Saturday, January 18th marked the first day of the 2020 Monkstown Laser Frostbite League, with a fleet of Laser sailors gathering to race on the waters of Cork Harbour.
A misty-eyed winters morning dawned. The sun shone low in a clear blue sky and a low haze sat on the crystal water of Monkstown Bay. A light, northeasterly wind blew at a steady five knots across the harbour.
The Cork sailors arrived to an icy scene with a light film of frost covering the Sandquay. With onlookers watching incredulously, the Frostbite League veterans rigged their Lasers in sub-zero temperatures, to prepare for the morning’s racing. The ‘newboys’ tiptoed around, avoiding the frost and wondering “why does anybody bother?”
Once the painfully cold spars had been put in place, spirits were higher. The sun was warm and one by one the competitors launched their dinghies.
Race Officer Alan Fehily set off in good time, to set a short windward/leeward course on the western side of Monkstown marina. A start line was set opposite Alta Terrace, at the mouth of the creek. Right on schedule, the start gun was set off at 10:10 am.
Each year the Frostbite fleet increases. This year thirteen lasers lined up on the start line for day one of the series. As usual, the Monkstown Frostbite league competition is high, attracting sailors from all kinds of classes. These include Dave Kenefick, Fionn Lyden, Ronan Kenneally and other sailors from 505’s, National 18’s, 49ers, catamarans, International 14’s, and even the odd windsurfer.
Race one kicked off, with MBSC sailor Ronan Kenneally taking an early lead in the light, shifty conditions. Well known ace RCYC laser sailor Nick Walsh was hot on his heels. Your correspondent (Passage West local) hung on in third place for the majority of the race.
A strong flood tide made the racing tricky and in the end, Kenneally took a comfortable first place in race one. In second place was Bateman, just ahead of Walsh.
In the Radial category, Harry Pritchard took first place. In second place was Philip Doherty.
Race two began with a stronger tide, and picking a path through the correct tidelines was key. Leading early was Bateman, followed by MBSC’s Richie Harrington. In hot pursuit was Dave Kenefick. They held these positions for the race, although the separation gradually increased. Taking the first position was your correspondent, with Harrington in second and Kenefick in third.
In the radial category, Harry Pritchard won just ahead of RCYC’s Michael Crosbie. In third place was Philip Doherty, mixing it in with the standard rigs.
Race three was underway as soon as possible, after a wind shift forced the committee to move the course slightly, and quickly. As the fleet moved towards the windward mark, Kenneally and Bateman popped out in front, to begin a race-long battle. In third was Sunday’s Well sailor Paul O’ Sullivan. The race went on, with an inch to spare between Kenneally and your correspondent. But taking the win for the last race of the day was MBSC’s, Ronan Kenneally. Bateman finished just behind, with O’ Sullivan making up third.
In the Radial fleet, Pritchard finished ahead of Crosbie and Doherty to take the win.
With these short and snappy races finished, the competitors headed ashore to enjoy the warmth and comfort of heaters, fires, and food. A fantastic end to the first day of Cork Harbour’s most exciting Laser league