The morning began with a mixed sky over the bay. Patches of blue were seen in amongst ominous-looking clouds. A fresh breeze blew from the south, whistling through shrouds on the Sandquay. The bay looked inviting; a dark blue in colour and a slight chop disturbing the water.
The sailors arrived in Monkstown as early as ever. Sails were heard before they were seen, flogging in the strong wind. Without delay, Race Officer Alan Fehily set a windward/leeward course at the entrance to Monkstown Creek. Raring to go, the competitors took to the waters in record time.
The sequence began for race one at 10:15am, the exact scheduled time. Ten sailors worked hard to hold their positions on the line until the gun went. It was a clean start and the dinghies were seen battling their way up the course. The breeze was shifty, threatening to knock the sailors over with every gust. It was all they could do to stay upright and they had to sail carefully for three rounds. Sundays Well sailor Paul O’Sullivan stayed ahead of the fleet for the majority of the race, holding off MBSC sailors Rob Howe and Ronan Kenneally. O’ Sullivan took first place, with Howe close behind in second. Kenneally followed up in third place.
In the radial category, MBSC’s Harry Pritchard was the only one to test the conditions. He sailed fast, mixing it in with the bigger standard rig sailors.
The second race was challenging, with gusts of 25 knots hitting the water. The conditions were typical for Monkstown Bay; holes in the wind and a strong flood tide dominated the course. Paths were picked carefully and it was all but decided at the finish line. Kenneally sailed well and took first place, just in front of Howe who finished second. MBSC’s William O’Brien finished close behind in third place.
The third and final race of the league began in a more constant wind, averaging roughly 15 knots down the course. It was close racing off the start line and all the sailors tussled up to the windward mark. Kenneally took the lead early and fought to hold his position. O’Brien was in hot pursuit, contesting the laser ace. Howe sailed close behind, carefully covering the fleet.
Kenneally crossed the finish line in first, winning the last race of the league. O’Brien followed in second, with Howe close behind in third place.
The final race concluded and the sailors went ashore. A prizegiving was scheduled for 12:30pm and all the competitors looked forward to the warmth of the Bosun. Eighteen races had not been sailed for nothing; all of the sailors had raced in earnest for the prestigious Yard of Ale trophy, over six cold Saturdays. In the end, MBSC sailors dominated the top four positions. Former UK Laser Olympic squad member Rob Howe finished in fourth position. In third position was the well-known avid National 18 sailor Charles Dwyer. In second place was the two-time Monkstown laser frostbite league winner Ronan Kenneally. The winner of the Yard of Ale trophy was your correspondent, who finished just a point ahead of Kenneally.
In the radial category, Harry Pritchard from MBSC finished in first position; he was also the first person to win in this category. He sailed well and by the end of the league he had lots of race wins under his belt.
All scheduled races had been sailed and it was in high spirits the competitors left the Bosun, ready to enjoy another season of laser sailing. Rest assured they will be the first to start next year’s season, at the next Monkstown Laser frostbite league.
Photos below by Bob Bateman