#fireball – Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (15114) put together an almost flawless defence of their 2014 Irish Fireball Nationals title in Dunmore East over this past weekend writes Cormac Bradley. Almost flawless? They dropped one race in the nine-race event, finishing second in Race 7, but winning all other races.
International Race Officer Con Murphy (Dun Laoghaire) was given a set of challenging conditions to work with over the weekend. Due to the wind direction we had three days of big seas and waves, prompting a 2hr postponement on the Saturday morning when we were joined on the race course by Flying Fifteens and 420s. As he stated at the Saturday morning briefing, the wind strength (+ 20 knots) and sea conditions warranted holding back the fleet for safety reasons. As he admitted, tongue in cheek afterwards, the race committee team on board the 36-foot committee boat wanted some respite from the rolling seas as well.
McCartin & Kinsella made a clean sweep of Days 1 & 2, winning each of three Windward/Leeward races on both days. Kenny Rumball & Brian Byrne (15058) and the Clancy Brothers, Conor and James (15113) shared out the seconds and thirds between themselves, with the exception of Race 4 when Mick Creighton & Hugh Johnson (1506X) took third place. As my interim reports tried to convey, the first three boats were comfortable in their positions and one has to admit the racing among them was a bit processional.
Behind them there was a different story! Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) and Creighton & Johnson, were sharing the next raft of places on the water. Mike Murphy & Alex Voye (14908) had a poor first day when their centreboard gasket parted from the hull. This cost them two races on Day 1, but they finished with a flourish taking 4th place in the last race of the day. Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe (14691) had their best day on Friday counting a 6th and 2 x 8th, while Mary Chambers & Cormac Bradley (14865) after missing the first race due to a work commitment, entered the fray with a 7th and a retirement. The youngest combination on the water, Edward Coyne and Adrian Lee (14044) from Youghal, not Kinsale as previously reported, took eighth place in the first race.
On each of the first two days the wind was at its strongest early in the morning and eased as the day wore on. But the sea conditions made it a very physical sail and on the Friday evening some crews admitted to taking an early nap in order to sustain themselves for the rest of the evening.
On Sunday morning the fleet was greeted with a rain shower as they rigged up but this soon passed to give way to sunshine conditions again. Rather than wait for the Flying Fifteens to launch first, the Fireballs were encouraged to launch with them in order to get racing underway on time (10:30). For a change the wind was modest, but the seas were still there. This was reflected by the fact that the fleet rounded the first weather mark of the day in a bunch. Gybing immediately at the spreader mark paid dividends and as the fleet approached the leeward gate they were still in good company. A gust came through as the leeward gate loomed and this caused a number of capsizes under spinnaker, leading to two retirements – this correspondent being one of them. That means I can't tell you how Rumball & Byrne took the race win.
After the gust disappeared the wind stayed up but sunshine returned and order was restored with McCartin & Kinsella taking the last two races. Team Clancy fell off the pace a little, recording a 4th and a 5th in these last races but they were never in danger of losing their overall spot in the pecking order.
Brian Byrne, Kenneth Rumball
Conor Clancy, James Clancy
Adrian Lee, Edward Coyne
Mike Murphy, now with son James on board took full advantage of the conditions to record a 4, 3, 3, on Sunday, while Miller & Butler scored two fifths and a fourth.
Colin & Casey's regatta came to a premature end when the hook attaching the kicker to the base of the mast broke and McKenna & O'Keeffe's regatta was cut short by a loose gudgeon on the rudder.
The prize-giving was held in fantastic sunshine on the deck of the clubhouse and due thanks were given to all those who had contributed to a great weekend of racing. The hosting of three classes at a single venue over the same weekend is the only way that these events are viable for clubs. Our current fleet size does allow us to secure a venue by ourselves so we have to partner with other classes if we are to put a calendar together.
Another concern for the Irish Fireball Class must be the low numbers we are experiencing at present. Ten boats is a very poor turnout and means we have to really consider why the numbers are what they are? All events suffer from occasional absences but we no longer have the depth of numbers to accommodate occasional absences when our core fleet is so small.
The club distribution of the Nationals reads as follows:- Royal St George Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, 3, Irish National Sailing Club, Dun Laoghaire, 1, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, 3, Dun Laoghaire/Clontarf composite, 1, Waterford Harbour Sailing Club (hosts), 1 and Youghal Sailing Club, 1. Of these clubs, three had their full turn-out of known Fireballs at the club, INSC, WHSC and Youghal. Another Dun Laoghaire Fireballer stood at the top of the slipway on the one morning in Dunmore East curious as to why there were so few Fireballs racing.
We don't have an exhaustive calendar with a plethora of events – 5 regattas spread over six months – Open in May, Ulsters in June, Nationals in July, Munsters in September and Leinsters in October. We had a training event in April and the Worlds, organised by others, are in August in Wales.
Of the other clubs where we know there are Fireballs – Skerries (1), Killaloe (4/5), Clontarf (4/5), East Down Yacht Club (2/3) – none were available. On Tuesday of last week, six boats contested the Tuesday race of Dublin Bay Sailing Club and this forthcoming weekend (9th – 12th July), eight Fireballs are registered to contest the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, even with other Fireball commitments to big boat racing.
The Fireball Worlds take place in Pwllheli, Wales, in the second half of August and it would appear at this stage as if our involvement there will be disproportionately high relative to the size of our domestic fleet size. It is an interesting contrast!
Dunmore East were exceptional hosts again – fresh scones with jam and cream available every morning in the clubhouse, at no charge, an excellent BBQ on the Saturday night and bar staff who kept the drinks flowing until a good hour. Volunteer members cooked and served the meal on Saturday night. Two parties of Fireballers ended up in the same post-mortem venue on the Friday evening – The Spinnaker Bar & Restaurant – before adjourning back to the clubhouse.
Con Murphy espoused punctuality on the race course, starting races on time, turning them around very quickly and starting Fireball races while the "Fifteens" and 420s were still racing.
2015 Irish Fireball Nationals, Waterford Harbour Sailing Club, Overall Results.
1 Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella 15114 RStGYC 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 7pts
2 Kenneth Rumball & Brian Byrne 15058 INSC 2 2 3 5 2 2 1 2 2 13pts
3 Conor & James Clancy 15113 RStGYC 3 3 2 2 3 3 3 4 5 19pts
4 Mike Murphy & Alex Voye/James Murphy 14908 WHSC 11 11 4 11 4 4 4 3 3 33pts
5 Mick Creighton & Hugh Johnson 1506X GBC 5 6 7 3 5 5 8 6 6 36pts
The Classic Trophy and the Silver Fleet Prize were won by Edward Coyne and Adrian Lee of Youghal Sailing Club.The regatta prizes and the event overall enjoyed support from sponsors Ernest & Young and the Club Commodore presented the prizes to the three fleets.
For some Irish Fireballers, their next event is across the pond in Wales. For the balance, there is a hiatus until we reconvene at Lough Derg Sailing Club in September for the Munsters. This again will be a shared venue with Wayfarers and 420s.