After a Fireball Europeans where the weather was inconsistent but the hospitality was excellent, two of the three Irish Fireballs in Lyme Regis, UK, returned to do battle in the last Tuesday night race of the 2017 DBSC season writes Cormac Bradley. Indeed, due to the vagaries of the dinghy scene in Dun Laoghaire, this is also the last dinghy race of the season potentially as the dinghies do not have formal organised racing on a Saturday………..but maybe there is a plan to do something on the Saturdays of September.
Despite this rather gloomy prognosis (of the end of Tuesday evening racing), the Fireball fleet was boosted by having seven Fireballs on the water, one of whom was our class stalwart Louis Smyth who made his summer scene debut after a prolonged period of ill-health. Last night’s appearance on the water was Louis’ first venture out since March of this year. Never one to do things in halves, he and his crew Glenn Fisher had a capsize on the way in from the race course. Given the circumstances, they had a RIB in close attendance, but afterwards Louis admitted that he had enjoyed his evening out despite feeling very tired afterwards.
With a delayed departure from the office, I missed the start but arrived in time to see Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe lead the seven-boat fleet around the first weather mark of a three lap Olympic course – another boost to the fleet on the last Tuesday evening. With a westerly breeze of about 9/10 knots and high tide at 18:09, the race track was reasonably flat with a weather mark laid off the East Pier wall and a gybe mark in the direction of the 40-foot bathing spot (though not quite that far inshore). The “pink ladies” were followed by the Clancy brothers (14807, assumed), identified by their blue spinnaker in a cluster of red/reddish spinnakers that included Noel Butler & Shane McCarthy (15061), Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713), Cariosa Power & Peter Doherty (14854), in that order followed by Smyth & Fisher (15007, white & blue spinnaker) and the son and father combination David & Michael Keegan (14676, white & grey spinnaker). The top reach was a trapezing three-sail that looked very comfortable from my vantage point of the seaward side of the East Pier. Halfway down the leg one of the red-spinnakered boats had a capsize which drew a close to their competitive outing. Power & Doherty stayed out on the course for the duration of the evening but their race was over!
At the first gybe mark the “pink ladies” were holding off their male pursuers and Butler/McCarthy seemed to have overtaken the Clancys with Miller & Grattan a short distance astern. As the fleet was sailing away from me on both spinnaker reaches, the identification of boats became harder with mainsail colours, spinnaker colours and crew colours being called on to work out “Who was who”. By “Leeward 1” McKenna & O’Keeffe were still leading with Clancys in second but with Butler & McCarthy breathing down their necks. With the tide turned about an hour earlier, two of the lead three boats stayed offshore, presumably for wind as the tide would have been against them but Butler & McCarthy broke earliest for the inshore area and were rewarded by taking the lead but only by a margin of 20 seconds from the Clancys and Miller/Donnelly who rounded in tandem. “Team Blue” gybed immediately to go offshore while the other two ploughed an inshore track. The Clancys soon gybed back to re-join the battle. McKenna/O’Keeffe sailed a course that was even further inshore but it didn’t reward them with any place gains.
By the time the leaders reached “Leeward 2” the committee boat was already on the move to a position at the upwind end of the course which prompted the thought that there might be a shortened course. At the end of the downwind sausage the pecking order was Butler, Clancy, Miller, Smyth, McKenna, and Keegan.
On the following upwind leg everyone seemed to favour staying offshore and as they rounded the weather mark for the third time Butler & McCarthy had a comfortable lead. They were followed by the Clancys, Miller, McKenna, who overtook Smyth upwind, and the Keegans. Technical difficulties saw one less red spinnaker on the top reach, but Miller & Donnelly flew it on the second – the subterfuge of the committee boat sitting off the weather mark had not resulted in a shortened course!
Butler still enjoyed a comfortable lead at the last leeward mark over the Clancys and initially seemed quite comfortable sailing his own race – except we all know that his shrewdness on the water means he is always watching the opposition. For the final beat a more inshore approach was adopted and it appeared that Butler was keeping a loose cover on the Clancys. However, halfway up the leg 15061 slowed significantly and a flogging jib suggested that maybe for the second Tuesday in a row a rig problem had influenced proceedings – except that as the Clancys closed on him, the jib was sheeted again. For the remainder of the leg, a close quarter game of “cat and mouse” played out on the water with Butler/McCarthy taking the role of the cat! Noel and Shane ultimately took the win but they were overlapped on the line by Conor & James. A chat with Noel after the race, ashore, revealed that in terms of the overall points, a win for 15061 and a third place for 14807 would have allowed Noel to “steal” a series win in a countback situation. However, Noel needed Frank Miller to get into second and admitted that he had started his “manoeuvring” too late in the race to achieve this latter objective! An interesting and exciting finish to the Tuesday Night Series!
Miller & Donnelly finished third, McKenna & O’Keeffe fourth, Smyth & Fisher fifth and the Keegans were sixth.
DBSC Tuesday Nights 2017: Series 3; 7 races, 2 discards Pts
1 Noel Butler/Phil Lawton & Stephen Oram/Grattan Donnelly 15061 National Yacht Club 7
1 Conor Clancy & James Clancy/Teddy Byrne 14807 Royal St GeorgeYacht Club 7
3 Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Grattan Donnelly 14713 Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club 12
4 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe/Cormac Bradley 14691 Royal St George Yacht Club 15
5 David & Michael Keegan 14676 Royal St George Yacht Club 23
6 Cariosa Power & Marie Barry/Peter Doherty 14854 National Yacht Club 29
7 Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher 15007 Coal Harbour 33
The next fixture for the Irish Fireball fleet is the Nationals at Lough Derg Yacht Club on the weekend of 15-17 September. This is a nine race event with three races scheduled for Friday with a 15:30 start to try and accommodate those who want to have some time in the office on the Friday. Race Office is Liam Moloney and we will be sharing the venue on the Saturday and Sunday with Mirrors and LDYC’s own members sailing their Harvest Regatta. There will be a BBQ on the Saturday night when we will have to do some “self-catering”.