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In Fireball Sailing Consistency, Talent & Perseverance Pay

21st November 2016
This Friday evening, 25th November, sees the Class having its end of year dinner and prize-giving in the National Yacht Club This Friday evening, 25th November, sees the Class having its end of year dinner and prize-giving in the National Yacht Club Credit:

After the third Sunday of the 2016/17 Fireball Frostbite Series, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, the points table is as shown below writes Cormac Bradley. As the numbers show, there is one shining example of consistency – Noel Butler and Stephen Oram have yet to lose a race and while these numbers might suggest they are having it all their own way, at one stage yesterday, after the first beat of the second race, they were second last.

2016/17 Frostbites, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Tot.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 1 1 1 1 1 5
2 Conor Clancy/Owen Laverty & James Clancy 14807 2 4 2 4 3 15
3 Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 14775 12 2 4 2 2 22
4 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe/Cormac Bradley 14691 3 3 7 7 5 25
5 Louis Smyth & Joe O’Reilly/Glenn Fisher 15007 12 7 3 3 7 32
6 Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Cormac Bradley 14713 12 5 6 8 6 37
7 Cariosa Power & Marie Barry 14854 12 6 8 6 8 40
8 Alistair Court & Gordon Syme 14706 12 12 12 5 4 45
9 Peter & Michael Keegan 14676 12 8 5 12 12 49
10 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 12 12 12 9 9 54
11 David Turner & Peter Doherty 14362 12 12 12 10 10 56


If you were to ask me where they got ahead, I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t recall any engagement with them on the remainder of the race, but they did win it, despite the best efforts of both the Clancys and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey in the latter stages of the race. This performance was in stark contrast to the first race when they rounded the first weather mark first and proceeded to extend their lead throughout the race winning by a very comfortable margin.

Wind conditions were at their best on this third Sunday, following very strong winds on Day 1 and variable winds last Sunday, yesterday provided more consistent breeze in terms of strength even if there was quite a bit of diversity to the execution of the beats. The breeze was out of the western quarter and with a start area just inside the end of the East Pier, the weather mark was set to the left of the pier protecting the entrance to the marina. As has been the trend this season, the top and bottom reaches were quite short in length and with this wind direction the leg from Mark 2 to mark 3 was a good length.

The fleet all decided that sailing along the start line on starboard tack was the way to go but even with a pin-end bias, there was some “argy-bargy” as the gun went and two boats returned to restart – Team Clancy & Miller & Bradley. Just ahead of them, along the line, on the pin, was Butler & Oram and this was about as close as anyone got to them in this race. The majority of the fleet went left initially with only two boats going right. Team Clancy & Miller worked a middle of the course route and as the weather mark came into play it was apparent that their start-line “mis-deeds” had cost them places.

Behind the “hare” the greyhounds were being led by Colin & Casey, Court & Syme, and Smyth & Fisher. Miller & Bradley rounded with only two boats behind them, Frostbite debutantes David Turner & Peter Doherty and Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire. However, the reality was that with the exception of the hares, the balance of the fleet was quite closely grouped. The top reach was tight-ish and would get tighter as the afternoon wore on, so spinnaker handling was at a premium. Between 2 and 3 the decision was how late to leave the gybe after Mark 2 and in most cases it was left quite late. 3 to 4 was another tight reach but invariably those that were fighting for places went higher than they needed to, relative to the mark.

Miller & Bradley redeemed themselves on the next beat by going hard left and working their way up the port lay-line – an exercise that got them into third or fourth place, but on the leg between 3 and 4 they were passed out to windward and leeward to go back down the pecking order. By this stage Smyth & Fisher were snapping at the transom of Colin & Casey who were still second but Team Clancy were also chasing a podium place. Eventually, Smyth & Fisher were able to get sufficiently ahead to control Team Clancy’s ambitions on the short hitch to the finish. Miller & Bradley had a fight for the finish when they didn’t communicate to each other that it was a finish as they were distracted with an errant spinnaker halyard. They only just held off Chambers & McGuire for 8th place.

The breeze appeared to go a little bit further south for the second start of the day which was a clean one with everyone repeating the intent of the first start, sail off the line on starboard and work the left hand-side. For some reason that I didn’t see, Butler & Oram were not part of that set, so it was with some surprise that as the majority of the fleet sailed up the port lay-line, they had the sight of the Series Leaders coming in from the right-hand side to occupy a very unusual spot in the pecking order.

Up front, Colin & Casey were setting the pace with Team Clancy and McKenna & O’Keeffe in close proximity and Court & Syme well placed. Another tight group included Miller, Smyth and Power & Barry and the newcomers Turner & Doherty were showing some signs of getting to grips with proceedings. Like silent assassins, Butler & Oram picked off the fleet to leave themselves snapping at the leaders as the race progressed. Miller then got back into the company of Court and McKenna but at a rounding of Mark 4, McKenna pushed her nose in, to Court’s indignation and Miller was forced wide as a consequence. There was no contact but McKenna took turns and dropped off the pace as a consequence. By the next weather mark, McKenna had undone the damage of turns and Court had got further away from Miller so his recovery died.

Butler & Oram took their fifth gun of the Series ahead of Colin & Casey and Team Clancy.

The Frostbite Mugs went to Louis Smyth and a delighted Glen Fisher for the first race of the day and to Alistair Court and Gordon Syme for the second. Fisher was delighted to get a Mug so soon in the Series, because he claimed he normally has to wait until March. Thus, a Mug on Day 3 and before December was a double bonus!

Friday evening, 25th November sees the Class having its end of year dinner and prize-giving in the National Yacht Club. The evening is always well supported by the active and only recently inactive members and the committee would love to see as many of you as possible at the event. In addition to the Travellers’ Trophy prizes, there are Class Awards to be handed out and in recent years we have been very well looked after by the National Yacht Club’s hospitality team.

Published in Fireball

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At A Glance – J80 Keelboat Specs

Dimensions (Metres/Kg)

LOA 8.00
LWL 6.71
Beam 2.51
Standard Draft 1.49
Standard Ballast 635
Displacement 1,315
Engine outboard

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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