Sunday, February 24th was more akin to the opening lines of John Keats’ “Ode to Autumn”
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit, the vines that round the thatched eaves run”
for even though there was a healthy breeze forecast, Dun Laoghaire Harbour was shrouded in mist. Nor was the temperature in compliance with the forecast – a spring-like 12/13º but there was a distinct autumnal coolness in the air.
Despite these atmospheric setbacks, the good news was that the wind was blowing from a direction, 150-160º, that allowed us to use the maximum width (East – West) of the harbour. We debated the menu for the day before going out – three races were deemed unlikely given the air temperature, but two races could certainly be had and given that there was a rugby match of some significance taking place, a prompt return to shore would be well received!
Two races were completed – the first was a three-lap Olympic configuration with a wind that started in the mid-teens’ knots-wise, built to 19knots and then started to fade away getting down to just over 2knots before the race was finished. The weather mark was off the bandstand on the East Pier with the gybe mark in the approximate vicinity of the end of the East Pier, but about 60-70m off the wall. The leeward mark was near the green INSS raft, off the Block House on the West Pier.
There was a good turn-out of boats, in excess of fifty, and the Fireballs, in particular, had an excellent turnout of 8 boats and that was with one regular missing! Also making a welcome return was the IDRA of Frank Hamilton and the Enterprise of Aidan Geraghty and Bernadette Fox. The two Kona Windsurfers were also in attendance, no doubt attracted by the forecast of brisk breezes.
The PY Class had eighteen boats and off the first start-line all but one got away cleanly, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (FB 15061) were OCS on the committee boat end but came back immediately and got to the first weather mark just behind the leaders – Phil Lawton & Owen Laverty (FB 14990) and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (FB 14706), but most of the Fireballs were in close company at this stage. One or two fell foul of a gust that came in halfway up the opening beat. The top reach had been checked out before the race and had stayed true to the designs of the Race Officer – a “spinnaker-able reach”. By the gybe mark, Butler & Oram had taken over the lead which they would hold all the way to the finish, winning by a margin of 2:09 over the Thompson Brothers, Daniel & Harry, sailing Louis Smyth’s loaned boat 15007 and Lawton & Laverty. In handicap terms Shane McCarthy was down in 6th place, a victim of the lighter winds of the latter half of the race.
In the Laser Classes, there was also a good turnout of numbers. The ever-consistent Peter Fagan took the win in the full rigs, followed home by Chris Arrowsmith and Gary O’Hare. In contrast to the PY Class, where spinnakers and different rigs make it easier to identify boats, I am lost with the Lasers, so apologies for the lack of a blow-by-blow account.
In the Radial fleet, the first win of the day went to Sean Craig, followed home by Marco Sorgassi and Shirley Gilmore. Judy O’Bierne came home 4th. In the 4.7s, the youngsters were again to the fore with a 1-2-3 of Conor Gorman, Adam Walsh and Evan Dorgan Hayes.
As the breeze died so it also changed direction, initially quite a bit to the north, before coming back again. However, it meant that the course had to be re-jigged with the committee boat moving from the outer edge of the harbour to the entrance to the marina. This necessitated the weather mark being moved northwards as well, so that the axis of the weather leg was from the entrance to the marina to just north of the Boyd Memorial on the upper level of the East Pier. Given that the temperature hadn’t risen and with at least one crew complaining of being frozen, a quickly re-jigged course saw an even quicker warning signal for the first start of the second race. The breeze got up a bit again and the PY fleet had good breeze for their race with the lead boats arriving at the leeward mark and start for the Radials, with the first Laser start, Full Rigs and 4.7s, having prompted the flying of the “General Recall” at their first attempt. Messrs Butler and Lawton negotiated the hazard with varying degrees of success! The Radials got away cleanly at their first attempt, but the full rigs and the 4.7s also “botched” their second attempt at a start and racing was abandoned for them. Interestingly, there were no vociferous objections on the water to being sent home early. The “charge” to the line was led, on both occasions, by one of the younger 4.7s who with more than a minute to go to the start was positioned within an arm’s length of the transom of the committee boat. His skill in staying there was commendable but it left him very little “wriggle-room” to negotiate staying on the right side of the start line in the last minute – especially with a Black Flag start. Once he went, the fleet followed, and the pin end of the start line disappeared in multiple blankets of white sails.
The breeze stayed up for the duration of the second race and the leading Fireballs had a good “dice”, arriving at the leeward mark for the second and last time very close. I thought the approach of Phil Lawton was slightly incongruous, coming from what I thought was the wrong side of the committee boat, whereas Noel Butler was on the “right” side. In the very short hitch to the finish, Lawton was compromised by a Laser, allowing Butler to get over the line first. It then transpired that Lawton had sailed a sausage rather than a second triangle which explained his odd approach to the leeward mark, so he duly retired.
In overall terms, Butler & Oram took the win on handicap by the very tight margin of 4 seconds over Shane McCarthy’s Solo with the Aero of Paul Phelan, third, 9 seconds adrift of McCarthy. This was enough to give Paul the Frostbite Mug for Race 2.
In the Radials, Sean Craig scored a double, winning Race 2 to go with Race 1, followed home by Marco Sorgassi and Conor Clancy.
Mug winners on the day were Dave Dwyer for the Radial’s first race of the day and Aidan Geraghty and Bernadette Fox in the Enterprise for the PY’s first race. In the second race for the Radials, Hal Fitzgerald took the Frostbite Mug.
“Frostbiters” are again reminded that when the blue flag is flying to indicate that the committee boat is on station for a finish, you may NOT sail through the finish line.
Frostbite Co-ordinator, Neil Colin also advised the prize-giving attendees that there will be no sailing on the 17th March, St Patrick’s Day.