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Flying Fifteen Shore Debate Gives Way to Saturday Racing on Dublin Bay

25th July 2022
Lavery & Mulvin (4068) lead the chasing Flying Fifteen pack on Dublin Bay, Gorman & Doorly (4099), Mulligan & Bradley (obscured) and Court & O’Leary around the 2nd weather mark after Mathews & Coughlan had gone round
John Lavery & David Mulvin (4068) lead the chasing Flying Fifteen pack on Dublin Bay, Gorman & Doorly (4099), Mulligan & Bradley (obscured) and Court & O’Leary around the 2nd weather mark after Mathews & Coughlan had gone round

Late Saturday morning signalled a change in the recent weather, with blue skies giving way to overcast conditions and the light winds of the previous Thursday night’s racing disappearing to be replaced by wind that whistled through the rigging on the platform of the National Yacht Club. It generated some debate as to whether there would be racing but that argument was partially undone by the launching of a large number of ILCAs for their Leinster Championships earlier in the morning. XCWeather had predicted southerlies of 12 knots gusting to the low twenties, one voice claimed that the Dublin Bay Buoy was showing 22knots gusting to 28. However, a later check on that source showed 4knots gusting 22!

The ongoing holiday season and one case of ill health continues to create new combinations for racing in the Flying Fifteens and this Saturday there was no shortage of new names sailing together, with some sailing in unusual places. John Lavery helmed David Mulvin’s Ignis Caput Duo (4068), with David in the sharp end. Joe Coughlan crewed for Ian Mathews in Mike Wazowski (4093), Alan Balfe stepped into the sharp end of Thomas Murphy’s Fflagella (4057) and Chris Doorly teamed up with David Gorman (4099). In the absence of any contrary notification from the Race Officer, Barry O’Neill, these four boats and six others launched for the 2-race programme. A busy race agenda with ILCAs sailing Leinsters and Ruffians sailing their Nationals saw the Saturday Green Fleet going deep into the west of the bay to get their racing in.

Mulligan & Bradley en route to the start areaMulligan & Bradley en route to the start area

With low water at 14:30 tide would be a feature of the afternoon and despite the wind whistling in the rigging ashore, the sail out to the start area was quite genteel. On the water, the wind direction was of the order of 145°, not quite the southerly that XCWeather had suggested.

For the first race of the day, the fleet all started on starboard with Mulligan & Bradley closest to the committee boat – by choice. Their decision was influenced by an assessment of tide and wind and while the rest of the fleet belatedly followed them inshore, Mulligan appeared to have stolen a slight march on the fleet. However, the route to the weather mark of the 2-lap Windward-Leeward course meant that those who had taken a starboard hitch initially were better off, though when the fleet converged for the final approach to the weather mark, there wasn’t a great deal of distance between them. Mulligan looked to have cleared those coming in on port tack, but that isn’t how it materialised as Mathews & Coughlan led the fleet around, followed by Lavery & Mulvin, Gorman & Doorly and Mulligan & Bradley. Mathews and Lavery were reasonably close with a gap to Gorman and a further gap to Mulligan who had to watch his windward quarter where Murphy & Balfe lurked with intent.

It was a starboard tack two-sailer all the way to the leeward mark where a gybe was required to round the mark and start the second beat. The leading quartet all went straight inshore with Gorman the furthest boat to windward but behind the front two where Mathews was the leeward boat but still leading. Mulligan eased off to get out from underneath Gorman and “Lake Garda like” the race was on to get to the shore first. These four pulled away from the rest of the fleet and closed on each other to provide a tight rounding of the weather mark for the second time.

Again, the course to the leeward mark was a simple straight-line matter apart from Gorman & Doorly sailing high to try and take the two boats ahead of them. My recall is that this didn’t succeed, but in the short leg to the finish, a decision to try and fly bag cost Lavery & Mulvin, allowing Gorman to take second place.

There was a sense that the breeze got up for the second race and the RO rejigged his course, seeming to make it longer as well as moving the weather mark in a northerly direction. Mulligan again pursued an inshore course and got it right to lead around the first weather mark of the three-lap course. This time the RO had set a course that forced people to make choices as to which route to take downwind. Mulligan favoured a slightly right-hand side biased route and was followed to varying degrees by Lavery and Mathews whereas Gorman sailed a more inshore route. The tactical aspect of the downwind came into play later on in the leg when an early gybe was needed to sail back towards the leeward mark. While an earlier transit has suggested that in straight line terms Gorman and Mulligan would be close, Mulligan’s gybe undid that assessment as he stole a few boat-lengths to get into the mark first. A well-executed spinnaker drop saw him gain another boat-length on Gorman and more importantly the windward slot relative to his pursuer. Mathews and Coughlan’s race came to an end here when they sailed over the spinnaker and Coughlan went overboard trying to resolve the problem.

Compared to the previous trek to the shore, Mulligan & Bradley decided the numbers weren’t good enough and took a hitch to sea. Or at least it started as a hitch and ended as a long solitary passage up the left-hand side of the beat. It was a risk, as none of the chasing pack felt so inclined but with a focus on the compass, they managed to eke out some distance from the chasing pack! As they tacked to come back inshore they were rewarded by being able to comfortably cross the fleet and close out the last metres of the second beat in relative comfort. What followed was another tactical downwind with Messrs Gorman and Lavery in pursuit – never easy and enough to focus the mind very intently. At the very least Mulligan maintained his lead over his pursuers and was able to embark on the third beat with some distance on Gorman who was still ahead of Lavery, but Alistair Court & Conor O’Leary (Ffinisterre 3753) were now in the mix. As Mulligan led the chasers upwind on starboard tack it was apparent that Court & O’Leary were closing on Gorman & Doorly. As Mulligan tacked inshore for his final approach to the upwind finish of a shortened course Court and Gorman hit the left-hand corner with Court in the windward berth and ahead on the water. As they, in turn, tacked onto port to close on the finish, it was Court who was ahead and he took the gun for second place.

DBSC Flying Fifteens: Saturday Series. Saturday 23rd July.

Race 1.
1. Ian Mathews & Joe Coughlan 4093
2. David Gorman & Chris Doorly 4099
3. John Lavery & David Mulvin 4068
4. Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley 4081
5. Tom Murphy & Alan Balfe 4057.

Race 2.
1. Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley 4081
2. Alistair Court & Conor O’Leary 3753
3. David Gorman & Chris Doorly 4099
4. John Lavery & David Mulvin 4068
5. Tom Murphy & Alan Balfe 4057.

DBSC Flying Fifteens: Saturday Series Overall*
1. David Gorman & Michael Huang/Chris Doorly 22pts
2. Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley 34pts
3. David Mulvin/John Lavery & Ronan Beirne 48pts
4. Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 64pts
5. Tom Murphy & Carel/Alan Balfe 71pts

*The DBSC website is now showing the Thursday Night and Saturday Series as Thursday A & B and Saturday A & B, but the “Overall” results for the Saturday Series posted in this article is for all the Saturdays to date.

Published in Flying Fifteen, DBSC
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 Afloat.ie

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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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