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Fireballs & PY Dinghies Get Sailing in Dun Laoghaire Despite the Forecast!

25th January 2016

A review of Met Eireann’s Sea Area forecast on Saturday might have persuaded those who contest Dun Laoghaire’s Frostbites, that there would be little point in going to the harbour on Sunday afternoon – the forecast was for Force6/7 winds.

In reality, those who were on the water – a fleet of 40-odd boats, 3 GP14s, a Wayfarer, the K1, the Finn, 14 Lasers, 5 RS400s, Laser Vagos, Toppers and eight Fireballs – got two races in, initially in light enough conditions but with more wind developing as the afternoon wore on. The weather station on the harbour was recording 4.7 knots of breeze with a gust of 10.6 knots blowing from a southerly direction (173˚) in a balmy 14.4˚ when I arrived at the harbour. So much for F6 -7!

For the last-starting Fireballs, the majority view was to go left, so all eight boats were on starboard tack heading towards the east pier when the starting signal went. The boat on the pin however tacked quite early and crossed the others and on the basis that they were first at the first weather mark, I am going to credit that tactic to Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691). Indeed, the pecking order at the first mark was very interesting – Louise and Hermine led, followed by Class Chairman Marie Barry crewing for Cariosa Power (14854), followed by Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713), Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775), Dara McDonagh (14330), Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706).

At Mk 2 the lead boats sailed on towards the harbour mouth while Neil & Margaret gybed to sail a course towards the centre of the harbour before gybing back again to get around Mk3. I am not sure that they gained anything by that! The pecking order changed dramatically at Mk4 after a tight 3-sailer between Mks 2 & 3, when the fleet concertina-ed into itself. An apparent lack of wind and the presence of other boats at this mark saw a very different order established and manifested even further by the leading two boats getting away. At the second weather mark, Butler & Oram were ahead, followed by Miller & Donnelly, Colin & Casey, Power & Barry and Court & Syme. The lead boat at the first weather mark was now the tail-ender!

The breeze started to get up a little at this stage and the trend now was to sail on at Mk2 before gybing to round Mk3. The leg from 3 to 4 was also getting tighter and on the second lap, Messrs Butler & Oram did an Aussie-drop well before the last mark of the lap. What had been an iffy wind condition turned into a healthier situation so that the crews were now trapezing upwind and the off-wind legs were getting a bit more exciting. For Power and Barry, this resulted in a capsize between 3 and 4 on the third lap which put an end to their race. Butler & Oram built on their led over the latter half of the race to be comfortable winners in the end, followed home by Miller & Donnelly, Colin & Casey, Court & Syme and McKenna & O’Keeffe.

For the second start, in which there were seven boats, again the trend was to go left. Miller & Donnelly were closest to the pin, followed by Court & Syme, but the sense was that Butler & Oram were slightly to windward of both boats. Accordingly, he was the first to go right! All seven boats worked the middle and left and those who were closest to the port lay line seemed to be lifted into the mark. The only boat to be slightly out of kilter with the fleet was McKenna/O’Keeffe who ended up sailing a short distance up the starboard lay line. A more usual pecking order of Butler leading the fleet at the first weather mark was in place with Court and Miller in close company in 2nd and 3rd respectively. McKenna & McDonagh closed out the top five. Legs 1 – 2 and legs 3 – 4 were now much tighter, so much so that some of the lighter combinations two-sailed the top reach. Again, the modus operandi for 3 – 4 was to sail towards the harbour mouth before gybing back to round Mk3.

For the upwind legs, Butler seemed to make a point of taking a short port hitch to the right that then allowed him to apply a loose cover on the boats rounding behind him. Thereafter the process was to work left-wards and tack short of the lay-line to pick up the port tack lift into the weather mark.

Butler, Court and Miller had a comfortable gap on the balance of the fleet and at the last weather mark the time intervals were as follows; Butler (00:00), Court (00:50), Miller (01:13), McKenna (01:58), McDonagh (02:48), Chambers (03:22) and Power (03:55).


2015/16 Frostbites: Series 2 Overall (Assumes no discard) R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Tot
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 1 4 1 1 1 1 9
2 Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley/Grattan Donnellyu 14713 DMYC 4 2 3 4 2 3 20
3 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 2 1 2 2 10 9 26
4 Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 14775 DMYC 3 3 5 3 3 9 26
5 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keefe 14691 RStGYC 5 5 6 5 5 4 30
Published in Fireball
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At A Glance – Fireball Dinghy Specs

Crew 2 (single trapeze)
LOA 16 ft 2 in (4.93 m)
Beam 4 ft 6 in (1.37 m)
Hull weight 175 lb (79 kg)
Mast height 22.3 ft (6.8 m)
Mainsail area 108 sq ft (10.0 m2).
Jib / Genoa area 35 sq ft (3.3 m2).
Spinnaker area 140 sq ft (13 m2).

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