#sb20 – 11 SB20s battled it out for honours in the final Sunday Series on Dublin Bay in a shifty force 3 easterly breeze yesterday.
After 4 races in series 3, Manamana (Graham, Ronan and Katie) were tied with Should Be... (Michael, Dave and Kieran) on four points after both boats carded 1,1,2,2 score lines last weekend. However, with four more races scheduled and a second discard due to kick in, there was plenty of opportunity for the chasing pack to make up lost ground. In true SB class style, this series was going to go down to the wire...
Race 1 got off to a clean start from a pin end biased line. Odin (James, Ted and Keith) bravely tried to port tack the fleet but Rubadubdub (Nick, Conor and Rob) were bossing the pin and forced them to tack over onto starboard. Odin managed to squeeze them off and led half the fleet, including Should Be... out to the left while the other half of the fleet, including Manamana, headed out to the right. As the boats progressed up the beat, the wind started shifting to the left and the boats on the left side of the course led into the weather mark. Should Be... led around followed a few boatlengths behind by a closely knit bunch including Odin, Alert Packaging (Justin, Bob and Anonymous) and Rubadubdub. Series joint leader Manamana were unlucky in that they were caught on the wrong side of the shift up the beat and rounded deep in the pack with plenty of work to do.
The boats soaked down the run and at the leeward gate both Should Be... and Alert Packaging opted for the right hand gate. Odin broke off from the leaders and headed out to the right hand side of the course but was quickly followed by both Should Be... and Alert Packaging. Also in close pursuit was Venuesworld.com (Ger, Chris and Rory) and Manamana who had made a great recovery and were charging up the fleet. With the wind shifting around through 20 degrees, the boats gained and lost on each other as they battled up the second beat and at the weather mark it was Should Be... by the narrowest of margins from Alert Packaging. After an incident at the wing mark, Alert Packaging had to do a 360 degree penalty turn which allowed Odin to get back into second place and they would hold that position to the finish. At the finish it was Should Be... in first followed by Odin in second, Alert Packaging in third, Venuesworld in fourth and Manamana in fifth.
Race 2 saw a reversal of fortunes for the early series leaders when Manamana got off to a great start and led the fleet to the first weather mark while Should Be... found themselves buried behind a wall of sails with a lot of work to do to catch up. Again, the left side of the beat seemed to pay and at the weather mark, Venuesworld held a narrow lead over Bad (Jerry, Jimmy et al), Manamana, Alert Packaging, Odin and Rubadubdub ahead of Should Be... in seventh.
As the boats made their way around the course, Manamana skilfully held on to their lead but there were plenty of place changes behind them with Should Be... sneaking up to second by the leeward mark. At the next weather mark, Manamana bravely gybed off shortly after rounding the weather mark leaving Alert Packaging and Should Be... a few boatlengths behind to continue on to the right down the run. The move paid off handsomely with Manamana pulling out a sizeable lead over their nearest challengers. In the end it was Manamana by a comfortable margin from Alert Packaging in second, Should Be... in third, Venuesworld in fourth, Odin in fifth and Rubadubdub in sixth. At this stage, it was all tied at the top for the series lead with Manamana and Should Be... each counting seven points with Should Be with a marginally better discard.
Race 3 saw an individual recall at the start with Probably (Ian, Mark and Billy) recalled while the rest of the fleet made their way towards the weather mark in a wind that was gradually beginning to die. Venuesworld once again showed the fleet a clean pair of heels and led at the weather mark from Alert Packaging with Bad in third followed closely by Should Be..., and Odin. Down the run, Venuesworld extended their lead to a clear margin but Alert Packaging were chasing hard, shadowing their every move. There were plenty of place changes up the next beat as the competitors struggled with the oscillating breeze.
By the top of the second beat, Should Be... had snuck into second place behind Venuesworld with Odin in third, Alert Packaging in fourth and Manamana making another storming charge up into fifth place and chasing hard. Despite some very close quarters manoeuvres and near misses, the places remained that way until the finish with Venuesworld in first, Should Be... in second, Alert Packaging in third and Odin in fourth a single second ahead of Manamana!
So, with one race to go in series 3, Manamana needed to win the race in order to win the series. Nothing else would do but a win would guarantee them the series. For their part, Should Be... just needed to make sure Manamana didn't win, relying on their slightly better discard to get them over the line.
Race 4 saw another hotly contested start and first away was Venuesworld with Alert Packaging once again in hot pursuit. Manamana experienced some traffic at the start and quickly tacked off to the right side of the course joining Odin out right. Should Be... we're anxious to get over and cover Manamana but were blocked from tacking by Probably on their weather hip and near astern. After a number of boatlengths, Should Be... managed to tack over to cover but Manamana now had some decent separation out on the right hand side of the course. It would now all depend on the wind shifts for these two boats while around them the rest of the fleet were getting on with trying to win the race. As the boats approached the starboard lay line, Manamana, to leeward of Should Be... tacked onto starboard first. This time, the wind gods smiled on Should Be... and a left hand shift meant that they were able to cross 3-4 boatlengths ahead of Manamana and tack ahead and to weather doing maximum damage with their wind shadow.
Up ahead, Alert Packaging rounded the weather mark in first followed closely by Venuesworld in second, Probably in third, Odin in fourth and Rubadubdub in fifth. Should Be rounded in sixth just ahead of Seriously Bonkers (Peter, Michael et al) with Manamana further back still. The wind was gradually dying further and the boats struggled down the run. At the leeward mark, Alert Packaging still held the lead from Venuesworld with Odin in third place ahead of Rubadubdub in fourth. Despite their best intentions to keep Manamana at the back of the fleet, both Should Be... and Manamana made gains down the run and Should Be... rounded in fifth inside Manamana at the leeward mark.
The race leaders chose the right side of the final beat while astern the series leaders had a tacking duel with Should Be... frantically trying to keep ahead of Manamana. Their tacking duel inadvertently took these two boats out to the left side of the course to the port tack lay line. Up ahead, the wind died further out on the right side of the course and Manamana and Should Be... came storming in from the left giving the leaders a fright. Venuesworld and Should Be... managed to sneak ahead of early pace setter Alert Packaging at the end of the beat. At the finish it was Venuesworld in first just ahead of Should Be... in second, Alert Packaging in third, Manamana in fourth and Odin in fifth. Overall, Should Be... pipped Manamana for the series by two points.
Finally, as we have reached the end of the DBSC season, it is important to express our deep gratitude to all the volunteers that have helped to make the season such a successful one. In particular, Barry O'Neill has been our (almost) ever-present OOD and his organisation, professionalism and commitment have been the cornerstone to the great racing that we have enjoyed all season long. Con Murphy kindly took over the reigns in Barry's rare absence and did a superb job in very difficult conditions earlier in the season. Barry has been ably assisted on Sundays by an equally committed and great team on the committee boat including Fionnuala Loughrey, Cathy Booth, Barbara Conway, Michael Keogh, Ger Bythell, Dave Barry, Bob Allen, Jim C, Owen Laverty, Owen McNally, Steve Beresford, Jerry Dowling and other guests that have made the racing possible and so enjoyable. Many thanks to you all for your very valued contribution. Last, but by no means least, an honourable mention must go to Joanne Sheehan from DBSC and her excellent team of James Tate, Herbie Fowler, Ciaran Nolan, Conor Lynch, Maurice Johnson, James Traynor. They never let us down and were most obliging and helpful throughout the entire season. We are most grateful to them for their help this year and sincerely appreciate their efforts on our behalf.
Look forward to seeing you all in Lough Ree at the end of this month (27/28 September) for the midlands – Michael O'Connor