Is it still the Annalise effect, now morphing perhaps into the Finn Lynch effect? Is it the Laser Master Worlds effect from last September on Dublin Bay writes Sean Craig? Is it the emergence of the Radial rig as what "Afloat" recently described as the "boat for all ages"? Is it just the latest chapter in the local rebirth of a great dinghy, driven on by an inclusive community of enthusiasts? Or is it the realisation, finally, that young and old dinghy sailors CAN and maybe must race together to share resources and give our youth sailors real race practice, rather than just endless hours of drills and theory sessions?
The answer might just be all of the above. Regardless, the end result was a great turnout of 75 Lasers with up to 60 on the water, each Sunday from November to March, comprising 37 Radials (the largest ever locally assembled fleet of the mid-sized rig in Ireland), 19 Full rigs and 18 4.7s. How great it was to also see an equally healthy entry of 40+ PY dinghies, with lots of Fireballs and good pods of RSs and Wayfarers amongst others. Getting the entries in is all well and good but the host club still has to deliver and, as you would expect after 40 odd editions, the famous old DMYC delivered in spades. This is due to superb race management (thank you rising Race Officer star Cormac Bradley) and fantastic organisation (including comprehensive market research on format) spearheaded by Organiser Neil Colin and backed up by dozens of DMYC volunteers. Nor can we forget Bob Hobby who, in between pulling marks up and down for the meticulous RO Bradley, took some fairly exquisite photos for the DMYC Frostbite Facebook page
Plenty of plaudits there already but what really warmed the cockles this winter was seeing the youthful participation of eighteen 4.7s, about a dozen Radials and even a couple of young up and coming Full rig sailors like Peter Fagan and Hugo Kennedy. Dun Laoghaire is a dinghy sailing and racing centre par excellence but for too long the generations have been kept apart on the race course, causing wasteful duplication of efforts and resources. Perhaps this was part stigma, often the dreaded Health and Safety was trotted out as an excuse but it never really made sense and great kudos is due to both DMYC and DBSC for helping local Laser organisers in this area. A real powerhouse in making this happen this winter was Rob Walker of the Royal St George, in concert with Laser class captain Gavan Murphy. Rob put together a very comprehensive youth winter training programme for the combined clubs with top coaches but, crucially, the youths knew the idea was to stop training around midday and join in the Frostbites for some great sport with the, erm, somewhat older guys and gals ! Their coach would also observe the racing for debrief later. It is to the immense credit of these sailors and their parents that they embraced all this so great thanks go to some of the most active DL sailing families like the Gormans, Fahys, Walkers, Flanagans, Coakleys, Simingtons and many others too. Some clans had 3 or 4 family members out there! Kind of amusing - watching Kitty Flanagan carving up her Dad Sean at the leeward mark! Nice also to see something similar in PY with Morgan Lyttle in his 420 and the Thompson lads up from Wexford and storming around in a Fireball.
Results somehow don't seem very important when one has the gut feeling something rather special just took place in terms of the tribe on the water each Sunday. But for those of a statistical inclination, follow this link here What is perhaps noteworthy here is that the famous old Laser Frostbite trophy went to Conor Gorman who held off a strong field in the 4.7 division. By the way, older Laser heads learnt a hell of a lot by watching those guys start! No lining up from 3 lengths out with these racers. Anyway, the point is that this great old trophy (won by Olympians for example) has always been awarded to the Full rigs since the smaller sails simply didn't exist 40 years ago! But the senior sailors were unanimous this year that it should go the 4.7s to recognise their arrival in such good numbers and here's hoping we see 30 or 40 of them next winter! Indeed, the aforementioned DBSC welcome all ages and Laser rigs for their DBSC series (Tuesday nights) starting April 23rd here
Thanks again to the DMYC and all the competitors for turning up. What a fantastic bounceback from a couple of years ago when we were hearing a cruise-liner pier carving the harbour in two was no big deal since dinghy sailing was dying out anyway! Nothing could be further from the truth these days. Frostbiters are joined each Winter weekend by team racing students in Fireflies, Oppie training, Topper training, INSS and SID dinghy fleets and plenty of brand new 29-ers and Waszps, tearing around the harbour. With the brand new IS High-Performance centre on the Irish Lights site as well, you'd be tempted to ask if there's a more vibrant dinghy hub anywhere in the world? And that’s even before thirty Water Wags hit the water for Summertime!
Read Afloat.ie's weekly DMYC Frostbite reports here