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Three-way Tiebreaker Decides National Yacht Club Podium Finishes in the Flying Fifteen Class

21st June 2022
Dave Gorman (left) and Michael Huang were the overall winners of the NYC Regatta Flying Fifteen class
Dave Gorman (left) and Michael Huang were the overall winners of the NYC Regatta Flying Fifteen class Credit: Afloat

The second of the Dun Laoghaire waterfront yacht club regattas was hosted last Saturday, 18th June, by the National Yacht Club and thirteen Flying Fifteens took to the water to contest the Davy-sponsored NYC regatta. The forecast was a more benign 10-15knots NNW going NW in contrast to the previous Saturday when the actual winds were in the high teens with gusts in the low to mid-twenties. The fleet size was also influenced by contestants sailing away events and, one imagines, the holiday season – some NYC stalwarts were conspicuous by their absence – all perfectly understandable. Despite the great heat of the Friday conditions overhead were grey and there was a coolness to the breeze.

Race Officer Barry O’Neil took the fleet out towards the Seapoint side of the Bay and set a weather mark in the lee of the Poolbeg chimneys. With a flooding tide running for the race period, there were early warnings from the RO not to be over the line and for the first racer of the day all the classes had clean starts.

In R1 for the Fifteens, the place to be was towards the pin end of the line, heading in towards the shore and a few took this approach. Among these were Tom Galvin & Keith Poole (4093), Niall and Laura Coleman (4008), sailing with crispy fresh sails, saved for high days and holidays, Tom Murphy & Carel (4057) and Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley (4081). The latter were enjoying good boat speed and got to the front of this group at an early stage. However, by playing the shifts they soon found themselves towards the middle and right-hand side of the beat and seemingly in a strong position. Galvin/Poole, Coleman² and the Leinster/Blue Bulls combination of Tom & Carel were now working the upper left-hand side of the beat. Mulligan rounded ahead of them all with Galvin, Coleman and Murphy rowing in behind. Dave Gorman & Michael Huang (4099) were next up.

Down the run, Mulligan had to keep a watching brief on Galvin as the distance between these two boats ebbed and flowed but by the end of the leg, Mulligan had managed to eke out a few more boat-lengths of a lead. All of these boats took the right-hand mark of the leeward gate and worked the left-hand side of the beat to varying degrees. And it is the varying degrees that determined the rounding order at the next weather mark as Galvin & Poole fell away and were replaced as the chasing boat by Tom & Carel. Mulligan had marginally increased his lead by working the shifts successfully and the Colemans were also in close proximity to Tom & Carel. At this stage the distance to the rest of the fleet was quite healthy with Galvin still ahead of Gorman, I think.
The third beat saw Mulligan increase his lead over Murphy and Coleman, with Murphy comfortable relative to Coleman. Approaching the leeward gate for the third time it was clear that the boats that had started before the Fifteens were in the process of finishing – causing some confusion. Four laps had been signalled, yet here we were seeing boats finishing after three laps. Only a solitary Dragon could be seen going upwind for the fourth time……….but everyone else was gybing to sail to a finish. As the leading Fifteen, Mulligan and Bradley debated the situation and complied with the herd instinct and got a winning sound signal at the finish, followed by Tom and Carel and the Colemans, with Gorman & Huang taking fourth with Galvin/Poole 5th.

With the wind moving in accordance with the forecast, the weather mark went leftwards towards the Aviva Stadium and out pre-race deliberations decided that the pin was the place to be. A General Recall for the Dragons and the Fifteens may have introduced some “brain-freeze” for instead of starting at the pin we found ourselves starting at the committee boat squeezing between “Freebird” and Dave & Valerie Mulvin (3864) and then being forced to make a tack to clear our air. As we later tried to get across to the left-hand side of the course the error of our ways was magnified – Gorman and Galvin, in particular, were gone, having started at the opposite end of the line. Murphy was well placed too and at the weather mark, the first race winners found themselves “off the pace” with Gorman and Galvin already too far ahead. At this early stage, the running order was Gorman, Galvin, Murphy (T) with a group closely bunched together of Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028), Ken Dumpleton & Joe O’Reilly (3955), the Colemans (4008), Peter Murphy & Ciara Mulvey (3774) and Mulligan & Bradley.

Down the first run, this group stayed pretty much together. After going through the leeward gate Mulligan broke away to try and salvage something by going right. Having sailed a reasonable distance, on a long windward leg, he got a header and on taking found a 15° lift that carried him away from the company at the leeward gate who had continued to sail to shore and gave him what looked like a platform to maybe claw Tom Murphy back.

The Colemans threatened for a short period but also fell away and Mulligan found himself in fourth pace at the next weather mark. Up the third beat and the right and middle was worked again and with Murphy (T) apparently stranded on the left-hand side the prospect of clawing back third developed. However, Murphy escaped and while he and Mulligan seemed to close on both Galvin and Gorman, the dye was cast for a tiebreak. This time the four laps indicated by the committee boat and emphasised by the RO at each start were sailed!

Matters on the water were thus tied up between three boats on five points – Gorman & Huang (4,1), Murphy & Carel (2,3) and Mulligan & Bradley (1,4) and Galvin & Poole on seven (5,2). At the prize-giving the final result was announced, in reverse order as Murphy, Mulligan and Gorman.

This gives Tom and Carel a 1,3 across the two Dun Laoghaire regattas sailed. Mulligan and Bradley were involved in the running of the DMYC regatta and Gorman and Huang didn’t sail the DMYC event.

Cormac Bradley

About The Author

Cormac Bradley

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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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2024 Irish Flying Fifteen Worlds Qualification Events Calendar

  • FFAI Westerns 25th + 26th May - Sruthan, Connemara
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  • FFAI East Coast - 21st - 22nd Sept - Dublin.
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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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