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Fireballs Game of Two Halves on Dublin Bay

29th June 2016
The Clancy brothers, Conor & James were Fireball winners in last night's DBSC race The Clancy brothers, Conor & James were Fireball winners in last night's DBSC race Credit:

Last night’s edition of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s Fireball racing was, to use the football parlance, a game of two halves. In the first half a reasonable breeze out of the SE (approximately) gave the 8-boat Fireball fleet an interesting time on the water writes Cormac Bradley. By my reckoning high tide was close to race start time but from the east pier, the committee boat appear to be swinging to a combination of tide and wind giving a very curious angle of the start line relative to the weather mark, which was situated in the direction of the 40-foot bathing spot.

Three boats fought to secure the pin-end of the start line – Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854), the Clancy brothers, Conor & James (14807) and Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713). A second sound signal immediately after the start prompted all three to go back and restart. Thereafter, Power & Barry headed inshore while the balance of the fleet went offshore, before Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher (15007) became the first boat in the offshore pack to peel off and follow Power & Barry.

After a clean star and good first half of the beat, Darragh McDonagh & crew (15058) were well placed in the pecking order. At the top mark the running order was, rather surprisingly, Team Clancy, Smyth & Fisher and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691). It says a lot about the vagaries of the first beat that one of the three boats that went back at the start was leading! McKenna & O’Keeffe quickly went through Smyth & Fisher and the remainder of the fleet gybed inside these front three…………with the exception of Power & Barry who headed offshore. Given that the tide may just have turned, this did not appear to be the way to go.

Halfway down the run, with gybes aplenty for everyone except the two girls on the offshore track, the fleet was spread across 200m with Power on the outside and Noel Butler & Peter Doherty (15061) on the inside of the course.

At the leeward mark rounding, Power & Barry rounded clear ahead, followed by Team Clancy and McKenna & O’Keeffe rounding simultaneously but hampered by an IDRA 14. Mary Chambers, breaking in a new crew, Ian (14865) rounded fourth, while another IDRA 14 slowed the rounding of Miller & Butler, followed by Butler & Doherty, Smyth & Fisher and McDonagh. All went offshore with the exception of Miller & Butler who went hard inshore. Halfway up the beat Team Clancy appeared to take a penalty on the water.

By the second windward mark Power & Barry were comfortably ahead and again adopted their offshore approach to the downwind leg. McKenna & O’Keeffe rounded second and followed them. Team Clancy were third, followed by Miller, Chambers, Smyth, McDonagh and Butler. Again, the chasing pack used a number of variants to get to the leeward mark, but Power’s simpler approach was still paying dividends. Behind her, the pecking order was altered again when Butler went from 8th to 5th but McKenna & Clancy were unchallenged in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

At the final weather mark, Butler & Doherty had gained another place, to fourth and they would go on to gain another place in the downwind leg. Initially Power & Barry looked very comfortable on the downwind leg, but McKenna & O’Keeffe had a powerful run to close the gap considerably and the leaders may have nibbling at fingernails as their lead was being eroded. They held on to win by a few boat-lengths with McKenna & O’Keeffe second, Butler & Doherty third, Team Clancy fourth and Miller & Butler 5th.

At this stage the ominous grey cloud that had been hovering in the area delivered on its promise of rain and for a short period the wind strength went up as well. It the space of 5-10 minutes a semi-pleasant evening, in terms of temperature, turned blustery, cold and a mist descended over Scotsman’s Bay. It also introduced a 180˚ change in the wind direction with the breeze coming over the east pier wall from the west.

The committee boat relocated itself halfway down the original course and re-set for another windward-leeward. The rain squall cost the fleet two boats, so only six came under starter’s orders for the second race of the evening.

Yet again there was a three-way fight for the pin, with serial combatants Miller and Clancy joined by McDonagh this time. However, as there was a “normal” start line, they kept their noses clean this time. McKenna & O’Keeffe were keeping out of trouble at the committee boat end. In between, Butler & Doherty also negotiated safe passage away from the start-line but the winners of the first race, Power & Barry seemed to be in trouble early on in this race as they headed offshore in the opposite direction to everyone else. From early on Butler & Doherty set the pace working the port hand side of the course, seeming to keep a loose cover on Team Clancy, their closest opposition. At the top weather mark in what seemed to be a “conventional” beat, Butler led from Clancy, Miller, McDonagh, McKenna and Power. At the spreader mark, Clancy gybed and went offshore while the others held an inshore line initially before they too went offshore.

At the leeward mark Butler had a slow drop but got off lightly as Clancy’s rounding was hindered by an IDRA 14. For the following beat, Butler applied a loose cover on Clancy while behind them McKenna and Miller were sailing in close company with Miller having the upper hand at the leeward mark, an advantage he would lose by the second weather mark as McKenna adopted an offshore approach to the second beat.

The second downwind leg saw Butler & Clancy stay within relatively close quarters of each other, nothing aggressive but following similar general directions towards the leeward mark. McDonagh broke the trend of going offshore for the second run, but it didn’t gain him any places. With the fleet running away from my vantage point, it was difficult to see the relative positions of the boats as they worked their way downwind but at the finish it appeared that Team Clancy had out-manoeuvred Butler & Doherty to take the win (subsequently confirmed by Butler) with McKenna & O’Keeffe holding off Miller & Butler and McDonagh & crew being comfortable relative to Power & Barry.

DBSC Tuesday Nights: 28th June 2016 R1 R2
Conor & James Clancy RStGYC 14807 4 1
Noel Butler & Peter Doherty NYC 15061 3 2
Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe RStGYC 14691 2 3
Cariosa Power & Marie Barry NYC 14854 1 6
Frank Miller & Ed Butler DMYC 14713 5 4


The Fireball “action” this weekend is the Royal St George one-day regatta with two races scheduled on Saturday. The following weekend we travel to Wexford for the Open Championships which will be sailed in conjunction with a Mermaid regatta. If you haven’t already committed to going to Wexford, we would like to hear from you to see if we can help you to get you there.

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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