butler/Oram, with the Clancy Brothers taking second and Neil Colin/Margaret Casey third. McKenna/O'Keeffe took the mug for the day's racing. The main prizes were very attractive bespoke calendars featuring photography of the event by Bob Hobby, our heroic double - jobber who acts as rescue driver and official photographer. The series resumes for more adventures on Sunday 10th of January. With at least one extra Fireball threatening to join the fray the new year is already looking very positive for the fleet.


Published in Fireball
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Eleven Fireballs lined up on a dank light air day afternoon today to contest the penultimate race in the first DMYC series in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Sadly the wind did not live up to the billing suggested on Wind Guru – the pressure was patchy and shifty to say the least, with crews frequently sitting fully out to leeward. Neil Colin/Margaret Casey probably pulled off the best start at the committee end but the conditions were so flat that the first beat could arguably be anyone’s. In the event the Clancy Brothers sailed a cool steady beat to edge ahead at the windward followed by Noel Butler/Stephen Oram, Louis Smyth/Ed Butler and a posse of chasing drifters. The off-wind legs proved especially tricky in the flat stuff and several boats sailed extremely high angles just to keep things moving, notably on the first reach of the now almost standard Frostbite version of a trapezoid.

The squarish course maximises the available space in the harbour and spreads the mixed fleets as well apart as could be hoped for. On the first off-wind a couple of boats sailed almost directly away from the mark towards the harbour wall where a phantom breeze appeared to beckon. Although that wind never really materialised the diversion made little difference to the positions. On the next reach however Butler/Oram and the Clancy’s decided to play a luffing game and this allowed Alistair Court/Gordon Symes to slip ahead at least for a while. Frank Miller/Grattan Donnelly snuck in at the next mark to take up third place behind the Clancys but ahead of Butler/Oram. Then the predicted shift from ESE to S kicked in and spinnakers came down quickly. Miller/Donnelly tacked too eagerly at the next mark and fell victim to the windage of a Laser 2, allowing both Butler/Oram and Neil Colin/Margaret Casey catch up. In the distance could be heard the sensible sound of a shortened course signal and all realised they were on the final leg of a tricky journey. Miller/Donnelly tacked left to clear their air and kept going while the Clancy Bros leaders took a hitch right towards the shifted wind, along with most of the opposition.

Ultimately this proved the correct course and the Clancy’s took the bullet, followed by Butler/Oram. Colin/Casey edged in ahead of Court/Symes, both of whom nipped in at the boat end just ahead of Miller/Donnelly at the pin. The pecking order after that was Mary Chambers/Brenda McGuire, Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe, Dara McDonagh and guest crew, Dave Coleman/Miley, Smyth/Butler, and Shergar/Michael Keegan. All in all a slightly frustrating but nonetheless interesting afternoon on the water, boosted by a great turnout of the fleet. Next Sunday sees the final race of series one with prize-giving planned immediately after sailing but at the earlier time of 3pm if the Weather Gods are misbehaving..

Published in Fireball
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The weather gods looked kindly upon the DMYC frostbite series today Sunday and a good sized mixed fleet of dinghies slipped out during the very welcome weather window for a single race inside the harbour. Eight Fireballs lined up for the start at the heavily favoured starboard end, but at least two were OCS under the one minute rule in force for the series and rounded the ends to restart. One of these was the Clancy brothers, forced over by Noel Butler/Stephen Oram in pre-start manoeuvers in a successful bid to put paid early to the main opposition.Thus Butler/Oram led off the line at the favoured end and had a good lead by the windward mark, playing the quite big shifts and managing to stay in the better patches of wind.

The wind was a light WNW but as the race wore on it slowly clocked left and became even more patchy and shifty keeping crews on their toes.

The course was trapezoid and inevitably there was an element of follow the leader although some place changing did occur both on the beats and on the broader legs where a key decision was the timing of a gybe for better wind and inside berth at the next mark. The Clancy's slowly closed the gap on Butler/Oram but not enough to become a real threat. Behind them Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keefe chased down Louise Smyth/Ed Butler for third place and did in fact catch them only to be pipped on the line by Smyth/Butler who took home the mug. Not far behind Neil Colin/Mary McGuinness were in the mix but on balance found more snakes than ladders. Further back Frank Miller sailing with new Fireballer Tim Crowe diced with Cariosa Power/Marie Barry but lost out when a starboard boat forced them into a wide gybe at a mark allowing the ladies inside berth. Behind them Mary Chambers/Brenda McGuire held back Dave Coleman/Glen Fischer who enjoyed a damp boat thanks to missing transom flaps.

Race officer Stuart Kinnear wisely shortened the race from four rounds to three allowing all boats to finish and most enjoyed a tow back to the various clubs for a welcome cuppa or pint. All in all this was a very pleasant oasis of light air in the wake of the serious storms of the early weekend.

Published in Fireball
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Week 3 of the DMYC Frostbites in Dun Laoghaire Harbour showed a more friendly (wind wise), but less friendly (temperature wise) forecast, this led to many of the RS fleet finally opening their frostbite series despite there being 3 races held already,

The RS fleet was part of over 60 dinghies spread over 4 classes, that raced on Sunday, the harbour was full to the brim, with 20+ RS Fevas doing their Sunday coaching, numerous Oppie and laser squads out training, along with college sailors team racing.

Two races was the order of the day, and a nice 15knots gusting 18 from a cold northwesterly direction greeted the fleet as they made their way to the start area,

There were plenty of new faces on the water, with 2 x Olympian Gerbil Owens making his first outing in his new RS200, crewed by Beijing 2008 Olympic crew Phil Lawton, also new to the class were Maeve Rafferty and Rosanna Cassidy who were joined by Sean and Heather Craig, Greystones pairing of Frank O'Rourke and Sarah Byrne and Marty O'Leary and Rachel Williamson also braved the cold to start their series.

12 RS's made it to the startline. Race 1 saw the fleet split to both sides of the harbour with the left coming out in front, Alexander Rumball lead the fleet around the windward mark followed closely by Sean and Heather Craig,

The course for race 1 was 4 laps of the trapezoid, giving two great planing reaches and one very square downwind which meant lots of place changes, after the four sprint like laps which were completed in about 33 minutes, it was Marty and Rachel who found some form later in the race to claim victory, with Sean and Heather second and Emmet and James Ryan third. It was all very close with only 28 seconds between 2nd place and Frank and Sarah in 6th place.

Race two saw a fairly sizeable pin end bias and a few boats not naming any names attempted to port tack the fleet, the results were not pretty. The course was to be 3 laps this time, by the windward mark, it was all very close again with Emmet and James taking an early lead, at the leeward mark it was Frank and Sarah who got the early gybe into the lead, by the top of the 2nd beat someone seemed to press that switch that makes all RS 200s turn into magnets and instantly want to join together, this time with Marty and Rachel managing to cause a pile up at the windward mark slowing just about everyone down, including some Sunday walkers on the pier. After unwrapping themselves from the windward mark and taking a penalty turn they rejoined the race. It was much more of the same for the remaining lap and a half with numerous place swapping. Frank and Sarah had managed to break away from the mayhem behind and claim 1st, closely followed by Emmet and James in 2nd and Marty and Rach managed to claw back to 3rd just seconds ahead Sean and Heather, who it turned out were OCS, leaving Gerbil and Phil to take 4th.

The Weekly Mugs went to Marty and Rach for Race 1 and Frank and Sarah for race 2

Published in RS Sailing

Yet again, the race management team of Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club were able to defy the weather forecast and get a race completed in the Frostbite Series in Dun Laoghaire harbour writes Cormac Bradley. From the middle of last week the forecast for the weekend had been bleak as Abigail worked her way eastwards across the Atlantic. The projected wind strengths on XCWeather were in the mid-twenties with gusts in the range of high thirties to mid-forties. And yet a window opened to allow a solitary race to be completed.

I missed the action on the water – being taxi for members of the family – but caught up with race winners Noel Butler & Stephen Oram derigging in the National Yacht Club afterwards.

Only three Fireballs raced with Conor and James Clancy making their Frostbite debut along with team Keegan. Noel Butler had his regular crew back at the front end but it appears that the Clancys set the pace for the four-lap trapezoid course until Mark 3 on the last lap. It seems that the Clancys chose to gybe at this mark whereas Butler & Oram sailed on and overtook them. The Clancys’ disappointment at losing the race will be offset by the fact that they have secured their Frostbite Mugs early, on the second day of racing!

It was a blustery day on the water with huge wind shifts and an “on-off” supply of wind causing a number of windward rolls – one minute on full trapeze, the next no wind at all. While blustery winds are not unusual for November, the temperature was very unusual. Driving to the harbour my car thermometer was reading 17˚ - very unseasonal.

Published in Fireball
Tagged under

#DMYC - The Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club has a busy winter clubhouse programme ahead despite a slow start to the Sunday Frostbite series.

The flat calms and full-blown gales that have played havoc with the weekend sailing schedules as of late will have little effect on the November supper this Saturday 14 November at 7.30pm, nor the annual Christmas Dinner set for Friday 18 December, also at 7.30pm. Booking for both is available at

Other upcoming events include the new navigation class beginning this Friday 13 November at 7.30pm, running for four weeks. The Thursday Talks programme continues every week at 8pm (see the schedule on the clubhouse noticeboard for details), while Santa makes his visit for the club's younger members on Saturday 12 December at 12.30pm.

The DMYC has also announced its winter opening times, which will see the clubhouse office open Mondays from 10am to 1pm and Tuesdays to Fridays from 10am till 4.30pm.

Launch service is available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.30am to 4pm, and 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Meanwhile the bar will be open on late Thursdays from 6pm till 11.30pm, Saturdays from noon till 8pm and Sundays from noon till 9pm.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DMYC - The Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club is "not for moving", the club's commodore has declared after its most recent AGM.

Commodore Barry Kenny was commenting on the DMYC's efforts to negotiate a new lease of the clubhouse and slipway in Dun Laoghaire Harbour since the previous long-term agreement expired in 2009.

"Although we continue to pay rent, the lack of a lease causes a degree of insecurity and makes it difficult to attract the much needed grant funds, which other clubs have secured," he writes in the latest club newsletter.

The most recent push "to bridge the gap and agree a lease along the lines established by Liam Owens when he was commodore" resulted in a lease from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company that was deemed "unacceptable in that it seemed based upon the proposition that the harbour company own our building."

Kenny adds: "These new terms were introduced without consultation, which will make good faith negotiations in the future difficult."

It is hoped that Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council's moves to assume control of the harbour would bring clarity to the situation in the near future.

But in the meantime, as Kenny writes, "it is the intention of the incoming committee to take steps to assert our rights to our clubhouse and slipway."

In other DMYC news, the AGM on 4 November heard that the decline in core membership is "coming to an end" thanks to a significant influx of new members since 2014, most of whom renewed for 2015.

"New members, many of whom are boat owners, tend to be active whether they are racing or cruising, crewing or fishing in Dublin Bay," writes Kenny. "Many have added value to the club by volunteering or serving on committee, and this will stand to DMYC in the future."

The AGM agreed new membership rates in line with the wish to bring ordinary rates down and retain new members for the long term.

This afternoon's DMYC dinghy frostbite series has met the same fate as this morning's DBSC Turkey Shoot due to gale force winds on Dublin Bay. Racing continues next Sunday.

Published in Dublin Bay

Dun Laoghaire's winter sailing fixtures nearly fell victim to the fine weather yesterday but 'miraculously', according to the Fireball facebook page, DMYC race officer Stuart Kinnear got two races in for the opening of the DMYC Frostbites.

Unfortunately, the DBSC Turkey Shoot sailors were abandoned yesterday morning even though an impressive 50–boat fleet had assembled in otherwise beautiful conditions off the West Pier. Yesterday afternoon the DMYC harbour frostbites for PY, Laser, RS (200&400) and Fireballs got away in only light winds but just enough to set a harbour course. In the Fireball class race mug winners were Noel Butler and Luke Malcolm for race one and Frank Miller and Cormac Bradley in race two.

Cormac Bradley of the Fireball class adds:

Two races, 6 boats, 16 degrees. Mirror conditions initially but light breeze developed from west for first race. 3 lap trapezoid. Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley led the fleet to the first mark but were overtaken on the second spinnaker leg by Noel Butler and Luke Malcolm. Places remained this way to the finish with Alistair Court and Peter Doherty.

Wind swung for 2nd race and a new course was set. Miller/ Bradley went right on the first beat while the balance of the fleet went left. Miller/Bradley led by a modest distance and stayed ahead of the pack until the last weather mark when Butler/Malcolm briefly took the lead. However Miller/Bradley sailed through their winward side to retake the lead which they held to the finish. Butler/Malcolm were then put under pressure by Cariosa Power and Marie Barry who had closed up on the second placed boat. Ultimately, the ladies succeeded in taking secobd place in a very tight finish.
Given that the conditions looked so unfavourable at the start of the day, Race Officer Stuart Kinnear and his team did exceptionally well to get two races in – the 45th Frostbite Series is under way.

Published in Turkey Shoot
Page 10 of 16

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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