For Irish Fireballers sailing in Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club’s Frostbite Series, the morning of Sunday 11th March might as well have been Sunday 10th June such was the weather – clear blue skies, temperatures to 14 degrees and a very light breeze. This correspondent was able to finish off washing the car in short sleeves such was the balminess of the day.
Fireball fleet action
However, as the afternoon approached the blue skies gave way to grey clouds and the temperature, while still pleasant for March, dropped off, to the extent that my stroll to the harbour to view the racing was undertaken with a hat and gloves.
Fourteen Fireballs took to the water in very genteel conditions, though the consensus in the bar of the DMYC afterwards, where we watched the second half of France versus England from Paris – 'Allez les Blancs' – was that the breeze was very twitchy and that it was quite cool.
The shiftiness of the breeze was certainly confirmed for me as an observer on the shore when not only the beats but the two reaches seemed to promote lots of place changing. I watched the middle two laps of the 4-lap race and could see that the decision on the beat was whether to take a hitch to the left at the leeward mark and then sail up to the weather mark on port, or sail up to the weather mark immediately, leaving the starboard hitch to the end of the leg. In the two beats I watched both approaches paid for different individuals on successive betas.
The first reach looked very tight and I was amazed to see Kenny Rumball and Dave Moran mis-judge the tightness of the leg to lose the lead (at that stage) to Neil Spain and Hugh Butler when the latter pair sailed over the top of them. Tightly sheeted spinnakers were the order of the day for the entire fleet on that first reach.
The second reach saw the fleet fan out across the course, quite a feat considering the shortness of the leg, but it was apparent that there were different streams of breeze across the course. Mick Creighton, sailing with Ciaran Hickey gybed immediately and pursued a course down the middle of the course. Out the other side, Butler and Oram, Rumball and Moran and Colin and Casey sailed past the gybe mark to chase wind on the outside of the course.
Creighton/Hickey certainly closed the gap on the leading boats with this manoeuvre and the lead changed hands with Rumball/Moran losing out to Spain/Butler. Amazingly though, on the very next beat, a decision to take a hitch to the left saw Spain/Butler give the lead back again to Rumball/Moran which they held to ultimately take the race.
By their standards, Butler/Oram had a bad day at the office, which started with the start signal. With a committee boat bias, the fleet had assembled ………at the committee boat and they found themselves shut out. They spent the afternoon sniping at the boats in front of them (while I was watching) fluctuating between second and fourth, while ultimately securing third. Performance of the day must go to Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keefe who took a very creditable fourth on the water followed home by Neil Colin and Margaret Casey.
The score sheet reflected that two boats had a head-start on the rest of the fleet so there were only twelve finishers and the post mortem in the bar suggested that one other boat should be considering whether they had adhered to all the rules on their way round the course.
The day’s mugs went to Sligo Yacht Club’s Peter Armstrong (15060) sailing with a newcomer to Fireballs, Oscar McCullough, for whom today was his second sail in a Fireball.
Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club Frostbites; Series 2; 11th March 2012
1 Kenny Rumball and David Moran 15058 Irish National Sailing Club
2 Neil Spain and Hugh Butler 14807 Royal St. George Yacht Club
3 Noel Butler and Stephen Oram 15061 National Yacht Club/DMYC
4 Louise McKenna and Hermine O’Keefe 14691 Royal St. George Yacht Club
5 Neil Colin and Margaret Casey 14775 Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club
In Series 2, the competition between first and second overall remains a 1pt challenge between Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (15061) and Kenny Rumball and Dave Moran (15058). A similar 1pt gap exists between third and fourth overall where the challengers for the third podium place are Neil Colin and Margaret Casey (14775) and John Chambers/Neil Spain and Hugh Butler (14807). Fifth overall are Alistair Court and Gordon Syme who are only 3pts adrift of fourth overall.
Today saw the first posting of the combined Series 1 and 2 scores and here again the margin between first and second is down to a single point. Third, fourth and fifth overall are secure relative to each other and at this late stage in the competition, with only two races left, the only question to be resolved is; Who will be the 2011/12 Frostbite Champions?
Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club Frostbites; Series 2 Overall
1 Noel Butler and Stephen Oram 15061 9pts
2 Kenny Rumball and Dave Moran 15058 10pts
3 Neil Colin and Margaret Casey 14775 31pts
4 John Chambers/Neil Spain and Hugh Butler 14807 32pts
5 Alistair Court and Gordon Syme 14706 35pts
Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club Frostbites - Series 1 and 2 Combined
1 Noel Butler and Stephen Oram 15061 17pts
2 Kenny Rumball and Dave Moran 15058 18pts
3 John Chambers/Neil Spain and Hugh Butler 14807 50pts
4 Neil Colin and Margaret Casey 14775 62pts
5 Alistair Court and Gordon Syme 14706 66pts
Despite next Sunday being the day after St Patrick’s Day, with all the potential consequences of recognizing our national heritage and the post mortem of England versus Ireland from Twickenham, there will be a Frostbite race, the penultimate of the Series.