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Sixteen Fireball dinghies are lined up to compete in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta this long weekend. While keelboats take to the water on Thursday, the dinghy series kicks off on Friday around trapezoid courses at Salthill. The relatively large Fireball entry has taken even the class committee by surprise. It is clear now that the resurgence spurred on by last year's Worlds in LDYC Dromineer is here to stay.

When you look at it, it's actually not that surprising - as an affordable high-performance boat the Fireball is the perfect step up into competitive adult racing. Compared to alternatives, the boat is very affordable, stable yet fast, and a lot of fun to sail. The almost endless tuning possibilities mean that the Fireball can be raced successfully by a wide range of crew combinations across a full spectrum of weather conditions. Looking at the forecast for the regatta, this flexibility will be tested to the full as crews rake back masts, use struts and pullers to add additional pre-bend, open up the slot with the adjustable jib tracks and raise their centreboards to keep their craft trucking without being overpowered. At the time of writing, the forecast for the entire regatta looks lively, with winds approaching thirty knots on Friday at least.

With the Volvo on the doorstep of most Fireballers, this is a chance for quality racing with a great social programme without everyone having to tow. At the recent Leinster Championship, the younger members of the class carried home the silverware ahead of the class veterans so this coming weekend will be an opportunity for some of the regulars to see if their experience, and weight, in heavy weather can pay dividends. Of the runners and riders, the highly experienced team of Jonathan Evans & Aidan Caulfield are always fast in a breeze and it will be interesting to see if the extremely well-coordinated but lighter pairing of Josh Porter & Cara McDowell can get to the front based on their typically flawless teamwork. Relative newcomers Adrian Lee and Ossian Geraghty also bring a lot of experience and skill from GPs with them and are worth watching, as are the new team of Stephen Oram, helming with Neil Cramer on the wire.

Whatever way you look at it, this weekend is shaping up to be a regatta to remember for Fireballs and it may literally be a case of survival of the fittest. One suspects the sailors will afterwards be looking forward to heading to Killaloe SC for the weekend of 22nd & 23rd July and a Munster Championships to be sailed in presumably more serene conditions.

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Ed Óg Butler and Sean Collins are the new Fireball dinghy Leinster champions after five races in often exciting conditions at Skerries SC last weekend.

Racing took place over Saturday and Sunday as part of the Skerries annual two-day regatta, incorporating both the Fireball Leinsters and the E-boat National Championship. Skerries SC as a club and as a venue never disappoints, and over the two days a full Smorgasbord of conditions were served up.

Earlier in the week the forecast for the weekend looked ominous but by the weekend more reasonable winds were on the agenda, especially for the Saturday.

Once the wind settled race officer Liam Dineen and his team set an excellent Olympic Triangle type course for race one, and in fact, the race committee and mark layers managed to set that course, favoured by Fireballs and most of the other classes, for the entire weekend despite several challenging wind shifts. The first of those shifts took place during race one when the SSE wind shifted easterly.

Conditions for race one were medium winds with an incoming tide tempering the urge to go out to sea in search of better pressure.

Those who came out on top were the boats that judged this best, and it frequently did pay to head out – but not always! Ed Óg & Sean Collins made the best sense of the shifts and the zones of pressure, though they were chased hard by Josh Porter & Cara McDowell, and by Chris Bateman sailing with Tiernan Brown in Tiernan’s boat.

For race two, in fresher breeze, the pattern was repeated but in race three, Chris and Tiernan found their groove and took the gun with Butler 2nd and Porter & McDowell 5th.

Frank Miller sailing with Ed Butler Snr led to the weather mark in that race but couldn’t hold off the top teams and ended up 3rd. It should be said that although the breeze was solid there were remarkable sudden vacuums to contend with, typically just ahead of a shift.

Top-class race management meant that the marks were tweaked accordingly and the course remained fair. Many sailors were caught out by the sudden holes and shifts and those who stayed on high alert were rewarded.

Conditions for race two and three were especially enjoyable for their fast and exciting reaching angles but it was race four which really go the adrenalin flowing. The race team, consulting with competitors, decided to go for the fourth race because the forecast for Sunday was decidedly iffy. Conditions were excellent, the temperatures stayed high and there were no signs of exhaustion so the fleet rocketed off the start-line in a lot more breeze with everyone on heavy settings. This race was to prove the pinnacle of the weekend, with incredibly exciting reaches and waves to play with downwind.

Cara McDowell and Josh Porter finished second at the Fireball Leinster Championship at Skerries Sailing ClubCara McDowell and Josh Porter finished second at the Fireball Leinster Championship at Skerries Sailing Club

Ed Óg & Sean again prevailed, with Josh & Cara 2nd and Chris & Tiernan 3rd only due to some gear failure. Anyone who has seen Chris sail in a breeze knows that he is frequently unbeatable in strong wind. Once ashore, sailors enjoyed some great catering, two very busy bars and an idyllic après-sail atmosphere.

Sunday delivered pretty much exactly what the forecasts suggested. Boats were launched in light conditions with a little drizzle and the AP was flown for nearly an hour as the race officer waited patiently for the direction to settle. This it did in a Southerly direction and a race was got underway in light to medium winds. Unsurprisingly there were challenges around the course including those sudden holes and shifts. One such shift saw leading boats sailing the second reach as a very light air beat to leeward while those chasing got a nice spinnaker angle to bring them back into contention. Josh & Cara excel in these conditions and they took the win with Ed Óg & Sean 2nd and Chris &Tiernan 3rd. The wind died completely after race five and after a respectable wait N over A was flown and the competitors headed back for shore. The drama wasn’t entirely over though as the wind filled again with boats on the slipway and towards the end of boat pack-up a massive squall with large hailstones swept through the forecourt knocking over chairs and sending everyone scurrying for shelter. The wind indicator on the club roof recorded speeds of over 35 knots in the squall so the decision by the race team to call it a day was inspired.

Chris Bateman sailing with Tiernan Brown, pictured club officials, finished third at the Fireball Leinster Championship at Skerries Sailing ClubChris Bateman sailing with Tiernan Brown, pictured club officials, finished third at the Fireball Leinster Championship at Skerries Sailing Club

When the maths was done Ed Óg and Sean emerged on top, followed by Josh and Cara and just one point behind Chris and Tiernan. Frank Miller & Ed Snr lead the veterans beating locals Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer by just two points. Young David Evans & William Draper won the silver trophy with an excellent and fearless display throughout, often putting the senior fleet under pressure. Once again, the eleven Fireballs which made it to the event were treated to really excellent sailing. While some regulars were missing due to injuries and family commitments a notable feature of the fleet which turned out was it’s youth and the appearance of many young faces, including Jack McNaughten & Mark Greer, Cormac Breen sailing with his father Colm and Rory Rafter sailing with Thomas Schoemaecker.

Next up for Fireballs is the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta which has sixteen Fireballs already entered and the Fireball Munster Championship at Killaloe SC on 22nd & 23rd July which promises to be a great event.

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Fireballs enjoyed a fantastic two days of racing during their Ulster Championship at Newtownards SC at the weekend. Day one proved light as per forecast, but the wind steadily improved throughout the afternoon. The first race took place in quite light airs complete with holes, and to cap it all a 180-degree shift saw sailors scrambling to douse spinnakers and beat towards the new wind.

The first attempt at a start led to a general recall and race officer Jennifer Bryce, and mentor Sam Lyness set down a marker by flying the black flag for the subsequent start. Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe led around much of the course but were reeled in near the finish by Adrian Lee & Ossian Geraghty.

For race two, the wind had settled to a medium Northerly, and local Fireballer Josh Porter & crew Cara McDowell won well. Race three again featured medium winds with some quite decent gusts; Josh & Cara took the gun again to take the overnight lead. Ashore sailors enjoyed a great welcome and terrific hospitality with club volunteers' barbecue and bar service.

Many stayed nearby in camper vans or tents, and there was a most pleasant and relaxed atmosphere at the club.

More wind was forecast for Sunday, and the predictions held true. Racing took place in solid Northerly breezes of between fourteen and eighteen knots, delivering champagne sailing conditions with relatively flat water on the lough. Race four saw Franco Cassidy & Stephen Oram showing some extremely fast sailing to take the gun. The pair tended to work their way towards to starboard layline on the beats, tacking only to stay in the better patches of wind. They were challenged by Josh & Cara, who made inroads by playing shifts more and tending to play the left side. The middle of the course featured some quite light patches, and to add spice, there were some big shifts to keep everyone on their toes.

Louise & Hermine fell victim to one such shift and suffered a messy capsize which resulted in their retirement.

Race five saw Adrian & Ossian chalk up another win, keeping the contest wide open. Franco & Stephen were 2nd and Josh & Cara 3rd.

The final race saw Frank Miller and Neil Cramer finally find their full speed; the pair led all the way around the course but tragedy struck at the final leeward mark when their spinnaker jammed and refused to come down, allowing Franco & Stephen to take the win, followed by Josh and Cara.

When the sums were done Franco & Stephen were declared winners on countback as Josh & Cara had equal points. The victory was especially sweet for Franco Cassidy, who last won a Fireball Ulsters twenty years ago. Third place went to Adrian and Ossian.

Fireball Ulster Championships winners at Newtownards SC were Franco Cassidy (left) and Stephen Oram  Photo: Frank MillerFireball Ulster Championships winners at Newtownards SC were Franco Cassidy (left) and Stephen Oram  Photo: Frank Miller

Fireball Ulster Championships winners at Newtownards SC were Franco Cassidy (left) and Stephen Oram  Photo: Frank Miller

Special mention must go to young David Evans and crew Mark Greer. The two sailed extremely well in all conditions and never seemed to struggle even in the strongest gusts. Their reward was the Silver trophy, and the icing on the cake was beating David's father Jonathan sailing with Adrian Caulfield.

Fireball Ulster Championships Silver fleet winners at Newtownards SC were David Evans and crew Mark Greer

Fireball Ulster Championships Silver fleet winners at Newtownards SC were David Evans and crew Mark Greer (left)  Photo: Frank Miller(Both photos above) Fireball Ulster Championships Silver fleet winners at Newtownards SC were David Evans and crew Mark Greer (left)  Photo: Frank Miller

So, all in all, this was a terrific event despite a somewhat disappointing turnout of eight boats caused by some last-minute hitches amongst those intending to travel.

The next event is the Leinster Championship hosted by Skerries SC on June 24th & 25th, and a bigger turnout is very much anticipated.

Fireball Ulster Championships second overall at Newtownards SC were Josh Porter and Cara McDowell Photo: Frank MillerFireball Ulster Championships second overall at Newtownards SC were Josh Porter and Cara McDowell Photo: Frank Miller

Fireball Ulster Championships third overall at Newtownards SC were Ossian Geraghty and Adrian Lee Photo: Frank MillerFireball Ulster Championships third overall at Newtownards SC were Ossian Geraghty and Adrian Lee Photo: Frank Miller

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The Irish Fireball Class opened their 2023 summer sailing season with a one-day training session and reported here on Afloat, followed by a one-day regatta -The Open Championship, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC), with a programme of six short-duration races.

The cold and overcast conditions of Saturday were replaced by a sunny Sunday morning and a forecast of 6-8knots from a northerly direction. Of the fourteen boats in attendance for the training, twelve initially made the starting area with a youthful contingent of three boats from Cork, with three Batemans helming – Chris, Ethel and Olin – making up 25% of the fleet. The other visitor was Josh Porter, down from Newtownards Sailing Club, who was partnered by his regular crew, Cara McDowell.

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, 15061 competing at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Cormac BradleyNoel Butler & Stephen Oram, 15061 competing at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Cormac Bradley

DMYC provided a committee boat and crew and three RIBs for the regatta, the third RIB being driven by coach Thomas Chaix who took on-the-water videos to back up what had been discussed the previous day. Race Officer for the day was Cormac Bradley, off another successful Frostbite Series, with a brief to get races of 25 minutes duration.

Josh Porter & Cara McDowell, 14695, winners of the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Cormac BradleyJosh Porter & Cara McDowell, 14695, winners of the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Cormac Bradley

For the majority of the day the wind was as forecast direction-wise, fluctuating approximately 10° either side of due North, and initially in accordance with the strength prediction, 6 – 8 knots although there was a brief period when it got up to 10 knots. However, after a planned break on the water, after three back-to-back races, the wind started to fade and only one more race was sailed, albeit to a shortened course.

Windward-Leeward courses were the order of the day in accordance with resources and as an attempt to keep the fleet reasonably tight. A further measure to try and get races turned around quickly was the use of an “offer of a finish on the water” to those who had become detached from the back of the fleet. This appeared to be well received by the competitors.

After Race 1 the course length was reduced as the target time hadn’t been achieved and the remaining races were closer to target time, although the fourth race had to be shortened at the second weather mark with a “F” flag. Shortly after finishing the fleet, the wind speed was under 2 knots and there were no signs around Dublin Bay that more wind could be expected, so at 14:30 approximately, “N over A” was flown and the fleet headed for home.

The light conditions were very much favoured by Porter & McDowell who took the winning gun in all four races. They led at every weather mark and in most instances increased the lead on the water, though in one race the class stalwarts Noel Butler & Stephen Oram ran them close, to the extent that Porter & McDowell were applying a loose cover on them. As much as the winners were solid in winning, so were the older hands, who scored four second places. The consistency of these two combinations was mirrored in a reverse way by those who finished behind them in the overall placings; Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, (3rd), Alastair Court & Gordon Syme (4th) and Frank Miller & Ed Butler (5th) who flirted with success but also had some (relatively) big numbers in their scores.

The Silver Fleet was won by Jack McNaughton & Hugo Micka, whose high point would have been a 4th in Race 3 – because a) Jack only started sailing Fireballs in Series 2 of the Frostbites and b) to my knowledge he and Hugo have never sailed together before.

A special mention must go to an even newer combination who had never flown a spinnaker until the day before. Ethel Bateman and Bella Waterman giggled and laughed their way around the course and their enthusiasm for what was happening on the water was infectious. They scored a seventh in the last race after a few spinnaker issues in the earlier races.

Irish Fireball Open Championship DMYC 22 & 23 April 2023 overall resultsIrish Fireball Open Championship DMYC 22 & 23 April 2023 - overall results

The next event on the Fireball regatta schedule will be the Ulsters in Newtownards at the end of May, while summer racing in Dun Laoghaire commences tomorrow evening (Tuesday) for the Fireballs and other dinghy classes.

Cara McDowell & Josh Porter, 1st Overall at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerCara McDowell & Josh Porter, 1st Overall at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Stephen Oram and Noel Butler – 2nd Overall at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerStephen Oram and Noel Butler – 2nd Overall at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe – 3rd Overall at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerLouise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe – 3rd Overall at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Jack McNaughton – Winner of the Silver Fleet at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerJack McNaughton – Winner of the Silver Fleet at the DMYC Irish Fireball Open at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

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Last weekend saw a hybrid Fireball Open Weekend hosted by the DMYC. This year instead of a two-day racing event, the class decided to experiment with a blended event combining coaching and racing writes Frank Miller.

The coaching took place over two days under the expert eye of Thomas Chaix of Dinghy Performance.

As well as being one of the more expert dinghy coaches on the island, Thomas has first-hand experience having sailed a Fireball in the last year’s World Championship at LDYC Dromineer.

Fireballs launching from the DMYC slipway at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire HarbourFireballs launching from the DMYC slipway at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the Open weekend made up of coaching and racing

The forecast for the weekend was light, and so it proved. Saturday dawned with light northerlies, so most coaching took place inside the harbour. The particular focus was on starts and leeward mark roundings, a perennial obsession with sailors in all classes, given the potential gains available. The briefing before going afloat examined starting issues of positioning, lay lines to the two sides and "runway" positioning to determine the timing on the approach to the line. Thomas has an interesting and arguably more useful approach to the idea of transits, favouring the identification of two transits, one being a safe zone for the approach and another to identify the actual line position.

For Leeward mark rounding, Thomas impressed on the sailors the importance of a plan of approach far in advance of the mark, with zones in which to formulate a plan and others in which to execute the plan. In particular, the areas around the leeward mark were divided into pizza-type slices and the advantages and dangers of approaches into each "slice" were discussed.

Fireballs racing in Seapoint Bay on Sunday in light airsFireballs racing in Seapoint Bay on Sunday in light airs

On the water, the 14 Fireballs went through a series of starting drills. The shifty winds inside the harbour meant that the coach was saved the trouble of moving marks to vary the line bias. Equally, even the short practice races provided plenty of shifts and hollows to keep sailors on their toes. The leeward mark exercises were made challenging by downwind starts with sailors forced to decide early on the best approach to achieve inside berth in crowded conditions with little breeze to spare. The fleet then moved outside the harbour for short races in different conditions. While everyone hoped for a bit more breeze and a few waves, the reality around the corner in Salthill was very light winds and an adverse ebbing tide. Starts were challenging, to say the least, and one of the funniest video commentaries features the coach timing the fleet's struggle to get across the line. After a couple of entertaining races, common sense prevailed, and the fleet went back to the DMYC for showers, tea, beer and pizzas.

The plan for Sunday was a series of short races with coaching overview and advice between races, with some active advice allowed to the silver fleet during racing. Besides that on-the-water advice the huge benefit to the participants came in the form of a series of video commentaries by the coach uploaded to the Fireball WhatsApp group after sailing. The subtle movements by the top two teams in particular are worthy of careful analysis in the search for optimal sail shape and speed. All-in-all, this was an extremely successful weekend and sailors at all levels drew considerable benefit from the event. Special mention must go to Team Cork, where Chris Bateman is spearheading a Fireball revival and introducing a new young generation to the delights of the boat. In recognition of his work, the class has relocated the class loan boat to the other capital for at least a year.

The class welcomes new sailors, young and not so young and continues its drive to mobilise dormant boats into active new hands. With a busy season ahead, the next class event is the Ulster Championships at Newtownards on May 27th & 28th.

See the race report for the Fireball Open Championship by Cormac Bradley here

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The last Sunday of the Frostbites, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC) and sponsored by Viking Marine at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, ended on a high with steady winds out of the north that allowed two races to be sailed without adjustment of the course, allowing two 3-lap Olympic courses to be set. The wind strength was up on forecasts on both XCWeather and Windy, getting as high as 16/17 knots in Race 1 but easing for Race 2.

This allowed a large course to be set on the N/S axis of the harbour with a mark in the middle of the harbour mouth, a gybe mark in the middle of the harbour and a leeward mark off the end of the Carlisle Pier and close to the East Pier. Indeed, some of the pedestrians on the East Pier were able to enjoy a close-up view of a Fireball trying to get off the wall, which at that stage was almost like a lee shore.

All three fleets, PY, ILCA 7s & 4s and ILCA 6s, had good fleets out for the first race, but the robust conditions of the early afternoon took its toll on the ILCA 6s in particular, with nearly a quarter of the fleet not staying out for the second race. The races were sailed in overcast conditions with a bit of drizzle that gave way to drier conditions, and late in the afternoon, the sun also appeared.

A late prompt from a competitor suggesting the start line was very pin biased caused the Race Officer to amend the pin position, and this paid off as all three fleets got away cleanly at the first time of asking. In the PY race Frank Miller (14915) persuaded the newest helm in the Irish Fireball fleet, Jack McNaughton, to go on the trapeze and they were rewarded with a big win on the water, romping home by 1:30 on father and son Frank & Hugh Cassidy (14934) with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) a further twenty seconds adrift and Alastair Court & Gordon Syme (15167) another twenty seconds behind. Court & Syme’s early race was looking much better, but a hail of water at the first leeward mark from Cassidy and a subsequent capsize in dropping the kite didn’t help the Court cause. As usual, however, despite a delta of 2:40 on Noel Butler (Aero 6 3289) and 4:28 on Roy Van Maanen (Aero 6 3822) on the water, Miller & McNaughton were relegated to third on handicap. Behind Miller, the Aero 6 (3433) of Sarah Dwyer and the Aero 7 (3288) of Stephen Oram closed out the top five.

The ILCA 7s have seen an injection of enthusiasm in recent weeks and they had eight boats on the water for the third or fourth Sunday in a row. Racing in this fleet has been tight and as of the previous Sunday less that ten points covered positions 1 – 4 in Series 2.

Here the order saw Conor Byrne lead them home in Race 1, followed by Gary O’Hare, Sean Bowden, Gavan Murphy and Niall Cowman.

Conor Byrne (181204) leads Chris Arrowsmith (201829) with Niall Cowman (211857) and Gary O’Hare (201364) in close pursuit in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Conor Byrne (181204) leads Chris Arrowsmith (201829) with Niall Cowman (211857) and Gary O’Hare (201364) in close pursuit in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Ian Cutliffe

In the ILCA 6s, the master has been Sean Craig – those that know Sean will recognise the pun! He scored the first of two wins by a comfortable margin with the chasing pack led by Conor Clancy and followed by John O’Driscoll, Brendan Hughes and David Cahill.

Sean Craig (218154) and Darren Griffin (219867) in close company at the weather mark in Race 1, Sunday 26th March in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Ian CutliffeSean Craig (218154) and Darren Griffin (219867) in close company at the weather mark in Race 1, Sunday 26th March in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Ian Cutliffe

In the ILCA 4s Lucy Ives has made a late-season entry into the proceedings and has been rewarded with a win in each of the races in which she has featured. On Sunday, she took both races with Patrick Foley and Zeta Tempany finishing behind her in the same order, second and third, in both races.

The second race, the starting procedures was blotted by one OCS, but the transgressor was identified and the appropriate flag flown – the boat didn’t return.

In the PY Fleet, Court and Syme made amends for their struggles by winning by a huge margin – they were the only boat to finish in under 30 minutes, 28:47. As a measure of their lead on the water, some random finish times are as follows; Butler, 32:33, Oram, 32:46, Dwyer, 34:38, Colin & Casey 30:01 and Miller 31:11. But on paper, they lost out to Butler by 47 seconds, but saved their time against Oram, Dwyer and Van Maanen.

In the ILCA 7s, Byrne and O’Hare repeated their feat of first and second from the first race, but behind them, the order was changed, with Murphy, Chris Arrowsmith and Niall Cowman closing out the top five.

In the ILCA 6s, Craig took another win, with the order behind him being Hughes, Hugh Delap, Clancy and O’Driscoll.

And that brought the curtain down on the 2022/23 Frostbites!

Noel Butler, Aero 6 with the PY Perpetual Trophy of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerNoel Butler, Aero 6 with the PY Perpetual Trophy of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Sean Craig (ILCA Winner across 3 ILCA fleets) with Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour sponsor Ian O’Meara (R) Photo: Frank MillerSean Craig (ILCA Winner across 3 ILCA fleets) with Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour sponsor Ian O’Meara (R) Photo: Frank Miller

Neil Colin and Ian O’Meara enjoying a moment at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank MillerNeil Colin and Ian O’Meara enjoying a moment at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank Miller

PRO Frostbites, Cormac Bradley addresses the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving with DMYC Commodore, Ian Cutliffe, in a relaxed mode in the background Photo: Frank MillerPRO Frostbites, Cormac Bradley addresses the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving with DMYC Commodore, Ian Cutliffe, in a relaxed mode in the background Photo: Frank Miller

 Gordon Syme (L) and Alastair Court, Fireball 15167, with the Fireball Perpetual Trophy at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank Miller Gordon Syme (L) and Alastair Court, Fireball 15167, with the Fireball Perpetual Trophy at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank Miller

1st Lady in the ILCA 6s, Shirley Gilmour, with Ian O’Meara at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prizegiving at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller1st Lady in the ILCA 6s, Shirley Gilmour, with Ian O’Meara at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prizegiving at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Zeta Tempany, Winner ILCA 4s overall of the the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites Photo: Frank MillerZeta Tempany, Winner ILCA 4s overall of the the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites Photo: Frank Miller

Sarah Dwyer, Aero 6, 4th overall at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour and 1st Lady PY Fleet, with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank MillerSarah Dwyer, Aero 6, 4th overall at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour and 1st Lady PY Fleet, with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank Miller

Gavan Murphy – ILCA 7s winner of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerGavan Murphy – ILCA 7s winner of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Roy Van Maanen, Aero 6, 3rd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank MillerRoy Van Maanen, Aero 6, 3rd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank Miller

Stephen Oram, Aero 7, 2nd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank MillerStephen Oram, Aero 7, 2nd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank Miller

Frostbites Series 2 Overall

PY Fleet
1st Noel Butler, Aero 6
2nd Stephen Oram, Aero 7
3rd Sarah Dwyer, Aero 6
4th Stuart Harris, Aero 6
5th Pierre & Remy Long, IDRA 14.
6th Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, Fireball.

ILCAs 7s
1st Conor Byrne
2nd Theo Lyttle
3rd Sean Bowden
4th Gavan Murphy
5th Chris Arrowsmith

ILCA 6s
1st Sean Craig
2nd Conor Clancy
3rd Darren Griffin
4th John O’Driscoll
5th David Cahill

ILCA 4s
1st Patrick Foley
2nd Zita Tempany
3rd Grace Gavin.

At the post-racing prize-giving in the DMYC clubhouse with Frostbite sponsor Ian O’Meara in attendance, the prizes for the combined Series were awarded with Ian doing the honours in tandem with Frostbites Director Neil Colin, who welcomed the competitors to the club.

Principal Race Officer, Cormac Bradley made a few observations on the racing, noting that since Christmas we had managed to race every Sunday, only losing three races, one to rising winds and two to insufficient wind. This contrasted with the pre-Christmas Series when only six races from a potential fourteen had been completed. He thanked those competitors who had discreetly assessed his beats at his invitation to make sure this leg of the course was fair. He also noted and thanked the volunteers who turned out week in, week out to allow racing to take place – mark-layers, rib crews, committee boat volunteers, the results team and the bar and catering staff who look after us after racing. DMYC Commodore, Ian Cutliffe, thanked all the competitors who raced the Series and also thanked the volunteers.

Viking Marine sponsored Frostbites results

Overall Series Results 2022/23
PY Fleet (37 entries)
1st Noel Butler, Aero 6, 31pts – Perpetual Trophy
2nd Stephen Oram, Aero 7, 90.5pts
3rd Roy Van Maanen, Aero 6, 112pts
4th Sarah Dwyer, Aero 6, 118pts
5th Stuart Harris, Aero 6, 131pts
6th Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, Fireball 15167, 144pts – Perpetual Trophy.

ILCA 7s (11 entries)
1st Gavan Murphy, 212521, 78pts
2nd Conor Byrne, 181204, 81pts
3rd Theo Lyttle, 211129, 90pts.

ILCA 6s (39 entries)
1st Sean Craig, 218154, 30pts – Perpetual Trophy
2nd Conor Clancy, 213048, 58pts
3rd Darren Griffin, 219867, 65pts
4th John O’Driscoll, 210361, 106pts
5th David Cahill, 186302, 116pts
7th Shirley Gilmour, 143pts.

ILCA 4s (8 entries)
1st Zita Tempany, 211122, 37pts
2nd Patrick Foley, 211274, 39pts
3rd Grace Gavin, 213526, 50pts.

Fireballs only (12 entries)
1st Frank Miller & Ed Butler, Neil Cramer, 14915, 48pts
2nd Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, 15167, 53pts
3rd Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, 15016, 65pts.

Aeros only (8 entries)
1st Noel Butler, (6) 3289, 26pts
2nd Roy Van Maanen, (6) 3822, 60pts
3rd Stephen Oram, (7) 3288, 66pts.

In addition to perpetual trophies for the PY Class, the ILCAs and the Fireballs, vouchers for the first three in each of PY, ILCA 7s, 6s and 4s were presented by Viking Marine as well as prizes to Shirley Gilmore and Sarah Dwyer for being the first Lady in the ILCA 6s and the PY Fleets, respectively.

On receipt of his perpetual trophy, Sean Craig spoke on behalf of all the ILCA fleets to commend DMYC and the volunteers for what he considered an exceptionally good series, particularly since Christmas. He noted that the day’s racing would not have looked out of place at a more serious championship. He suggested that a racing fleet of 39 ILCA 6s would currently be hard to beat anywhere.

Noel Butler addresses the Viking Marine DMYC prize-giving with Ian Cutliffe (Commodore DMYC) and Neil Colin (Frostbites Director) for company Photo: Frank MillerNoel Butler addresses the Viking Marine DMYC prize-giving with Ian Cutliffe (Commodore DMYC) and Neil Colin (Frostbites Director) for company Photo: Frank Miller

Noel Butler echoed Sean’s sentiments and noted that this was his 28th or 29th Frostbites without missing a year and agreed that the racing in 2023, in particular, had been very good.

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A few weeks past, the Fireball Class gathered at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour to celebrate the 2022 season, to recognise the superb effort that so many people put into the Fireball Worlds in Lough Derg in August and to award prizes for the summer just past. Joined by a number of past members, there was good turnout of current members on the night which left plenty of opportunity to reminisce on the success of the Worlds.

Class Chairman Neil Cramer (Skerries) opened the proceedings by giving a precis of the season just past, noting that while the turnout at some of the domestic regattas was modest there had been a big turnout of Irish boats at the Worlds – 29, exceeding the number at the Sligo Worlds of 2011, when it could be argued that the fleet was a good deal healthier in terms of numbers. Neil also recorded the fact that for the first time in a number of years the Fireball Class had a representative at the Champion of Champions regatta and could have had two, potentially, except that the National Champion couldn’t make the regatta.

In addition to the perpetual trophies that the Class awards, the evening recognised excellence on the water as confirmed by the Travellers’ Trophy, which scores the domestic regattas on aggregate throughout the season.

Travellers’ Trophy

Gold Fleet
1st Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix 14750, 11pts
2nd Ed Butler (Jnr) & Fionn Conway 14969, 13pts
3rd Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061, 16pts

Silver Fleet
1st Brenda Nash & Glen Fisher 14663, 83pts
2nd Cariosa Power & Marie Barry 14854, 87pts
3rd Jim Ryan & David Tanner 14584, 88pts

Perpetual Trophies

  • 1st Lady: Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 15016, 5th Overall, Gold Fleet, 30pts
  • India Trophy: Most Improved; Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, 15167, 8th Overall, Gold Fleet, 43pts
  • Asterix Trophy: Significant Contribution; The Irish Fireball Class Members – for their support and work for the Fireball Worlds.
  • (Dun Laoghaire) Class Captain’s Prize: [Owen Sinnott] – Awarded to Glen Fisher for his efforts to get multiple Fireballs back on the water – he owns nearly 10% of the registered fleet, 3 No.
  • Bradley Trophy – Awarded to Owen Sinnott for his management of the measurement process at the Fireball Worlds – with a newly International Class Measurer in attendance.
  • Neil Cramer made a presentation to Cormac Bradley to recognise his ongoing efforts on behalf of the Class and his representation at Fireball International.

A presentation was also made to Ian O’Keefe for his work on all the merchandising for the Fireball Worlds in Lough Derg. It had started with a T-shirt and ended up as T-shirts, Polo shirts, caps and banners for the event.

All photos below by Frank Miller.

Class Chairman, Neil Cramer about to get proceedings underwayClass Chairman, Neil Cramer about to get proceedings underway...

And starts with a special presentation to Ian O’Keeffe for designing the merchandising for the Lough Derg Worlds...and starts with a special presentation to Ian O’Keeffe for designing the merchandising for the Lough Derg Worlds

Thomas Chaix, Winning Crew, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ TrophyThomas Chaix, Winning Crew, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ Trophy

Ed Butler (Jnr), 2nd Placed Helm, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ TrophyEd Butler (Jnr), 2nd Placed Helm, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ Trophy

Stephen Oram (L) and Noel Butler (R), 3rd Place’ Gold Fleet, Travellers’ TrophyStephen Oram (L) and Noel Butler (R), 3rd Place’ Gold Fleet, Travellers’ Trophy

Glen Fisher & Brenda Nash, Silver Fleet Winners, Travellers’ TrophyGlen Fisher & Brenda Nash, Silver Fleet Winners, Travellers’ Trophy

Cariosa Power (L) and Marie Barry (R), 2nd Place, Silver Fleet, Travellers’ TrophyCariosa Power (L) and Marie Barry (R), 2nd Place, Silver Fleet, Travellers’ Trophy

 Louise McKenna (L) and Hermione O’Keefe celebrate winning The Ladies Trophy Louise McKenna (L) and Hermione O’Keefe celebrate winning The Ladies Trophy

Alastair Court, India Trophy Winner with Gordon SymeAlastair Court, India Trophy Winner with Gordon Syme

Class Chairman Neil Cramer announces that the Irish Fireball Class Members have won the Asterix TrophyClass Chairman Neil Cramer announces that the Irish Fireball Class Members have won the Asterix Trophy

Cormac Bradley (L) presents the Bradley Trophy to Owen SinnottCormac Bradley (L) presents the Bradley Trophy to Owen Sinnott

Class Chairman Neil Cramer makes a presentation to Cormac BradleyClass Chairman Neil Cramer makes a presentation to Cormac Bradley

Louise McKenna closed out the speeches (nearly) by responding to the award of the Asterix Trophy to the membership of the Class by paying tribute to the principal parties involved in bringing the International Fireball World Championships to Lough Derg Yacht Club.Louise McKenna closed out the speeches (nearly) by responding to the award of the Asterix Trophy to the membership of the Class by paying tribute to the principal parties involved in bringing the International Fireball World Championships to Lough Derg Yacht Club. By popular acclaim the regatta had proven to be a huge success, by way of total entries, 79 boats, the social side of the regatta and the catering undertaking. Considering the circumstances at the time, and the perceived risk of trying to organise the event at such short notice, it was a tribute to Neil Cramer (Management and Overall Financial Control), Frank Miller (Marketing & Meetings), Owen Sinnott (Measurement) and Marie Barry (Catering) that the event had been such an enormous success. She then revealed a secret plot to have a further dinner to celebrate the success of the regatta and to recognise the contribution of the four named individuals by way of an invitation for them and their partners to attend. A fund has been initiated for the dinner which will take place in February 2023.

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With November just ended, today’s assessment at the beginning of December for the latest “Sailors of the Month” listings would normally include at least one of our young sailors who starred to such good effect in the European Sailing Championship in the south of France from 14th to 20th November, most notably Rocco Wright (16) of Howth who scored Gold – and with it the top U21 – in the ILCA6 Class.

But as it is, Rocco has already been up in lights with his Gold in the Youth Worlds in The Netherlands in July, scored in an extraordinary demonstration of improving performance with a cool mindset overcoming of any end-of-series nerves. Thus this further Gold - quarried from a demanding series on a Cote d’Azur which at times wasn’t at all Riviera-like – has only added to the lustre of his already-registered achievement.

Rocco Wright – November saw him adding extra lustre to his Gold of JulyRocco Wright – November saw him adding extra lustre to his Gold of July

This may sound frustrating for the adjudicators, as sailing achievements in November can be rare enough. But in fact, the assessment team are delighted, as it leaves them with a clean slate to honour some specialist sailing people whose recognition might normally be crammed into late December’s final roundup.

CROWDED POST-PANDEMIC PROGRAMME

For in the very crowded catch-up post-pandemic season which was crammed almost entirely into June, July, August, and early September, somehow our race-administering brotherhood and sisterhood found enough volunteers from among their ranks to stage no less than four World Championships: the GP 14s at Skerries, the 505s with the Royal Cork YC at Crosshaven, the Fireballs on Lough Derg, and the SB20s at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire.

LOSS OF JACK ROY

The demand which such high-profile “in the searchlight” events place on the relatively small group of appropriately-qualified individuals drawn from the within the Irish sailing community’s many volunteers for duty afloat and ashore was exacerbated by the untimely death of one of their key top-level race officers, Jack Roy of Dun Laoghaire, in December 2021.

With his supportive wife Rosemary, Jack provided the very experienced and competent core for race management teams to the highest event levels. His sad demise was not only a real loss in that he was a much-loved truly life-enhancing individual, but it was also a blow to the established Irish ability to comfortably cater for world class events. And it was also felt at every level of our sport, for Jack and Rosemary were the vey embodiment of the spirit of sailing in Ireland. 

 Much missed. The late Jack Roy with his wife Rosemary in their Hallberg Rassy 48 Tangaroa at the Fastnet Rock. Rosemary has since taken on the voluntary task of Honorary Secretary to Dublin Bay Sailing Club. Much missed. The late Jack Roy with his wife Rosemary in their Hallberg Rassy 48 Tangaroa at the Fastnet Rock. Rosemary has since taken on the voluntary task of Honorary Secretary to Dublin Bay Sailing Club

They had been anticipating gradual retirement from some of their multiple commitments in sailing in the near future, yet in the extra pressures of 2022, their reassuring background presences would have been a comfort for harassed Event Committee Chairmen. But in any case we can’t help but wonder just how smoothly their planned extraction from the top level of racing administration would really have been. For in July 2022. Rosemary took on the role of Honorary Secretary of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, one of the most demanding positions in our sport.

RISING LEVELS OF EXPECTATION

These days even the most modest club event needs its race teams, and the personnel and expertise demands rise as we move up the scale through regional, national and international championships. But then we move into an entirely different state of affairs when we take on the rarefied conditions which prevail in a recognised World Championship for a global-status class.

 Howth Yacht Club’s senior Committee Boat Star Point is both a race organisation platform and a full backroom support office. Photo: Annraoi Blaney Howth Yacht Club’s senior Committee Boat Star Point is both a race organisation platform and a full backroom support office. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Thus while we really would like to make “Sailors of the Month” our of every Race Officer who made major championships possible in 2022, we have to acknowledge that they’ll have been doing it among their own folk who may well be prepared to make allowances for the occasional error.

But with a Worlds, local friendships are irrelevant. An International Jury which occasionally will feel that it has to justify its existence with some conspicuously severe judgment on race management has to be taken into account. Increasingly, too, Race Umpires are making an input. And it’s all under a level of widespread yet intensely focused international media attention which you don’t get – however big the numbers taking part might be - with events which are further down the feeding chain.

RACE OFFICER TEAMS

In such exposed circumstances, the senior Race Officers need to be a bit like the owner-skippers of a substantial cruiser-racer, who will know that they have to build up a reliable and accessible crew panel which is roughly twice the number of people actually needed to race the boat on the day. And within that “crew panel”, he or she has to have a core of experts – an inner cabinet, if you like – of specialists who can be totally relied on to maintain and operate the necessary data and key support services.

A classic case in point is Peter Crowley of Cork, whose services to sailing over many years have included being President of the Irish Sailing Association and Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, in addition to being a stalwart of the National 18 Class and the cruiser-racer scene.

Peter Crowley’s Beneteau Trawler Yacht Sparetime has served as Committee Boat at countless sailing events at all levels from club racing to World Championships. Photo: Robert Bateman Peter Crowley’s Beneteau Trawler Yacht Sparetime has served as Committee Boat at countless sailing events at all levels from club racing to World Championships. Photo: Robert Bateman 

For many years now his personal flagship has been the versatile Beneteau Trawler Yacht Sparetime, and in providing the full services for Race Management to World Level, such as August’s particularly demanding 505 Worlds off Cork Harbour from 3rd to 13th of August, he was able to draw on the support of his key team members like Siobhain Keane-Hopcraft, John Stallard and Joanne O’Brien in order to provide a sound foundation for the larger group – including those in support RIBS – which is necessary to create a fully-furnished worlds.

Sparetime in use as the Committee Boat at the 2022 505 Worlds – keep the message simple, keep it clear. Photo: Christophe FavreauSparetime in use as the Committee Boat at the 2022 505 Worlds – keep the message simple, keep it clear. Photo: Christophe Favreau

 Royal Cork YC Admiral Kieran O’Connell with Jennifer Barry and Peter Crowley when the latter received a memento for his services as Race Officer at the 505 Worlds 2022 at Royal Cork YC. Royal Cork YC Admiral Kieran O’Connell with Jennifer Barry and Peter Crowley when the latter received a memento for his services as Race Officer at the 505 Worlds 2022 at Royal Cork YC

TWO SAILING MAJORS BACK-TO-BACK

The particular demands of the pressure-cooker 2022 season were also felt on the East Coast, where qualified personnel availability restrictions were such that Race Management veteran David Lovegrove of Howth found himself heading the race organisation for the very international J/24 Europeans at Howth from 30th August to 3rd September, and then doing the same for the SB20 Worlds at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire from 4th to 9th September – in other words, two especially-demanding majors back-to-back.

Giving her the welly…..SB20 Worlds 2022 in Dublin Bay in September. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyGiving her the welly…..SB20 Worlds 2022 in Dublin Bay in September. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

While the SB20 Worlds found itself experiencing the first hints of strong Autumnal winds, the J/24 Europeans had a last blast of sunny onshore summer breezes from the northeast. But earlier in August at Skerries for the GP14 Worlds from the 14th to the 19th, Race Officer Bill O’Hara of Ballyholme found himself handling the needs of an international 104-strong fleet – the biggest turnout of any of Ireland’s 2022 Worlds – for Skerries Sailing Club.

RUGGED ONSHORE WINDS

Sailing in North Fingal may be expanding by leaps and bounds these days, but the 1934-established Skerries SC sometimes finds itself at the pin of its collar in catering for extra-large fleets in the inevitably-restricted spaces available within the confines of the Red Island Peninsula.

 Spinnaker work with an onshore breeze in the GP14 Worlds 2022 at Skerries. Photo: GP14 Worlds Spinnaker work with an onshore breeze in the GP14 Worlds 2022 at Skerries. Photo: GP14 Worlds

Yet despite a series of sometimes rugged onshore nor’easters making conditions almost coastal oceanic in the race area, particularly in wind-over-tide situations, the determination of the Organising Committee led by Colman Grimes and the huge experience and good humour of Bill O’Hara, saw this mega-event through to a successful conclusion.

MYSTERIOUS MAGIC OF LOUGH DERG

In looking back at the four Worlds staged in 2022, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Fireball Worlds at Lough Derg from 21st to 26th August best expressed the spirit of sailing as it is experienced in our island nation. Admittedly a certain level of secrecy seems to come over events which are staged on our somehow well-hidden great lakes, but it is a fact that once people have started taking part in even a major sailing event on Lough Derg or Lough Ree, they seem to have entered a completely self-contained environment which feels no need to communicate with the outside world.

Away from it all yet right on the pace – Fireball Worlds 2022 on Lough Derg. Photo:LDYCAway from it all yet right on the pace – Fireball Worlds 2022 on Lough Derg. Photo:LDYC

Thus when we talk of sailing as an ideal activity “to get away from it all”, we find this best-expressed among those who have disappeared off to sail on on the Shannon’s many waters. In due course we did get official information about what was clearly a hugely enjoyable and superbly scenic event for the fleet of 79 boats, but at first it was thanks to Race Officer Con Murphy being a dab hand in getting evocative photos - while at the same time running a great event – that we became aware there was some magic sailing going on at a deservedly popular Irish venue.

So when it comes down to it, our four Sailor of the Month for November are all retrospective awards for Services to Sailing, and as every one of them made a huge contribution, we simply list them in the chronological order of the events they organised.

PETER CROWLEY OF ROYAL CORK IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

 The affable Peter Crowley brings comprehensive experience of participation and organisation to any major championship with which he becomes involved The affable Peter Crowley brings comprehensive experience of participation and organisation to any major championship with which he becomes involved

The 505 Worlds 2022 from 3rd to 13th August at the Royal Cork YC came laden with historic associations. For though this attractive class may still look as modern as tomorrow, it goes way back, and around 70 years ago Cork Harbour was the hotbed of a busy fleet which was part of a worldwide movement. But now – like former Olympic classes such as the Finn, the Star and the Dragon – the 505 class is an elite international travelling circus, making the highest demands on any venue that it selects for its words.

Unfortunately for Cork in the first part of the 2022 Worlds, the event was frustrated by calms. But even here, the fact of having Peter Crowley as Race Officer was all to the good, for on the Lay Day he gave everyone a convivial harbour tour on his Beneteau Trawler Yacht Spare Times which much improved the mood, and then when the breezes came good towards the end of the week, he clicked through enough races in champagne sailing to get a real result, with the USA’s Stuart McNay & Caleb Paine winning from GBR’s Nathan Batchelor & Seam Pascoe, while best of the Irish in a 78-strong and totally international fleet were Ewan Barry & Charles Dwyer at 12th.

BILL O’HARA OF BALLYHOLME IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

Bill O’Hara when he was Race Officer for the Ocean RaceBill O’Hara when he was Race Officer for the Ocean Race

Bill O’Hara first leapt to national fame when he skippered the Bangor Grammar School team to overall victory in the annual Britain & Ireland Schools Championship in Scotland in the days when it was an event of prime importance, which is now a very long time ago. Since then, he has starred in Olympic Finns and Lasers to the highest international levels, while his unrivalled race management expertise been enacted with many high-profile events, including the multi-stage round-the-world Ocean Race.

This in getting him to oversee their 2022 Worlds from 14th to 19th August at Skerries with a fleet of 104 boats, the GP 14 Asociation and Skerries SC really were getting one of the Main Men to see them through a challenging week, from which Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliff (GBR) emerged as the Champoons, while the top Irish were the host club’s Colman Grimes crewed by Rob Gingles at fifth, and the top female helm was Jane Kearney of Royal North of Ireland YC in 14th, crewed by Oliver Goodhead.

CON MURPHY OF DUN LAOGHAIRE IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

A round Ireland sailing record holder for 19 continuous years, Con Murphy is noted for many other sailing achievements A round Ireland sailing record holder for 19 continuous years, Con Murphy is noted for many other sailing achievements 

There are few sailors in Ireland with more eclectic interests afloat than Con Murphy, as he is the husband and father of Olympic sailors, his wife Cathy having raced the 470 in the 1988 Olympics, while his daughter Annalise won the Silver Medal in the Lasers in 2016 in Rio.

But with interests extending in many directions, he has long been a multi-hull enthusiast, and in September 1993 he persuaded the late Steve Fossett to bring his superb 60ft trimaran Lakota to Ireland for a joint tilt at the Round Ireland Record, which had stood since November 1986. They did it with such style that their new time stood until June 2016, when the three larger MOD 70 trimarans finally sliced a little more off it during that year’s multiple record-breaking Round Ireland race from Wicklow.

An eye for the beauty of sail – one of Con Murphy’s “snatched” images while organising the Fireballs on Lough Derg. Photo: Con MurphyAn eye for the beauty of sail – one of Con Murphy’s “snatched” images while organising the Fireballs on Lough Derg. Photo: Con Murphy

Such breadth of experience brings its own deep sense of reassuring calm at challenging moments during World Championships, and on Lough Derg in late August Con Murphy oversaw an enjoyment-plus Fireball Worlds which saw Tom Gillard (GBR) and Andy Thompson (East Antrim Boat Club) take the title, while the best all-Irish team of Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsaella (Royal St George YC) just missed the podium with a very commendable fourth overall in a notably strong fleet.

DAVID LOVEGROVE OF HOWTH IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

In his element – David Lovegrove assessing the readings while setting a course. Photo: Judith MalcolmIn his element – David Lovegrove assessing the readings while setting a course. Photo: Judith Malcolm

September is always a bit of a gamble as the time for staging a major sailing championship, for although the sea temperature may be at its warmest, the closing in of the evenings and a sometimes unexpected nip in the air can combine with big winds – usually from the west – to tell us that our predecessors in sailing may have been wise in drawing most sport afloat towards a close by the end of August.

Yet, with modern boats and the growing precision of weather forecast, early September can be a real Godsend in completing the season’s main national and international events. But when David Lovegrove arrived at the beginning of September to oversee the Royal Irish YC’ staging of the SB20 Worlds 2022, he may have seen it as just another day’s voluntary work at the top level of the sport, as he had already master-minded the Wave Regatta at Howth in early June, and he’d overseen a host of other lesser events throughout the summer before taking on the J/24 Euros at his home port in the week before the SB20 Worlds began across the bay.

It was a tough one. If September was coming in as a month of gentle mists and mellow fruitfulness, it was doing so somewhere other than Dublin Bay. This was the Big Boys’ Game, and no mistake. But they battered their way through, and by the end Jose Paulo Ramada of Portugal was the winner out of a 56-strong fleet, while best of the Irish were Royal St George’s Michael O’Connor, Davy Taylor and Edward Cook in fourth.

Afterwards, David Lovegrove supposedly retired home to rest for a while at his house on the Hill of Howth. But rumours abound about him being spotted in the main role aboard the Committee Boat at various events since the SB 20s were blasting so spectacularly around Dublin Bay. Either way, he certainly deserves praise for his extensive work on behalf of sailing.

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On Monday 21st November, the Irish Fireball Class Association held its AGM on Zoom, with an attendance of twenty-six people, including a number of new faces who have made their appearance in the boat over the course of the 2022 season – always an encouraging sign!

Chairman’s Report

After the reading of the minutes of the previous year’s AGM, by Class Secretary, Frank Miller, Chairman Neil Cramer gave an overview of the season just concluded, starting with a training event in Lough Derg at the start of the season and incorporating events in Blessington, Sutton, Killaloe and of course, the highly successful hosting of the 2022 Fireball World Championships which attracted an entry of eighty (80) boats, of which 29 were from Ireland. While a small core of individuals took responsibility for organising specific aspects of the event, the Chairman commended the whole membership for “getting stuck in” at the Worlds themselves. Given the circumstances by which the regatta had stayed in Ireland – Covid and a rejigging of the international calendar – transferring from one club to Lough Derg Yacht Club at relatively short notice - the regatta had been a huge success. Feedback from our international visitors had been extremely positive.

Domestic participation in our own events was modest with the consequence that we still need to embrace the idea of sharing venues with other classes in order to make events viable.

The Chairman also acknowledged that we had two invitations to Champion of Champions Regatta in Nationals winners Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix and President’s Invitees, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella. The former crew were unable to make the event, sailed in GP14s, while the latter finished 4th behind combinations who all have GP14 experience in their sailing CVs.

A discussion on the conditions for participation in the Champion of Champions regatta followed on from this report, specifically the requirement to have a National Judge in attendance at the Class Nationals.

2023 Regatta Programme

A provisional regatta list for 2023 is in consideration with an early start in Dun Laoghaire, a Leinsters in Skerries and Nationals in Dunmore East. Other possibilities will include visits to regular Fireball venues. Internationally, there is a Europeans in Portoroz, Slovenia in September and a convenient French Nationals in July. Dates for the UK Nationals weren’t immediately to hand. As dates and venues aren’t confirmed, no further details can be made public just yet.

Secretary’s Report 

Frank Miller updated the meeting on the activities from the secretary. Specific reference was made to the arrangements for the Fireball Worlds. Frank also elaborated on the efforts to get more people into the class and noted the number of former Fireballers who had returned to active sailing for the Worlds.

Treasurer’s Report

Marie Barry updated the meeting on the finances of the class which are in a healthy state. The enhanced entry to the Worlds had generated a bigger income, but conversely had also required a larger expenditure but due to the spreadsheets of Class Chairman, his tight rein on the numbers, good sponsorship and the efforts of all those at Lough Derg, a favourable balancing of the books had been achieved.

Election of Officers

The 2022 committee was re-elected en masse with the addition of Chris Bateman who has accepted a Youth Development role for the Class. Josh Porter continues as the Northern Rep. while Owen Sinnott continues in the role as Dun Laoghaire Class Captain and Paul Ter Horst is the Silver Fleet Class Captain. Class Chairman, Neil Cramer, Secretary, Frank Miller and Treasurer, Marie Barry retain these key roles. However, Frank Miller warned that the current officers can’t go on forever and younger members need to take on the mantle of leadership of the class.

Prize-giving

The Class’s prize-giving took place on Friday 25th November, in the National Yacht Club and Fireballs continue to race in the Viking Marine sponsored DMYC Frostbites between now and Christmas and in the New Year up to the end of March.

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Fireballs are having a hot time of it at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbite series in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At the first outing on November 6th, competitors faced challenging conditions with extreme gusts in the high twenties coming from unexpected directions, often 30 degrees off the average. This resulted in some capsizes, mostly to windward, in the fresh and chilly conditions.

Neil Colin and Margaret Casey prevailed in race one, closely followed home by Alistair Court and Gordon Syme. Just behind was Frank Miller sailing with crew Dave Coleman whom Miller shanghaied on the slipway. It was Coleman’s first test on trapeze of his new knee and happily, the pair stayed upright around the course so that knee may be tested again. A capsize saw Louise McKenna and Marjo Moonen relegated to fourth in that race. The chasing pack of the nine-boat fleet saw good close racing right down the line.

Franco Cassidy has been out sailing with his young son Hugh, the latter’s first time in a Fireball and on trapeze and the pair are rapidly improving every race.

The SID Fireball was out in the safe hands of Pat McGoldrick with Jos Dornschneider-Elkink, who edged in ahead of Cariosa Power and Marie Barry.

Nick Miller has bought Miller’s previous Fireball Blind Squirrel, and with Cearbhall Daly has raised his game. Glen Fisher is guest helming with Michael Keegan in the latter’s boat and enjoying good competition in the middle of the fleet. Race two on the 6th saw several head for shore as the breeze picked up a notch but in fact the wind eased a little while racing was underway. This race saw Court and Syme prevail over McKenna & Moonen with Miller & Coleman again 3rd. Fisher & Keegan were 4th & McGoldrick & Dornschneider-Elkink 5th with Nick Miller & Daly 6th.

Court/Syme lead Colin/Casey in a Fireball duel at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Pat KierseycCourt/Syme lead Colin/Casey in a Fireball duel at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Pat Kiersey

The following Sunday the forecast was pretty terrible and many expected racing to be cancelled, but in fact conditions in Dun Laoghaire Harbour were quite sailable. While it was windy and sometimes very windy, the wind was far more stable than the previous Sunday. Race officer Cormac Bradley wisely went for one long multiple round race with 6 triangles. Happily, for the Fireballs in winds in the high twenties, the gybe mark was set low and spinnakers could be carried on the reaching legs. Frank Miller and Ed Butler took full advantage and blazed their way around the course leading by a good margin from McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, the Cassidys and Fisher & Keegan.

The following Sunday 13th November another terrible forecast turned out to be all too accurate and racing was cancelled without any complaints from competitors! But the Sunday just gone, November 27th, saw the best racing so far of the series.

Eleven Fireballs rocked up for the start line, necessarily a short line set close to the harbour mouth at the West Pier. Race seven of the series was a Windward-Leeward affair in medium winds from the south and southeast. Race officer Cormac Bradley set the windward mark well down the corner of the East pier, making maximum use of the harbour and giving competitors plenty to think about in terms of strategy up the beat. While the better wind was on the left side of the course, shifting and bending wind off the shore provided plenty of opportunity for those going at least some of the way right also. Too far right could lead to disaster and mucky broken wind but equally, too far left could leave competitors out on a limb.

Miller sailing with Fireball chairman Neil Cramer ultimately prevailed in race one, but it was hot and heavy all the way around the course and places changed several times with Court & Syme and McKenna & O’Keeffe leading at different points in the race. The run was especially tricky as decent gusts propelled the chasing boats towards the leaders. Colin & Casey had minor gear failure in that race which left them in 5th to Owen Sinnott & Grattan Donnelly. The chasing pack had close racing all around the course. Race eight saw a four-round Olympic Triangle course signalled but the race team changed that to three rounds as the clock was ticking and the winter sun getting close to diving behind the Dublin Mountains. Again, it was hot and heavy for Fireballs around the course. Miller & Cramer narrowly led around the windward, followed by Court & Syme, McKenna & O’Keeffe and Colin & Casey. Everything changed on the second beat as Colin & Casey banged the left corner and found good breeze to steam in on the port layline. On the run Miller & Cramer managed to nip ahead after a gybe, but that pair lost the lead again on the final beat by going too far left seeking the magic Colin had found previously.

Court & Syme, McKenna and O’Keeffe and Colin & Casey sailed a more conservative middle right course and made the most of a couple of shifts and a few pockets of good breeze to finish in that order and see Miller & Cramer relegated to fourth. Again, the chasing pack had extremely close racing with Power & Barry prevailing over Sinnott and Donnelly, Fisher & Keegan staying just ahead of Colm Breen and son Rory, and Paul ter Horst and son Morris keeping the SID boat of McGoldrick & Dornschneider-Elkink. While Miller & Butler currently hold the overall lead by a very thin margin all bets are off for this winter series.

In light and medium conditions, both Colin & Casey and McKenna & O’Keeffe are deadly, while in all conditions Court & Syme are extremely fast and extremely consistent. What is abundantly clear is that this is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested winter series for Fireballers in some years.

Published in Fireball
Page 3 of 44

Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

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