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Vaikobi 2021 FlexForce - LEADERBOARD

Flying Fifteen Thursday evening racing at Dublin Bay Sailing Club - Race 7

by Cormac Bradley 6 Aug 22:57 PDT 15 July 2021

Mother Nature challenges us all!

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 area 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.

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