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As a promotion for the Fireball Worlds 2022 in Lough Derg YC Dromineer, the Irish Fireball Association has mobilised two loan boats to give young teams a chance to assess the high-performance two-hander.

One boat has already been loaned to a youth team based in Lough Derg who will be using the winter to get up to speed before taking on the challenge of the worlds at the club next August.

A second boat, a top condition “white” Winder, is now available to a responsible youth team who may wish to take on the DMYC Frostbites challenge.

As the sailing season moves into Autumn/Winter mode dinghy sailors in Leinster are turning their attention to the DMYC Frostbite series.

The famous series, running since 1969, starts on the first Sunday in November and runs right through to the end of March, with a Christmas/New Year break. This is one of the great events of the year, short sharp Sunday racing in Fireballs and Lasers and other assorted PY dinghies and it presents an ideal opportunity to try out a Fireball in lively but controllable conditions as racing is frequently inside Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Interested sailors need to move quickly as parking space will rapidly be taken up in all the waterfront clubs and in the Coal Harbour.

For frostbites entry go direct to dmyc.ie and to enquire about the loan Fireball contact class secretary Frank Miller at [email protected]

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wJosh Porter and Cara McDowell are the new Fireball Munster Champions after seven races at Lough Derg Yacht Club over the weekend. The pair showed outstanding consistency and speed over the races in a wide variety of conditions.

Their achievement is all the more impressive because they beat the rest of the 15-boat fleet in a relatively older Fireball which was totally refurbished by Porter over the last two winters. Going by the premise that Winder built FRP Fireballs remain stiff and light right throughout their lives he removed all the original gel coat and recoated the boat in two-pack acrylic paint.

The result is a twenty-something aged boat that actually looks, and obviously performs, like a brand-new boat.

The two-day event saw sailors challenged by a massive range of conditions, from quite light in the early race on the Saturday to impressive squalls on the Sunday. Race officer John Leech and his team gave the fleet a variety of courses from plain triangles to Olympic Triangles. Turnarounds were extremely impressive, especially considering that the racecourse was shared with the Mirror class competing in their Southern Championships. Sailing conditions throughout the two days of racing were as varied as you might expect from a lake famous for its decent winds, but a lake nonetheless.

For most of the races, crews were in trapezing mode and at times some of the lighter teams struggled with the conditions, especially on tight spinnaker reaches. In race one, a short triangular course in light airs, Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe got away cleanly off the line and sped away from the competition finding wind on the right side of the course and proved uncatchable by the chasing fleet. They were followed across the finish line by Ed Og Butler sailing with Ismail Inan and Josh Porter/Cara McDowell.

Fireball Munsters Photo Gallery by Joe St. Leger

Race two was another triangular race in much better breeze and this was won by Porter/McDowell, with Butler Og/Inan closely behind. Race three was won by the Thompson brothers Daniel and Harry, though this fast pairing struggled somewhat to find their usual speed and consistency throughout the event.

A forensic overnight rigging analysis on the Saturday identified a couple of issues that kept them off their usual pace. Porter/McDowell won the final race on the Saturday and went into a solid overnight lead, with Butler Og/Inan lying second and Frank Miller/Ed Butler Snr lying third, just a point ahead of McKenna/O’Keeffe.

Sunday morning racing was due to start at 9.55 am and race officer John Leech’s early call proved correct as the fleet awoke to bright sunshine and a snappy breeze. In the autumn sunshine, Lough Derg provided a stunning backdrop to the day’s activities.

Courses for the day were of the Olympic Triangle and races longer than the previous day in the improved breeze. Porter/McDowell won race five in good breeze but with significant shifts and light patches, with Butler Og/Inan again close behind. Before the start of race six the sky darkened and with signs of a squall approaching rigs were altered. The squall arrived in time for the first reach forcing lighter crews to drop their kites while the heavier teams revelled in the conditions. By the time the second reach was over the squall had passed and the more skilled sailors found the best routes around the course in the somewhat shifty conditions which followed. Once again Porter/McDowell emerged on top, this time with the Thompsons in second.

The final race was especially challenging with the fleet dealing with a gentler squall and uneven wind over the course. As the breeze appeared to be softening the race was shortened to the finish line after the second leeward mark rounding at the end of the run. On that run, however, places changed with those opting early for the gybe to the inside winning out. Thus, Butler Og/Inan and Miller/Butler Snr winning out over previous leaders. Butler Og took that win with the Thompson brothers second and Miller/Butler Snr in third. McKenna/O’Keeffe were particularly unlucky as they had led for much of the race and their 5th place in that race effectively lost them third overall in the series. When the scores were added up Porter/McDowell were the absolutely deserving winners on ten points with Butler Og/Inan a reasonably close second on 13 points. Miller/Butler Snr were 3rd overall of 20 points due to relatively a consistent Ent performance and four third place scores.

The silver fleet trophy was won by Killaloe sailors Andrew Mullaly and David Tanner, with Mick O’Callaghan/Neil Cramer second and Paul and Moris Ter Horst third. Clodagh Nash and Moris Ter Horst won the Under-21 prizes. Special mention should be made of transition year youth team Oscar George and Ella O’Callaghan who sailed one of the two Fireball class loan boats.

The lightweight pair showed gumption and promise and did extremely well for a first outing in a Fireball which they saw for the first time three days before the event. They were awarded the Classic Prize for their efforts and the class have awarded them a loan boat to practice throughout the winter with a view to competing in the World Championships at the club from 21st to 26th August next year. The 2021 Munster Championships proved to be a fantastic challenging event for all sailors, with a variety of conditions to test sailors of all abilities and weights. The event gave competitors a taste of what to expect for the worlds next August when some 80 Fireballs from around the world are expected to enjoy sailing in one of Ireland’s most beautiful sailing destinations.

Fireball Munster Championships scoresheetFireball Munster Championships scoresheet

Prizegiving photographs by Joe St Leger

Fireball Trophies prior to presentation  at Lough Derg Yacht clubFireball Trophies prior to presentation at Lough Derg Yacht Club

Overall winners - Cara McDowell and Josh Porter Overall winners - Cara McDowell and Josh Porter

Second overall - Ed Og Butler with Ismail Inan and Commodore of LDYC Joe GilmartinSecond overall - Ed Og Butler with Ismail Inan and Commodore of LDYC Joe Gilmartin

Third overall - Ed Butler Snr and Frank Miller with Commodore Joe GilmartinThird overall - Ed Butler Snr and Frank Miller with Commodore Joe Gilmartin

Silver fleet winners -David Tanner and Andrew MullalySilver fleet winners -David Tanner and Andrew Mullaly

Classic prize - Youth sailors Oscar George and Ella O'Callaghan with Commodore Classic prize - Youth sailors Oscar George and Ella O'Callaghan with Commodore

Race officer John LeechRace officer John Leech

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Noel Butler and Stephen Oram retained their Fireball Ulster champions title after five races at Newtownards SC at the weekend. The event took place under something of a weather cloud – the forecast for the weekend was not good – but as it turned out the forecast for the top corner of Strangford Lough greatly underestimated the wind for the event. Certainly, when sailors arrived on Friday evening everything was agreeing with the forecasters' plan – enough drizzle and then rain to make the sailors glad they had opted for camper vans and B&B’s rather than tents. But things brightened up on Saturday morning and by the time the fleet was afloat a very respectable eight to ten knots of breeze was becoming established. Race officer Ruan O’Tiarnaigh wasted no time in getting things started with a windward-leeward course and race one was won by Butler/Oram with Josh Porter/Neil Cramer in second and brothers Daniel and Harry Thompson third.

Race two was an Olympic Triangle started in more breeze and the appearance of a distinct chop. Again Butler/Oram prevailed, stretching their lead on the fleet with exceptional speed and coordination around the course, chased by the Thompson brothers and Ed Butler Jnr sailing with Sean Collins. Race three was another Olympic Triangle and the breeze was up a notch or two just before the start. With the exemplary turn-arounds, not everyone raked their rigs and Frank Miller/Ed Butler prioritized their sandwich lunch over rig adjustment, a decision they came to regret. Yet again Butler/Oram sped away from the opposition in a cloud of spray, as the wind increased with gusts of around 18 knots, this time with Butler Jnr/Collins in hot pursuit and Porter/Cramer behind them. Miller and Butler Snr came to a sudden halt on a windy run when they ran into a thicket of seaweed, and capsized while trying to clear the raised and departing rudder. The pair recovered from a turtle to finish the race within the time limit.

Leo Hickey sailing with his father Ciaran Leo Hickey sailing with his father Ciaran

Sunday morning was bright and lovely but with initially no sign of wind. A patient race team went out to test the waters and discovered some breeze offshore and the fleet were summoned. Two windward-leeward races took place in light airs. The first in semi-trapezing conditions at times but the second in very light airs. While Butler/Oram again led the fleet home in race one they were reeled in during race two by Porter/Cramer who made better sense of the tricky and shifty conditions. The downwind legs were especially tricky with the boats split in several directions seeking the best patches of breeze and the optimum angles to keep the kites full. All in all this was another great weekend’s sailing with excellent close competition in a wide range of conditions. Several aspects of the weekend deserve special mention – the generous hospitality of Newtownards SC and its team of volunteers on and off the water; Merideth Grieve who sailed with Michael Cox on the windy day, her first time in a Fireball and her first time on trapeze; the sight of Josh Porter’s stunning restoration of a twenty-something Winder Fireball to like-new perfection in mid-grey with bright orange foils; the food; the selection of craft beers at the bar; the lightning-fast turnarounds of races by Ruan and his team and last and not least the fact that you can never completely trust a forecast.

Josh Porter’s stunning restoration of a twenty-something Winder Fireball to like-new perfection in mid-greyJosh Porter’s stunning restoration of a twenty-something Winder Fireball to like-new perfection in mid-grey

Final results – first overall Butler/Oram; second Porter/Cramer who beat the equal points Thompson brothers into third by winning race five.

Some of the fleet picking their optimum angles on a very light downwind leg...Some of the fleet picking their optimum angles on a very light downwind leg...

The latter were victims to the black flag in race four when they pulled the trigger on the start line a second early. The silver fleet prize was won by Ciaran Hickey and his son Leo. Next up for Fireballs is an ideal opportunity to test the waters at Lough Derg YC, Dromineer, on 18th and 19th September. There will be particular interest in this event, and a scramble to beg, borrow or steal a Fireball, as LDYC host the Fireball Worlds next August.

Noel Butler and Stephen Oram, overall winners Noel Butler and Stephen Oram, overall winners

Josh (2nd) with Silver Fleet winners Ciaran Hickey and son Leo.Josh (2nd) with Silver Fleet winners Ciaran Hickey and son Leo.

The Thomson Bros Daniel and HarryThe Thomson Bros Daniel and Harry

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Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella are the new Fireball National Championships after eight races in Dublin Bay over the weekend. Second-placed at the event, hosted by the DMYC, were Noel Butler and Stephen Oram while the Thompson brothers Daniel and Harry took third. The event was compressed into two days of racing when Friday was lost to zero breeze.

Saturday proved the best day in terms of wind with a solid North-Easterly providing decent pressure and full trapezing conditions. Principal race officer Suzanne McGarry and her team did a brilliant job in getting four solid races under the belt by mid-afternoon when the sea breeze showed signs of weakening. Two windward-leeward courses were followed by two Olympic Triangular courses with exemplary turnarounds.

McCartin/Kinsella dominated the 13 boat fleet on Saturday though they didn't have things entirely their own way with the Thompsons posting a win in race two. The pair showed great coordination and teamwork around the race track. While they squeezed the optimum VMG out of the boat upwind they were exceptionally fast offwind, especially on the triangular courses.

On the Sunday morning a different set of conditions greeted sailors who initially roasted ashore in high temperatures but zero breeze. After a postponement of an hour, however, the sea-breeze started to fill and racing got underway in lightish but very sailable conditions. Again race officer Suzanne McGarry started with windward-leeward courses and followed up with two Olympic Triangles. McCartin/Kinsella again led the fleet for the first two bullets but the third race was led by Butler/Oram while the series leaders headed ashore to fulfil a work commitment.

Noel Butler and Stephen Oram were secondNoel Butler (right) and Stephen Oram were second

Daniel and Harry Thompson who were third overallDaniel and Harry Thompson who were third overall

Race 8 took place without the event leaders and Butler/Oram posted another win. However, McCartin/Kinsella had done enough with five races wins and a second to discard the last two races and still win the overall by a margin of 5 points. Further back in the fleet there was great close racing all the way through. Lizzy McDowell sailing with her cousin Chara in a borrowed boat were right on the pace and came in into their own on day two. They were unfortunate to be U-flagged in the final race but they were in good company as the Thompsons and Louise McKenna/ McKenna/Hermine O'Keeffe suffered the same fate. Frank Miller/Ed Butler had a better first day than second but managed to hold onto 4th overall.

The McDowell cousins placed 5th and took the silver prize while second silver was Colm Breen with his son Cormac and third were Dave Coleman sailing with Aidan Caulfield.

Colm Breen and son Cormac (2nd silver)Colm Breen and son Cormac (2nd silver)

Aidan Caulfield (3rd silver) (left) with DMYC Commodore Dermot ReidyAidan Caulfield (3rd silver) (left) with DMYC Commodore Dermot Reidy

There were notable new faces at the event with youngsters Daniel Hrymac crew Harvey, young Robin Nash sailing with her father Glen and veteran Ciaran Hickey returning to the fray. All in all a great event in semi-tropical conditions and all credit to the race team who managed to squeeze 8 races in to complete the series.

Next up for the Fireballers is the Ulsters in Newtownards on August 21/22 and on September 18/19 the fleet head to Dromineer to sample the conditions at Lough Derg YC, the venue of the Fireball World Championships next year.

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Royal St.George's Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella head into the last day of racing at the Fireball National Championships with one hand on the trophy.

The championships are being hosted by the DMYC at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. 

As regular Afloat readers know the McCartin and Kinsella pairing are past Irish champions and also international performers finishing in the top five of the British National Championships with similar top ten results at European and World levels too.

 

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Thirteen Fireballs rocked up to the start line for the Fireball Leinster Championships at Skerries SC at the weekend. Daniel Thompson (Wexford SC) sailing with Barry McCartin (Sat) and Ronan Wallace (Sun) won the event after 6 races over two days in thrilling conditions.

On Saturday the wind was a solid 10-14 knots and the race team of PRO Liam Dinneen assisted by Helen Ryan and Micheline Shiels managed to get four Olympic Triangle type races under the belt by the day’s end. While team McCartin/Thompson were pre-eminent they did not have things all their own way and had to fight for every inch on the course. Unusually Daniel Thompson took on the crew role and that unusual mix caused a couple of hiccups including a capsize. While they won three of the races Frank Miller and Ed Butler were always close behind and managed to win one of the races placing them in second place overnight Saturday. Just behind them by one point were Ed Butler Jnr sailing very fast with his old 420 shipmate Sean Collins in a Fireball borrowed from Miller. There were plenty of other contenders around the course – Alistair Court and Gordon Syme were sailing Court’s brand-new Fireball on its maiden voyage and were extremely fast, though held back by a couple of minor rigging problems. Also up there in every race were locals Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer. The pair were extremely consistent and never far from the front though perhaps surprisingly didn’t seem to gain any advantage from local knowledge of tides and wind bends.

Second overall Ed Butler Jnr (left) and Sean CollinsSecond overall Ed Butler Jnr (left) and Sean Collins

Third overall - Frank Miller and Ed Butler SnrThird overall - Frank Miller and Ed Butler Snr

On Saturday the start time was close to low water and the tide in the early races didn’t appear to play a huge part. While the better wind was frequently offshore this wasn’t always the case and some careful playing of shifts while staying in the best breeze is probably what kept McCartin/Thompson at the top. Also hot were Sligo duo Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield. That team showed good speed and coordination to remain contenders throughout the event. Veteran Kieran Harkin, sailing with Ismail Inan, appeared after a long absence in the borrowed rocket called Let’s Get Messy. After a slightly rocky first day, they found their full speed by the Sunday. A very welcome feature of the event was the number of newer younger sailors who have bought modern Fireballs over the last 18 months.

Silver Fleet winners Paul Ter Horst and his son MorrisSilver Fleet winners Paul Ter Horst and his son Morris

Sailing in the Silver Fleet Paul Ter Horst and his son Morris revelled in the conditions and ultimately took the top Silver Prize. Second Silver were Brenda Nash and Glen Fischer (with Dave Coleman guesting on Sunday) and third Silver were another father-son combination of Colm and Rory Breen. Special mention should be made of team SID. The Sailing in Dublin organisation has a Fireball in its armoury and were ably represented by Pat McGoldrick and Pavlo Tishkin. One of the reasons the race officer opted to punch in a 4th race was that Sunday’s forecast was relatively light. When this writer checked the Windy forecast at 8 am Sunday some 8-10 knots were promised. However, another competitor checked at 9am and everything had changed. The strong south easterlies which were to remain offshore were now set to move in. And thus, it turned out.

Second in the Silver fleet Brenda Nash and Glen Fischer Second in the Silver fleet Brenda Nash and Glen Fischer

Before the start of the first race on Sunday teams scrambled to change their rig settings from light to medium and in the case of the lighter crews to heavy. Two cracking races in 12-16 knots with 20-knot gusts ensued both Olympic Triangle, which tested teams to the limit. The reaches were spectacular as crews flew downwind on impressive waves. There was a change in the pecking order in these conditions as Ed Butler Jnr and Sean Collins really found their pace.

The pair started well in both races and sailed quite free with plenty of board up to achieve maximum speed and led both races by a very respectable margin. Daniel Thompson helming with another 420 ace Ronan Wallace punched in two seconds while Miller/Butler snr scored a 3rd and a 5th which was to be their discard.

When the spray cleared and the sums were done team Thompson/McCartin/Wallace were the clear overall winners with Butler Jnr/Collins second and Miller/Butler Snr third.

All in all, this was one of the best Fireball events in some time, made all the sweeter after the long interregnum of the pandemic. The fleet gathers at the DMYC in three weeks’ time for the National Championships which is expected to see a return of Noel Butler/Stephen Oram to defend their title against some increasingly youthful and talented competition. With a World Championships in Lough Derg YC next year the fleet is in resurgent mode and all around the country, the search is on to free dormant boats from captivity for the current season but also for the forthcoming Worlds. The class is keen to encourage young teams to take up the Fireball challenge and will assist them in any way they can to take up the Fireball challenge.

For further information contact the class secretary at [email protected]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Value of GRIB style synoptic charts

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

First beat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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