New Years’ Resolutions and a fresh start for 2019 led to our biggest Laser turnout of the winter so far in Howth Yacht Club. A favourable forecast also helped. Conditions were perfect for Laser racing, with the wind starting off from the West at 9 knots and moved slowly right all morning, picking up to 22 knots by the end of the second race. 26 boats launched, one of biggest fleets of the season so far, including good representation of Radials and 4.7s. West to North West is the ideal direction for racing in Howth Sound, with relatively flat water and very little land influence over the breeze. We get steady oscillating shifts most of the time. However, yesterday was particularly tricky, with the wind veering and the ebbing spring tide flowing down the beat. The fleet was faced with the decision on whether to go left for the slacker water or right to maximise the benefit from the wind shift. Most of the fleet decided to play the shifts up the middle, protecting the right, but trying to stay out of the tide as much as possible.
The fleet was tightly bunched, but after a late start, Daragh Kelleher made the correct call, and came screaming in from the left corner to lead at the first mark. Dave Quinn, Eoin Delap, Stephen Quinn and Conor Murphy were all tightly bunched behind. Daragh led for the first lap, and maintained his lead for the rest of the race, despite a risky second beat where he attempted to avoid the tide on the island side of the course (much to the amusement of sailors after racing!). Dave Quinn finished second, with Ronan Wallace recovering well from a bad first beat to finish third.
The second race was windier, and most sailors decided staying out of the tide was far more important than any shifts so boat speed became paramount. After a General Recall, the fleet got away in a very tight start. Daragh Kelleher, Ronan Wallace and Dan Oconnell all rounded the first weather mark together and racing was very close throughout the Olympic format Course. Daragh was able to maintain a lead on the second beat and keep Dan behind him to the finish. Ronan Wallace finished third. It was great to see a few more Radials and 4.7’s out. Tom Fox won both races again, and continues to dominate, even putting plenty of the Standard Rigs under pressure each race. Sophie Kilmartin won both races in the 4.7 rig also.