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New Month, New Courses for DBSC Fireballs on Dublin Bay

29th November -0001
Fireball dinghy sailing on Dublin Bay – Lawton & Oram (15061) chasing Clancy & Byrne (to windward & partially hidden) Fireball dinghy sailing on Dublin Bay – Lawton & Oram (15061) chasing Clancy & Byrne (to windward & partially hidden) Photo: Cormac Bradley

In a break from the growing trend of setting windward-leeward courses on a Tuesday night for dinghy racing on Dublin Bay, OOD Ben Mulligan (Flying Fifteens) & the DBSC Race Management Team set Olympic courses for the August 1st DBSC Fleet – in partial response to the request from the IDRA Class that these courses be set in advance of their impending Nationals writes Cormac Bradley. It was also a good night for Olympic courses with an offshore breeze of good strength and flat water even if there were large wind shifts.

Six Fireballs were on the start line with a few crew changes in the mix. Stephen Oram (15061) engaged the services of Olympian (470) Phil Lawton to helm while Conor Clancy (14807) had Teddy Byrne on board as crew. Also out were two all-lady combinations – Hermine & Louise (14691) and Cariosa & Marie (14854). Frank Miller (14713) brought in another of his roster of “contracted crews”, Grattan Donnelly whom we haven’t seen for a while and also making a welcome return was David & Michael Keegan (14676).

The forecast was for 10 – 12 knots from a SW direction with a possibility of drizzle which thankfully stayed away. There was some movement of the breeze but it still provided a reasonable beat with the fleets spread across the course.

The first start was reasonably even with the fleet distributed along the line. However, as I was on the committee boat (sound signal) and involved in the subsequent start (Lasers), I wasn’t able to follow the “nitty-gritty” action off the start line. My recall is that the boats that went left initially, even if not for very long came out best at the top end.  Even more confusing in a six boat fleet where there are only two spinnakers that aren’t red, I got the opening sequence of spinnakers wrong at the first weather mark – assuming it was the Olympian helm leading the way round – only to find out afterwards that it was Miller & Donnelly. Clancy/Byrne rounded second, which meant that Lawton/Oram were third followed by Power, McKenna and Keegan. Immediately after the spinnaker hoist Clancy/Byrne (blue spinnaker) went over the top of Miller/ Donnelly (red) and to my mind this was the significant place change of the entire race, because Clancy & Byrne led the rest of the race to finish first.

While Lawton & Oram may have closed on occasion, it became apparent that they had to give as much attention to watching Miller & Donnelly as they were to catching Clancy & Byrne. Clancy & Byrne had the comfort of being able to watch the chasing pack with the comfort of a bit of distance between them.

A tighter race was taking place between the two all-lady teams with McKenna & O’Keeffe chasing the other pair for all of the race and ultimately being unsuccessful! On the downwind leg of the sausage the leading three boats, Clancy, Lawton & Miller went right before Clancy broke left and then gybed back again to cover the other two in the run-in to the leeward mark for the second time. Up the third beat Clancy & Byrne worked the middle and left of the course while Lawton/Oram and Miller/Donnelly worked the right hand side. It didn’t help!

The 4-lap race was shortened to three laps and a second race was set with the marks staying in their original positions. A short single lap race was signalled for the second race due to a combination of time, light and a breeze that was starting to show signs of fading.

For the second start, a wind switch and the scheduled change of the tide saw the fleet playing “chicken” at the pin end of the line, each boat in turn approaching the pin and performing a pirouette to duck out. The last boat to have the door slammed shut on them was McKenna & O’Keeffe, by Clancy & Byrne, who executed a perfectly timed start on port at the pin. McKenna went to the back of the queue and Lawton/Oram followed Clancy & Oram across the line. The latter pair then took a hitch to the left to clear their air. The Keegans were furthest to leeward of the bunch and found themselves out on the right of the beat. The wind was starting to die at this stage of the evening and given the grey skies and the time, the single lap decision appeared to be vindicated.

Clancy & Byrne rounded the weather mark first and led to the finish, followed by Lawton & Oram, Miller & Donnelly, Power & Barry, McKenna & O’Keeffe and Keegan & Keegan.

Again the “race within a race” was between the two all-lady teams with Power & Barry winning by a short distance.

DBSC: Tuesday Nights: Series 3 (4 races, 1 discard)



Conor & James Clancy/Teddy Byrne





Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Grattan Donnelly





Noel Butler/Phil Lawton & Stephen Oram




Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe





Cariosa Power & Marie Barry





With next Tuesday following a Bank Holiday in Ireland (Monday 7th), there will be no racing which means there is only one Tuesday night session before the Fireball Europeans in Lyme Regis, Devon, UK starting Saturday 18th August and running through to the following Friday. Facebook posts from Fireball UK, hosting in tandem with Lyme Regis Sailing Club, this morning (02/08) state that the entry currently stands at 81 boats with entries from nine countries. Ireland will have three representatives at the regatta.

In other news, Lough Derg Yacht Club has confirmed the hosting of the Irish Fireball Nationals over the weekend of 15- 17 September. All Irish Fireballers are encouraged to attend this event in this very hospitable club. Regatta documentation will be prepared shortly.

Published in Fireball
Cormac Bradley

About The Author

Cormac Bradley

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Dublin Bay Fireballer Cormac Bradley was appointed Rear Commodore of the International Fireball Class in 2017. He is a regular dinghy and one design correspondent on

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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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