The second half of the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club’s Frostbite Series gut underway yesterday in what were almost balmy conditions for the 5th of January. From the middle of the week, this author’s favourite weather website XCWeather was suggesting that winds would be of the order of 12/13 knots with gusts of 26/27 knots from just west of south, but the flags within the harbour complex didn’t support that theory. Additionally, the readings from the Dublin Bay buoy for the two hours before my arrival at the club suggested that the base wind was correct but the gusts were only one or two knots more.
Temperature-wise it was mild, around the 10º mark and sunny, and though there were ominous black clouds building as the committee boat left the DMYC pontoon, it remained dry.
Fifty-one boats embraced the start of the Series with a 21-boat PY fleet, 5 Standard Lasers, 5 Laser 4.7s and 21 Laser Radials. Within the PY Fleet, the breakdown in boats was Fireball (8), RS 400 (2), RS 200 (2), RS Aero (2), Wayfarer (2), Solo (1) and Laser Vago (4). An early mention should be made of Dublin in Sailing’s support of the Frostbites – they put out multiple Laser Vagos every Sunday and thus enjoy their own internal competition as much as the fleet racing of the PY starters. Among the Fireballs was a new combination returning to the Class after a number of years away, at the start of a campaign that will culminate in participation in the Fireball Worlds to be hosted by Howth Yacht Club in August. Frank Cassidy and Ciaran Hickey are both long-standing members of the fleet that have been less active in recent years and we look forward to the next few months and the wit and repartee they will bring to the fleet – as well as their sailing prowess!
On getting out to the main body of the harbour, the wind was not quite what the Race Officer, Cormac Bradley, expected and rather than sitting off the end of the East Pier, the committee boat was just inside the end of the West Pier operating off a median wind direction of 210º. From the RO’s perspective, the wind direction looked reasonable stable, but competitors suggested otherwise afterwards. This left the weather mark about a third of the distance from the entrance to the marina to the HSS gantry, a gybe mark beyond the gantry and to leeward of it and a leeward mark just inside the entrance to the harbour and in the middle of the entrance. A three-lap Olympic was set for the first race of 2020 and the PY fleet got off to a clean start with the fleet distributed along the line with the majority going left initially. At the first showing of spinnakers, it was the red duster of Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, FB 15061 at the head of the fleet with possibly Frank Miller & Ed Butler FB14990 well up and the RS400 of Phelan & Leddy mixing it with the Fireballs. The Solo of Shane McCarthy was also well placed on the water, within the top ten at the first weather mark. As the race progressed, and is their wont, Butler & Oram pulled further and further away from the fleet.
The two Laser starts were almost clear as well. The first start for the Standards and 4.7s was easy with only ten boats contesting what was a generous length of line. This fleet too went leftwards initially.
In the busier Radial start (of 21 boats), it was a much more contested line and one-high profile individual was OCS. He has championed the Laser participation in the Frostbites for the past two seasons and took his silent reaction to crossing the finish line in good spirit. This fleet also saw a 2nd half debut for Marco Sorgassi.
Due to the wind conditions, the first race had been fast, so the RO decided that in the prevailing conditions of 10 – 16 knots with one gust recorded at twenty, more of the same was the order of the day. However, the course needed to be pushed eastwards to accommodate a leftwards moving wind direction that couldn’t be accommodated by keeping things as is!
The five-lap ambition for the second race started to evaporate almost as soon as the countdown to the first start was initiated. The wind started to drop and what had been an almost immaculately behaved fleet for Race 1 became subject to multiple general recalls and ultimately the use of the black flag to get two of the fleets away. The only fleet to get away cleanly at the first time of asking was the Standard Lasers and the 4.7s, the other fleets required two bites at it, despite moving the limit mark twice! Throughout this process the wind continued to drop and at one stage we were down to as low as 4.4knots. While there was enough wind to get the fleet round the course, the leftward twitching wind made the legs something other than was intended and given that the committee boat was at the entrance to the harbour, a decision was made to relocate to the weather mark so that a less ambiguous shortened course signal could be flown.
For the PY Fleet, the lighter wind seemed to favour the Fireballs who took the first three places on handicap; Butler/Oram taking the win by 27 seconds from Josh Porter & Michael Ennis, 14695, both of whom had travelled down from N. Ireland to race. In third place by only 3 seconds were the “seasoned campaigners” Cassidy & Hickey 14713. Brian O’Hare and crew in the RS 400 were fourth, followed by Monica Schaeffer & Miriam McCarthy in their Wayfarer, squaring up the day series in the Class as David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne had won the first race between them. The RS Aeros of Brendan Foley and Mark Gavin were separated by 18 seconds in 7th and 8th respectively. The Solo fell afoul of the start procedure, with one other, so wasn’t in a position to challenge the top pecking order.
In the Standard Lasers, the finishing order was Alan Hodgins, Marc Coakley and Chris Arrowsmith, while in the 4.7s the ever consistent Rian Geraghty-McDonnell took first followed by Hugh Turvey and Archie Daly.
In the Laser Radials, Conor Gorman stepped up a gear to win, from his second in race 1, followed by Judy O’Beirne, Adam Leddy, Sean Craig and Adam Walsh.
A special commendation is given to the Thompsons, Harry, Daniel and father Colin who arrived as the club with the Fireball on the tow-hitch at 13:00, just as the committee boat left for the race course. With assistance from Oliver Proveur & Cariosa Power, both Frostbite stalwarts, they managed get fully rigged, changed and launched to make the first start on time.
The Race Management would like to thank all the competitors for the start practice they provided yesterday. The (generous) view, expressed in the DMYC afterwards was that the flooding tide and a very twitchy wind on the line may have been contributory factors in the need for multiple starts.
Frostbites: Series 2.
PY Fleet; Race 1
Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (Fireball 15061), Shane McCarthy (Solo), Paul Phelan & Alan Leddy (RS 400), Frank Miller & Ed Butler (Fireball 14990), Daniel & Harry Thompson (Fireball 15156).
PY Fleet; Race 2
Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, Michael Ennis & Josh Porter (Fireball 14695), Frank Cassidy & Ciaran Hickey (Fireball 14713), Brian O’Hare & Crew (RS400), Monica Schaeffer & Miriam McCarthy (Wayfarer).
Standard Lasers; Race 1
Chris Arrowsmith, Gavan Murphy, Conor O’Leary.
Standard Lasers; Race 2
Alan Hodgins, Marc Coakley, Chris Arrowsmith.
Laser 4.7s; Race 1
Rian Geraghty-McDonnell, Christian Ennis, Archie Daly.
Laser 4.7s; Race 2
Rian Geraghty-McDonnell, Hugh Turvey, Archie Daly.
Laser Radials; Race 1
Adam Walsh, Conor Gorman, Judy O’Beirne, David Dwyer, Marco Sorgassi.
Laser Radials; Race2
Conor Gorman, Judy O’Beirne, Adam Leddy, Sean Craig, Adam Walsh