Well, that speculation proved to be off the mark as two new combinations took podium places leaving only one of the aforementioned combinations inside the 1-2-3!
Twenty Fireballs made it to the southern shores of Carlingford Lough on Ireland's East coast, a sea lough that straddles the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. A town with a growing reputation for entertainment and great eating venues, in medieval times it enjoyed city status, having its own garrison, castle, mint and gaol. King John's Castle dominates the harbour and with the new network of roads, access from Dublin, in particular, is very easy and quick.
With the Worlds in Ireland only weeks away, the fleet has seen an injection of new young talent with relatively young boats and the purchase of two new boats over the winter months. Of the twenty boats assembled, the oldest was 14623 and the youngest 15061.
Four races were sailed on Saturday in a SSE wind of anything up to about 10-12 knots and moderate chop in a session that saw the fleet launch at around 11:15 and get back ashore by 18:30. Race Officer James Byrne of the home club, Carlingford Sailing Club, had his work cut out for him but with on-the-water liaison from the Class, he was able to tweak his courses to provide the competition and challenge that these events demand. Despite some people saying that the venue always produces "flukey" winds, we were blessed with relatively consistent winds in a venue where tide considerations are also significant.
Normal business seemed to have been resumed in the first race when Noel Butler & Stephen Oram took the winning gun followed home by the new combination of Graeme Grant & Francis Rowan and Kenny Rumball & Seamus Moore. The winning margin was comfortable which was consistent with the recent Tuesday night racing in Dublin Bay. Rowan has the reputation for settling in with a new partner quickly so the 2nd place of Grant/Rowan wasn't particularly unusual. A possible mis-calculation of the tide effect made for a very long beat so RO Byrne shortened to two laps.
Race 2 saw these three in the top slots again but with a different finishing order; Grant/Rowan, Rumball/Moore and Butler/Oram. The racing was tighter and the distance between the boats on the water was significantly down. The racing in the top half of the fleet was very tight with no great distance between 1-2-3 and 6-7-8 as the author of this report can testify. There was a sense that in 6th place one wasn't too far away from the action at the very front of the fleet. Simo McGrotty/Ruairi Grimes scored a 4th in Race 2, followed home by Gavin Doyle/Richard Frank and the author, crewing for Louis Smyth.
Butler/Oram took their second win in Race 3, with newcomers Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella in 2nd and Andy Boyle/Brian Flahive in 3rd. These latter two combinations had a mixed bag of results in the first two races but these results would initiate a move for both of them up the overall pecking order. Grant/Rowan & Rumball/Moore were 4th & 5th to make sure that nobody was breaking away completely from the fleet.
Others were not finding the conditions quite to their liking! Neil Colin and Margaret Casey were marginally off the pace and it was proving to be a day when marginal could be costly. Ditto Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly and to a lesser extent Damien Bracken & Brian O'Hara out of Clontarf!
Race 4 saw Grant/Rowan win again followed home by McCartin/Kinsella, Butler/Oram, McGrotty/Grimes and Boyle/Flahive. Rumball/Moore had their worst result of the day with a 6th. Mick creighton & Joe O'Reilly had a consistent day counting 2 x 7th, an 8th and a 9th to stay inside the top ten overall.
6 boats were contesting the Silver fleet and they too had good racing in each race. Newcomers Ben Malone & Matthew Bennion were doing enough to keep the more experienced Ian O'Gorman and Glen Tislen at bay while O'Gorman/Tislen were keeping ahead of Jonathan Nicholoson and Vivian Bessler.
As soon as he got off the water, O'Gorman retired to the galley where he had assembled a team to provide the Saturday evening dinner. A superb spread was offered to the competitors and many a post-mortem occupied the fleet until the bar shut up shop sometime after midnight.
While Saturday had been grey and misty, the wind had allowed four races to be sailed and that proved to be a wise decision as the forecast for Sunday was not quite so favourable! The wind swung further into the south and built as the morning went on. As the fleet prepared to go afloat, white horses were populating the waters of the Lough in what was an offshore breeze relative to the club. The RO and his team hared off northwards into the broader part of the Lough in the hope of finding more stable winds and initially the conditions looked good, but challenging. The stalwarts went out for the scheduled 12:30 start but there was reticence among the majority of the fleet. By the time the lead boats had made the start area, the wind and seas had increased significantly and the decision to abandon racing was taken. Those who had ventured out confirmed it was the right decision.
|Pos||Helm & Crew||Sail No.||Club||Results||Total Pts|
|1||Graeme Grant & Francis Rowan||IRL 14807||Royal St. George||2, 1, 4, 1||4|
|2||Noel Butler & Stephen Oram||IRL 15061||1, 3, 1, 3||5|
|3||Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella||IRL 14820||Cushendall||5, 10, 2, 2||9|
|4||Kenny Rumball & Seamus Moore||IRL 15058||INSC||3, 2, 5, 6||10|
|5||Simon McGrotty & Ruairi Grimes||IRL 14981||Skerries||6, 4, 6, 4||14|
|15||Ben Malone & Matthew Bennion||IRL 14939||Skerries & DIT||15, 16, 13, 14||42|
|16||Ian O’Gorman & Glen Tislen||IRL 14623||Carlingford SC||17, 14, 15, 16||45|
|17||Jonathan Nicholson & Vivian Bessler||IRL 14781||Royal St. George||18, 20, 17, 12||47|
Thus the standing order from the previous day's exertions proved to be the final positioning.