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In Dublin Bay yacht racing terms the sign that the summer is over is the advent of the last Tuesday night race of the year. Seven Fireballs embraced the last of the Tuesday night races by their presence on the water and they got a very fickle evening of wind for their attendance writes Cormac Bradley.

Throughout the day the forecast had been for 17 – 27 knots from the South but by 19:00, while the wind may have been southerly in direction, it certainly wasn’t in the strength range predicted. A windward-leeward with a spreader mark at the weather mark was set and in physical terms it ran parallel to the East Pier with the windward mark set inshore in Scotsman’s Bay.

For the first start the fleet were stockpiled at the committee boat end of the line until the Clancys, Conor & James (14807), broke away to start about halfway down the line and a couple of boat lengths apart from everyone else. Noel Butler, with Teddy Byrne deputising for Stephen Oram, (15061) followed the Clancys to the left side of the course and after securing a weather slot relative to the brothers proceeded to apply a loose cover on them for the early part of the beat. Four of the others, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691), Louis Smyth & Francis Rowan (15007), Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) and Peter & Michael Keegan (14676) also stayed left-ish while Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) worked the right-hand side in solitude. The beat effectively turned into a soldier’s course with only a single tack required to get to the weather mark, but conditions were tricky with the breeze not uniform across the course. This was confirmed when Miller & Donnelly rounded the weather mark third behind Butler & Byrne and the Clancy brothers, even though they had taken the opposite approach to the beat. The Keegans rounded next but hadn’t spotted the spreader mark and lost two places when the spinnaker went up and then had to come back down sharpish. That allowed Smyth & Rowan and McKenna & O’Keeffe to get ahead in the pecking order.

The leg back to the leeward mark turned into more of a reach as the wind clocked leftwards, but even on this leg there were varying strengths of wind. Butler, as ever, had worked his usual magic to open up a significant lead on the chasing pack and, at the leeward mark he rounded up and took a short hitch to the left to ensure that he would be to windward of the fleet when they rounded in turn. He would take another hitch left about halfway up the “beat” to maintain his watching brief on the others. In reality, he needn’t have worried as he rounded the weather mark with a 1:55 advantage over the Clancys in second. He would extend this to 2:25 at the finish. The Clancys, meanwhile, had both McKenna and Miller snapping at their transom, but managed to hold both of them off as they rounded in second place.

Smyth & Rowan now joined Miller and McKenna at the latter stages of the windward leg and down the final leg to the finish in the fight to occupy the last podium place. However, Miller & Donnelly won out to finish third, while Smyth and McKenna were probably overlapped, from my vantage point as they crossed the line.

With the wind constantly flicking left, the race management team adjusted the course by moving the weather mark the best part of 250m eastwards giving a transit for the weather mark closer to the 40-foot bathing spot. Course X1 was signalled again, two roundings of the weather mark, with spreader, and a downwind finish.

The Clancys and Miller & Donnelly decided to show their hand early and hovered around the pin end of the line. Butler & Byrne were at the opposite end but interestingly all started on port tack, initially heading inshore. The Keegans got their times wrong and were left behind at the start and 50m off the start line it appeared as if Conor Clancy and Frank Miller had got it right when they occupied the windward slots on the course with Butler much further to leeward. However, the fickle distribution of wind across the course manifested itself again when Butler, sailing faster, got out from underneath the other two to tack across the fleet on starboard and ahead of everyone. That was the signal for Clancy to go further left again, leaving Miller to pioneer his own route up the inner left-hand side. This soon left Miller as the leeward-most boat as Clancy and then McKenna worked the area to windward of him. When Miller came across on starboard he crossed ahead of Clancy but behind McKenna. The problem didn’t appear to be getting inshore, the starboard hitch to get across to the mark was proving infinitely more challenging. The rounding sequence was Butler, Clancy, McKenna, Miller, Chambers, Smyth and Keegan.

With Butler and Clancy seemingly clear, Chambers & McGuire with a more windward position sailed past both McKenna and Miller. The adjacent Mermaid, also under spinnaker, didn’t help the latter’s cause, but once they got out from underneath it, both Miller and McKenna would re-join the battle with Chambers for third position and all three closed on Clancy as they approached the leeward mark. Clancy and McKenna rounded that overlapped and like Butler before them, the tactic seemed to be to harden up and proceed inshore. Now only Butler seemed to be safe as the two boats overlapped at the mark fought for second place with McKenna winning out. However, there were to be a few more throws of the dice before the weather mark was reached. Again, the problem seemed to be getting left. There seemed to be breeze on the water, but the speed and angle of the boats as they fought to go left suggested it wasn’t “plain sailing”. Eventually they rounded the final weather mark of the season with the order:- Butler, McKenna, Clancy, Chambers, Miller, Smyth and Keegan. The final place change of the 2016 DBSC Fireball Series saw Miller & Donnelly overtake Chambers & McGuire to claim fourth place behind Butler, McKenna and Clancy.

DBSC Series 3: Tuesday 30th August 2016 R1 R2
1 Noel Butler & Teddy Byrne 15061 NYC 1 1
2 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 3 2
3 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 2 3
4 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 5 4
5 Louis Smyth & Francis Rowan 15007 Coal Harb. 4 6


DBSC Series 3: Overall; 8 Races sailed, 2 Discards.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 7
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 10
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 17
4 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 24
5 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 27
Published in Fireball

After the excitement of seeing Dun Laoghaire’s Annalise Murphy win her Silver Medal at the Rio Olympics in the Laser Radial Class, the five boat Fireball fleet on the DBSC Tuesday night course had lots of their own excitement writes Cormac Bradley. With a forecast of 11 – 18 knots from SSE, the actual wind strength was at the upper end of this range, even inside the harbour, and cat’s paws of harder wind were scudding across the waters of the harbour. A windward-leeward course with spreader was set with the weather mark in the vicinity of the bandstand on the East Pier.

All five boats set off the start line towards the harbour mouth on starboard tack with Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) appearing to be closest to the pin. About mid-line were the recently crowned National Champions, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) and within a short period of time they were powering over the fleet in the windward berth.

At the weather mark Butler & Oram were comfortably ahead followed by the Clancy brothers Conor & James, runners-up in the Nationals, and both boats scorched off towards the harbour mouth under spinnaker on starboard tack. Next around the weather mark were Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly followed by the third placed boat at the Nationals, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) and the son and father combination of David & Michael Keegan (14676). These latter two exercised caution and two-sailed the leg to the leeward mark.

Rounding the leeward mark, Butler and Clancy both went right initially, but Clancy peeled off earlier to head towards the harbour mouth. By staying right for longer, Butler & Oram were able to take a long tack up the middle of the course to leave themselves with an approximate port lay-line approach to the weather mark. Clancy was further to leeward. However, possibly on the penultimate tack to the weather mark, Butler & Oram capsized, leaving Team Clancy with a comfortable lead at the weather mark.

The Clancys again adopted a starboard tack spinnaker leg to the harbour mouth while Butler & Oram gybed immediately at the spreader mark to work the opposite side of the course. It made no difference in terms of the placings as the Clancys crossed the finish line in first place. All five boats flew spinnaker on this leg but in making their final gybe to the finish, the ladies capsized to allow the Keegans to overtake them. Though the father and son had a messy drop of their spinnaker short of the finish line, there was still enough distance between them and the ladies to record fourth place on the water.

The finishers crossed the line to a three flag signal, blue for being on station for the finish and “N over A” for the abandonment of a possible second race. Given the wind conditions, it was hardly surprising! It was a fast and furious race and with hindsight, a good call to have it inside the harbour. Proceedings were concluded within 35 minutes of the start signal.

DBSC Tuesday Nights: Series 3;

Overall (6 Races sailed, 1 discard).

1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 7
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 8
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RSTGYC 17
4 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 23
5 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 24
Published in Fireball
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Sunday’s forecast for the Irish Fireball Nationals was always less than encouraging and so it proved when the complete absence of wind brought the curtain down on the 2016 edition of the regatta writes Cormac Bradley. Race Officer Richard Kissane and Howth Yacht Club Vice Commodore, Emmett Dalton went out to the race area to see if there was any sense of wind developing but to no avail.

A straw poll of the participants agreed that hanging around until the cut-off for racing, 15:30, wasn’t an attractive option either so an early halt to proceedings was called with a lunch-time prize-giving.

The 2016 National Champions are Noel Butler & Stephen Oram of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, sailing IRL 15061. They won four of the seven races, setting out their stall with two race wins in Friday’s heavy weather session of 20 knots +, but in Saturday’s more variable conditions they managed to stay ahead of their closest competition in all but one of the day’s four races, the last race of the day. This gave them a five point cushion, after discard, over second place and what Noel suggested was his sixth National title. Stephen may not have quite that number but together they are a potent combination that makes every few mistakes on the water when it matters most.

In second place were the Clancy brothers from the Royal St George Yacht Club with a score of 11pts after discard, sailing 14807. They too began the regatta in fine style with two second places but were unfortunate to have rudder damage in the third race of Friday, recording a DNF. Their scores thereafter were 2, 2, 4, and 3. With the exception of Race 7, however, they were unable to break out from the supervision of Butler & Oram and that’s why they finished 2nd – a position most of us would be envious of.

Conor ClancyTeddy Byrne Second overall at the Fireball Nationals were (centre) Conor Clancy and Teddy Byrne with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry

The regatta was significant in that for the first time in a while there were race winners from outside the traditional pool. Even more significant is that we had an all-lady team winning a race at the Nationals and this boosted them into 3rd place overall. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) from the Royal St George Yacht Club persevered on the heavy weather last day of the Worlds at Pwllheli last year when a large proportion of that fleet retired. In stood them in good stead on Friday in Howth when they recorded a 7, 6, 4. To this they added a 3, 5, 1 and 2! Louise & Hermine have been sailing well on Tuesday nights and this result is a vindication of the time they have spent on the water together.

Louise McKenna Hermine OKeeffe Fireball third place winners Louise McKenna Hermine OKeeffe (centre) with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry. Photo: Frank Miller

Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) of Skerries were the winners of the last race on the breezy first day when there were only four finishers.

The last race winners came in the form of Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly (14713) of the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club. By their own admission they were a little fortunate in that the race leader misinterpreted the flag flying at the last leeward mark of the shortened seventh race – going for another beat when the F-flag flying meant they were to sail directly to the finish at the committee boat. Another boat ahead of them on the water had not responded to an OCS signal at the start.

Son and father combination, David and Michael Keegan (14676), of the Royal St George Yacht Club won the Silver fleet prize after a couple of seasons absence from the regatta scene and Eoin Clarke & Tim McAuley (14244) and the sole representative from Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club took the Classic prize.

Fireball David Michael KeeganSilver fleet winners at the Fireball Nationals were (centre) David and Michael Keegan with Howth Yacht Club Commodore Berchmans Gannon (left) and Fireball Chair Marie Barry Photo: Frank Miller

Tim McAuley and Eoin ClarkeClassic boat winners at the Fireball Nationals were Tim McAuley (left) with and Eoin Clarke (right)

For the second year, the Nationals entry level was lower than we would all have preferred. One entry withdrew as the helm was feeling unwell, but there were a number of absentees that might normally be present. This absence of numbers has created a challenge for the class that has yet to be properly answered.

Howth Yacht Club’s Commodore and Vice Commodore, Berchman Gannon and Emmett Dalton respectively presided over the prize-giving and thanked the class for bringing the event to Howth. Berchman said they were delighted to have hosted the event even though the numbers were a few less than they might have expected. Due thanks were given to Emmett Dalton for organising the event and to Race Officer Richard Kissane and his team who had race managed seven races in contrasting and challenging conditions between days 1 & 2.

The regatta scene now moves on to Killaloe, on the weekend of September 10/11th, while the Tuesday night series in Dublin Bay still has a few fixtures to be fulfilled.

Irish Fireball Nationals 2016

Howth Yacht Club

R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Tot Nett
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram NYC   1 1 3 1 1 2 4 13 6
2 Conor & James Clancy RStGYC   2 2 12 2 2 4 3 27 11
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe RStGYC   7 6 4 3 5 1 2 28 15
4 Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer SSC   4 4 1 7 8 3 5 32 17
5 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly DMYC   5 5 2 6 6 7 1 32 19
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Day 2 of the Irish Fireball Nationals was in stark contrast to Day 1 at Howth Yacht Club writes Cormac Bradley. The breeze that saw the fleet afloat gradually faded as the day wore on and the last race of the day, the fourth was a "hunt the breeze" race that ultimately got shortened.

Race 1 was sailed in two parts Noel Butler & Stephen Oram and the Clancy brothers, Conor and James sailed their own match race while the rest of us fought for the minor places. These fell to the ladies, Louise McKenna & Hermine O Keeffe (3rd) and Alan Henry & Simon Reveille.

This was a precursor to Race equality 5 as Louise & Hermine who broke the male domination of race wins at Nationals by taking Race 6.

Before that Butler and Clancy took another 1st and second respectively with Alan Henry third and Class Chairman Marie Barry sailing with Michael Ennis finishing fourth.

Louise & Hermine led the 6th race from the second beat after going hard left. Butler came from behind to secure 2nd and his situation improved when Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer finished ahead of the Clancy brothers.

By Race 7 the wind was "sparse"to put it mildly. For the second start of the day Race Officer Richard Kissing had to fly an OSC flag and the inability of the transgressors to go back was to prove costly. Another incident of failing to respond to a flag when a shortened course was signalled - go straight to the finish. The race leader got it wrong and sailed past the CB finish line at a cost of 4 places. Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly got the Race win after the two flag indiscretions. Butler beat Clancy again to leave himself set up for a regatta win tomorrow.

All those who had repairs on their agenda yesterday were back on the water today. Howth VC, Emmet Dalton also got out today and mixed it with the regulars.

Mention should be made of son and father David & Michael Keegan who have sailed every race and finished all but one after an absence of a few seasons. Eoin Clarke & Tim McCauley also raced the four races today after rudder problems yesterday.

Results are here

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At 15:46 a well–worked Irish Fireball fleet is ashore at Howth Yacht Club after three very hard races where the Race Officer advised that the wind was consistently "on average" 20 knots writes Cormac Bradley.

Three Olympic courses were sailed with the first one slightly shortened due to a mark problem.

Spinnaker flying was a minority activity on the day with most people content to keep their boats upright and the all-lady combination of Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffew can claim to be winners in that category. Another combination, Stephen Oram and Noel Butler only capsized to repair the outhaul on the boom.

A number of boats are undergoing modest repairs, as this is being typed; a broken trapeze wire (Michael Ennis & Marie Barry), a broken rudder down haul (Team Clancy), another main outhaul (Alan Henry & Simon Reveille) and broken rudder fittings (Tim McCauley).

One boat did not go afloat and another came ashore without starting a race.

On the water Butler & Oram won Races 1 & 2, before the broken outhaul in the last race of the day gave them a third. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer took the gun in the third race to add to two fourth places and 2nd overall overnight.

Three points more and we find Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly on 12 points, scoring 5, 5, 2.

Only four boats finished the last race of the day - principally as a consequence of the damage listed above. However, nobody, on coming ashore, was complaining that the fourth race had not been sailed. An 11:00 start is scheduled for tomorrow and those who battled through today''s conditions won't object to the prospect of the slightly later start.

1. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (1, 1, 3)
2. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cromer (4, 4, 1)
3. Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (5, 5, 2).

Team Clancy, Conor & James, were undone, literally, when their rudder down haul was ripped out of the tiller, possibly as a consequence of hitting a submerged object. This left them with a DNF in Race 3 which diluted the two second places they scored in R1 & 2.

So another unseasonal day for August - it started warm and sunny but is now clouded over. While Wexford a month ago may have been the uncomfortable side of heavy, some suggested today was the comfortable and exciting side of heavy. The breeze is still here but tomorrow offers the prospect of more managable conditions

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It was difficult to believe that this is the second Tuesday of August considering the weather for this evening’s Fireball race in Dublin Bay writes Cormac Bradley. What started out as a bright day and was still in reasonable shape for a lunch-time walk along the Dun Laoghaire seafront turned into a very cool evening with grey skies over Dublin Bay in a WNW blustery breeze that saw this correspondent almost shivering in the lee of the East Pier wall to bring you this account of the racing. So grey was the scene that the flashing light of the Kish lighthouse, some eight miles offshore was conspicuous in the gloom. The Windfinder app was suggesting 13 knots of breeze, rising to gusts of 18knots and an air temperature of 14˚. With no racing last Tuesday, due to the Bank Holiday Monday, this was a last chance for a race before the Fireball Nationals in Howth this coming weekend.

With high tide just short of 17:00 and a start area that was situated to the east of the 40-foot bathing spot, the furthest east I can recall seeing a start area for a Tuesday night, the right approach seemed to be to get out of the tide and go inshore. The four-boat fleet seemed to concur as they all favoured the pin end half of the line. So far east were they that as they approached the rocks at the 40-foot they disappeared from view relative to the East Pier.

Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (15061) and Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) were closest inshore while Conor Clancy and Teddy Byrne (14807) seemed to abandon this tack first and headed significantly offshore. Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly (14713) looked to be a little off the pace, languishing a short distance behind the others. Heading for a windward mark (with spreader) located in the middle of Scotsman’s Bay, Butler & Oram proved that going inshore was the way to go when they rounded with a comfortable lead. Clancy & Byrne were second, followed by McKenna/O’Keeffe and Miller/Donnelly.

After rounding the spreader mark, Butler & Oram continued inshore before adopting a further two tack- three gybe approach to the leeward mark. Clancy & Byrne followed suit, but fouled up the second gybe under spinnaker and went for a long swim. Long enough for both McKenna/O’Keeffe and Miller/Donnelly to pass them out on the water!

All three upright boats adopted an offshore tack first for their second upwind leg with Butler/Oram so comfortably ahead that they could sail whatever course they wanted. The committee boat was soon on the move and flew a shortened course signal for all classes in just about enough time to get into position for Butler & Oram to go through the finish line. Downwind of them, Miller & Donnelly were gradually reeling in their female competition and passed them out on a starboard tack hitch going offshore. Shortly thereafter they were able to tack onto port to go through the finish line ahead of the ladies. Clancy & Byrne also got a finish after a lengthy swim.

DBSC: Tuesday Nights; Series 3, Race 5, 9th August Overall
Points Place
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 5 1st
2 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 21 5th
3 Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 14691 RStGYC 12 3rd
4 Conor Clancy & Teddy Byrne 14807 RStGYC 7 2nd


The Nationals will be sailed over Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Howth, with a nine-race programme scheduled for the participants.

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On the third day of the Irish summer, DBSC Fireballs had their first seasonal race of the Tuesday night series and the warm weather enticed a fleet of eight boats onto the water writes Cormac Bradley. The projected forecast, using my favoured website was for 6-9 knots of SE and 21˚ at 19:00 becoming 8 – 11 knots Southerly and 19˚ by 22:00.

However, on-site rigging beforehand there was a quietness about the breeze which was quite surprising given the heat of the day, a sea-breeze was the least I was expecting.

An errant rudder downhaul delayed this correspondent’s arrival at the start, but given that the racing took place inside the harbour, the damage was not as bad as it might have been. Our tardy arrival meant that we were able to assess the fortunes of our classmates who had started on time. Those who had started on the pin – and No, contrary to recent practices Frank Miller and Ed Butler (14713) weren’t one of them – found themselves sailing very high relative to the windward mark of the W/L X1 designated course. And the further they went up the “beat” the more they had to bear off to approach the weather mark. Indeed on their port lay-line approach to the weather mark, Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher (15007) were sailing a parallel course to that between the windward mark and the spreader mark.

A cluster of Fireballs rounded together with Daragh McDonagh & crew (15058) leading the bunch. Also “in there” was Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865), Team Clancy – Conor & James (14807) and Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854). Stephen Oram with Olympian Phil Lawton helming (15061) was hovering as well. On the downwind leg the fleet sailed marginally high and then bore off over the latter stages of the leg to get to the leeward mark, just upwind of the committee boat.

For the second beat nobody went to the left hand side of the course, rather the trick was to try and maintain height, or climb just a marginal amount to defend one’s weather. It was a bit processional!

The only real piece of excitement took place between the second weather mark and the spreader when Smyth and Power had a coming together. Glenn Fisher seemed keen to let the girls know what was happening as he struggled with a spinnaker that had gone between jib and mast! Even though Smyth was in the windward berth, the girls took a turn in the melee of the spreader mark and this allowed your correspondent, crewing for Louise McKenna (14691) to get out of last place. The downwind leg to the finish didn’t generate any place changes that I could see, but there was a tight finish between Chambers & McGuire (14865) and McDonagh & crew (15058/Boat #14330) with information on the water suggesting Mary & Brenda had taken 3rd place confirmed in the DBSC results on-line this morning. Team Clancy took the win with Lawton & Oram 2nd. While Power & Barry took a turn on the water, Smyth & Fisher were recorded as a DNF, so this may be a declaration of fault for the incident between them. In fairness to the Race Committee, it appears the race was victim to a last wind shift just before the start which made it the soldier’s course it became.

For the second race, the Race Committee relocated to a position close to the ferry terminal which is in the throes of being dismantled. A weather mark was initially located towards the end of the East Pier in the harbour mouth, but then relocated to a new position about midway between the East Pier weather station and the memorial on the upper wall. X2 was the designated course length.

The recommendation on our boat was to go for a committee boat start and it seemed we weren’t the only ones thinking that way as Lawton & Oram were immediately below us and Daragh McDonagh and Team Clancy were to weather though Clancy was a little further back. Twenty metres off the start line and Team Clancy were going hard right in isolation while the rest of the fleet headed towards the harbour mouth. The Clancys hit the jackpot by taking a lead that they never relinquished and they were never threatened thereafter. Lawton & Oram rounded second followed by McKenna & Bradley who had a slight gap on the chasing pack, headed by Smyth & Fisher and Power & Barry. A short hitch on starboard after the spreader mark was followed by a gybe under spinnaker to sail in to the leeward mark. McKenna & Bradley seemed to close a short bit on Lawton & Oram and that sensation was confirmed when on the second beat, a starboard/port meeting of the pair caused Lawton & Oram to tack. Smyth too was closing the gap, sailing to weather of McKenna but slightly further astern. The top three stayed as was at the second weather mark and for most the recipe for the downwind leg was the same. Power & Barry broke the trend by going further right than everyone else and at one stage gave all the appearance of being able to sail round most of us on the outside. Smyth too was showing signs of closing the gap on McKenna.

Up the third beat and Lawton & Oram broke free. McKenna & Smyth got into starboard/port territory before, on the final approach to the weather mark, McKenna was able to get back into the third slot. Again, McKenna found herself with attackers inside and out with the wind in the middle seeming to ease. However, there was still enough for her to get over the line in third, followed by Chambers & McGuire.

DBSC Series 3: Fireballs

Overall (after two races)

R1 R2



1 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 1 1 2
2 Phil Lawton & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 2 2 4
3 Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire 14865 DMYC 3 4 7
4 Louise McKenna & Cormac Bradley 14691 RStGYC 5 3 8
5 Frank Miller & Ed Butler 14713 DMYC 4 6 10
Published in Fireball

A smaller than usual fleet of Fireballs travelled from Dun Laoghaire and Skerries to that part of Ireland which makes the claim to being the “sunny South –East”, Wexford writes Cormac Bradley. As the Race Officer for the weekend, Michael Conway, advised at the prize-giving, there would be many a Frostbite weekend at the club that would be less inhospitable weather-wise than the weekend we had just experienced. The warmth of the welcome and hospitality from Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club can’t be disputed and fortunately was in human hands, so complaining about the weather was all we could do! In truth, the various websites used by the Fireball community to get an indication of the weather were all very pessimistic in the week leading up to the event so nobody could have been under any illusion as to what we were going to get – very strong winds, drizzle, if not rain and grey skies the entire weekend. XCWeather, Windguru and Windfinder were all consistent – expect the worst. We weren’t short-changed!!
The Fireball fleet was joined by the Mermaids, a class combination that we haven’t enjoyed at any event that this scribe can recall and while it appeared that the Mermaids haven’t been in Wexford to race for quite some time, the Fireballs were there as recently as two years ago.
At the race briefing the Race Officer advised that due to the impending forecast – for the significant wind to build as the day wore on – he wouldn’t be taking the combined fleets out to sea, even though as things stood the sea area race-course was sailable. There was an audible sigh of relief as the fleet realised that trying to get under the bridge between the club and the outer sea area canted over with 18 knots blowing wasn’t going to have to be the first exercise of the day. The recommendation was that the racing would take place in the inner harbour where there was enough water provided you didn’t try sailing in the fringes! The Olympic course was prescribed as the course of choice.
The fleet launched in partially sheltered waters as the wind was offshore in direction at the club slipway, but the race area was shrouded in mist and as the lead boats went further offshore it became very apparent that the wind conditions were a lot more robust further out. In particular the “funnel” from Ferrycarrig was very active. A sole Fireball flew spinnaker on the way out to the start area and was very glad of the sea-room that existed to the lee of the start area to get it back down.
In these conditions it wasn’t difficult to understand why the start line wasn’t more vigorously contested; combinations were struggling to get onto the start line just to be competitive. Capsizing is an occupational hazard anyway but a silty/muddy bottom for masts to get stuck in was an additional, though redundant incentive not to fall over in the conditions.
Only two Fireballs managed the race though they did not sail the same configuration, the problem being that while the RO had spoken at the briefing of using the Olympic configuration, the flag flying on the committee boat was for a Windward-Leeward course. And in the mist that only lifted after the start only two yellow marks could be seen. Thus “Boat A” sailed to what it thought was a weather mark, only to find it was a gybe mark and claimed to unwind itself to sail around the right configuration of an Olympic course while “Boat B” went to what it thought was a weather mark, rounded every white mark that might have been a spreader mark, as described in the briefing, in the vicinity of the “weather mark” only to realise it was a gybe mark and stopped racing. The rest of us meantime weren’t trying to distinguish between weather/gybe/spreader/yellow or white marks but rather were trying to pull masts out of the mud/silt, being towed home, or were sailing home under our own steam. Even one of the Mermaids capsized which is something I didn’t think happened. Racing was curtailed and the fleet adjourned prematurely to the clubhouse to debate the merits of what was intended/described versus what had happened on the water with Boats “A” and “B” having opposing views on the fate of the episode on the water. Ultimately the race was abandoned and with more wind forecast for the Sunday, the prospect of a “non-event” raised its head.
An excellent meal was had in “The Yard” restaurant in town on Saturday evening with two wives joining the racing numbers and one helmsman leaving to take advantage of the early finish to proceedings to give attention to his “brownie-points” account. At the dinner table a new all-female Irish Fireball combination was announced with individual coaches appointed to helm and crew respectively combined with a shore based support team. This new team have declared their intention to relocate to a warm weather base for the initial phase of their training and the only clue they would give as to this “away” location is that it has a burgeoning reputation for excellent red wine!!
During Saturday night the breeze appeared to drop but the drizzle/rain feature remained – could we get racing in on Sunday? Yes, we could, but only three boats took to the water. As they sailed off, the rest of us wondered if we had made the wrong call as they seemed to be in control. That is until they had to cross the downwind end of the “Ferrycarrig funnel”. Also, under binocular viewing, the start area was well populated with “white-horses. Again, one spinnaker was flown on the way out.
Two races were completed for the three-boat fleet and the finishing order in both races was the same. Olympic courses were sailed and on the first reach of the first triangle the lead two boats flew spinnaker. One boat carried the bag through the gybe to the second reach while the other dropped before the gybe mark. On the downwind leg of the sausage, the lead two again flew bags, but on the second triangle, spinnakers were not a pre-requisite. Again, viewing under binoculars, crews were high wiring off a very aft position with lots of spray and white water in evidence. In the second race, spinnakers were conspicuous by their absence on the triangles.
Despite the high winds, none of the three boats capsized during the races, but two of the three had a capsize each, one before the racing started and another between races. Coming ashore afterwards, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram reckoned it was the fastest they had “flown” in a Fireball under two sails. Ed Butler described it as “hairy……….very hairy”! The most challenging part of the day was the sail home where there were some vicious gusts with jibs flogging violently simply to avoid being blown over!

Irish Fireball Open Championships
Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club R1 R2 Tot.
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram NYC 15061 1 1 2
2 Conor Clancy & Teddy Byrne RStGYC 14807 2 2 4
3 Frank Miller & Ed Butler DMYC 14713 3 3 6

The next event on the Irish circuit is the Nationals which are due to be hosted by Howth Yacht Club on the weekend of 12 – 14th August. All Irish Fireballers are encouraged to make this event. DBSC Tuesday night racing is ongoing.

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A sextet of Fireballs enjoyed an evening of close racing in sunshine last night and had the additional attraction of two course configurations in the two races writes Cormac Bradley. By mid-afternoon the XCWeather website was suggesting that winds of 7 – 10 knots from the NW would be the order of the evening and with low water scheduled for 18:36, there would be the usual debate as to which way to go relative to the tide. With it being holiday season, a number of regulars were missing and a work commitment took another crew away leaving Noel Butler with a “novice” crew in the form of World GP14 Champion, Shane McCarthy. Frank Miller had this scribe on board but everyone else was sailing with their regular combinations.

A windward-leeward with a downwind finish was signalled for the first race with the weather mark in the lee of the East Pier. An early reconnaissance of the inshore route to the mark by Miller & Bradley (14713) suggested there might be better breeze on the inside of the course. 50m off the start line that didn’t appear to be the case as Miller had the pin to himself, in contrast to the previous Tuesday, but found himself sailing a completely different angle to those who had started towards the committee boat end. Immediately to weather of Miller was Smyth & Fisher (15007) while Butler & McCarthy (15061), Conor & James Clancy (14807) were further to weather again. That meant that Cariosa Power & Marie Barr (14854) and Darragh McDonagh& crew (15058) must have been on the sea side of the beat. The further the fleet went inshore the bigger the divergence between the line being sailed by Miller and the rest of the fleet.

Power & Barry continued the vein of form they found in the first race of the previous Tuesday by rounding in first place followed by Butler, Clancy, Smyth, Miller and McDonagh, with Miller able to stage a semi-recovery over the latter half of the beat.  With the flood starting to influence the course, the challenge going downwind was to stay on a line that permitted rounding of the leeward mark as the tide was pushing boats to the left of the mark.

While the girls were comfortable in front, invariably Butler and Clancy got into closer company and Miller got engaged with Smyth and McDonagh who had closed the gap to Smyth. A two gybe approach to the leeward mark was the common approach but rounding became rather congested when the fleet caught up with the PY fleet (IDRAs, Mermaids & a RS Venture) in the final approach to the leeward mark. There were exchanges of opinion between Butler & Clancy in this manoeuvre but there was nothing to suggest contact. Miller who had squeaked ahead of Smyth was able to utilise a gap that evolved to sneak onto the beat into fourth place.

Up the next beat the fleet went their separate ways and not much happened by way of place changing but the excitement would evolve at the next leeward mark. With a downwind finish and different course lengths set for PY and Fireball, the two of the leading Fireballs, Clancy and Power found themselves on the wrong side of the PY-ers going for a finish line finish while Butler who was on the other side of the PY fleet rounded the leeward mark into first place. Smyth rounded into second followed by Miller and McDonagh while Clancy and Power were left fighting a rear-guard action to get back into the race.

Rounding just behind Smyth at the weather mark, Miller managed to sail through Smyth’s weather on the spinnaker hoist and early stage of the leg. Behind the pair of them the Clancys had closed the gap promoting a three boat competition to the line. Of these three, Miller was in the inshore slot with Smyth “piggy-in-the-middle”. Problem was that Miller would have to gybe to get across to the finish – could he eke out enough room to clear the other two. With each keeping a wary eye on the other two, they sailed in close company towards the finish. Clancy gybed first, followed immediately by Smyth and then Miller who gained enough of a gap and momentum from the gybe to cross the line ahead of Clancy who sneaked it ahead of Smyth.

With the wind still healthy but starting to drop off a little in strength, an Olympic course was set for the second race with the weather mark staying where it was. An adjusted line facilitated a port tack start by Butler & McCarthy, Miller & Bradley went inshore and the others did the same to varying degrees. This time the inshore route did pay as Miller rounded first, albeit with Clancy and Butler in very, very close company. At the gybe mark, Clancy got to weather of Miller and shortly thereafter Butler too went through his weather. However, the new front two didn’t get overly far away and indeed at the leeward mark Butler was having to call for an inside boat advantage on Miller who, in turn, was asking the same of an outside IDRA.

With Clancy now watching Butler, the pair of them went inshore leaving Miller to go offshore - surely there must be a beneficial tide out there! It may have been as Miller closed the gap on the front two, crossing transoms as he made his final approach to the weather mark. The order was still Clancy, Butler and Miller but now Power was closing the gap and not far behind her was Smyth.

For the remainder of the race, the order didn’t change despite different approaches to the final beat. But, fifty metres from the finish…………….there was an incident that changed one boat’s fortune for the evening!

The swim! As the fleet closed out on the second reach of the second triangle, the tide was pushing the it the wrong side of the leeward mark which was now a limit mark for the finish line with the committee boat flying a shortened course signal – at least that was our interpretation as we contemplated the gybe to get to the right hand-side of the mark and defend our position from the ever-advancing Power. Easy downwind gybe, nice roll…………but as Bradley went for the pole at the mast, the mast itself became the horizon rather than the waterline. A windward roll and capsize in 7/8 knots of breeze was further compounded as the centre board dropped back into the case as the boat turtled.  3rd place gone! The post mortem suggested that there hadn’t been enough board down. At least the water wasn’t too cold!

DBSC Series 2: Tuesday 5th July R1 R2
1 Noel Butler & Shane McCarthy 15061 NYC 1 2
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 3 1
3 Cariosa Power & Marie Barry 14854 NYC 5 3
4 Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher 15007 Coal Harb. 4 4
5 Frank Miller & Cormac Bradley 14713 DMYC 2 6
6 Darragh McDonagh & Crew 15058 Coal Harb. 6 5

In overall terms Series 2 stands as follows;

DBSC Series 2: Tuesdays
1 Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061 NYC 11
2 Conor & James Clancy 14807 RStGYC 15
3 Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly 14713 DMYC 16
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Last night’s edition of the Dublin Bay Sailing Club’s Fireball racing was, to use the football parlance, a game of two halves. In the first half a reasonable breeze out of the SE (approximately) gave the 8-boat Fireball fleet an interesting time on the water writes Cormac Bradley. By my reckoning high tide was close to race start time but from the east pier, the committee boat appear to be swinging to a combination of tide and wind giving a very curious angle of the start line relative to the weather mark, which was situated in the direction of the 40-foot bathing spot.

Three boats fought to secure the pin-end of the start line – Cariosa Power & Marie Barry (14854), the Clancy brothers, Conor & James (14807) and Frank Miller & Ed Butler (14713). A second sound signal immediately after the start prompted all three to go back and restart. Thereafter, Power & Barry headed inshore while the balance of the fleet went offshore, before Louis Smyth & Glenn Fisher (15007) became the first boat in the offshore pack to peel off and follow Power & Barry.

After a clean star and good first half of the beat, Darragh McDonagh & crew (15058) were well placed in the pecking order. At the top mark the running order was, rather surprisingly, Team Clancy, Smyth & Fisher and Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691). It says a lot about the vagaries of the first beat that one of the three boats that went back at the start was leading! McKenna & O’Keeffe quickly went through Smyth & Fisher and the remainder of the fleet gybed inside these front three…………with the exception of Power & Barry who headed offshore. Given that the tide may just have turned, this did not appear to be the way to go.

Halfway down the run, with gybes aplenty for everyone except the two girls on the offshore track, the fleet was spread across 200m with Power on the outside and Noel Butler & Peter Doherty (15061) on the inside of the course.

At the leeward mark rounding, Power & Barry rounded clear ahead, followed by Team Clancy and McKenna & O’Keeffe rounding simultaneously but hampered by an IDRA 14. Mary Chambers, breaking in a new crew, Ian (14865) rounded fourth, while another IDRA 14 slowed the rounding of Miller & Butler, followed by Butler & Doherty, Smyth & Fisher and McDonagh. All went offshore with the exception of Miller & Butler who went hard inshore. Halfway up the beat Team Clancy appeared to take a penalty on the water.

By the second windward mark Power & Barry were comfortably ahead and again adopted their offshore approach to the downwind leg. McKenna & O’Keeffe rounded second and followed them. Team Clancy were third, followed by Miller, Chambers, Smyth, McDonagh and Butler. Again, the chasing pack used a number of variants to get to the leeward mark, but Power’s simpler approach was still paying dividends. Behind her, the pecking order was altered again when Butler went from 8th to 5th but McKenna & Clancy were unchallenged in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

At the final weather mark, Butler & Doherty had gained another place, to fourth and they would go on to gain another place in the downwind leg. Initially Power & Barry looked very comfortable on the downwind leg, but McKenna & O’Keeffe had a powerful run to close the gap considerably and the leaders may have nibbling at fingernails as their lead was being eroded. They held on to win by a few boat-lengths with McKenna & O’Keeffe second, Butler & Doherty third, Team Clancy fourth and Miller & Butler 5th.

At this stage the ominous grey cloud that had been hovering in the area delivered on its promise of rain and for a short period the wind strength went up as well. It the space of 5-10 minutes a semi-pleasant evening, in terms of temperature, turned blustery, cold and a mist descended over Scotsman’s Bay. It also introduced a 180˚ change in the wind direction with the breeze coming over the east pier wall from the west.

The committee boat relocated itself halfway down the original course and re-set for another windward-leeward. The rain squall cost the fleet two boats, so only six came under starter’s orders for the second race of the evening.

Yet again there was a three-way fight for the pin, with serial combatants Miller and Clancy joined by McDonagh this time. However, as there was a “normal” start line, they kept their noses clean this time. McKenna & O’Keeffe were keeping out of trouble at the committee boat end. In between, Butler & Doherty also negotiated safe passage away from the start-line but the winners of the first race, Power & Barry seemed to be in trouble early on in this race as they headed offshore in the opposite direction to everyone else. From early on Butler & Doherty set the pace working the port hand side of the course, seeming to keep a loose cover on Team Clancy, their closest opposition. At the top weather mark in what seemed to be a “conventional” beat, Butler led from Clancy, Miller, McDonagh, McKenna and Power. At the spreader mark, Clancy gybed and went offshore while the others held an inshore line initially before they too went offshore.

At the leeward mark Butler had a slow drop but got off lightly as Clancy’s rounding was hindered by an IDRA 14. For the following beat, Butler applied a loose cover on Clancy while behind them McKenna and Miller were sailing in close company with Miller having the upper hand at the leeward mark, an advantage he would lose by the second weather mark as McKenna adopted an offshore approach to the second beat.

The second downwind leg saw Butler & Clancy stay within relatively close quarters of each other, nothing aggressive but following similar general directions towards the leeward mark. McDonagh broke the trend of going offshore for the second run, but it didn’t gain him any places. With the fleet running away from my vantage point, it was difficult to see the relative positions of the boats as they worked their way downwind but at the finish it appeared that Team Clancy had out-manoeuvred Butler & Doherty to take the win (subsequently confirmed by Butler) with McKenna & O’Keeffe holding off Miller & Butler and McDonagh & crew being comfortable relative to Power & Barry.

DBSC Tuesday Nights: 28th June 2016 R1 R2
Conor & James Clancy RStGYC 14807 4 1
Noel Butler & Peter Doherty NYC 15061 3 2
Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe RStGYC 14691 2 3
Cariosa Power & Marie Barry NYC 14854 1 6
Frank Miller & Ed Butler DMYC 14713 5 4


The Fireball “action” this weekend is the Royal St George one-day regatta with two races scheduled on Saturday. The following weekend we travel to Wexford for the Open Championships which will be sailed in conjunction with a Mermaid regatta. If you haven’t already committed to going to Wexford, we would like to hear from you to see if we can help you to get you there.

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