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The Flying Fifteen East Coast Championships, the Irish Fireball Leinster Championships and the SB20 Southern Championships will all be raced under the burgeee of the National Yacht Club at Dun Laoghaire, Dublin in a fortnight on the 1st and 2nd October 2016. 

This is a change of plan for the SB20 class who have moved both the date and club for their Southern Championshipd fixture. The event was originally scheduled for the 24th & 25th September at Cobh SC in Cork Harbour.

It's not the last event of the 2016 calendar for the SB20s or Flying Fifteens either, both fleets are slated for a Midland Championship at Lough Derg YC on 22nd & 23rd October. 

Download the notice of race below. 

Published in National YC

Noel Butler and Shane McCarthy have won the Fireball Munsters at Killaloe after racing was abandoned for day two of the event.

On Sunday morning the forecast strong southerly winds kept building and while initially it looked sailable a series of wind readings from the race team on the water persuaded the sailors that it might be better to go home with masts, boats and bodies intact.

On Saturday eleven Fireballs enjoyed good if sometimes flukey conditions on the first day of the event. Race officers Liam Maloney and Jeff O'Donoghue continuously adjusted the courses to allow for a tricky wind which veered from South to South West in unpredictable phases. While there were plenty of veins of very good wind with flat out trapezing there were also flat patches around the course especially at the windward mark under a large hill. The brave amongst the fleet found that the best pressure was often at the edges, especially the port layline, but it was a nerve-wracking journey to that layline.

In the first two races the Clancy brothers Conor and James stamped their mark on the event by winning the first two races but Butler/McCarthy managed to win races three and four races and with two second places their overall score pulled them into the lead overnight and ultimately delivered the title.

Third place was won by Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer with Louise McKenna and Hermine lying fourth on equal points. The travelling fleet was boosted by 4 local boats, with John Bolger and Jay Dalton being best of the local boats, winning the silver fleet prize from Jim Ryan and David Tanner. The classic trophy was won by Susie Coote and Mick Collins.

At the prizegiving the visitors expressed their appreciation to the club volunteers who made the event such a success. The final Fireball regional event of the year takes place in the National Yacht Club on October 1st and 2nd when the club hosts the class for their Leinster Championships in tandem with events for Flying Fifteen and SB20s.

Published in Fireball
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In Dublin Bay yacht racing terms the sign that the summer is over is the advent of the last Tuesday night race of the year. Seven Fireballs embraced the last of the Tuesday night races by their presence on the water and they got a very fickle evening of wind for their attendance writes Cormac Bradley.

Throughout the day the forecast had been for 17 – 27 knots from the South but by 19:00, while the wind may have been southerly in direction, it certainly wasn’t in the strength range predicted. A windward-leeward with a spreader mark at the weather mark was set and in physical terms it ran parallel to the East Pier with the windward mark set inshore in Scotsman’s Bay.

For the first start the fleet were stockpiled at the committee boat end of the line until the Clancys, Conor & James (14807), broke away to start about halfway down the line and a couple of boat lengths apart from everyone else. Noel Butler, with Teddy Byrne deputising for Stephen Oram, (15061) followed the Clancys to the left side of the course and after securing a weather slot relative to the brothers proceeded to apply a loose cover on them for the early part of the beat. Four of the others, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691), Louis Smyth & Francis Rowan (15007), Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) and Peter & Michael Keegan (14676) also stayed left-ish while Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) worked the right-hand side in solitude. The beat effectively turned into a soldier’s course with only a single tack required to get to the weather mark, but conditions were tricky with the breeze not uniform across the course. This was confirmed when Miller & Donnelly rounded the weather mark third behind Butler & Byrne and the Clancy brothers, even though they had taken the opposite approach to the beat. The Keegans rounded next but hadn’t spotted the spreader mark and lost two places when the spinnaker went up and then had to come back down sharpish. That allowed Smyth & Rowan and McKenna & O’Keeffe to get ahead in the pecking order.

The leg back to the leeward mark turned into more of a reach as the wind clocked leftwards, but even on this leg there were varying strengths of wind. Butler, as ever, had worked his usual magic to open up a significant lead on the chasing pack and, at the leeward mark he rounded up and took a short hitch to the left to ensure that he would be to windward of the fleet when they rounded in turn. He would take another hitch left about halfway up the “beat” to maintain his watching brief on the others. In reality, he needn’t have worried as he rounded the weather mark with a 1:55 advantage over the Clancys in second. He would extend this to 2:25 at the finish. The Clancys, meanwhile, had both McKenna and Miller snapping at their transom, but managed to hold both of them off as they rounded in second place.

Smyth & Rowan now joined Miller and McKenna at the latter stages of the windward leg and down the final leg to the finish in the fight to occupy the last podium place. However, Miller & Donnelly won out to finish third, while Smyth and McKenna were probably overlapped, from my vantage point as they crossed the line.

With the wind constantly flicking left, the race management team adjusted the course by moving the weather mark the best part of 250m eastwards giving a transit for the weather mark closer to the 40-foot bathing spot. Course X1 was signalled again, two roundings of the weather mark, with spreader, and a downwind finish.

The Clancys and Miller & Donnelly decided to show their hand early and hovered around the pin end of the line. Butler & Byrne were at the opposite end but interestingly all started on port tack, initially heading inshore. The Keegans got their times wrong and were left behind at the start and 50m off the start line it appeared as if Conor Clancy and Frank Miller had got it right when they occupied the windward slots on the course with Butler much further to leeward. However, the fickle distribution of wind across the course manifested itself again when Butler, sailing faster, got out from underneath the other two to tack across the fleet on starboard and ahead of everyone. That was the signal for Clancy to go further left again, leaving Miller to pioneer his own route up the inner left-hand side. This soon left Miller as the leeward-most boat as Clancy and then McKenna worked the area to windward of him. When Miller came across on starboard he crossed ahead of Clancy but behind McKenna. The problem didn’t appear to be getting inshore, the starboard hitch to get across to the mark was proving infinitely more challenging. The rounding sequence was Butler, Clancy, McKenna, Miller, Chambers, Smyth and Keegan.

With Butler and Clancy seemingly clear, Chambers & McGuire with a more windward position sailed past both McKenna and Miller. The adjacent Mermaid, also under spinnaker, didn’t help the latter’s cause, but once they got out from underneath it, both Miller and McKenna would re-join the battle with Chambers for third position and all three closed on Clancy as they approached the leeward mark. Clancy and McKenna rounded that overlapped and like Butler before them, the tactic seemed to be to harden up and proceed inshore. Now only Butler seemed to be safe as the two boats overlapped at the mark fought for second place with McKenna winning out. However, there were to be a few more throws of the dice before the weather mark was reached. Again, the problem seemed to be getting left. There seemed to be breeze on the water, but the speed and angle of the boats as they fought to go left suggested it wasn’t “plain sailing”. Eventually they rounded the final weather mark of the season with the order:- Butler, McKenna, Clancy, Chambers, Miller, Smyth and Keegan. The final place change of the 2016 DBSC Fireball Series saw Miller & Donnelly overtake Chambers & McGuire to claim fourth place behind Butler, McKenna and Clancy.

DBSC Series 3: Tuesday 30th August 2016 R1 R2
1 Noel Butler & Teddy Byrne 15061 NYC 1 1
2 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 3 2
3 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 2 3
4 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 5 4
5 Louis Smyth & Francis Rowan 15007 Coal Harb. 4 6


DBSC Series 3: Overall; 8 Races sailed, 2 Discards.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 7
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 10
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 17
4 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 24
5 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 27
Published in Fireball

After the excitement of seeing Dun Laoghaire’s Annalise Murphy win her Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics in the Laser Radial Class, the five boat Fireball fleet on the DBSC Tuesday night course had lots of their own excitement writes Cormac Bradley. With a forecast of 11 – 18 knots from SSE, the actual wind strength was at the upper end of this range, even inside the harbour, and cat’s paws of harder wind were scudding across the waters of the harbour. A windward-leeward course with spreader was set with the weather mark in the vicinity of the bandstand on the East Pier.

All five boats set off the start line towards the harbour mouth on starboard tack with Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) appearing to be closest to the pin. About mid-line were the recently crowned National Champions, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and within a short period of time they were powering over the fleet in the windward berth.

At the weather mark Butler & Oram were comfortably ahead followed by the Clancy brothers Conor & James, runners-up in the Nationals, and both boats scorched off towards the harbour mouth under spinnaker on starboard tack. Next around the weather mark were Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly followed by the third placed boat at the Nationals, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and the son and father combination of David & Michael Keegan (14676). These latter two exercised caution and two-sailed the leg to the leeward mark.

Rounding the leeward mark, Butler and Clancy both went right initially, but Clancy peeled off earlier to head towards the harbour mouth. By staying right for longer, Butler & Oram were able to take a long tack up the middle of the course to leave themselves with an approximate port lay-line approach to the weather mark. Clancy was further to leeward. However, possibly on the penultimate tack to the weather mark, Butler & Oram capsized, leaving Team Clancy with a comfortable lead at the weather mark.

The Clancys again adopted a starboard tack spinnaker leg to the harbour mouth while Butler & Oram gybed immediately at the spreader mark to work the opposite side of the course. It made no difference in terms of the placings as the Clancys crossed the finish line in first place. All five boats flew spinnaker on this leg but in making their final gybe to the finish, the ladies capsized to allow the Keegans to overtake them. Though the father and son had a messy drop of their spinnaker short of the finish line, there was still enough distance between them and the ladies to record fourth place on the water.

The finishers crossed the line to a three flag signal, blue for being on station for the finish and “N over A” for the abandonment of a possible second race. Given the wind conditions, it was hardly surprising! It was a fast and furious race and with hindsight, a good call to have it inside the harbour. Proceedings were concluded within 35 minutes of the start signal.

DBSC Tuesday Nights: Series 3;

Overall (6 Races sailed, 1 discard).

1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 7
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 8
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RSTGYC 17
4 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 23
5 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 24
Published in Fireball
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Sunday’s forecast for the Irish Fireball Nationals was always less than encouraging and so it proved when the complete absence of wind brought the curtain down on the 2016 edition of the regatta writes Cormac Bradley. Race Officer Richard Kissane and Howth Yacht Club Vice Commodore, Emmett Dalton went out to the race area to see if there was any sense of wind developing but to no avail.

A straw poll of the participants agreed that hanging around until the cut-off for racing, 15:30, wasn’t an attractive option either so an early halt to proceedings was called with a lunch-time prize-giving.

The 2016 National Champions are Noel Butler & Stephen Oram of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, sailing IRL 15061. They won four of the seven races, setting out their stall with two race wins in Friday’s heavy weather session of 20 knots +, but in Saturday’s more variable conditions they managed to stay ahead of their closest competition in all but one of the day’s four races, the last race of the day. This gave them a five point cushion, after discard, over second place and what Noel suggested was his sixth National title. Stephen may not have quite that number but together they are a potent combination that makes every few mistakes on the water when it matters most.

In second place were the Clancy brothers from the Royal St George Yacht Club with a score of 11pts after discard, sailing 14807. They too began the regatta in fine style with two second places but were unfortunate to have rudder damage in the third race of Friday, recording a DNF. Their scores thereafter were 2, 2, 4, and 3. With the exception of Race 7, however, they were unable to break out from the supervision of Butler & Oram and that’s why they finished 2nd – a position most of us would be envious of.

Conor ClancyTeddy Byrne Second overall at the Fireball Nationals were (centre) Conor Clancy and Teddy Byrne with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry

The regatta was significant in that for the first time in a while there were race winners from outside the traditional pool. Even more significant is that we had an all-lady team winning a race at the Nationals and this boosted them into 3rd place overall. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) from the Royal St George Yacht Club persevered on the heavy weather last day of the Worlds at Pwllheli last year when a large proportion of that fleet retired. In stood them in good stead on Friday in Howth when they recorded a 7, 6, 4. To this they added a 3, 5, 1 and 2! Louise & Hermine have been sailing well on Tuesday nights and this result is a vindication of the time they have spent on the water together.

Louise McKenna Hermine OKeeffe Fireball third place winners Louise McKenna Hermine OKeeffe (centre) with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry. Photo: Frank Miller

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) of Skerries were the winners of the last race on the breezy first day when there were only four finishers.

The last race winners came in the form of Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly (14713) of the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. By their own admission they were a little fortunate in that the race leader misinterpreted the flag flying at the last leeward mark of the shortened seventh race – going for another beat when the F-flag flying meant they were to sail directly to the finish at the committee boat. Another boat ahead of them on the water had not responded to an OCS signal at the start.

Son and father combination, David and Michael Keegan (14676), of the Royal St George Yacht Club won the Silver fleet prize after a couple of seasons absence from the regatta scene and Eoin Clarke & Tim McAuley (14244) and the sole representative from Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club took the Classic prize.

Fireball David Michael KeeganSilver fleet winners at the Fireball Nationals were (centre) David and Michael Keegan with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry Photo: Frank Miller

Tim McAuley and Eoin ClarkeClassic boat winners at the Fireball Nationals were Tim McAuley (left) with and Eoin Clarke (right)

For the second year, the Nationals entry level was lower than we would all have preferred. One entry withdrew as the helm was feeling unwell, but there were a number of absentees that might normally be present. This absence of numbers has created a challenge for the class that has yet to be properly answered.

Howth Yacht Club’s Commodore and Vice Commodore, Berchman Gannon and Emmett Dalton respectively presided over the prize-giving and thanked the class for bringing the event to Howth. Berchman said they were delighted to have hosted the event even though the numbers were a few less than they might have expected. Due thanks were given to Emmett Dalton for organising the event and to Race Officer Richard Kissane and his team who had race managed seven races in contrasting and challenging conditions between days 1 & 2.

The regatta scene now moves on to Killaloe, on the weekend of September 10/11th, while the Tuesday night series in Dublin Bay still has a few fixtures to be fulfilled.

Irish Fireball Nationals 2016

Howth Yacht Club

R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Tot Nett
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram NYC   1 1 3 1 1 2 4 13 6
2 Conor & James Clancy RStGYC   2 2 12 2 2 4 3 27 11
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe RStGYC   7 6 4 3 5 1 2 28 15
4 Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer SSC   4 4 1 7 8 3 5 32 17
5 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly DMYC   5 5 2 6 6 7 1 32 19
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Day 2 of the Irish Fireball Nationals was in stark contrast to Day 1 at Howth Yacht Club writes Cormac Bradley. The breeze that saw the fleet afloat gradually faded as the day wore on and the last race of the day, the fourth was a "hunt the breeze" race that ultimately got shortened.

Race 1 was sailed in two parts Noel Butler & Stephen Oram and the Clancy brothers, Conor and James sailed their own match race while the rest of us fought for the minor places. These fell to the ladies, Louise McKenna & Hermine O Keeffe (3rd) and Alan Henry & Simon Reveille.

This was a precursor to Race equality 5 as Louise & Hermine who broke the male domination of race wins at Nationals by taking Race 6.

Before that Butler and Clancy took another 1st and second respectively with Alan Henry third and Class Chairman Marie Barry sailing with Michael Ennis finishing fourth.

Louise & Hermine led the 6th race from the second beat after going hard left. Butler came from behind to secure 2nd and his situation improved when Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer finished ahead of the Clancy brothers.

By Race 7 the wind was "sparse"to put it mildly. For the second start of the day Race Officer Richard Kissing had to fly an OSC flag and the inability of the transgressors to go back was to prove costly. Another incident of failing to respond to a flag when a shortened course was signalled - go straight to the finish. The race leader got it wrong and sailed past the CB finish line at a cost of 4 places. Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly got the Race win after the two flag indiscretions. Butler beat Clancy again to leave himself set up for a regatta win tomorrow.

All those who had repairs on their agenda yesterday were back on the water today. Howth VC, Emmet Dalton also got out today and mixed it with the regulars.

Mention should be made of son and father David & Michael Keegan who have sailed every race and finished all but one after an absence of a few seasons. Eoin Clarke & Tim McCauley also raced the four races today after rudder problems yesterday.

Results are here

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At 15:46 a well–worked Irish Fireball fleet is ashore at Howth Yacht Club after three very hard races where the Race Officer advised that the wind was consistently "on average" 20 knots writes Cormac Bradley.

Three Olympic courses were sailed with the first one slightly shortened due to a mark problem.

Spinnaker flying was a minority activity on the day with most people content to keep their boats upright and the all-lady combination of Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffew can claim to be winners in that category. Another combination, Stephen Oram and Noel Butler only capsized to repair the outhaul on the boom.

A number of boats are undergoing modest repairs, as this is being typed; a broken trapeze wire (Michael Ennis & Marie Barry), a broken rudder down haul (Team Clancy), another main outhaul (Alan Henry & Simon Reveille) and broken rudder fittings (Tim McCauley).

One boat did not go afloat and another came ashore without starting a race.

On the water Butler & Oram won Races 1 & 2, before the broken outhaul in the last race of the day gave them a third. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer took the gun in the third race to add to two fourth places and 2nd overall overnight.

Three points more and we find Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly on 12 points, scoring 5, 5, 2.

Only four boats finished the last race of the day - principally as a consequence of the damage listed above. However, nobody, on coming ashore, was complaining that the fourth race had not been sailed. An 11:00 start is scheduled for tomorrow and those who battled through today''s conditions won't object to the prospect of the slightly later start.

1. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (1, 1, 3)
2. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cromer (4, 4, 1)
3. Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (5, 5, 2).

Team Clancy, Conor & James, were undone, literally, when their rudder down haul was ripped out of the tiller, possibly as a consequence of hitting a submerged object. This left them with a DNF in Race 3 which diluted the two second places they scored in R1 & 2.

So another unseasonal day for August - it started warm and sunny but is now clouded over. While Wexford a month ago may have been the uncomfortable side of heavy, some suggested today was the comfortable and exciting side of heavy. The breeze is still here but tomorrow offers the prospect of more managable conditions

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It was difficult to believe that this is the second Tuesday of August considering the weather for this evening’s Fireball race in Dublin Bay writes Cormac Bradley. What started out as a bright day and was still in reasonable shape for a lunch-time walk along the Dun Laoghaire seafront turned into a very cool evening with grey skies over Dublin Bay in a WNW blustery breeze that saw this correspondent almost shivering in the lee of the East Pier wall to bring you this account of the racing. So grey was the scene that the flashing light of the Kish lighthouse, some eight miles offshore was conspicuous in the gloom. The Windfinder app was suggesting 13 knots of breeze, rising to gusts of 18knots and an air temperature of 14˚. With no racing last Tuesday, due to the Bank Holiday Monday, this was a last chance for a race before the Fireball Nationals in Howth this coming weekend.

With high tide just short of 17:00 and a start area that was situated to the east of the 40-foot bathing spot, the furthest east I can recall seeing a start area for a Tuesday night, the right approach seemed to be to get out of the tide and go inshore. The four-boat fleet seemed to concur as they all favoured the pin end half of the line. So far east were they that as they approached the rocks at the 40-foot they disappeared from view relative to the East Pier.

Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (15061) and Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) were closest inshore while Conor Clancy and Teddy Byrne (14807) seemed to abandon this tack first and headed significantly offshore. Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly (14713) looked to be a little off the pace, languishing a short distance behind the others. Heading for a windward mark (with spreader) located in the middle of Scotsman’s Bay, Butler & Oram proved that going inshore was the way to go when they rounded with a comfortable lead. Clancy & Byrne were second, followed by McKenna/O’Keeffe and Miller/Donnelly.

After rounding the spreader mark, Butler & Oram continued inshore before adopting a further two tack- three gybe approach to the leeward mark. Clancy & Byrne followed suit, but fouled up the second gybe under spinnaker and went for a long swim. Long enough for both McKenna/O’Keeffe and Miller/Donnelly to pass them out on the water!

All three upright boats adopted an offshore tack first for their second upwind leg with Butler/Oram so comfortably ahead that they could sail whatever course they wanted. The committee boat was soon on the move and flew a shortened course signal for all classes in just about enough time to get into position for Butler & Oram to go through the finish line. Downwind of them, Miller & Donnelly were gradually reeling in their female competition and passed them out on a starboard tack hitch going offshore. Shortly thereafter they were able to tack onto port to go through the finish line ahead of the ladies. Clancy & Byrne also got a finish after a lengthy swim.

DBSC: Tuesday Nights; Series 3, Race 5, 9th August Overall
Points Place
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 5 1st
2 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 21 5th
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 12 3rd
4 Conor Clancy & Teddy Byrne 14807 RStGYC 7 2nd


The Nationals will be sailed over Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Howth, with a nine-race programme scheduled for the participants.

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On the third day of the Irish summer, DBSC Fireballs had their first seasonal race of the Tuesday night series and the warm weather enticed a fleet of eight boats onto the water writes Cormac Bradley. The projected forecast, using my favoured website was for 6-9 knots of SE and 21˚ at 19:00 becoming 8 – 11 knots Southerly and 19˚ by 22:00.

However, on-site rigging beforehand there was a quietness about the breeze which was quite surprising given the heat of the day, a sea-breeze was the least I was expecting.

An errant rudder downhaul delayed this correspondent’s arrival at the start, but given that the racing took place inside the harbour, the damage was not as bad as it might have been. Our tardy arrival meant that we were able to assess the fortunes of our classmates who had started on time. Those who had started on the pin – and No, contrary to recent practices Frank Miller and Ed Butler (14713) weren’t one of them – found themselves sailing very high relative to the windward mark of the W/L X1 designated course. And the further they went up the “beat” the more they had to bear off to approach the weather mark. Indeed on their port lay-line approach to the weather mark, Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher (15007) were sailing a parallel course to that between the windward mark and the spreader mark.

A cluster of Fireballs rounded together with Daragh McDonagh & crew (15058) leading the bunch. Also “in there” was Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865), Team Clancy – Conor & James (14807) and Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854). Stephen Oram with Olympian Phil Lawton helming (15061) was hovering as well. On the downwind leg the fleet sailed marginally high and then bore off over the latter stages of the leg to get to the leeward mark, just upwind of the committee boat.

For the second beat nobody went to the left hand side of the course, rather the trick was to try and maintain height, or climb just a marginal amount to defend one’s weather. It was a bit processional!

The only real piece of excitement took place between the second weather mark and the spreader when Smyth and Power had a coming together. Glenn Fisher seemed keen to let the girls know what was happening as he struggled with a spinnaker that had gone between jib and mast! Even though Smyth was in the windward berth, the girls took a turn in the melee of the spreader mark and this allowed your correspondent, crewing for Louise McKenna (14691) to get out of last place. The downwind leg to the finish didn’t generate any place changes that I could see, but there was a tight finish between Chambers & McGuire (14865) and McDonagh & crew (15058/Boat #14330) with information on the water suggesting Mary & Brenda had taken 3rd place confirmed in the DBSC results on-line this morning. Team Clancy took the win with Lawton & Oram 2nd. While Power & Barry took a turn on the water, Smyth & Fisher were recorded as a DNF, so this may be a declaration of fault for the incident between them. In fairness to the Race Committee, it appears the race was victim to a last wind shift just before the start which made it the soldier’s course it became.

For the second race, the Race Committee relocated to a position close to the ferry terminal which is in the throes of being dismantled. A weather mark was initially located towards the end of the East Pier in the harbour mouth, but then relocated to a new position about midway between the East Pier weather station and the memorial on the upper wall. X2 was the designated course length.

The recommendation on our boat was to go for a committee boat start and it seemed we weren’t the only ones thinking that way as Lawton & Oram were immediately below us and Daragh McDonagh and Team Clancy were to weather though Clancy was a little further back. Twenty metres off the start line and Team Clancy were going hard right in isolation while the rest of the fleet headed towards the harbour mouth. The Clancys hit the jackpot by taking a lead that they never relinquished and they were never threatened thereafter. Lawton & Oram rounded second followed by McKenna & Bradley who had a slight gap on the chasing pack, headed by Smyth & Fisher and Power & Barry. A short hitch on starboard after the spreader mark was followed by a gybe under spinnaker to sail in to the leeward mark. McKenna & Bradley seemed to close a short bit on Lawton & Oram and that sensation was confirmed when on the second beat, a starboard/port meeting of the pair caused Lawton & Oram to tack. Smyth too was closing the gap, sailing to weather of McKenna but slightly further astern. The top three stayed as was at the second weather mark and for most the recipe for the downwind leg was the same. Power & Barry broke the trend by going further right than everyone else and at one stage gave all the appearance of being able to sail round most of us on the outside. Smyth too was showing signs of closing the gap on McKenna.

Up the third beat and Lawton & Oram broke free. McKenna & Smyth got into starboard/port territory before, on the final approach to the weather mark, McKenna was able to get back into the third slot. Again, McKenna found herself with attackers inside and out with the wind in the middle seeming to ease. However, there was still enough for her to get over the line in third, followed by Chambers & McGuire.

DBSC Series 3: Fireballs

Overall (after two races)

R1 R2



1 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 1 1 2
2 Phil Lawton & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 2 2 4
3 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 3 4 7
4 Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley 14691 RStGYC 5 3 8
5 Frank Miller & Ed Butler 14713 DMYC 4 6 10
Published in Fireball

A smaller than usual fleet of Fireballs travelled from Dun Laoghaire and Skerries to that part of Ireland which makes the claim to being the “sunny South –East”, Wexford writes Cormac Bradley. As the Race Officer for the weekend, Michael Conway, advised at the prize-giving, there would be many a Frostbite weekend at the club that would be less inhospitable weather-wise than the weekend we had just experienced. The warmth of the welcome and hospitality from Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club can’t be disputed and fortunately was in human hands, so complaining about the weather was all we could do! In truth, the various websites used by the Fireball community to get an indication of the weather were all very pessimistic in the week leading up to the event so nobody could have been under any illusion as to what we were going to get – very strong winds, drizzle, if not rain and grey skies the entire weekend. XCWeather, Windguru and Windfinder were all consistent – expect the worst. We weren’t short-changed!!
The Fireball fleet was joined by the Mermaids, a class combination that we haven’t enjoyed at any event that this scribe can recall and while it appeared that the Mermaids haven’t been in Wexford to race for quite some time, the Fireballs were there as recently as two years ago.
At the race briefing the Race Officer advised that due to the impending forecast – for the significant wind to build as the day wore on – he wouldn’t be taking the combined fleets out to sea, even though as things stood the sea area race-course was sailable. There was an audible sigh of relief as the fleet realised that trying to get under the bridge between the club and the outer sea area canted over with 18 knots blowing wasn’t going to have to be the first exercise of the day. The recommendation was that the racing would take place in the inner harbour where there was enough water provided you didn’t try sailing in the fringes! The Olympic course was prescribed as the course of choice.
The fleet launched in partially sheltered waters as the wind was offshore in direction at the club slipway, but the race area was shrouded in mist and as the lead boats went further offshore it became very apparent that the wind conditions were a lot more robust further out. In particular the “funnel” from Ferrycarrig was very active. A sole Fireball flew spinnaker on the way out to the start area and was very glad of the sea-room that existed to the lee of the start area to get it back down.
In these conditions it wasn’t difficult to understand why the start line wasn’t more vigorously contested; combinations were struggling to get onto the start line just to be competitive. Capsizing is an occupational hazard anyway but a silty/muddy bottom for masts to get stuck in was an additional, though redundant incentive not to fall over in the conditions.
Only two Fireballs managed the race though they did not sail the same configuration, the problem being that while the RO had spoken at the briefing of using the Olympic configuration, the flag flying on the committee boat was for a Windward-Leeward course. And in the mist that only lifted after the start only two yellow marks could be seen. Thus “Boat A” sailed to what it thought was a weather mark, only to find it was a gybe mark and claimed to unwind itself to sail around the right configuration of an Olympic course while “Boat B” went to what it thought was a weather mark, rounded every white mark that might have been a spreader mark, as described in the briefing, in the vicinity of the “weather mark” only to realise it was a gybe mark and stopped racing. The rest of us meantime weren’t trying to distinguish between weather/gybe/spreader/yellow or white marks but rather were trying to pull masts out of the mud/silt, being towed home, or were sailing home under our own steam. Even one of the Mermaids capsized which is something I didn’t think happened. Racing was curtailed and the fleet adjourned prematurely to the clubhouse to debate the merits of what was intended/described versus what had happened on the water with Boats “A” and “B” having opposing views on the fate of the episode on the water. Ultimately the race was abandoned and with more wind forecast for the Sunday, the prospect of a “non-event” raised its head.
An excellent meal was had in “The Yard” restaurant in town on Saturday evening with two wives joining the racing numbers and one helmsman leaving to take advantage of the early finish to proceedings to give attention to his “brownie-points” account. At the dinner table a new all-female Irish Fireball combination was announced with individual coaches appointed to helm and crew respectively combined with a shore based support team. This new team have declared their intention to relocate to a warm weather base for the initial phase of their training and the only clue they would give as to this “away” location is that it has a burgeoning reputation for excellent red wine!!
During Saturday night the breeze appeared to drop but the drizzle/rain feature remained – could we get racing in on Sunday? Yes, we could, but only three boats took to the water. As they sailed off, the rest of us wondered if we had made the wrong call as they seemed to be in control. That is until they had to cross the downwind end of the “Ferrycarrig funnel”. Also, under binocular viewing, the start area was well populated with “white-horses. Again, one spinnaker was flown on the way out.
Two races were completed for the three-boat fleet and the finishing order in both races was the same. Olympic courses were sailed and on the first reach of the first triangle the lead two boats flew spinnaker. One boat carried the bag through the gybe to the second reach while the other dropped before the gybe mark. On the downwind leg of the sausage, the lead two again flew bags, but on the second triangle, spinnakers were not a pre-requisite. Again, viewing under binoculars, crews were high wiring off a very aft position with lots of spray and white water in evidence. In the second race, spinnakers were conspicuous by their absence on the triangles.
Despite the high winds, none of the three boats capsized during the races, but two of the three had a capsize each, one before the racing started and another between races. Coming ashore afterwards, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram reckoned it was the fastest they had “flown” in a Fireball under two sails. Ed Butler described it as “hairy……….very hairy”! The most challenging part of the day was the sail home where there were some vicious gusts with jibs flogging violently simply to avoid being blown over!

Irish Fireball Open Championships
Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club R1 R2 Tot.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram NYC 15061 1 1 2
2 Conor Clancy & Teddy Byrne RStGYC 14807 2 2 4
3 Frank Miller & Ed Butler DMYC 14713 3 3 6

The next event on the Irish circuit is the Nationals which are due to be hosted by Howth Yacht Club on the weekend of 12 – 14th August. All Irish Fireballers are encouraged to make this event. DBSC Tuesday night racing is ongoing.

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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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