Fireballs enjoyed champagne sailing in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday for a pre-season coaching session with Ger Owens, thanks to the support of Irish Sailing. Ger's wry and funny delivery once again reduced the most complex of questions to the key fundamentals, the ones we all know but so often forget. In the briefing he spoke especially about body symmetry and muscle memory and how those of us sailing for many years have effectively trained our muscle memory to do things in a less efficient way than we should.
The key being to break down the series of actions needed for a manoeuvre into a set of steps which are practiced slowly to get them embedded in the brain, and then speed up the routine through practice. Another incredibly simple but important tip is to keep the majority of the fleet "under your boom" to consolidate gains and avoid big losses, especially in larger fleets. After about 30 minutes of briefing the four boats took to the water with several others helping and learning from the RIB. Any fears that the beautiful weather might mean drifting conditions were thankfully banished as by now a very decent wind had become established in the harbour.
On the water sailors were put under pressure in an intense series of bear aways, hoists, reaches, runs, drops and round-ups and beats. Suffice to say that even those who sailed through the winter found they were rustier and less fit than they realised.
"Top of the class were Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella who provided near textbook examples of how to dance around a racecourse"
Top of the class were Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella who provided near textbook examples of how to dance around a racecourse. Other participants included regular teams Louise McKenna with Hermine O'Keeffe and Frank Miller with Ed Butler. A hybrid pairing of Stephen Campion with Michael Keegan completed the watery learners while Neil Cramer, Brian O'Hare and others had the pleasure of learning from the drier vantage point of the RIB.
A lunch break was accompanied by a debrief and some more discussion and then it was time to go back on the water. This time the action took place outside the harbour with even better wind. The exercises were similar but were led off by "follow the leader" style sequences with breaks downwind and up signalled by the unforgiving whistle. Such were the gusts and the pressure from the whistle that a couple of capsizes were witnessed. Those on the RIB remarked that they could already see a significant improvement in performance over the morning session. That was good to hear as those in the Fireballs were by now well stretched, especially the crews who were doing most of the hard work...
Ashore a final debrief took place at the DMYC and the fleet took to the bar for a well earned cuppa, cobwebs well and truly blown away and the fleet energised for the season ahead.
Speaking of which the next Fireball event is the Munsters in Killaloe on 12th & 13th May, with coaching and advice evenings on the preceding Thursday and Friday evenings.