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With top-five results in all seven races sailed – and three race wins to boot – John Lavery and Alan Green successfully defended their Irish Flying Fifteen title in a light air contest at the weekend.

The pair, sailing Phoenix from the National Yacht Club at Dun Laoghaire, retained their 2020 title by a huge margin of some 16 points overall in the 22-boat fleet at Strangford Lough.

There was a three-way point tie for second place overall, with Greystones duo Shane McCarthy and Andy Thompson finishing as runners up. Locals Peter Chamberlain and Hammy Baker were third. 

Sunday 29th August produced grey skies and a wind that had undergone an almost 180°degree shift to come from a northerly quarter. Contestants were encouraged to launch as promptly as possible due to a falling tide and the Race Officer's declared intention to start racing promptly with the prospect of three races for the day.

The fleet obliged and after some deliberation as to where the weather mark should go due to the wind shifting left and right the fleet got underway under another "Black Flag" starting procedure.
Regatta leaders John Lavery & Alan Green (4085) stamped their authority on the fleet again by taking the race win, followed home by Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson (40485) and Niall Meagher & Nikki Matthews (3938) who continued from where they had left off the previous day, counting a second in race four. Lavery & Green led this one from the start and were never really challenged.

Race 6 saw another win for Bryan Willis & John McPeake (4074) giving them a second bullet which one would have thought would help them up the overall ladder. However, the previous 2 x 9th and an 11th put a brake of sorts on their upward trajectory. They did win this race with a margin on the rest of the fleet. Second and third went to Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain (3756) and Lavery & Green, who benefitted yet again from finding an extra gear to get through the fleet after an average, by their standards start and first beat. Fourth went to Roger Chamberlain & Paddy Spratt (3962), while 5th went to Ian Matthews & Keith Poole (4093). Newcomers to the Irish fleet, Nigel Biggs and Simon Pritchard Jones (4092) were finding the going a bit tougher on the Sunday compared to their exploits on Days 1 and 2. They weren't the only ones!! McCarthy & Thompson "hung in" with a sixth place.

In what was the best breeze of the weekend in terms of strength, though we are talking very fine margins here, the fleet got a seventh race in, under another black flag regime.

Yet again, an average start and first beat saw Lavery & Green mixing it with the "mere mortals" only for them to benefit from some judicious calls by Green, according to Lavery, and grind their way to another first place. It is uncanny watching how they repeatedly got themselves out of difficult situations in terms of place in the fleet to elevate themselves to podium places. As John alluded to in his prize-giving thank you speech, Tuesday night practice sessions, in company, went a long way to winning this title. Behind them the finishing order was McCarthy, Trevor Darcy (3782), Biggs & Pritchard Jones and Meagher & Matthews.

In overall terms, Lavery & Green dominated the regatta with three race wins. However, there were some races where, by their own admission, they had to draw on accumulated experience and practice sessions to extract themselves from middle of the fleet positions to get into the smaller single figure places that lend themselves to winning major regattas. After discard, they won by a whopping 16pts, with their worst result a 5th place in Races 1 and 4.

McCarthy & Thompson led three boats home on a post-discard score of 29pts, the final order here being McCarthy, Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain (3756), Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane (3920). Two boats were tied on 40pts after discard with Chamberlain & Spratt getting the nod over Biggs & Pritchard Jones. On 41pts we find Trevor Darcy & Crew, followed by two boats on 43pts, Willis & McPeake and Meagher & Matthews. The top ten was closed out by Ian Matthews & Keith Poole (4093) with 51pts.

Andy Thompson (2nd placed crew), Peter Chamberlain and Shane McCarthy, 2nd Helm.Andy Thompson (2nd placed crew), Peter Chamberlain and Shane McCarthy, 2nd Helm.

The Race Officer Team are to be commended on getting a seven-race series completed. As the three reports for this regatta testify to, winds were light, resulting in one race being abandoned, with only one race completed on the Saturday. Three races were sailed on each of the two "short-working days" Friday and Sunday. In addition to being light, the wind fluctuated continuously giving the mark-layers lots to do over the three days.

Peter Chamberlain (3rd placed crew), Roger Chamberlain (5th placed helm) and Andrew (Hammy) Baker (3rd placed helm).Peter Chamberlain (3rd placed crew), Roger Chamberlain (5th placed helm) and Andrew (Hammy) Baker (3rd placed helm).

SLYC's hospitality was to the fore again with teas and coffee and bacon butties available on all three mornings and despite the ongoing Covid regulations we were able to enjoy a sponsor hosted championship meal on the Saturday night in the clubhouse.

A special word of thanks to the regatta sponsor Ridgeway Engineering who were represented in the fleet by Stephen Kane, crewing for Peter Kennedy (3920). As was advised in the prize-giving, the sponsorship was provided in a very measured and generous fashion without a great deal of song and dance but in their prize-giving remarks both Peter Chamberlain, as Regatta Organiser, and John Lavery, as winning helm, thanked Stephen for his company's contribution to what was a very enjoyable and successful weekend.

Peter Kennedy (4th placed helm), Peter Chamberlain and Stephen Kane (4th placed crew).Peter Kennedy (4th placed helm), Peter Chamberlain and Stephen Kane (4th placed crew).

The Race Team and the host of volunteers, in the kitchen and bar, on the water and in the water, in terms of the launching and recovery teams, were thanked by Peter and John as well.

In his closing remarks, John paid tribute to his crew, the "evergreen" Alan Green who has won this Championship of Ireland, with five different helms. He acknowledged the judicious decisions by Alan on the water that allowed them to convert "difficult" first beats to low single digit scores. In a wider context he suggested that the Flying Fifteen can accommodate a wide spectrum of crew weights as was evidenced by the teams here this weekend and suggested that his crew would be a very good point of reference to anyone who needs to attune their boats in accordance with their crew size.

John also acknowledged the contestants who had travelled to the event from Dunmore East, Howth, Dun Laoghaire, Belfast/Larne and within Strangford Lough itself.

For the Irish Fifteen fleet. The next event is the Easterns which are scheduled for Dun Laoghaire on the weekend of 18th & 19th of September. Just enough time for a recalibration for those who need it!!

Results are downloadable below.

Published in Flying Fifteen
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As was feared at the close of business yesterday, the weather on arrival at Strangford Lough Yacht Club was reminiscent of the Flying Fifteen British Championships sailed at the same venue a couple of years ago when we sat ashore for three days under an AP flag. This morning, a combination of inshore mirror-like conditions and a mist that hid the race area from view meant that flying an AP flag was inevitable even though there was insufficient wind to make it flutter. Instead of a scheduled 10:55 Warning Signal, the suggestion was that it might be closer to 14:00 before we would get underway………and so it proved.

Under very light conditions, a la Portaferry of a few weeks back the fleet got away. The majority of the fleet started along the outer half of the start line, but a few pioneered the right-hand side including this correspondent sailing with Ben Mulligan (4081) and Roger Chamberlain, sailing with Paddy Spratt (3962). Chamberlain made his way to the middle of the course first before coming back right again. Mulligan persisted in his right-hand side quest and was rewarded when he crossed the entire fleet to lead into the first weather mark. Chamberlain closed on him in the final approach to the mark but at the mark, there were a few boat-lengths between them.

Initially, both boats led the fleet down the right-hand side of the beat before Mulligan broke away to head left. Regrettably and hopefully understandably, I can't tell you who was following Chamberlain. Ass the fleet made their way downwind, there were increasing indications from the committee boat, conversing with the rib at the weather mark, that they had growing doubts that the race was fair, and ultimately those doubts prompted an abandonment of the race. From a jaundiced perspective (again understandably) I have to question why the race was abandoned where it was when the fleet was sailing back down towards the start area. As we approached the committee boat, the RO admitted there would probably be six boats that would not be happy with the decision. I suggested she might need both hands for that count!

The wind then faded away before a slightly stiffer breeze came in from the south, prompting a move of the weather mark westwards. Under a black flag start, the fleet got away apart from three transgressors of the revised starting protocol – Messrs McCarthy (4085), Chamberlain (3962) and Biggs (4092). This time it was the left side that paid from which exited Bryan Willis and John McPeake (4074), Niall Meagher & Nicki Matthews (3938) 3782. Regatta leaders overnight, Lavery & Green (4083) were at the committee boat end of the start and may have worked middle and left to work their way up the fleet.

This correspondent with his helm had a biblical race – those who had been first were last, etc, etc, well not quite, but you know what I mean.

A shortened race saw Willis & McPeake win with Meagher & Matthews second, 3782 third, Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane (3920) 4th and Lavery & Green 5th. The previous day's other winners, Mulvin & Beirne had a 13th.

With four races completed, a discard kicks in to leave the regatta as follows;

Racing continues on Sunday

Published in Flying Fifteen
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Twenty-two entries to the Flying Fifteen Nationals translated to twenty boats on the water with 12 boats arriving from South of the border. Of these, all bar three were from Dun Laoghaire. Dunmore East had a 100% turnout with Lee Statham/ Andy Paul and Charlie Boland/Rob McConnell here, both sporting green spinnakers. Howth had a solitary entry in the form of Nigel Biggs of Checkmate fame sailing with Simon Pritchard Jones. The rest of the nine travellers were all DL based.

At the briefing, the Race Officer indicated that given Saturday's forecast she would try for a third race today. She further encouraged an early launch to facilitate a punctual start, which she delivered on.

The first boat to get a positive start to the regatta was Dave Mulvin & Ronan Beirne (4068) who took the first gun of the day in a race where their worst position was third.

Race 2 was taken by John Lavery & Alan Green (4083) who, after a mediocre start and first beat, moved up a gear to lead the majority of the remaining race and lead the fleet over the line.

Race 3 went to Roger Chamberlain & Paddy Spratt (3962) who came in from the left on the first beat to lead the race from start to finish.

The aforementioned Biggs & Pritchard Jones (4092) showed the best consistency to score a 7, 3, 3 to secure 2nd overall, followed by Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane (3920) scoring 4, 6, 4 for third overall.

However, Lavery & Green bested them all to score 5, 1, 2 and sit in first overall overnight. In fourth overall sits Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain (3756) with a 3, 4, 8 while Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson round out the top five with a 2, 11, 6.

Conditions were light, though not as light as Portaferry a few weeks back. Races were started promptly despite a wind that fluctuated, back and forth through 30 degrees during the day's racing.

Saturday's apparent promise is for very little wind. We shall see!!

1. John Lavery & Alan Green 4083 8pts
2, Nigel Biggs & Simon Pritchard Jones 4092 13pts
3. Peter Kennedy & Stephen Kane 3920 14pts
4. Hammy Baker & Peter Chamberlain 3756 15pts
5. Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson 4085 19pts.

Download the full results after day one as a pdf below

Published in Flying Fifteen
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The last Flying Fifteen race of the DBSC AIB summer series proved to be another challenging evening for the race officer Brian Mathews and his team on what was one of the warmest days of the year with very light E-NE winds. It was a good tactical race and trying to keep clear wind was the priority.

Despite a number of boats heading to the Championships of Ireland in Whiterock this weekend, there was a good turnout with 11 boats on the start line. Ken Dumpleton & Joe Hickey (Rodriguez) had the title as Neil Colin, who was level on points in second place could not make this race, but the other podium places had to be decided.

The pin end was biased, Chris Doorly & Caroline Green (Match Five) tried their luck lining up for a port start at the biased pin but didn't make it and ducked under a few transoms and headed out to sea accompanied by O'Sullivan and Sherry in clear wind as most headed left. With the easterly, there was more breeze the further out you went, and this paid off as Doorly led this group which now included Laura & Niall Coleman at the first mark.

Most headed left on the run, but on the second beat, Dumpleton showed his prowess as he made big gains by going left to move level with the Coleman's at the weather mark. This prompted Doorly to look for the wind that Dumpleton had on the beat and as a result, headed to the right on the run followed by Dumpleton as Coleman and the majority of the fleet went left on the run. This move paid dividends as they moved well clear of the fleet by the leeward mark and managed to navigate their way to the finish line for Doorly & Green to win with Dumpleton & Hickey back in second but happy that they had won the overall series. Coleman stayed in third place with Balfe fourth and Ryan fifth. Then it was the long paddle home!

Published in Flying Fifteen

As we are days away from the Flying Fifteen Championship of Ireland, to be hosted by Strangford Lough Yacht Club in Whiterock, from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th August, it seems entirely appropriate to publish an assessment of who might be in the running for a podium place at the regatta.

The difficulty is that with only one open event sailed this year, the Northern Championships, in Portaferry, Strangford a few weeks ago, at which there were only two southern travellers, there is no real form book by which to make the assessment.

I also know of one combination who may not be in attendance due to a very important social occasion, a wedding!

The Dun Laoghaire fleet may hold the view that as the largest fleet in the country, the form teams should be drawn from the waters of Dublin Bay, but in recent years that hasn't been the best yardstick for results away from home.

So, if I concentrate on the Dun Laoghaire fleet, who are the form horses at present. One way to embark on this assessment is to tabulate the results of the Thursday and Saturday Series and see who is "top of the pile" in Dublin Bay.

Flying fifteen league table

On this basis, it could be argued, that the form teams are Ken Dumpleton, Ben Mulligan, Dave Mulvin, Neil Colin, Peter Murphy and Shane McCarthy. But of course, there are those who will argue that the above assessment is as much based on attendance as it is on form. For example, Shane McCarthy missed last Saturday's races as he was contesting the GP14 Nationals and Ben Mulligan missed two Saturday races as he was at the Northerns. And of course, this table doesn't take into account the form of John Lavery and Alan Green (4085) the defending National Champions from a four-race regatta in Dunmore East last year. Lavery & Green are never too far away from the front of the fleet, so they simply can't be discounted!!

Word on the street is that Greystones' Shane McCarthy is bringing in the heavy guns for the event – an Irish crew based in the UK who has been sailing the Scorpion Nationals this past week and finishing 5th overall in a 40+ fleet.

And with the newest Flying Fifteen worldwide (4093), recently delivered to Dun Laoghaire, who would put it past Ian Mathews and Keith Poole to open their racing account with a podium place in their brand-new boat.

Stephen Kane (left) and Peter Kennedy - on home waters in Strangford LoughStephen Kane (left) and Peter Kennedy - on home waters in Strangford Lough

Up north, in Portaferry, the pace was set by Stewart Harrison and the Portaferry Shane McCarthy with the former taking the title in a last race decider. But others who showed flashes of form included Andy McCleery, Bryan Willis and Roger Chamberlain. And in the northern fleet, they have an Olympian in Peter Kennedy. With the event on their doorstep, one has to ask the question "Will the Martin brothers come out of temporary FF inactivity to race?"

Charlie Boland & Rob McConnell from Waterford HarbourCharlie Boland & Rob McConnell from Waterford Harbour

On the south coast, we have Charlie Boland & Rob McConnell who also contested the Northerns in Portaferry and they regaled us on how Lee Statham and Andy Paul thought they had the 2019 Championship wrapped up, unaware that a fourth race was going to be sailed.

We all know that Covid has decimated the sailing calendar, so trying to predict podium places without any events to go by is very difficult.

So, with due respect for the fact that I can't predict who will be travelling (though I know some who won't be) and the consequent assumptions that go with an article of this nature, my predictions are;
Top Ten (in no particular order): 2 x Shane McCarthys, John Lavery, Stewart Harrison, Lee Statham, Bryan Willis, Roger Chamberlain, Peter Kennedy, David Mulvin, Ben Mulligan. Of course, if some of the people I believe won't be there, turn up, I reserve the right to change my mind…

Published in Flying Fifteen
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Twenty-four hours ago, the forecast for Dublin Bay was showing strong winds for the morning and early part of the afternoon but that the wind would start dropping off as late afternoon and evening set in. Still, by 18:45, the suggestion was that there would still be 10 – 12 knots with some heavier gusts. And certainly, immediately outside Dun Laoghaire's harbour mouth, that synopsis looked correct. However, as we sailed downwind further into Scotsman's Bay, the sense was that the wind had got softer again. However, in contrast to the previous three Thursdays, the breeze was healthy. An ebbing tide meant that a slightly less conservative start could be contemplated, the wind was blowing from the SW, which meant that the first upwind leg was "contra-tide".

The DBSC Flying Fifteen Race Officer set the course for the night as MW4, an upwind leg to Pier (P), followed by a three-sailer to Poldy(S), inshore to Battery(S), back to Poldy(S) and what turned out to be a two-sail fetch to Molly(P), before a hitch into the committee boat finish. (See above course card).

The decision with respect to the leg to Pier was to stay inshore with possibly less tide and maybe a slightly better wind direction or go right where there appeared to be more breeze. Frank Miller & Susie Mulligan (3845) pioneered the hard right and by Pier that had been proven not to be the way to go. In a similar position were Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley (4081), who had started going left off the start line but found themselves being squeezed by Alistair Court & Conor O'Leary (3753) and tacked off. It seems Court & O'Leary were, in turn, being squeezed by Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028). The nett result was that at Pier anyone who had shown any form of bias towards the inshore route was "in the clover".

For what should appear to be an obvious reason, I am not able to recall exactly what the rounding order at Pier was, so let me just say that the following boats were in the leading pack – identified as much by spinnaker colours as anything! Alan Green and daughter (4026), Ken Dumpleton (3955), Alan Balfe (3995), David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne (4068), Colin & Casey, Court & O'Leary, Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe (3697)……….you get the idea! The spinnaker leg to Poldy was quite tame because although there was a bit of a swell, the wind was already showing signs of dropping off.

From Poldy to Battery, the majority of the fleet went right before heading inshore at the latter stages of the leg. Going inshore initially proved to be very frustrating and became a bit of a tease, the wind seeming to suggest that as a straggler, it might let you back in only to serve you with another header just as you thought you had thrown a double six with the dice. At Battery, Green, Dumpleton and Colin were well placed. Mulvin and Balfe were a bit further back. Most boats sailed the rhumb line to Poldy while at least one sailed a more westerly line and put in a gybe to get down to Poldy for the second time – that didn't work either. The leg to Molly was a two-sailer and consequently there appeared to be little change in the pecking order that this correspondent could see other than us losing 13th place on the water to Joe Coughlan (3913).

There was to be no redemption on the hitch to the finish either!

Thursday Series; Race 8: 1. Alan Green & daughter (4026), 2. Ken Dumpleton & crew (3955), 3. Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028), 4. David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne (4068), 5. Alistair Court & Conor O'Leary (3753), 6. Adrian Cooper & crew (3198), 7. Peter Sherry & Mick Quinn (3749), 8. Alan Balfe & crew (3995), 9. McKenna & O'Keefe (3697), 10. Miller & Mulligan (3697).
In terms of the Thursday Series, Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (20) have opened a two-point gap on Ken Dumpleton & Joe Hickey. Shane McCarthy & Chris Doorly are in third on 31pts with Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley 4th on 35 points, one ahead of David Mulvin & Ronan Beirne.

Footnote (1): This correspondent readily acknowledges the time and effort that all Race Officers and Race Management Teams expend in preparation and execution so that we can all go racing. Accordingly, if there was any suggestion in my report of last Thursday's race, that the race was not properly managed, I apologise. The intention of my reporting of the race is to provide a commentary that is interesting to read; it is not intended to be a critique of how the race was managed, or indeed set up. If there is ever a need to do that, the report would be worded accordingly.

Footnote (2): The Flying Fifteen Championship of Ireland is being hosted at Whiterock in Strangford Lough in two weeks' time. Given the modest turnout of travellers for the Northern Championships in Portaferry a few weeks ago, they are anxious to have a more appropriate turnout. They have set up a WhatsApp group for pre-regatta communications. Please join the group so that you can be kept informed on what is happening. It also provides a connection to the entry form. A "runners and riders" preview of the Championship will be prepared shortly.

Published in Flying Fifteen

For the third Thursday in a row, conditions on Dublin Bay were very challenging, so much so that the big boat fleets didn't get a race in. However, in the Red Fleet, which consisted of SB20s, Sportsboats, Dragons, Flying Fifteens, Shipmans, Ruffians and Glens, the Race Officer persisted and got a race in for most of the boats. Most infers that many boats retired or Did Not Finish. In what was a symptom of what was to follow, the RO advised the fleet that in all likelihood she would fly a postponement at the first scheduled Warning Signal (for SB20s) because under the current conditions, 20 – 25 minutes before that Warning Signal was due, her confidence in even setting a start line was nil!

Around the fringes of Dublin Bay, grey skies and showers dominated the vista resulting in the very light wind swinging wildly in direction. After a short postponement, initiated as promised, the starting sequence for the SB20s was initiated, and the RO got through the starts for the balance of the Red Fleet.

A course of RW4 was signalled that saw the fleet go west initially to Harbour mark, with the tide, then fight eastwards against the tide to Bulloch, go cross-tide to Island, before getting the tide underneath them again to Molly, Pier, Harbour and the finish. The significance of the first two marks is that they are at the western and eastern extremities of the race are used by the Thursday Red Fleet.

With the committee boat swinging to the incoming tide, resulting in her transom pointing approximately at the first mark, the location of the pin end gave a very skew profile to the start line – though how a straight line can be skew is a moot point for another day! The 13-boat Flying Fifteen fleet was distributed along the line, having been warned of the effects of the incoming tide, with Ben Mulligan & Cormac Bradley (4801) at the pin end with their closest neighbours Shane McCarthy & Chris Doorly (4085) and Tom Murphy & Carel (4057) a few boat-lengths back but considerably further to windward. As the start signal sounded the RO advised that 5 boats were OCS and post-race in our west of harbour post-mortem, at least one of those was acknowledged as having restarted. Three others had their night thwarted/rewarded with a lettered score rather than a number score, and for at least two of them, there would have been considerable frustration at the result as one finished first and another fourth. One boat was particularly aggrieved as they had made a very significant effort to balance the tidal effect of their start strategy and were astounded to have fallen foul of the RO's adjudication.

The first leg to Harbour was a two-sail fetch for most boats and Mulligan & Bradley led the fleet to within a few boat lengths of the mark, only to be overtaken by McCarthy & Doorly, who despite advice to the contrary initially rounded the mark incorrectly. They undid their error, sailed a short tack off the mark before setting course for Bulloch. Behind Mulligan and McCarthy, Peter Murphy & Ciara Mulvey (3774), Alan Green & his daughter (4026), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028) and Adrian Cooper & crew (3198) were well placed. All the boats tried spinnaker initially with McCarthy & Mulligan pioneering this three-sail approach the longest. However, in time, the leg became a two-sailer. McCarthy extended his lead and Mulligan put up a valiant effort to hold off Green before Green passed him within a short distance of Bulloch. Behind them, Colin, Murphy, and Cooper were the next boats in sequence. Between Bulloch and Island, Mulligan closed on Green, but to their lee, Murphy & Mulvey were sailing freer and marginally faster. At Island, the order was McCarthy, Green, Mulligan, Murphy, Colin and Cooper as they set off on another two-sailer to Molly.

Before reaching Island, the RO had advised by radio that the Fifteens would have a shortened course finish at Molly. McCarthy was (very) comfortably first at this stage, Green had managed to open up a gap on Mulligan and Murphy was putting Mulligan under pressure. Murphy caught and passed Mulligan as the finish approached. As this correspondent approached Molly, the sense was that the rib flying the shortened course signal was the wrong side of Molly, which was due to be rounded to port. That meant a hooked finish would be required. Consequently, we did both, to be sure, to be sure! We weren't convinced everybody within our view had done the same.

Thus, while a race had been achieved, it was a race in which there was no beating, no tacking, relatively little spinnaker work and while there was some place changing, it was in the least aggressive form – simply down to straight-line boat speed. The only (potentially) contentious aspects of the race were the start and the finish!

I have no recall of finishing sound signals but, coming ashore and reviewing the results it became apparent that the silence may have been deliberate, McCarthy, Murphy(T) and Mulligan were all deemed OCS, leaving a finishing order on paper of Alan Green & daughter (4026), Peter Murphy & Ciara Mulvey (3774), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028), Adrian Cooper & crew (3198) and Frank Miller & crew (3845). There was a weeping and gnashing of teeth as a fourth on the water had been replaced with an OCS!

In Series terms, Shane McCarthy & Neil Colin are tied in first place with 17pts, followed by another tie for second between Ken Dumpleton & Ben Mulligan (21pts) with Peter Murphy a further 6pts astern.

Published in Flying Fifteen
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The Facet Trophy for Flying Fifteens on Dublin Bay is unique in that it is the only event within the DBSC Flying Fifteen Series where the trophy is presented on the day of the racing. This is due to the fact that it was primarily intended to encourage the Flying Fifteen fleet to race on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland. In recent years it has been hotly contested, and 2021 was no exception with one high-profile "Fifteener" procuring the services of an Irish Olympian to helm on the day.

The name of the trophy is due to the fact that the sponsor is a local Dun Laoghaire jeweller and the owner, Mr Pat Shannon, is currently the Commodore of one of Dun Laoghaire's four seafront yacht clubs, the Royal Irish.

The forecast for the day promised very light winds, of the order of 4-5 knots which were forecast to move from NNW to NE during the course of the afternoon and with hindsight, Race Officer Eddie Totterdell would have taken that with open arms! Instead, we arrived in the race area with light winds as forecast except that as race time approached, the wind from the NNW quarter disappeared and a southerly wind came in in its place. That would have been manageable, except that the big boat classes started their race on time in the western part of the bay with the forecast winds from the NNW. Indeed, one of the more readily identifiable big boats, the Sisk-owned WoW, was able to sail a longish upwind leg and the following off-wind leg in this breeze while the Fifteens and other Green Fleet classes were sailing in a southerly and then no wind at all.

The Race Officer persisted, and we set off in what appeared to be a reasonably steady but light breeze from a southerly direction. Wishful thinking! Fourteen Fifteens started with two boats called for being OCS. With a flooding tide in such light winds, the sensible thing to do was to go inshore, where there would be less strength in the tide. And the boats that did that seemed to be rewarded – Niall Coleman and Susan Halpenny, aka Mr & Mrs N Coleman (4008) were to feature prominently and consistently at the front of the fleet, starting at the first mark of a 2-lap Windward-Leeward course. Others at the head of the fleet at this early stage were Ger Owens & Alan Green (4083), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028), Alan Balfe & Tom Galvin (3995) and Tom Murphy & Carel (4057) – though the latter combination would have their minds on later events off the water in Cape Town.

Other combinations enjoying a good race early on included Peter Sherry & Mick Quinn (3749) and Joe Coughlan & Andrew (3913).

This correspondent was having a more difficult day, forced left early on when the declared intent had been to go right, things went from bad to worse when the combination of a foul tide, relative to rounding the windward mark, and fading breeze necessitated multiple tacks to get around the mark – race over potentially.

As the race progressed, the wind became even more fickle, in strength and direction. At one stage on the second "beat" we were sailing away from the mark, almost in the opposite direction to where we needed to go. In conditions like these, the various fleets on the course were concertinaing with Ruffians, Mermaids and Sportsboats all looking to find zephyrs of wind on the same patch of water!

Regrettably, I can't afford a blow-by-blow account of activity at the head of the fleet – I was not close enough, but there was movement and the interaction with boats from other fleets, unavoidable in the circumstances, may have also influenced the eventual outcome. The Colemans, Colin and Owens monopolised the head of the fleet – at least judging by spinnaker colours and certainly, Colin & Casey laid claim to occupying first, second, third and ultimately fourth place at different stages of the race.

The final finishing order was, Niall & Susan Coleman (4008), Ger Owens & Alan Green (4083), Alan Balfe & Tom Galvin (3995), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028), Tom Murphy & Carel (4057) and Peter Sherry & Mick Quinn (3749).

Having lost an hour in getting the first race away, there was no time for a second race!

At the prize-giving in the National Yacht Club, MC-ed by Frank Burgess, Pat Shannon opened the proceedings by thanking all the participants and the race team for their involvement in the regatta. Additional speakers included Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen Class Captain, Neil Colin, the Race Officer and the winning helm of the Facet Trophy, Niall Coleman. Collectively they thanked all those who had contributed to the afternoon's activities.

Special thanks were given to the Race Officer, Eddie Totterdell, for persisting with the conditions to get a race in.

In addition to the Facet Trophy Cup, crystal prizes were awarded to the podium places in each fleet and all participants got a prize to acknowledge their attendance.

Published in Flying Fifteen
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For those who were unable to make the first Flying Fifteen "away" regatta since the summer season of 2019, you missed glorious sunshine, great hospitality, fickle winds, and challenging tides! The venue was Portaferry on the northern shores of the narrows at the entrance to Strangford Lough and the event attracted a 14-boat fleet, made up principally of Strangford clubs, Strangford Lough Yacht Club, Strangford Sailing Club, Killyleagh Yacht Club and Portaferry Sailing Club. There was one Belfast Lough boat and two from southern Ireland, from Dun Laoghaire and Dunmore East respectively.

The races area was towards the Killyleagh side of the Lough and Race Officer John McAlea did very well to get all five races in. Conditions on Saturday were light, probably of the order of 5-7 knots, and in those conditions, tide was always going to be a significant factor.

Race wins were shared between three boats on Saturday: Brian Willis and John McPeake (4074) in Race 1, Shane McCarthy & Jeremy Rodgers (4018) in Race 2 and Alan McLernon & Crew (3782) in Race 3. The third race win was quite something at face value as the FF was using the sail number IRL1974. However, by the close of business on the Saturday, as ever, consistency allowed the cream to rise to the top. McCarthy & Rodgers (4018) had posted a 5,1,2 race score to leave them with a 4-point cushion on the second boat. At this stage, they were the only boat with a single figure points total. Stewart Harrison & Conor (3892) sat in second place overnight with a 3,5,7 and two boats were tied in 3rd, Alan McLernon, and Brian Willis (17pts).

Most boats had at least one good race, but such was the vagaries of the racing that a good result in one race was not an indicator of form in the next. Consider some of the scorecards that were on display on Saturday night – 12, 4, 3 from McCleary & Dougan (4037), 2,10,10 from Roger Chamberlain (3962) and 9, 2, 9 from Mulligan & Bradley (4081). Still, the sun had shone all day and we were all back ashore in time to see the majority of the SA V the Lions. Portaferry Sailing Club fed everyone as part of the entry fee and the post-mortems and other assessments of "Life, the Universe, and Everything" went long into the evening.

If Saturday was light, then Sunday gave the appearance of being better – at least looking at the water surface on the way out to the start. It would be a different matter on the racecourse! RO McAlea had obviously been doing some beseeching to have wind because promptly at 11:00 he started the sequence for Race 4. In Race 4 McCleary played the Pied Piper and took a number of boats with him to the right-hand side of the course. Two of these, McCleary himself and Charlie Boland & Rob McConnell (3883) bailed out early and went left to try and reconnect with the fleet. That left Mulligan & Bradley ploughing a lonely furrow on the right and it got lonelier as they never re-engaged with the rest of the fleet.

Stewart & Connor led for most of the race but were challenged by McCarthy at various stages. Their upwind speed invariably got them out of trouble when the downwind legs didn't quite work out. Behind these two, McLernon, Chamberlain and Willis were having a good race. McCleary finished 9th while Boland got up to 7th.

Harrison's win had opened Pandora's Box in terms of the destiny of the title. Effectively, if Harrison won again and McCarthy was worse than 5th, Harrison could take the title. McAlea responded to the movement of the wind by moving the weather mark leftwards from his committee boat position. Remember that in the previous race, going right was the death-knell for this correspondent.

A pin-end port tack start by Mulligan caught the fleet on the hop but came to a quick halt by starboard tacked boats coming out of the middle of the line. An individual recall was sounded; and one boat was seen to go back – Boland & McConnell. The boats that worked the left-hand side found that they were being hammered by those who had gone right, the complete opposite of the previous race. Harrison led at the first weather mark with McCarthy buried in the peloton, in 9th place. McCleary, who had struggled in the previous race, now found himself as the fox to Harrison's hare and McLernon was also watching the hare very closely. McCarthy's frustrations must also have boiled over when his spinnaker drop on the middle leeward mark (laps of three) resulted in Rodgers standing on the foredeck flicking a spinnaker halyard to free the jib.

While there was some movement in the fleet, the light winds and the tendency to work a single side of the beat meant that the pecking order didn't change dramatically. And thus, though he recovered to 6th place McCarthy & Rodgers lost the title to Stewart & Connor by virtue of the latter pair winning the last race. And for all the endeavour of the port tack start, Mulligan and Bradley went over the finish line to silence – ruled as an OCS! The post-race discussion with the RO was polite and brief – he had photographic evidence!!

Flying Fifteen Northern Championships Portaferry Sailing Club, Strangford Lough

Flying Fifteen Northern Championships Portaferry Sailing Club, Strangford Lough  

So, a very good weekend for Stewart Harrison and his crew Conor, who flew in from Scotland to sail the event. Commiserations to Shane McCarthy & Jeremy Rodgers who also sailed a very consistent regatta.

Congratulations also to Niall Bradshaw who won the bronze division.

Speakers at the prize-giving were Shane McCarthy, John McAlea from PSC and Class President Hammy Baker. All three thanked everyone for attending and made particular reference to the volunteers who had given up their weekend in order that we all could sail. A small token of appreciation from the fleet was presented to John McAlea as RO and the gentleman who had offered the use of his boat for the Committee Boat on the Friday night. Shane reminded the audience that the National Championships are due to be sailed out of Whiterock in late August before he bade everyone "Safe Home".

Published in Flying Fifteen
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14 Flying Fifteens enjoyed glorious sunshine and light winds just inside the narrows of Strangford Lough for their Northern Championships on Day 1.

Race Officer John McAlea had his hands full with fickle winds and a strong tide but still managed to get three races in.

Local, Shane McCarthy, put his knowledge to good use by posting a 5, 1, 2 to take a comfortable lead into Sunday.

Four points cover second to sixth and will be subject to a protest hearing.

Regrettably, the regatta is conspicuous by the lack of visitors from the major FF centre of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

They have a solitary rep in Ben Mulligan while Dunmore East's Charlie Boland and Rob McConnell have also made the trip.

The Strangford clubs are well represented.

Download the results sheet below. 

Tomorrow's forecast is for a repeat of today.

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