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Ten Fireballs answered the starter’s call on Sunday afternoon with none of them showing any adverse signs from the season’s prize-giving at the National Yacht Club on the preceding Friday night. However, one individual did say that he wasn’t at his best having been at a family function till late on Saturday night.

The forecast was for an easterly, which duly arrived but there were varying forecasts as to what strength it would be. In the end we had our best racing for the Series thus far, proper trapezing upwind and off-wind on the short top reach.

In a break with recent practice we had a single race, a 5-lap trapezoid course with the start area just outside the entrance channel to the marina, a weather mark in the vicinity of the Boyd Memorial – an obelisk built into the upper Pier wall, Mark No.2 just inside the end of the East Pier, No. 3 just to the north of the Marina West Breakwater and No. 4 about ⅓ of the way between the end of the Marina West Breakwater and the HSS berth.

In assessing the course before the start, we had watched a Finn from the PY starts get into a very favourable angle relative to the weather mark by going to the right-hand side of the beat but the majority of Fireballs decided to go left initially, on starboard tack towards the harbour mouth. Two specific exceptions to this were Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) who went right from the start and were both rewarded by rounding in 2nd and 3rd respectively a short distance behind perennial leaders Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061). Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (14706) were also well up as were the other all-lady team of Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854). Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley (14713) were a bit further back despite being favourably disposed, weight-wise, to the stronger, though not excessive, breeze. Season-debutant Darragh McDonagh was close on Miller’s tail, too close from 1 to 3! The top reach was a three-sailer and for the first lap it was quite comfortable. The question was whether to gybe immediately at Mark 2 or to sail on towards the end of the west pier before gybing onto a long leg towards Mark 3. For the early stages of the race the immediate gybe was the preferred option. The advantage of having Noel & Stephen lead is that it gives the rest of us an indication of what is possible on the next leg. It was clear that 3 to 4 was not going to be a spinnaker leg for anyone.

Up the second beat the early pecking order didn’t change much except that miller managed to shake off McDonagh and closed the gap on the boats ahead to the extent that from 2 to 3 on the second lap, Colin, Court, McKenna and Miller were in a tight grouping with McKenna exerting aggressive but legal influence on the outside of the bunch as Mark 3 came into play. As inside boat Miller got squeezed by Court who rounded ahead of Miller but Miller had managed to get ahead of both Colin and McKenna. The leg from 3 to 4 was now tighter as the immediacy of boats caused them all to go high. Halfway across the leg the angle of attack was eased and it became a short reach to bear down on the mark.

Having gone right on the second beat and closed the gap, Miller & Bradley stayed right again, this time taking Court and Syme before they reached the weather mark, but Court wasn’t giving up that easily and kept company with Miller all the way to Mark 3. However, at 3, Miller opened a gap that he extended across to 4 leaving him in a position to watch Court with some comfort. The priority was to stay ahead of Court rather than trying to catch Butler & Oram.

Further back, some of the other boats were struggling a little; Smyth & Fisher (15007) were not showing the same form as the previous Sunday and eventually retired with a broken main halyard and possible a bit of swimming. Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) also had their fair share of trouble with a capsize on the beat in the fluky approach to the weather mark and getting blown over on the top reach which had become decidedly tighter. They too retired. McDonagh, after his early pace, fell back through the fleet and the Keegans, Peter & Michael (14676) were also off the pace.

Having got past Court on the off-wind legs, Miller extended his lead on the subsequent two beats to finish a comfortable 2nd behind Butler & Oram who ploughed a solitary furrow as race leaders from start to finish.

Court & Syme continued their form of last week as Race 2 Mug Winners to finish 3rd, with McKenna & O’Keeffe 4th and Colin & Casey 5th. Miller & Bradley’s 2nd place on the water was enough to win the day’s Frostbite Mugs.

2016/17 DMYC Frostbites – Series1: After 1st Discard. R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Nett
Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 1 1 1 1 1 1 5
Conor Clancy/Owen Laverty & James Clancy 14807 2 4 2 4 3 13 15
Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 14775 13 2 4 2 2 5 15
Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe/Cormac Bradley 14691 3 3 7 7 5 4 22
Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Cormac Bradley 14713 13 5 6 8 6 2 27
Louis Smyth & Joe O’Reilly/Glenn Fisher 15007 13 7 3 3 7 11 31
Cariosa Power & Marie Barry 14854 13 6 8 6 8 7 35
Alistair Court & Gordon Syme 14706 13 13 13 5 4 3 38
Peter & Michael Keegan 14676 13 8 5 13 13 8 47
Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 13 13 13 9 9 11 55
Darragh McDonagh & Crew 15058 13 13 13 13 13 6 58
David Turner & Peter Doherty 14362 13 13 13 10 10 13 59


The Class had its season prize-giving on Friday night at the National Yacht Club. New Class Chairman/President/Commodore gave a report back on the season just past, including in his opening comments a tribute to his immediate predecessor, Marie Barry, who has put in sterling work looking after the Class over the past few years. A glutton for punishment, Marie has stepped down from the Chair to take up the role of Secretary!!

While the Travellers Trophy determines the competitive prizes, there are also a number of trophies that are awarded by the Class.

The Asterix Trophy, awarded by committee consensus to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the Class.

Awarded to the retiring Class Chairman, Marie Barry

The India Trophy, awarded by committee consensus to the most improved Fireballer(s).

Awarded to Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) for their Pwhelli Worlds performance which they followed up with 3rd place overall at the2016 Irish Fireball Nationals in Howth

The Captain’s Prize, awarded at the discretion of the Dun Laoghaire Class Captain, who in 2016 was Hermine O’Keefe.

Awarded to Cormac Bradley for his “Irish Fireball journalism” – writing regatta reports, Tuesday night and Frostbite racing

The Liam Bradley Trophy, memorial trophy awarded by Cormac Bradley in memory of his father.

Awarded to Hermine O’Keeffe for her development as a crew and her subsequent contribution to the 14691 Fireball Team as evidenced in Pwhelli at the Worlds and the subsequent 3rd place overall at the Irish Nationals

Silver Fleet Trophy – awarded to the top placed Silver Fleet entry over the Travellers Series (5 regattas).

Awarded to Cariosa Power and Marie Barry (14854)

The Lady’s Helm – Awarded to the best placed Lady Helm in the Travellers Series.

Awarded to Louise McKenna (14691)

Travellers Series

3rd Place – Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer, 14938, Skerries Sailing Club.

2nd Place – Conor & James Clancy, 14807, Royal St George Yacht Club.


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After the third Sunday of the 2016/17 Fireball Frostbite Series, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, the points table is as shown below writes Cormac Bradley. As the numbers show, there is one shining example of consistency – Noel Butler and Stephen Oram have yet to lose a race and while these numbers might suggest they are having it all their own way, at one stage yesterday, after the first beat of the second race, they were second last.

2016/17 Frostbites, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Tot.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 1 1 1 1 1 5
2 Conor Clancy/Owen Laverty & James Clancy 14807 2 4 2 4 3 15
3 Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 14775 12 2 4 2 2 22
4 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe/Cormac Bradley 14691 3 3 7 7 5 25
5 Louis Smyth & Joe O’Reilly/Glenn Fisher 15007 12 7 3 3 7 32
6 Frank Miller & Ed Butler/Cormac Bradley 14713 12 5 6 8 6 37
7 Cariosa Power & Marie Barry 14854 12 6 8 6 8 40
8 Alistair Court & Gordon Syme 14706 12 12 12 5 4 45
9 Peter & Michael Keegan 14676 12 8 5 12 12 49
10 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 12 12 12 9 9 54
11 David Turner & Peter Doherty 14362 12 12 12 10 10 56


If you were to ask me where they got ahead, I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t recall any engagement with them on the remainder of the race, but they did win it, despite the best efforts of both the Clancys and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey in the latter stages of the race. This performance was in stark contrast to the first race when they rounded the first weather mark first and proceeded to extend their lead throughout the race winning by a very comfortable margin.

Wind conditions were at their best on this third Sunday, following very strong winds on Day 1 and variable winds last Sunday, yesterday provided more consistent breeze in terms of strength even if there was quite a bit of diversity to the execution of the beats. The breeze was out of the western quarter and with a start area just inside the end of the East Pier, the weather mark was set to the left of the pier protecting the entrance to the marina. As has been the trend this season, the top and bottom reaches were quite short in length and with this wind direction the leg from Mark 2 to mark 3 was a good length.

The fleet all decided that sailing along the start line on starboard tack was the way to go but even with a pin-end bias, there was some “argy-bargy” as the gun went and two boats returned to restart – Team Clancy & Miller & Bradley. Just ahead of them, along the line, on the pin, was Butler & Oram and this was about as close as anyone got to them in this race. The majority of the fleet went left initially with only two boats going right. Team Clancy & Miller worked a middle of the course route and as the weather mark came into play it was apparent that their start-line “mis-deeds” had cost them places.

Behind the “hare” the greyhounds were being led by Colin & Casey, Court & Syme, and Smyth & Fisher. Miller & Bradley rounded with only two boats behind them, Frostbite debutantes David Turner & Peter Doherty and Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire. However, the reality was that with the exception of the hares, the balance of the fleet was quite closely grouped. The top reach was tight-ish and would get tighter as the afternoon wore on, so spinnaker handling was at a premium. Between 2 and 3 the decision was how late to leave the gybe after Mark 2 and in most cases it was left quite late. 3 to 4 was another tight reach but invariably those that were fighting for places went higher than they needed to, relative to the mark.

Miller & Bradley redeemed themselves on the next beat by going hard left and working their way up the port lay-line – an exercise that got them into third or fourth place, but on the leg between 3 and 4 they were passed out to windward and leeward to go back down the pecking order. By this stage Smyth & Fisher were snapping at the transom of Colin & Casey who were still second but Team Clancy were also chasing a podium place. Eventually, Smyth & Fisher were able to get sufficiently ahead to control Team Clancy’s ambitions on the short hitch to the finish. Miller & Bradley had a fight for the finish when they didn’t communicate to each other that it was a finish as they were distracted with an errant spinnaker halyard. They only just held off Chambers & McGuire for 8th place.

The breeze appeared to go a little bit further south for the second start of the day which was a clean one with everyone repeating the intent of the first start, sail off the line on starboard and work the left hand-side. For some reason that I didn’t see, Butler & Oram were not part of that set, so it was with some surprise that as the majority of the fleet sailed up the port lay-line, they had the sight of the Series Leaders coming in from the right-hand side to occupy a very unusual spot in the pecking order.

Up front, Colin & Casey were setting the pace with Team Clancy and McKenna & O’Keeffe in close proximity and Court & Syme well placed. Another tight group included Miller, Smyth and Power & Barry and the newcomers Turner & Doherty were showing some signs of getting to grips with proceedings. Like silent assassins, Butler & Oram picked off the fleet to leave themselves snapping at the leaders as the race progressed. Miller then got back into the company of Court and McKenna but at a rounding of Mark 4, McKenna pushed her nose in, to Court’s indignation and Miller was forced wide as a consequence. There was no contact but McKenna took turns and dropped off the pace as a consequence. By the next weather mark, McKenna had undone the damage of turns and Court had got further away from Miller so his recovery died.

Butler & Oram took their fifth gun of the Series ahead of Colin & Casey and Team Clancy.

The Frostbite Mugs went to Louis Smyth and a delighted Glen Fisher for the first race of the day and to Alistair Court and Gordon Syme for the second. Fisher was delighted to get a Mug so soon in the Series, because he claimed he normally has to wait until March. Thus, a Mug on Day 3 and before December was a double bonus!

Friday evening, 25th November sees the Class having its end of year dinner and prize-giving in the National Yacht Club. The evening is always well supported by the active and only recently inactive members and the committee would love to see as many of you as possible at the event. In addition to the Travellers’ Trophy prizes, there are Class Awards to be handed out and in recent years we have been very well looked after by the National Yacht Club’s hospitality team.

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The 2016 Fireball World Championships are now only three weeks away. They will be hosted by the Mossel Bay Yacht Club in South Africa from the 4th to the 16th December 2016. Unfortunately, there will be no Irish representation.

With its exceptional weather, picturesque location and exceptional ocean conditions, Mossel Bay is rated as one of South Africa’s best sailing venues. There should be a full range of conditions, but rumour has it this will be a regatta for the big boys.

It has been 22 years since the Fireball Worlds were last held in South Africa and 13 years since they were on the African continent. Many of the sailors from the 1994 event still brag about surviving the high winds and big waves with most rating South Africa as the best place that they have ever sailed.

The two week event commences with an eight race Pre-worlds which is also the South African Nationals. After a day’s rest and recovery it is back out on the water for the 10 race world championships.
In terms of a likely winner it is hard to go past current world champions Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton from the UK. Tom has won the last three Fireball Worlds he has sailed in and together with Richard they also hold the British title and have a European title to their name.

The Swiss pairing of Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser will be aiming to dethrone Tom and Richard. They have been in fine form this season having won the European Championships with a day to spare in Italy in July. The Swiss are hard to beat in the lakes. The question will be can they step up to racing in the ocean swell.

Other likely contenders include Ben Schulz and Jack Lidgett from Australia. The Aussies traditionally love the big winds so South Africa may well suit their style. From Czech Republic, Olympic hopeful Johana Napravnikova Koranva has teamed up with Jakub Napravni and should be extremely fast. Then there are a number of teams from Canada, France, Kenya and Namibia who will all be near the front of the fleet at some stage during the regatta.

The local South African fleet is looking forward to the opportunity and privilege of competing against some of the best Fireball sailors from around the world and we are hoping that some home water advantage will give us a slight edge to make an impression on the competitive fleet.

Local, young and up-coming sailor Georgou Davaris, who already has a World title behind his name, has teamed up with experienced Ferdinand Holm to sail at the event. They have been training hard and judging by the current performances, they definitely have the talent to perform well and challenge the fleet.

There are rumours that our South African Olympic 470 team - Asanathi Jim and Roger Hudson might be getting on a boat for the event. 

Also included in the fleet are two other Southern Cape teams - David Laing and Chris du Toit, and Anthony and Diane Parker. Both David and Anthony have plenty of experience in the Fireball fleet having competed at world championships in Wales, Barbados and Thailand.

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The Irish Fireball “Frostbiters” were almost at full strength for the second Sunday of the 2016/17 Series and were rewarded with a mild day, temperature-wise and a very shifty day wind-wise. In stark contrast to the opening session of the previous Sunday, the fleet launched in mirror conditions with the zephyrs of wind barely rippling the water. This was contrary to the XCWeather forecast which had been projecting winds of 9 – 13 knots from the SW.

The committee boat was located just inside the mouth of the harbour, in readiness for wind from that direction and eventually it came. Not in any huge amount, but certainly enough to get racing underway and a small amount of trapezing was required as the afternoon wore on.

In terms of race winners, you could have put all eight sail-numbers in a bag and drawn a winner out such were the vagaries of wind on the course. That is being a tad disrespectful to Noel Butler & Stephen Oram who won both races but there were times in both races when they found themselves in odd-positions with more boats ahead of them than they might have preferred.

The consensus view of the start was committee boat end so that the option of going right was available. However, not everyone took that option and at the first weather mark of the first race, Owen Laverty and James Clancy (14807), having gone all the way up the left, took the early lead by sailing in to the mark on the port lay-line. They were followed by Butler & Oram (15061) who came in from the right, Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley (14691) who also worked the right hand side and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) who worked middle and right. The top reach was short again and at the second mark of the trapezoid, the leading three boats sailed straight on. Colin & Casey gybed and were rewarded by passing out McKenna & Bradley into third. The two lead boats gybed halfway down the leg and retained their positions.

On the second beat, Colin went hard left and picked up stronger breeze to have Casey full out on the wire. This allowed them to get into second place while Laverty/Clancy dropped back to keep company with McKenna/Bradley. However, behind them in turn, Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713) and Louis Smyth & Joe O’Reilly (15007) had closed the gap with Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854) also on their radar. At Mark 3, the first three of this group were sufficiently close for water to be called from various boats going round together.

By Mark 4 of the second lap, Colin had closed on Butler and Laverty, Smyth and Miller had got ahead of McKenna. Smyth lee-bowed Laverty as the latter hailed starboard and these two and Miller went left. McKenna stayed on the right had side of the course and was rewarded by regaining the three places and distance on all of them. On the downwind legs of the last lap, McKenna was keeping an eye on her pursuers but she was able to hold them off to finish third. Colin & Casey picked up the Frostbite Mugs for their second place.

The wind eased for the second race – another three-lapper of the trapezoid course. This time Miller & Butler (14713) were the greyhounds off the start line where this time the fleet was split 50:50 in terms of going right or left. The leaders went left and were followed round the weather mark by Laverty & Clancy, Butler & Oram and Smyth & O’Reilly. Yet again, decisions had to be made at Mark 2 and Butler & Oram went well beyond the boundaries of the trapezoid on starboard tack to stay in breeze. It didn’t seem to do them any harm because they came back into the confines of the course in second place. Power & Barry were having a better race, mixing it in a busy middle section of the fleet, while the father and son combination of Michael & Peter Keegan (14676) were also mixing it with the middle. The fleet became a bit more stretched as Butler & Oram shook off the shackles to go into the lead and while Laverty & Clancy dropped into second, they were comfortably ahead of Smyth & O’Reilly. Miller & Butler must have found every snake on the course as their first place at the first weather mark became a distant memory while McKenna & Bradley found themselves having to fight off last place with Power & Barry, eventually succeeding in a slow approach to Mark 4 and the short hitch to the finish. Laverty & Clancy picked up the Frostbite Mugs for Race 3.

Given the conditions, the committee boat team did a great job in getting two races in. There was a healthy turnout of boats across the whole fleet with eight Fireballs, twenty-five Lasers and a twenty-four boat PY Fleet.
Fireball readers of this article are again reminded that the Class Dinner and Prize-giving takes place in the National Yacht Club on Friday 25th November. Please let Marie know if you are attending.

2016/17 Frostbites, Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club   R1 R2 R3 Tot.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 1 1 1 3
2 Conor Clancy/Owen Laverty & James Clancy 14807 2 4 2 8
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe/Cormac Bradley 14691 3 3 7 13
4 Neil Colin & Margaret Casey 14775 12 2 4 18
5 Louis Smyth & Joe O’Reilly 15007 12 7 3 22
6 Frank Miller & Ed Butler 14713 12 5 6 23
7 Peter & Michael Keegan 14676 12 8 5 25
8 Cariosa Power & Marie Barry 14854 12 6 8 26


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The 2016/17 Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club Frostbites got off to a blustery start this afternoon in Dun Laoghaire. The weather station adjacent to my observation point had the various weather parameters as follows; Wind Direction - 345˚, Wind 19.6 knots, Gust 28.5 knots and Air Temperature 9˚. In truth it didn’t appear to be as cold as the Saturday when this correspondent sailed three races in a Flying Fifteen wind while there was more sunshine for that session, the weather today was cloudy but seemed to be a little warmer – but it wasn’t “shirt sleeve weather” by any means.

Three Fireballs graced the opening day of the Series – Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061), Conor & James Clancy (14807) and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691). The overnight Met Eireann forecast didn’t hold out much hope of racing with a projected Force 5 – 8 for all parts of the Irish Seas and indeed by Sunday morning a Facebook post to the fleet suggested that some consideration had been taken as to whether racing would be possible.

Noel & Stephen comfortably won the race from Conor & James with the ladies finishing third. In truth I missed most of the action on the water as I was delayed getting to the harbour. It was a day of discretion being the better part of valour with respect to spinnaker flying.

The start area was in the vicinity of the dormant berth for the HSS with a weather mark towards the end of the West Pier. The top and bottom reaches of the trapezoid course were moderately short in comparison to the beat and run. Given the news of the revised planning permission for a cruise liner berth in the harbour this past week, it will be interesting to see how this impacts on the Frostbite and other sailing activity inside the harbour.

In other Fireball news the Class had its AGM on the Saturday night of the last regatta of the year. As had been signposted there was a change of Chairman with Marie Barry standing down after a three-year stint. In terms of falling numbers at events, Marie has not had it easy, but she has put a lot of effort into the Class and is due our collective thanks. Marie is replaced as Class Chairman by Neil Cramer of Skerries Sailing Club. Regatta participants would know Neil as the crew to Niall McGrotty. Margaret Casey had also indicated her intention to retire as Class Secretary. By my reckoning Margaret has been Secretary to at least three Chairmen, Marie, Neil Colin and I, and this period alone accounts for 9 years of service. Marie Barry has taken on the mantle of Secretary. Conor Clancy will continue as Treasurer.

Since the AGM there has been a committee meeting and individual activity in getting the calendar fixed for next year. In addition to our normal roster of events, with 2017 being an odd-numbered year, there will be a three day Volvo Dun Laoghaire event over the first weekend of July. Next year’s Fireball Europeans are scheduled for August in Lyme Regis on the English South Coast. Given their proximity, there is an expectation of Irish participation.

Finally, the end of year prize-giving will take place in the National Yacht Club on Friday 25th November.

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Royal St. George Yacht Club Pair Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella counted five straight race wins to be winners of the 11-boat Fireball Leinster Championships at the National Yacht Club today. The host club's Noel Butler and Stephen Oram were second. Niall McCrotty and Neil Cramer of Skerries Sailing Club were third overall. Full results are downloadable below. 

The event was hosted by the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in tandem with the Flying Fifteen East Coast Championships and the SB20 Combined Southern event.

Any concerns sailors may have had about mixing somewhat disparate fleets were banished by excellent race management.

On the Saturday the forecast moderate Northerly winds turned out (for once) to be overly modest - sailors faced an increasing breeze which according to the DLH site at times touched 30 knots. On Saturday windward- leeward courses were set for all races, and in the strong breeze this was generally welcomed, with good surfing conditions downwind in waves not often seen in the bay. The first race was won by Noel Butler & Stephen Oram but after an initial wobble McCartin/Kinsella established their dominance. Behind them Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer sailed consistently well and were ultimately rewarded with third place overall. Also sailing extremely well despite a bug and a shoulder injury veteran Louis Smyth, with Joe O’Reilly on the wire punched in solid results. Phil Lawton, sailing a borrowed boat with Neil O’Toole, returned to the fleet but struggled to make top placings. Visitors to Dublin included John Bolger & James Dalton from Killaloe who enjoyed the experience of the waves and took home the silver trophy as a bonus. Brian O’Neill from East Down make the trek south to team up with Michael Keegan. Sunday saw a totally different type of day, starting cool crisp and sunny but without a zephyr.

fireball leinster winnersThe Fireball fleet at the NYC. Photo: Joe Fallon

Noel Butler Stehpen Oram Fireball Dinghy SailingThe host club's Noel Butler and Stephen Oram were second

The fleet were wisely kept ashore until an easterly filled in and again excellent race management achieved three races within a tight time frame in a building breeze. Overall kudos must go to the National Yacht Club and organiser Olivier Prouvier for putting together a brave combined event that may well point the way forward for our sport and proving that combination events with good management can work extremely well for everyone.

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The Flying Fifteen East Coast Championships, the Irish Fireball Leinster Championships and the SB20 Southern Championships will all be raced under the burgeee of the National Yacht Club at Dun Laoghaire, Dublin in a fortnight on the 1st and 2nd October 2016. 

This is a change of plan for the SB20 class who have moved both the date and club for their Southern Championshipd fixture. The event was originally scheduled for the 24th & 25th September at Cobh SC in Cork Harbour.

It's not the last event of the 2016 calendar for the SB20s or Flying Fifteens either, both fleets are slated for a Midland Championship at Lough Derg YC on 22nd & 23rd October. 

Download the notice of race below. 

Published in National YC

Noel Butler and Shane McCarthy have won the Fireball Munsters at Killaloe after racing was abandoned for day two of the event.

On Sunday morning the forecast strong southerly winds kept building and while initially it looked sailable a series of wind readings from the race team on the water persuaded the sailors that it might be better to go home with masts, boats and bodies intact.

On Saturday eleven Fireballs enjoyed good if sometimes flukey conditions on the first day of the event. Race officers Liam Maloney and Jeff O'Donoghue continuously adjusted the courses to allow for a tricky wind which veered from South to South West in unpredictable phases. While there were plenty of veins of very good wind with flat out trapezing there were also flat patches around the course especially at the windward mark under a large hill. The brave amongst the fleet found that the best pressure was often at the edges, especially the port layline, but it was a nerve-wracking journey to that layline.

In the first two races the Clancy brothers Conor and James stamped their mark on the event by winning the first two races but Butler/McCarthy managed to win races three and four races and with two second places their overall score pulled them into the lead overnight and ultimately delivered the title.

Third place was won by Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer with Louise McKenna and Hermine lying fourth on equal points. The travelling fleet was boosted by 4 local boats, with John Bolger and Jay Dalton being best of the local boats, winning the silver fleet prize from Jim Ryan and David Tanner. The classic trophy was won by Susie Coote and Mick Collins.

At the prizegiving the visitors expressed their appreciation to the club volunteers who made the event such a success. The final Fireball regional event of the year takes place in the National Yacht Club on October 1st and 2nd when the club hosts the class for their Leinster Championships in tandem with events for Flying Fifteen and SB20s.

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In Dublin Bay yacht racing terms the sign that the summer is over is the advent of the last Tuesday night race of the year. Seven Fireballs embraced the last of the Tuesday night races by their presence on the water and they got a very fickle evening of wind for their attendance writes Cormac Bradley.

Throughout the day the forecast had been for 17 – 27 knots from the South but by 19:00, while the wind may have been southerly in direction, it certainly wasn’t in the strength range predicted. A windward-leeward with a spreader mark at the weather mark was set and in physical terms it ran parallel to the East Pier with the windward mark set inshore in Scotsman’s Bay.

For the first start the fleet were stockpiled at the committee boat end of the line until the Clancys, Conor & James (14807), broke away to start about halfway down the line and a couple of boat lengths apart from everyone else. Noel Butler, with Teddy Byrne deputising for Stephen Oram, (15061) followed the Clancys to the left side of the course and after securing a weather slot relative to the brothers proceeded to apply a loose cover on them for the early part of the beat. Four of the others, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691), Louis Smyth & Francis Rowan (15007), Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) and Peter & Michael Keegan (14676) also stayed left-ish while Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) worked the right-hand side in solitude. The beat effectively turned into a soldier’s course with only a single tack required to get to the weather mark, but conditions were tricky with the breeze not uniform across the course. This was confirmed when Miller & Donnelly rounded the weather mark third behind Butler & Byrne and the Clancy brothers, even though they had taken the opposite approach to the beat. The Keegans rounded next but hadn’t spotted the spreader mark and lost two places when the spinnaker went up and then had to come back down sharpish. That allowed Smyth & Rowan and McKenna & O’Keeffe to get ahead in the pecking order.

The leg back to the leeward mark turned into more of a reach as the wind clocked leftwards, but even on this leg there were varying strengths of wind. Butler, as ever, had worked his usual magic to open up a significant lead on the chasing pack and, at the leeward mark he rounded up and took a short hitch to the left to ensure that he would be to windward of the fleet when they rounded in turn. He would take another hitch left about halfway up the “beat” to maintain his watching brief on the others. In reality, he needn’t have worried as he rounded the weather mark with a 1:55 advantage over the Clancys in second. He would extend this to 2:25 at the finish. The Clancys, meanwhile, had both McKenna and Miller snapping at their transom, but managed to hold both of them off as they rounded in second place.

Smyth & Rowan now joined Miller and McKenna at the latter stages of the windward leg and down the final leg to the finish in the fight to occupy the last podium place. However, Miller & Donnelly won out to finish third, while Smyth and McKenna were probably overlapped, from my vantage point as they crossed the line.

With the wind constantly flicking left, the race management team adjusted the course by moving the weather mark the best part of 250m eastwards giving a transit for the weather mark closer to the 40-foot bathing spot. Course X1 was signalled again, two roundings of the weather mark, with spreader, and a downwind finish.

The Clancys and Miller & Donnelly decided to show their hand early and hovered around the pin end of the line. Butler & Byrne were at the opposite end but interestingly all started on port tack, initially heading inshore. The Keegans got their times wrong and were left behind at the start and 50m off the start line it appeared as if Conor Clancy and Frank Miller had got it right when they occupied the windward slots on the course with Butler much further to leeward. However, the fickle distribution of wind across the course manifested itself again when Butler, sailing faster, got out from underneath the other two to tack across the fleet on starboard and ahead of everyone. That was the signal for Clancy to go further left again, leaving Miller to pioneer his own route up the inner left-hand side. This soon left Miller as the leeward-most boat as Clancy and then McKenna worked the area to windward of him. When Miller came across on starboard he crossed ahead of Clancy but behind McKenna. The problem didn’t appear to be getting inshore, the starboard hitch to get across to the mark was proving infinitely more challenging. The rounding sequence was Butler, Clancy, McKenna, Miller, Chambers, Smyth and Keegan.

With Butler and Clancy seemingly clear, Chambers & McGuire with a more windward position sailed past both McKenna and Miller. The adjacent Mermaid, also under spinnaker, didn’t help the latter’s cause, but once they got out from underneath it, both Miller and McKenna would re-join the battle with Chambers for third position and all three closed on Clancy as they approached the leeward mark. Clancy and McKenna rounded that overlapped and like Butler before them, the tactic seemed to be to harden up and proceed inshore. Now only Butler seemed to be safe as the two boats overlapped at the mark fought for second place with McKenna winning out. However, there were to be a few more throws of the dice before the weather mark was reached. Again, the problem seemed to be getting left. There seemed to be breeze on the water, but the speed and angle of the boats as they fought to go left suggested it wasn’t “plain sailing”. Eventually they rounded the final weather mark of the season with the order:- Butler, McKenna, Clancy, Chambers, Miller, Smyth and Keegan. The final place change of the 2016 DBSC Fireball Series saw Miller & Donnelly overtake Chambers & McGuire to claim fourth place behind Butler, McKenna and Clancy.

DBSC Series 3: Tuesday 30th August 2016 R1 R2
1 Noel Butler & Teddy Byrne 15061 NYC 1 1
2 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 3 2
3 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 2 3
4 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 5 4
5 Louis Smyth & Francis Rowan 15007 Coal Harb. 4 6


DBSC Series 3: Overall; 8 Races sailed, 2 Discards.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 7
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 10
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 17
4 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 24
5 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 27
Published in Fireball

After the excitement of seeing Dun Laoghaire’s Annalise Murphy win her Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics in the Laser Radial Class, the five boat Fireball fleet on the DBSC Tuesday night course had lots of their own excitement writes Cormac Bradley. With a forecast of 11 – 18 knots from SSE, the actual wind strength was at the upper end of this range, even inside the harbour, and cat’s paws of harder wind were scudding across the waters of the harbour. A windward-leeward course with spreader was set with the weather mark in the vicinity of the bandstand on the East Pier.

All five boats set off the start line towards the harbour mouth on starboard tack with Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) appearing to be closest to the pin. About mid-line were the recently crowned National Champions, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and within a short period of time they were powering over the fleet in the windward berth.

At the weather mark Butler & Oram were comfortably ahead followed by the Clancy brothers Conor & James, runners-up in the Nationals, and both boats scorched off towards the harbour mouth under spinnaker on starboard tack. Next around the weather mark were Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly followed by the third placed boat at the Nationals, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and the son and father combination of David & Michael Keegan (14676). These latter two exercised caution and two-sailed the leg to the leeward mark.

Rounding the leeward mark, Butler and Clancy both went right initially, but Clancy peeled off earlier to head towards the harbour mouth. By staying right for longer, Butler & Oram were able to take a long tack up the middle of the course to leave themselves with an approximate port lay-line approach to the weather mark. Clancy was further to leeward. However, possibly on the penultimate tack to the weather mark, Butler & Oram capsized, leaving Team Clancy with a comfortable lead at the weather mark.

The Clancys again adopted a starboard tack spinnaker leg to the harbour mouth while Butler & Oram gybed immediately at the spreader mark to work the opposite side of the course. It made no difference in terms of the placings as the Clancys crossed the finish line in first place. All five boats flew spinnaker on this leg but in making their final gybe to the finish, the ladies capsized to allow the Keegans to overtake them. Though the father and son had a messy drop of their spinnaker short of the finish line, there was still enough distance between them and the ladies to record fourth place on the water.

The finishers crossed the line to a three flag signal, blue for being on station for the finish and “N over A” for the abandonment of a possible second race. Given the wind conditions, it was hardly surprising! It was a fast and furious race and with hindsight, a good call to have it inside the harbour. Proceedings were concluded within 35 minutes of the start signal.

DBSC Tuesday Nights: Series 3;

Overall (6 Races sailed, 1 discard).

1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 7
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 8
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RSTGYC 17
4 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 23
5 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 24
Published in Fireball
Tagged under
Page 7 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.


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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