The Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) season first race was last Thursday but due to COVID-19 it never happened. To mark the occasion, the following imaginary Flying Fifteen race report was written by Cormac Bradley for the biggest one-design fleet on the Bay. The report started life as an initial post to the ultra-keen FF Dun Laoghaire WhatsApp Group and then grew by a few more paragraphs to become a 'full report' using conditions that prevailed last Thursday on an empty Dublin Bay. It is intended by Cormac to introduce a little bit of light relief, distraction and possible humour from the fact that no one is actually on the water!
The 2020 DBSC season got underway tonight in a light WNW of about seven knots and an imposing grey sky! After a slightly "fizzled out" end to the 2019 season, following a very successful Worlds, an enthusiastic fleet of 16 Flying Fifteens gathered for the first race of 2020. As well as the established partnerships of Cahill & Cahill, Mathews & Poole, Colin & Casey, Mulligan & Bradley, and Coleman & Quinn, the fleet was joined by several new combinations who have got into the class on the back of the successful Worlds.
Race Officer Jack Roy opened the 2020 DBSC account for the Flying Fifteens by giving them course N3 – Harbour-Omega-Poldy-Bay-East – all to port apart from Bay. Tidal conditions favoured those who were determined to push the line - the Fifteen start was into the very early stages of the 2nd hour of an ebbing tide. That prompted the majority of the fleet to congregate at the pin end of the line so that they could get inshore. A much smaller group of Colin, Mulligan and Alistair Court with Conor O’Leary sought the stronger breeze further out. At the first mark, honours were even between the two separate groups. At Harbour Mark the fleet was led round by Colin/Casey followed by Ken Dumpleton of the inshore group, Cahill/Cahill also inshore, Mulligan & Court from the offshore group and Mathews, Meagher, Green from the inshore track.
Spinnakers were hoisted for the leg to Omega and onto Poldy. Given that there were some gusts coming through causing the wind to go slightly more northerly, some of the chasing group including Mulvin & Beirne and Miller & Butler took the unconventional decision to give immediately at harbour to pursue a course in the stronger tide offshore and the gusts coming in from the north. Ultimately, they would have to gybe back again to leave Omega to port and make their way to Poldy. In the lead group Dumpleton and Cahill decided that there wasn't enough excitement upfront and embarked on a luffing match that saw them forced into a much more inshore route to Omega, really only a passing mark in this course configuration.
That allowed Colin to open a gap ahead while from behind Mulligan, Court, Mathews, Meagher and Green soaked offshore to guard their flanks against the "black sheep" approach of Miller and Mulvin. The breeze got up a notch or two to provide a bit more excitement on the leg to Poldy where the sequence of rounding was Colin, Mulvin, Court, Miller, Mulligan, Dumpleton, Mathews, Meagher, Green and Cahill.
With the wind building to 12 knots in the gusts, the long beat to Bay was going to stretch everyone's early-season muscles. With the ebbing tide getting stronger the perennial question had to be asked - Out of the tide or stay in the breeze?
As to be expected none of the boats at the front end of the fleet were going to do anything too radical. The kudos of the opening 2020 DBSC win was too much to throw away on a flyer. And so, it evolved! The lead boats initially took a port tack hitch back towards the harbour before peeling off at different stages to claw some inshore brownie points and to get out of the tide. Colin led this strategy being the first to peel off. Mulvin and Court followed soon after, but Green and Mulligan persisted that bit longer and with a heavier 2020 version of Bradley, compared to 2019 - too many black-tie dinners - Mulligan started to make inroads on the leader. The "late throwing of double sixes" thus fell to Coleman & Quinn who took the long offshore hike before cutting inshore on the starboard lay line. Green, with Class President Doorly on board got this leg right to leave a much-altered pecking order at Bay - Colin, with a much-reduced lead, Mulligan, Green, Coleman and Court.
The leg to East was a tame affair, nobody straying too far off the thumb line. Colin, forced to keep a wary eye on Mulligan, found himself being pulled back into the peloton while Green was able to take advantage of this cat and mouse game to close even further. These three rounded East covered by an oversized blanket. An interesting cover match must surely ensue!
While Colin and Green headed inshore, Mulligan hung right hoping to eke out an advantage from the easing breeze, there seeming to be less breeze inshore. However, when it goes light Colin is in his element and he managed to keep Green at bay, crossing the line first. Mulligan and Green approached the line from opposite ends with Mulligan attempting a lee-bow on Green but Green managed to roll him over and claim second. Behind the podium three Mulvin came home next, followed by Coleman, Court and Mathews.