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Dublin Bay Flying Fifteen Keelboats in Fine Fettle!

4th September 2020
Ronan Beirne (left) and David Mulvin sailing Flying Fifteen 4068, "Ignis Caput II Ronan Beirne (left) and David Mulvin sailing Flying Fifteen 4068, "Ignis Caput II

A year ago, the Irish Flying Fifteen community was gearing itself up for the Subaru World Championships in Dun Laoghaire Harbour when a 72-boat fleet contested the Championships in what was considered, post-event, to have been a very successful regatta. Of course, the fact that Race Officer Jack Roy managed to get enough races completed in conditions that embraced the full spectrum of wind strengths to give everyone a second discard helped enormously. But in addition to the wind, we had sunshine and a well-organised shore team to make sure that launching and recovery went as smoothly as possible when 72 boats are trying to get onto and off the water. Socially, the National Yacht Club and the organising committee put together a schedule that kept everyone happy.

In the build-up to the Worlds, we saw several new boats added to the fleet, Tom Murphy's 4057, "Fflagella" (late 2018), David Mulvin's 4068, "Ignis Caput II" (2019) and Bryan Willis' 4074 "Pure Gold". (2019) However, it is in the post-Worlds environment that the state of health of a class is most precarious. The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Flying Fifteen fleet has bucked the trend and seen a further injection of new boats in this Covid-19 ravaged season which only got underway in late July.

The first of these to hit the water was 4081, Phoenix, saw the return of John Lavery to the fleet with Alan Green at the pointy end. Their debut on the DBSC circuit saw them open their account with a 1, 2 on 8th August and followed it up with a 1,3 on 15th August. Since then they have added the Championship of Ireland to their haul, winning a four-race Championship in a very breezy Dunmore East with a three-day event reduced to a single day of racing. In another indication of the rude health of the Class, a significant number of boats from N Ireland contested the regatta, significant because of the combined effects of Covid-19 and the adverse implication of an unseasonal August storm that saw Friday's racing cancelled by WhatsApp at 08:00 (approx.) that morning. Saturday's racing went the same way, but the fleet went sailing on Sunday in big seas generated by the storm. Downwind was exhilarating we are told!

Ben Mulligan and article author Cormac Bradley (left)Ben Mulligan and article author Cormac Bradley (left)

The second of the new boats to be added to the 2020 fleet arrived later than intended due to Covid-19 and a relaxed delivery schedule. Ben Mulligan's 4081, "Enfant de Marie" hit the water on the Saturday of the Championship of Ireland, but in Dublin Bay, not Dunmore East. With the Fifteens' DBSC race cancelled, Mulligan and Cormac Bradley tested the new boat in high, blustery winds and found all systems to be working well. Their race debut in DBSC came in a fifteen-boat fleet last Saturday. The forecast was for breeze out of the north, quite strong in the early morning, but forecast to drop as the day wore on – at least to manageable strengths. Race Officer Barry O'Neill set a long course to blow away the cobwebs and was "rewarded" by the fleet misbehaving at the start, necessitating a General Recall. It would be unfair to cast dispersions as to who may have jumped the gun, but the author's sense was that it just wasn't one or two boats. It prompted Mulligan & Bradley to review which way to go up the beat, and that saw them at the opposite end of the start line to the aborted start – the committee boat. Negotiating a course around Neil Colin and Margaret Casey (4028 – Ffuzzy), they were closest to the committee boat and free to tack out to the right-hand side of the beat. Our sense was that while there was more tide out there (ebbing), there was also more breeze. Colin & Casey appeared to agree with that synopsis, and from a poor start by their standards, their decision was vindicated when they rounded the weather mark in the peloton. Mulligan/Bradley having committed from the "get-go" to that side found themselves in a healthy position as they came across on starboard to close on the mark. With the whole fleet bar those as mentioned above two going left, the debutants found themselves with a healthy gap to the chasing pack, led by Ian Matthews and Keith Poole, 3864, "The Gruffalo". Also featuring prominently was David Mulvin and Ronan Beirne (4068) and Tom Murphy with Karl (4057). Joe Coughlan and Andrew (Ash, 3913) were also well up the pecking order.

Ian Matthews (left) and Keith Poole, 3864, "The Gruffalo" 

It is testimony to the course accuracy that everyone had to gybe at least twice to make their way to the leeward mark. Mulligan/Bradley enjoyed a healthy gap to the chasing pack and maintained that distance to the second weather mark. Down the second run, Matthews & Poole closed when the leaders got themselves out of synch with the gybes, but they regained their distance when Matthews got the finish configuration wrong, going for the leeward mark, rather than rounding up to a finish line set to weather of the committee boat. They managed to save their second place, followed home by Murphy (4057), Coughlan (3913) and Colin (4028). Thus Mulligan/Bradley enjoyed a maiden win in their new boat.

The second race produced a more orderly start, Mulligan favouring the same approach as Race 1, but having to manoeuvre around Coughlan to achieve that objective. However, not all the fleet were committed to the left as had been the case in the first race and at the top mark, the leaders were Matthews & Poole. The chasing pack consisted of Mulvin, Colin, Murphy, with Mulligan back in 5th place. The run saw little change in the pecking order, but there was an element of "concertina-ing" at the leeward mark and a gap opened for Mulligan to sneak in. A quick tack on to starboard for a short hitch to the left followed by another tack saw Mulligan/Bradley virtually pointing at the weather mark, albeit from the bottom end of the beat. That short tack allowed three places to be gained over the length of the beat and saw Mulligan/Bradley chasing Matthews/Poole down the final run. They appeared to be closing at one stage, but Matthews pulled away again to maintain his lead to the finish. Mulligan/Bradley held the chasing boats off to finish second, followed by Colin, Mulvin and Murphy.

As it stands, the Saturday Series is as follows;

  1. David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne 26pts
  2. Ian Matthews & Keith Poole 35pts
  3. Alan Green & Chris Doorly 36pts
  4. Ken Dumpelton & Crew(s) 43pts
  5. Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 50pts

Twenty-two Flying Fifteens are on the DBSC register for Saturday, and a fleet of fifteen boats from that cohort is healthy by any measure. Outside the classes that sail to a handicap, this makes the Class the largest in Dublin Bay. We know a third new boat is destined for Dun Laoghaire, bought by an individual who is of the view that if you want regular two-handed competitive sailing, this is the only fleet that can provide it on the East Coast. We also note that the Afloat website has another Flying Fifteen (4060) advertised for sale.

Regatta-wise the fleet will sail the National Yacht Club regatta this weekend coming and two weeks later will contest the East Coast Championships at the same venue. DL Class Captain Neil Colin encourages as many boats as possible to support these two events.

Published in Flying Fifteen
Cormac Bradley

About The Author

Cormac Bradley

Email The Author

Dublin Bay Fireballer Cormac Bradley was appointed Rear Commodore of the International Fireball Class in 2017. He is a regular dinghy and one design correspondent on

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Flying Fifteen - At A Glance

Overall Length 20 ft6.1 m

Waterline Length 15 ft4.6 m

Mast Height 22 ft 6 in6.86 m

Sail Area 150 sq ft14 sqm

Spinnaker Area 140 sq ft13 sqm

Hull Weight 300 lb136 kg

Keel Weight 400 lb169 kg

Minimum Weight 685 lb305 kg

Racing Crew Two

Ideal Crew Range 18 - 28 st145 - 185 kg

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