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Dublin Bay Laser Dinghy Fleet Commemorate Bruce Kirby in Style

26th July 2021
Jack Fahy port tacks the Radial fleet at the Dublin Bay Laser 50th anniversary event for the second time in a row!
Jack Fahy port tacks the Radial fleet at the Dublin Bay Laser 50th anniversary event for the second time in a row!

Bruce Kirby, designer of the Laser single-handed dinghy passed away earlier this week and the Dublin Bay Laser fleet certainly gave him a fitting send-off.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the official unveiling of the Laser dinghy in the 1971 New York Boat Show. Dublin Bay’s burgeoning Laser fleet had planned the 50th-anniversary event to coincide with the first race of local hero Annalise Murphy in the Tokyo 2020 games. However, their unique event also coincided with the week when Bruce Kirby aged 92 passed away.

The one-day commemorative event, sponsored by Grant Thornton, consisted of five sprint races in the heart of Dublin Bay. Race Officer, Howth’s Richard Kissane was faced with unenviable winds of 2kts at 9 am on Sunday morning. However, the sailing gods were looking down on the race team and by first gun a steady 10-12kts breeze had filled and remained in place for the afternoon.

Race Officer Richard Kissane with his race teamRace Officer Richard Kissane with his race team

A massive 75 boats turned out for this impromptu event which was organised at short notice. Purple ribbons adorned the top of each mast, in recognition of the passing of Laser royalty, Bruce Kirby. A massive 50th-anniversary birthday cake was baked by local baker and Laser sailor Shirley Gilmore. While renditions of Happy Birthday could be heard from the forecourt of host club the Royal Saint George Yacht Club, there was no doubt that the main event was taking place on the water.

Dublin Bay Laser 50th Anniversary winners with the 50th anniversary cake at the Royal St. George Yacht ClubDublin Bay Laser 50th Anniversary winners with the 50th anniversary cake at the Royal St. George Yacht Club

While Annalise Murphy is away in Tokyo and many of the younger Irish Laser sailors are on national duty in the ILCA Radial Youth World Championships in Lake Garda, this event was not short of serious talent. Irish team sailor and recent winner of the Laser Connacht Championships, Tom Higgins was on hand to set the pace for the Standard rig. The 2021 Laser Master Champion, Sean Craig, was determined to not let the “young guns” dominate too much. And meanwhile, the new 4.7 elite team with their coach Fionn Conway took the opportunity to get in practice ahead of the 4.7 World Championships taking place in Dun Laoghaire in under two weeks.

Tom Higgins - first StandardTom Higgins (left) - first in the Standard rig with Royal St. George Commodore Richard O'Connor

There were no surprises as Higgins dominated the Standard fleet taking bullets all five races. Peter Fagan valiantly challenged, but to no avail coming in with 8 points to Higgin’s final tally of 4, after one discard kicked in. Three masters, Ross O’Leary, Gavan Murphy and Gary O’Hare battled it out for the remainder of the spoils with O’Leary ultimately edging out Murphy by a single point, to take third overall.

Jack Fahy - first Male RadialJack Fahy - first Male Radial

The competition was fierce in the Radial fleet with over 30 boats of all ages and genders taking part. Local coach, Jack Fahy was unbeatable and set out to school the rest of the fleet occasions by port-tacking the fleet on not just one, but two separate starts! RSGYC’s Sean Craig fought hard to keep East Antrim’s Tom Coulter and NYC’s Adam Irvin out of second spot. Coulter ultimately took bronze with better consistency on the day than Irvin.

Judy O'Beirne - first Female RadialJudy O'Beirne - first Female Radial

In the ladies Radial fleet, Judy O’Beirne led the way, coming in as first lady, second Master and seventh overall. She was followed by fellow master and RSGYC club-member Shirley Gilmore in 11th. Third lady and first youth lady was Charlotte Eadie who travelled down with a large contingent of Laser and 4.7 sailors from Ballyholme. Almost half the Radial fleet was comprised of female sailors and in the 4.7 fleet, there was an exact 50/50 split between boys and girls. Surely there is no other sailing vessel where young and old, male and female can compete on such equal terms.

Eimer McMorrow Moriarty - first Female 4.7Eimer McMorrow Moriarty - first Female 4.7

In the 4.7 fleet, it was clear from race 1 that James Dwyer was the one to watch, finishing well clear of his nearest rival. After that it was straight bullets apart from a slip up in the fourth race where he dropped into second behind Eimer McMorrow Moriarty. McMorrow Moriarty had a battle royale with Christian Ennis for that second spot behind Dwyer. Ennis nailed second in the end with just one point separating the pair. The 4.7 fleet was nothing short of the future of Irish Laser sailing with the top four positions already hand-picked by Irish Sailing for training for the upcoming World Championships.

James Dwyer - first Male 4.7James Dwyer - first Male 4.7

Event organiser, Brendan Hughes, seemed satisfied with the event when he spoke to us afterwards. “The Laser epitomises why many of us love to sail. This is a sport for all ages and profiles as the Laser provides accessibility for sailors across the generations. Today brought out the best in our volunteer crew and we’re grateful to the RStGYC and Grant Thorton for supporting this initiative. We expect that Bruce Kirby will be smiling wherever he is knowing that his design continues to bring top competition and fun to sailors of all ages.” Full results are available here.

Published in Laser
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At A Glance – Laser Dinghy Specifications

Designer Bruce Kirby & Ian Bruce

Year 1969

Crew 1
Draft 0.787 m (2 ft 7.0 in)
Hull weight 58.97 kg (130.0 lb)
LOA 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
LWL 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.39 m (4 ft 7 in)
Mainsail area 7.06 m2 (76.0 sq ft)

Racing D-PN 91.1 RYA PN 1088 PHRF 217

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