Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella are the newly crowned Fireball National Champions after nine races at Skerries Sailing Club over three days. The pair had an almost perfect score winning every race bar the first when a technical issue delayed them getting to the start line on time. The event took place in stunning conditions for those seeking a sun tan but was on the distinctly light side in terms of breeze.
Day one saw very light and patchy airs but the two woman race officer team of Micheline Shiels and Helen Ryan under the direction of PRO Liam Dineen put in a bravura performance. On a day where some race committees would have been very stretched they managed to get four races in. The preferred "Olympic Triangle" courses were rounded off with a windward leeward. The trick for the competitors was to keep the boat going in the light stuff, avoiding holes and avoiding adverse tide as far as possible. Behind McCartin/Kinsella the most consistent performers were local team of Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer. The pair rarely put a foot wrong and sailed smart and fast for the entire three days. The dark horses of the event were a young 420 team in their first Fireball outing. The "two Dans" Daniel Thompson and Dan Quaid from Wexford took to the Fireball like proverbial ducks to water.
The light airs probably suited the duo but even so they quickly got an unfamiliar boat up to full speed and their boat handling and general racing awareness was exemplary. The pair found themselves in close quarters with regulars Louise McKenna and Hermine O'Keeffe. By the end of day two the two teams were on equal points for third place. Day two weather-wise was a bit steadier than day one but with fewer holes. It was still however a day of crews hunched down in the boat or even to leeward. Once again the race management team played a blinder and got four races in. Their thinking was undoubtedly shaped by a forecast promising almost no wind on Sunday.
Ironically then Sunday dawned with a very solid breeze out in the bay at Skerries with a very lumpy sea built up by the easterlies.. While McCartin/Kinsella had the trophy in the bag there was a close match in play for 3rd place in particular. By the time the fleet got out and the wind steadied in direction the breeze and the sea state had settled somewhat. The start was tricky, with the pin favoured and the breeze on the line light the fleet got away in reasonable shape. The McKenna/O'Keeffe team edged ahead of the two Dans and carefully covered them around the triangular course. A strong ebbing tide, a sloppy sea with now light winds and a biggish shift to the right made the beats tricky. The all-woman team were unlucky at a mark rounding when a wayfarer got inside them and that was enough to allow the two Dans seize their moment and nip ahead, a position which they held to the finish.
In the Silver Fleet Sligo visitors, Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield sailed consistently well and took the main prize from the Keegans, father and son team of David and Michael.
Next outing for Fireballs sees their Open Event at Greystones as part of the regatta. Then four teams head to Carnac, France for the Worlds where Irish hopes rest mainly on team McCartin/Kinsella, back in the Fireball after an absence of a year but already showing great form.