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#fireball – The Irish Fireball regatta season closed this past weekend with the hosting of the provincial Leinster Championships at Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club on Dublin Bay's northern shore. CYBC has a long tradition of Fireball sailing that has seen highs and low in the fleet and currently they are in rebuilding mode. Class Chairman Neil Colin committed the class to taking events to clubs where there is a domestic fleet and so 25 Fireballs arrived at the club to contest the last event of the regatta schedule.

It saw a return to the water of the 2011 National Champions, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella. McCartin has been out of the country over the summer months so he has not been active on the circuit. It was also good to see the host club combination of Damien Bracken and Brian O'Hara back on the water in a Fireball. Bracken is a very accomplished GP14 sailor and has been doing some sailing in that class with Shane McCarthy, but we have not seen much of him in a Fireball. Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield would have sailed under the burgee of CYBC in times past, but Jon's relocation to Sligo means that they sail the events as a combination rather than sailing at a club. John Bolger & S. Belochapkine were the sole representatives from Killaloe, another former stronghold of Fireball sailing that is also trying to recover from clubhouse complications. Other travellers to the event, from outside the immediate Dublin area were Brian O'Neill and Stevie Cassor from East Down Yacht Club (Strangford Lough), Team McGrotty, Niall, Simon and respective crews Neil Cramer & Darach Dinneen from Skerries and Finbarr Bradley from Carlingford Lough Yacht Club who teamed up with Howth's Diane Kissane. Our hosts got five boats onto the water.

The six race series was sailed inside and outside the harbour complex with three races taking place outside on Saturday and the balance being sailed inside the "leading lights" of Dublin's harbour entrance.

Saturday's racing took place in good trapezing conditions, opening with two Olympic courses followed by a Windward Leeward. McCartin/Kinsella started off from where they had last finished with a race win. However, speaking to Kinsella afterwards he said that they were finding their best form offwind which gave them a platform to control the race when they were going upwind. In truth, the leading bunch was quite tight with one new combination coming to the fore, the Clancy brothers Conor & James, who made everyone sit up and pay attention with a second place in Race 1. Waterford's Mike Murphy, crewed by Alex Voye made the first race their "high" of the day with a third place. Thereafter their Saturday results were just outside the top ten. And Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, 2012 National Champions,..............? Down in 5th place, behind Simon McGrotty & Darach Dinneen!

Race 2 saw a re-jigging of the top five – Butler/Oram taking the win ahead of McCartin/Kinsella. McGrotty/Dinneen took third, Kissane, taking a weekend break from 470 sailing and racing with Finbarr Bradley took 4th, with locals Bracken and O'Hara occupying the fifth slot. Again there was a tight bunch at the front of the fleet and a multitude of red spinnakers on the offwind legs made it a little difficult to see who was who!

The closing Windward-Leeward race saw McCartin/Kinsella win comfortably from Kissane/Bradley, with Bracken/O'Hara rounding out an ever-improving session with 3rd, Butler/Oram took 4th and McGrotty/Dinneen 5th.

The day's proceedings left McCartin & Kinsella with a six-point cushion over Butler & Oram who in turn had two points over Kissane/Bradley.

The weather forecast on Saturday evening did not bode well for the prospects of sailing outside the harbour on Sunday. Arriving at the club on Sunday morning there was a semblance of rain in the air and the Race Officer advised that the Dublin Harbour Control was recording 25 knots of breeze. With spring tides an additional factor, Ian Sargeant, the Race Officer, held a briefing session to advise the fleet that he would race us inside the harbour entrance. There is a limited window of tide for sailing off Clontarf as it is, so racing g inside the leading lights presented the additional hazards of a) staying outside the shipping lane into the harbour, b) avoiding the shallows in one corner of the race area at the latter stage of the tide and c) avoiding rocks in another location. That was before the vagaries of racing in the immediate lee of chimneys storage tanks and buildings given the wind direction of the day. A menu of two Windward-Leewards and an Olympic course to round out the day was offered.

Squally and variable wind directions would colour the racing – an unpredictable session of trying to second guess Mother Nature as huge lifts, stiff breezes, holes in the breeze and streaky winds made for an entertaining day. Trouble is that despite these vagaries, the cream of the fleet rose to the top again. McCartin/Kinsella had a more difficult day – scoring a 4, 2, 5. Butler/Oram replicated their opponents' feat of winning two of the day's three races, with Neil Spain & Francis Rowan taking the second race of the day in what was, for them, a slightly mediocre regatta. Kissane/Bradley also had a good day scoring a 2, 4, 3 to consolidate their position in the pecking order. Murphy/Voye also had a good day scoring 3, 7, 4 and McGrotty/Dinneen sailed a 5, 9, 2.

Some of the offwind legs were superb with huge gusts getting the Fireballs doing what they do best. There were some very cluttered roundings of the leeward mark and more than one of the top teams took turns during the day. There didn't seem to be any consistency to the wind, lifts on the starboard tack didn't seem to materialize in an advantage when one went onto port to get to the weather mar. Passing a boat on one tack didn't translate into the same advantage when the boats crossed again on opposing tacks – an elaborate game of snakes and ladders!

After six races, the new Leinster Champions are Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella who won with two points to spare over Noel Butler & Stephen Oram. In third place were Diane Kissane & Finbarr Bradley, three points adrift of the National Champions.

In the nine-boat Silver fleet, Brian Nolan and Billy Winter of the host club took the honours. Dropping a 20th from the first race they put together a tight set of results in the early to mid-teens to win by a ten-point margin from the northern visitors Brian O'Neill & Stevie Cassor.

 

Leinster Championships, CYBC, 15/16 Sept.

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

Total

1

14820

Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella

1

2

1

4

2

5

10pts

2

15061

Noel Butler & Stephen Oram

5

1

4

1

5

1

12pts

3

14840

Diane Kissane & Finbarr Bradley

6

4

2

2

4

3

15pts

4

14981

Simon McGrotty & Darach Dinneen

4

3

5

5

9

2

19pts

5

14908

Michael Murphy & Alex Voye

3

13

10

3

7

4

27pts

 

At the Class AGM on the Saturday evening, the Chairman, Secretary & Treasurer, Neil Colin, Margaret Casey and Marie Barry respectively, expressed their willingness to continue in office and were re-elected unopposed for a further year. Among a variety of discussions items was next year's regatta schedule which contemplates taking the Nationals to N.Ireland and trips to Skerries, the Volvo Dun Laoghaire regatta, Carlingford Lough and Slovenia for the Worlds.

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#fireball – 24 boats have gathered for the season closing Irish Fireball Leinsters at Clontarf this weekend.

With race management by the host clubs Ian Sargeant, three races were sailed in good conditions - two Olympics and a Windward/Leeward. As ever with the Fireballs, General Recalls were also the order of the day with none of the races getting away at the first attempt.

Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella dominated the opening day with two race wins (1 & 3) to generate a 6pt cushion over Noel Butler & Stephen Oram who took the other win. They counted a 4 and a 5 to have a 2pt gap over Diane Kissane & Finnbarr Bradley in 3rd.

As there is a very limited time window in Clontarf the racing was restricted to three races.

1 Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella 4pts

2 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 10pts

3 Diane Kissane & Finnbarr Bradley 12pts

4 Simon McGrotty & Darach Dineen 13pts

5 Damien Bracken & Brian O'Hara 16pts.

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#fireball – The last DBSC Tuesday Night Race of the 2012 season took place last night and finished as it began with a win for Noel Butler and Stephen Oram. I have been fortunate enough to sail a significant number of the Tuesday nights races this season and I can't recall a night when they didn't win writes Cormac Bradley.

Last night in very odd wind circumstances they had to come from behind to secure their win. With a flooding tide in Scotsman's Bay, the question was whether there was enough wind on the seaward side of the course to justify going left rather than right on the first beat. Neil Colin & Margaret Casey pioneered the inshore route, while Louis Smyth and Cormac Bradley took the seaward option. The other seven Fireballs were also inshore of the latter combination but at the first windward mark there wasn't a great deal of distance between the boats led round by Colin/Casey, Butler/Oram, Mick Creighton & Joe O'Reilly, Cariosa Power & Marie Barry, Smyth/Bradley, Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly, Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keefe, Jonathan Nicholson & Viv Besselar and Dave Coleman & Glenn Fisher.

The first reach was tight which led everyone to believe that the second reach would be broader but that didn't prove to be the case and scrambled spinnaker drops after the gybe mark saw a restructuring of the pecking order with Colin/Casey going for a swim, Butler & Oram taking over the lead followed by Creighton/O'Reilly and Miller/Donnelly who had got ahead of Smyth/Bradley. Thereafter, the pack chased Butler/Oram but to no avail.

Behind them, on the second beat, Creighton, Miller, Smyth & McKenna went slightly different ways but managed to cross each other at different stages of the beat in wind conditions that made tacking angles redundant. Smyth again played the outside line but found that he had lost distance to Miller but closed on Creighton and McKenna had closed on him.

Going down the sausage, Smyth was sandwiched between McKenna (inshore) and Creighton (offshore) while Miller and Butler sailed away in their own wind and water.

At the second rounding of the leeward mark, 3rd, 4th and 5th rounded bow to transom. After varying hitches inshore, all three boats tacked onto starboard to go up the beat.

The first reach of the second triangle was a bit broader than the first time round, even though Butler/Oram led the fleet more upwind than was necessary to get to the gybe mark. Miller/Oram were still secure in 2nd, followed by Creighton/O'Reilly, McKenna/O'Keeffe and Smyth/Bradley. Despite the easing of the first reach, the second reach was again too tight for spinnakers.

As they weren't registered for DBSC, Creighton/O'Reilly didn't go through the finish line to leave the finishing order as; Butler/Oram, Miller/Donnelly, McKenna/O'Keeffe, Smyth/Bradley, Colin/Casey.

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11 nations and 106 boats contested the 2012 Fireball Europeans, hosted by Yacht Club Bracciano East during the week of 21 – 27 July. The fleet boasted an entry from Namibia, Nikolai & Pascal Allers, whose boat is stored in Switzerland, a single entry from Germany, Joerg Noller & Roger Leeman, 2 Canadian boats, including FI Executive members Joe Jospe (Commodore) and Tom Egli (Technical representative), 3 Belgian boats, 3 Slovenians, 5 French, 9 Irish, 17 Swiss, 18 Czechs, 19 Italians, who also contested their National Championships at the event, and 28 British boats.

As to be expected with an event that was within drivable distance of all the centres of European Fireballing, the means by which the boats arrived was of much interest. And winning the award for the most attention in this category was the Irish entry which brought 9 boats on a single jeep/trailer combination; eight boats stacked either side of the trailer with the ninth on the roof of the jeep. It took a team effort to load and unload the boats, but the trailer was easily loaded.

Measurement for the regatta took place on the Saturday and Sunday and Monday morning saw the first upset of the week!

The prevailing wind in Bracciano at this time of year blows onshore at the club. This morning it was blowing away from the club and was accompanied by grey skies........this wasn't in the brochure! In the distance we could see windsurfers scudding across the waves and when we did get the odd glimpse of sun, we could see the white tops of the waves in the distance as they ran away from us. An initial postponement was signalled! When we did set sail for the start area we were to find a committee boat struggling to hold position and a pin boat that was struggling to get upwind. The former was due to depth complications – we were in 150m of water – the latter was due to the wind and sea. A start was eventually attempted but a major wind shift meant that the beat turned into a two-sail fetch, especially for those who started at the pin. The first reach was another two sail fetch in the opposite direction, which meant that spinnakers were only broken out on the third leg! Boats went left and right to avoid sailing a direct line to the leeward mark. Some of us continued our conservative outlook and two-sailed rather gingerly to the downwind turning point. An early abandonment signal was flying from the committee boat as the stragglers sailed upwind again; problem was the leaders were already on their way back to the leeward mark under spinnaker. That left a long slog home! The reaction shore side was one of consternation.

Day 2 and the wind looked as if it had returned to normal service. The fleet went out again and proceeded to have a very long wait for the first start. Race 1 was sailed to full length, but the second start only got underway after 17:30 and was truncated to a triangle, sausage and final beat. The first race was started in good breeze that faded as the day wore on. The arrival of black clouds in the vicinity of the lake meant that the 2nd start was going to be a bit lively.......and so it was until haven't spent itself out, the breeze faded again to leave us with sunny conditions but a dying breeze. The day was characterised by multiple starts, with initially general recalls being used then the dreaded Black Flag start. Race 2 got away at the second attempt under black flag conditions. It was also a day on which the IJ exercised their muscle, policing Rule 42 infringements. The fleet was back ashore by 19:00, however the IJ were working much later into the evening. Two days gone, two races completed, only one of which went full length.

Day 3: Wind onshore! 13:00 arrives with the postponement flag already in place. Just as well, at the scheduled start time the numbers of boats in the start area could be counted on two hands. The RO is now in a difficult position – starts have not got off on time, so there is less enthusiasm from the fleet to go afloat and wait for a delayed start. The first start of the day is attempted at 14:30. One General Recall and two Black Flags later the fleet is let go under a Z-Flag start. Later 20 boats were listed as being in trouble at the start! Race 2 starts after 17:00 and concludes with the fleet getting shore after 19:00. We have had 6.5 hours on the water for two shortened races.

Day 4: A second Skippers' Briefing has been arranged for 10:00. It proceeds to be a clearing of the air between the fleet and the RO. The frustration of long hours on the water with less than satisfactory results leads to an agreement that a) the fleet will be kept ashore until the wind has stabilized and a race can be started quickly and b) a request that the start lines are laid square to the wind to try and preclude the need for everyone to start early and c) a request that the race committee get on the water earlier to assess the wind situation.

Two full Olympic courses get sailed today, but with a first start after 15:30, we have another late return to shore, post 19:00. These are the best races of the week, relatively quick and clean starts, good spinnaker legs and breeze that stayed on for the duration of the races. Conditions are very pleasant for sailing – warm wind and warm water – and the trapezing isn't heavy duty upwind, though the 2nd reach of the triangles are a bit more challenging. During the second race the wind got up a bit but it didn't last overly long.

As the Championship dinner is scheduled for this evening, the fleet has little time between unwinding after the racing to getting ready for dinner. However, our Italian host put on a great spread – simple but very tasty – antipasto, pasta, spit-roasted pork and ice-cream with lots of wine and water to accompany the meal. The Slovenians also give a presentation on the venue for the 2013 Worlds in Portoroz in September, but the impact of their presentation is partially lost due to us all seating outside and the sheer volume of numbers.

Day 5: While we all have a discard with six races sailed, everyone would like to see more races to improve their position. However, being the last day of the event, there is an early cut-off for the last race start of 16:00. And in a typical application of Murphy's Law (if it can go wrong it will go wrong), there is no wind when we arrive at the club. Not a good start! The routine postponement flag goes up and the fleet settles in for a shoreside wait! Noon comes and goes; 13:00 comes and goes. We do go afloat around 15:00 which means at best we will only get a single race in. problem is that the wind is moving significantly with huge shifts that are a RO's nightmare! A start is attempted but we are in default again. Re-jig the line, lift the weather mark, everyone is clock-watching now! We are down to less than 20 minutes before cut-off. The minutes tick by.................and as 16:00 arrives we are done without a race being started. The leaders will be relieved, though the top boat has a six-point margin! The majority of the fleet will be relieved in a different way, they can start packing!

Most regattas are won on the basis of brilliance and consistency. This regatta required both these attributes in a much more conspicuous way. The ease with which big numbers could be accumulated – even for top ten candidates in a Fireball fleet – was unreal at this event.

On the Tuesday evening, Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser were sitting atop the pile with a 1,2 and three points. Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek were equally comfortable in second with a 1, 4 and the Venhodas, Kurt and So (SUI 14987) were in third with 9 points. 24 hours later, the Tuesday evening leaders had acquired a Black Flag and an 11, Kubovy/Rocek scored a 9,8 and the Venhodas had picked up a 30 and a 9. The British challenge manifested itself with Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff scoring a 1,2 on Wednesday, Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey scoring a 2,4, Sam Mettam & Richard Anderton securing a 3 in Race 4, David Hall & Paul Constable winning Race 3 only to fall foul of the Z-flag at the start and david wade/Bob Gardner getting a 4th (Race 4), but also a Black Flag.

Thus Wednesday saw a change in the order with Burge/Wagstaff tied with Kubovy/Rocek on 22pts, and Birrell/Brearey in third on 26pts. At this stage Kubovy/Rocek were the only combination inside the top ten overall who only had single digit finishes.

On Thursday Kubovy/Rocek's record of single digit finishes went AWOL as they recorded a 15 and 13, the former becoming their discard. Burge/Wagstaff scored a 1,6, Birrell/Brearey a 9 & 4. Hall/Constable replaced the Z-flag first with the real thing in Race 5 and followed that up with a 6th. Mettam/Anderton also had a good day with a 5,9.

Fireball Europeans – Yacht Club Bracciano East R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Nett

1 GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff 8 11 2 1 6 1 18

2 GBR 15065 Christian Birrell & Sam Brearey 15 5 4 2 9 4 24

3 CZE 15019 Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek 1 4 9 8 15 13 35

4 GBR 15083 David Wade & Bob Gardner 4 12 bfd 4 13 2 35

5 CZE 15059 Milan Cap & Filip Prochazka 12 14 3 5 32 3 37

6 GBR 15085 David Hall & Paul Constable 11 9 1 18 1 6 45

7 CZE 15079 Jaroslav Verner & Pavel Winkler dnf 2 14 7 11 12 46

8 GBR 15081 Sam Mettam & Richard Anderton 26 15 20 3 5 9 52

9 CZE 14979 Eva Skorepova & Jakub Napravnik 7 10 11 29 10 15 53

10 SUI 14799 Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser 2 1 bfd 16 21 14 54

Thus the top ten split is GBR 5, CZE 4 and Switzerland 1. This reflects the growing strength in numbers and talent level of the Czech fleet, which we are advised is the fastest growing fleet in Fireball. They are a very young group, which would suggest they are going to be around for a while.

Trophy Winners

Race 1 Swiss Cow Bell CZE 15019 Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek

Race 2 Czech Crystal Bowl SUI 14799 Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser

Race 3 Slovenian Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Race 4 UK Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Race 5 Italian UVM Trophy GBR 15085 David Hall & Paul Constable

Race 6 French Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Overall Fireball Europeans European Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Classic Boat Classic Boat Trophy CZE 14056 Karel & Matej Smetana (63rd)

Ladies Prize YCBE Trophy CZE 14809 Klara Janderova & Jitka Bidlova (64th)

Under-25s Italian Fireball Association Trophy GBR 15065 Christian Birrell & Sam Brearey

The regatta was generously sponsored by Carige Assicurazioni, an Italian insurance company, who were the main sponsor, Sperry Topsider, who provided a pair of their shoes to every competitor, Dicofarm who specialize in the development of early childhood products and, technical sponsors Aires Tech, a mechanical engineering company and Aliacom, a mass communications agency.

The hospitality of our Italian hosts was exceptional. Bottled water was free and available on each day of the regatta. A small team of Italian ladies produced enormous amounts of food from a very small kitchen on a daily basis – pasta was served to the fleet when it came ashore every day. The Championship dinner was simple but excellent fare and the shore teams enthusiastically helped boats off the small beach into the dinghy park at the end of each day's racing.

Photos by Bob Hobby and Urs Hardi

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There was a win for Britain's Matt Burge and Richard Wagstaff when winds didn't settle by the cut-off time for the last start of the Fireball European Championships in Italy yesterday and the overnight results stood. Irish boats are already on the road home with Kenny Rumball and Conor Kinsella and a nine boat trailer rig.

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#fireball – A first today - a second Skippers' Briefing for the fleet. Essentially it was an opportunity for the fleet to "clear the air" with the Race Officer writes Cormac Bradley. A number of accusations were made that preparation for the racing left a lot to be desired. The quality of the start lines also came in for criticism. Agreement was achieved on the fact that the fleet wouldn't go afloat unless the RO had a course set.

The consequence was that we didn't go afloat until 15:30. Two full Olympic races were completed with the result that the fleet came ashore after 7pm - another full day in Bracciano. Tonight we have the Championship event dinner and a presentation by the hosts of next year's Worlds - Slovenia. As I type we are sitting in the dark waiting for proceedings to commence.

Results have not appeared yet, doubtless due to the processing of start line infringements.

The two races today were probably the best of the week. Minimal fuss, good spinnaker legs - a revelation. The Irish fleet had a mixed bag of results - breakages, and people in nether regions of the fleet that they would rarely visit.

Sunshine has been in abundance so the holiday aspect of this week has been well sorted. Racing? Well that's another matter!

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#fireball – Today we had sun, wind from the prevailing direction and another marathon session on the water. With the wind being onshore the Race Officer was able to anchor in shallow water and within easy sailing distance of the shore. As to be expected at 13:00 the committee boat was flying a postponement flag - just as well - the number of boats within the start area could be counted on two hands!

A start sequence was attempted at 14:30 and one General Recall, two black flags and a Z flag later the fleet got underway. By that stage 16 boats had been dismissed and on the ultimate Z flag start, approx 20 boats were deemed to be over the line. The IJ is busy tonight!

David Hall won the first race of the day.

Of the Irish, Kenny Rumball scored two 11s, Simon Michael got a 14 and a 22, and Luke Malcolm scored a 13 in Race 2.

This leaves Rumball/Kinsella in 9th overall we believe but this will all be subject to the machinations of the IJ who have a full workload this evening.

Race 2 was started after 17:00 leaving the fleet coming ashore after 7pm. 6.5 hours for two races neither of which ran the full length.

The Irish team (excepting those involved in protest/redress action (Butler/Oram & McKenna/O'Keefe)) are eating together in Trevignano.

Results (provisional)

1 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff GBR 21
2 Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek CZE 21
3 Christian Birrell & Sam Brearey GBR 25
4 Hadkek Milan & Pavliek Zdenk CZE 32
5 Cap Milan & Prochazka Fillip CZE 33
9 Kenny Rumball & Conor Kinsella IRL 67
15 Simon McGrotty & Ruairi Grimes IRL 92
35 Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer IRL 171
37 Luke Malcolm & Shane Diviney IRL 173
40 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram IRL 178
61 Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley IRL 223
65 Ed & Ed Butler IRL 245
71 Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keefe 276
92 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 342

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#fireball – After two races, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram are the leading Irish at the Fireball Europeans in Italy in 16th place. Kenny Rumball and Conor Kinsella are 20th, Simon McGrotty and Ruairi Grimes are 26th. Niall McGrotty and Neil Kramer are in the 40s and Louis Smyth/Cormac Bradley are in the fifites.

Swiss pair Claude Mermod & Reudi Moser lead overall with a 1, 2.

Butler/Oram had a 14th in Race 1 and in Race 2, Rumball/Kinsella had a top ten finish.

Race 1 went the full length, but with a 17:30 start for the second one it was truncated after the third beat writes Cormac Bradley. While the first race had started in good breeze, it faded away to light conditions. After its conclusion there was a long wait for the 2nd Race. A neighbouring black cloud was always going to influence proceeding, which it did when the 2nd Race started in a flurry of downwardly adjusted rigs. It soon faded however, prompting the shortened course.

It was a day of multiple starts, general recalls and black flags. Four boats were black-flagged on an aborted start in Race 1, the successful start was also under a black flag so there MAY be others whose efforts have come to nought.

Race 2 was also sent away on a black flag, at the second attempt.

The jury were also active today policing Rule 42 transgressions so a number of boats have their first "yellow card" of the regatta.

As to finishing places, this correspondent can't help but in the first race a Czech boat and a Slovenian boat were well up. In Race two, Joerg and Roger from Germany were in 2nd place at the first weather mark.

The fleet got off the water after 7pm - a long day at the office for competitors and officials alike. Evening pasta was wolfed down enthusiastically.

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#fireball – After Day 1 of the Fireball Europeans in Bracciano, Rome no races have been completed. As forecast, we woke to rain this morning and an offshore wind blowing away from the club site writes Cormac Bradley. When the sun peeked out we could see the white caps on the waves moving away from us. In the distance we could see windsurfers scudding along the water.
A one hour postponement was signalled, pushing the projected start time to 14:00. At 13:30 the fleet started to launch - possibly incorrectly, but understandable. Thereafter we sailed around for the best part of nearly 4hrs before a start was initiated. Many didn't hear the sound signal and the majority of the fleet sensing a hard left shift went for the distant pin! What should have been a beat turned into a two-sailed fetch.

The first reach was hairy - evidenced by the lack of a solitary spinnaker.

The gybe mark was littered with capsized boats but at least some spinnakers were flown as boats went left and right from the gybe mark. After reaching the leeward mark, we passed to windward of the committee boat and saw that they were flying N over A - Abandonment!

Problem was that the leaders were already spinnakering back to the leeward mark.

What followed was a long slog back to base. The mood ashore was a mix of frustration, relief, consternation and wonderment.

Why had it taken so long to get started - 20 degree shifts, fluctuating wind strength, a malfunctioning anchor winch on the committee boat - in 300ft of water!!
Why abandon - rescue considerations, wind strength (average of 22 knots).

Relief - all the boats were safely ashore.

Logistics also contributed to the problems. The abandonment ashore was set for an hour and the fleet went afloat of its own accord. It may well be that the PRO didn't want the fleet at the start area given the conditions and his difficulties. The wind direction also meant that the committee boat had to be anchored in very deep water. Had the prevailing winds blown, he would have been in a much more manageable depth, with the club being on a lee shore.
The various emotions were salved by the supply of huge bowls of pasta for the competitors and officials, made on the spot.
The catering arrangements have been excellent - pasta (€4/plate) & filled rolls made to order!. Free bottled water and a ticket system for beers. Boat parking is a bit congested, as to be expected with a 105 boat fleet.
An L flag tonight advises that 3 races are scheduled for tomorrow.

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#fireball – With a fleet that ranges in sail numbers from 12754 (ITA) to 15085 (GBR), the contesting Fireballs for the European Championships in Bracciano, Italy are primed for competition. Measuring concluded today and as a consequence there were lots more boats on the water checking out the conditions.

There was less wind than yesterday, water conditions were flat in comparison to yesterday's easy chop and the wind swung left and right seemingly at random.

The Czechs appeared to go out on the water as a team. Clusters of British boats appeared to be pacing each other, we saw French boats in company, but the Irish each did their own thing. As we wait for the opening ceremony (19:00/18:00 Irish time) the last of the Irish boats is derigging. Kenny & Noel seemed to spend some time in each other's company!

Rain apparently is forecast tomorrow with breeze. At least we expect it to be warm rain!

Entries

British- 30+
Czech Republic - 18
Swiss - 17
Italian - 13
Irish - 9
Canadian - 3
Slovenia - 3
French - 4
Namibia - 1
Germany - 1
Belgium - 1

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Page 28 of 37

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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