Waterford Harbour Sailing Club are well used to hosting our final regatta of the season as this is the third year in a row in which we have closed off the regatta season there. Consequently, it has also hosted our Class AGM which is now held on the last Saturday evening of the regatta season.
The Irish fleet have had a good season in that each of the four preceding regattas have had a different winner:- Graeme Grant & Francis Rowan in the shortened Leinsters in Carlingford Lough, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram the Open Championships as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, Simon McGrotty & Ruairi Grimes the Ulsters in Belfast Lough and Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella the Nationals in Dun Laoghaire, hosted by DMYC.
The consequence of this spread of winners is that the Travellers' Trophy, the season long competition for the fleet, sees first second and third separated by a single point between them. Butler/Oram are atop the pile with 6pts, McCartin/Kinsella have 7pts and McGrotty/Grimes 8pts. There is then a comfortable gap of five points to fourth overall, occupied by Conor Clancy & Francis Rowan, tied with Kenny Rumball & Seamus Moore. This gave Butler/Oram the "nod" for the ISA's sailing Championship regatta!
Positions 6 – 10 sees a spread of 14pts with combinations such as Andy Boyle & Brian Flahive, Diana Kissane & Matthew Bennion separated by 3pts, Damien Bracken & Brian O'Hara tied with Kissane/Bennion in 8th, 6pts ahead of Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley who have a 5pt cushion on Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly who scored a race win in the Ulsters to strike a blow for the more senior campaigners in the fleet.
In the overall standings in the Silver fleet, Cearbhall Daly & Martina Michels are four points ahead of Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire in 13th and 14th overall respectively.
This season has also seen an influx of new young talent with Diana Kissane, in particular, giving the stalwarts a wake-up call in her debut season in the class. There are whispers that this is only a stepping stone to a 470 campaign but she has shown a significant turn of speed and was prominent in the Open Championships and the Nationals and had a good Worlds. In winning the Nationals, McCartin/Kinsella confirmed what we suspected - that they were no flash in the pan. McCartin has been successful in Toppers and also featured well in Sligo. Between these two and the Skerries combination of McGrotty/Grimes, Messrs Butler/Oram, Clancy/Rowan and Rumball/Moore have had their work cut out for them. Boyle/Flahive and Bracken/O'Hara will also want to finish out the season with a low scoring regatta.
Assuming these combinations are in Dunmore East, this is where the winners will come from.
Last year's regatta in Dunmore East saw strong winds and big seas which took its toll on the fleet with two very unfortunate accidents and boat damage. XC Weather is already suggesting that wind will be in good supply for the weekend.
The excellent news for the fleet is that Harry Gallagher will be the Race Officer for the weekend and combined with the hospitality of WHSC, this bodes well for the weekend. Harry was Race Officer for the Westport Nationals of 2008 & 9 and is the incumbent RO for the Dinghy course in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, an event that Fireball has participated in since its inception. His will be a popular appointment!
A comprehensive agenda for the AGM has been published on the website and circulated to class members. In addition to the regular features of reports and elections, there are two discussion items for the fleet to consider:- the number of regattas on the domestic circuit and the future operation of the Silver Fleet. There is a suggestion that in terms of time, travelling and cost, five regattas might not be in the best interests of the Class in the current economic climate. The suggestion of "piggy-backing" with other fleets or club events, to create two regattas for the cost of one, has been mooted. This might make hosting events more attractive to clubs where volunteers are also under increasing time constraints! With respect to the operation of the Silver fleet, we need to review how it is working with smaller numbers being allocated to the fleet on a regatta by regatta basis. Again there is a suggestion that a new model for our two-fleet regatta may be required.