Before the imminent Storm Brian starts disrupting plans tonight and over the weekend, let’s take a final look back at the recent events in wind-battered old Ireland writes W M Nixon. We have been so busy marvelling at recorded wave heights, something which is relatively new with any precision around our coast, that the sheer speed of the wind has been almost overlooked.
Yet it bears re-examination, if only in honour of the memory of Ireland’s Francis Beaufort, who grappled with the challenge of a meaningful analysis of wind sped and effects. Thus you might think that Beaufort’s Force 6 (22 to 27 knots) would be about five times as powerful as Beaufort Force 2 (4-6 knots). But Beaufort didn’t measure it as a “Force” without a reason. He was more interested in effect than in actual wind speed, with a Force 6 exerting very much more than three times the pressure of a Force 2.
It was a remarkably accurate and user-friendly system in an era before wind speed measuring equipment became precise, but these days we’ve reverted to km/h instead of knots, and specific speeds instead of forces. Either way, the top wind speeds recorded in Storm Ophelia on Monday are an eloquent testimony to the clearcut progress of a slowly-decaying storm across Ireland:
Fastnet Rock…………..191 km/h
Roches Point…………..156 km/h
Kinsale Platform……….141 km/h
Waterford Airport……...137 km/h
Sherkin Island………….135 km/h
Cork Airport…………....126 km/h
Shannon Airport………...122 km/h
The figures speak for themselves. But we have to remind ourselves that less than 24 hours earlier, people had been out sailing on the Sunday in balmy Autumn conditions. And nowhere more so than on Lough Owel at Mullingar, where the Irish GP 14 Association – having generously donated the use of their boats for the All-Ireland Championship the weekend before - then rounded out their season last Sunday at the same venue with the second of two days of racing for their annual Hot Toddy Trophy.
They keep themselves below the radar in Mullingar Sailing Club, so much so that all the photos of the two big weekends there have had an absence of the hosts. They were probably too busy keeping the show on the road to pose for cameras. But Afloat.ie have managed to rustle up a couple of images with some of the key players, which we reproduce here with pleasure - and with the Irish sailing community’s heartfelt thanks to Mullingar SC and the Irish GP 14 Association for so successfully embodying the spirit of the voluntarism and generosity which is at the heart of our sport.