A 16-boat Flying Fifteen fleet had an interesting course that made use of the temporary replacement of Harbour mark and took us to a new mark that we haven’t visited for quite some time: Island.
The race proceeding commences in a lively wind that came out of the north-west and with the wind fighting the tide, there was the prospect of playing some nice waves under spinnaker.
At the outset, let me say that there will be several names missing from this report — three Fifteeners were on the Dun Laoghaire to Dingle Race but by the time of the DBSC start one of those had been forced into retirement.
Messrs Colin, Green and O’Leary had been riding bigger boats since 18:00 the previous evening but Colin’s steed had to pull in to Kilmore Quay with steering difficulties.
On our race course there were some new combinations out, or rather the usual combinations weren’t out. So, for example, Keith Poole helmed The Gruffalo, rather than crewing it. Niall Coleman (Flyer) had a new crew because Mick Quin is still on the injury list; Alan Balfe and Ken Dumpleton seemed to have changed crews; and Ben Mulligan took the evening off and was replaced by Glenn Fisher, making his Flying Fifteen helming debut. So, if in the course of this report, you aren’t named, it’s because I don’t have the names.
Dave Gorman and Chris Doorly (3920, Betty) made their initial break from the fleet off the start line where virtually everyone went inshore. They were the first to break onto port to make a bee-line for Harbour, broke away by a short distance, rounded Harbour first and were never headed again.
Behind them there was a reasonably tight cluster of Dave Mulvin and Ronan Bierne (4068, Ignis Caput Duo), Ken Dumpleton (3955, Rodriguez), Niall Coleman (4008, Flyer) Tom Murphy (4057, Fflagella) and Keith Poole (3864, The Gruffalo).
The leg from Harbour to East was the best of the night — good waves for the downwind spinnaker leg, good breeze and virtually everyone was in the company of an adjacent Fifteen to make sure there was competition down through the fleet.
The gybe at East to go inshore to Bulloch was deceptive and to a certain extent we all played ‘follow my leader’. As the blue spinnaker of Gorman and Doorly dropped, we all assumed it was too tight to hold the spinnaker to Bulloch — it wasn’t and about halfway down this leg the colours were broken out again.
Indeed, the middle of the fleet had more courage, and Hugh and Michael Cahill (3606, Frenetic) made huge gains by flying spinnaker from the off. Others who closed the gap included Frank Miller and Ed Butler (3845, Glass Half Full) with Brian O’Hare (4045, No Name) sticking with two sails to get himself back into the game.
From Bulloch, the fleet had a beat back up to Bay and it appeared that the inshore route to the mark was best. Having lost places in the rounding of Bulloch, Fisher and Bradley (3688, As Good as It Gets) hauled themselves back into the middle of the fleet again by working a slightly more offshore course, but a bit of conservatism at Bay allowed Ross Doyle & Cas (3737, Eleni) to sneak in ahead of them.
By now the wind was starting to ease and the leg to East and on again to Island were softer with much less dynamism. With a flooding tide, the choice should have been to stay low to Island, knowing that the tide would push you from left to right, but it was amazing to see so many boats upwind of the rhumb line to Island which made for a much slower approach to the mark.
From their comfort position at the head of the fleet, all that Gorman and Doorly needed to do was keep an eye on what the others were doing and there was a wide range of choice.
The majority of the fleet worked middle and left of the beat but by my reckoning, the boat with the name ‘Flyer’ took a flyer and went very hard right. It didn’t seem to pay as much as he might have liked. The beat to the finish was not easy as the wind was running out of puff, but there was still a slightly bumpy sea to negotiate.
- Dave Gorman & Chris Doorly, 3920, Betty
- Ken Dumpleton & Crew, 3955, Rodriguez
- Dave Mulvin & Ronan Bierne, 4068, Ignis Caput Duo
- Tom Murphy & Crew, 4057, Fflagella
- Keith Poole & Crew, 3864, The Gruffalo