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Fireball Leinster Campionship at Blessington Sailing Club

by Frank Miller 12 Jul 11:46 PDT 9-10 July 2022
Fireball Leinsters at Blessington Sailing Club © Frank Miller

Barry McCartin and Teddy Byrne were crowned the new Fireball Leinster champions at Blessington Sailing Club at the weekend. The pair won every race in the 19 boat fleet with top class boatspeed and brilliant picks of wind zones.

Race one on Saturday saw light and tricky winds from a northerly direction which shifted up to 80 degrees during the race. The first downwind leg of the triangular course in particular was difficult to judge and the fleet spread out over a wide area as sailors picked high angles to keep their boats moving. While there were winners and loosers downwind in general places did not change that much. Race officer Joe Crilly decided very sensibly to shorten the race after one round to the start/finish line a little up the beat. Unfortunately although a rib and an S flag signalled the intention to all sailors at the leeward mark this particular method of shortening was not accounted for in the Sailing Instructions and the race was thrown out following a protest from Noel Butler/Stephen Oram who scored an 8th in that race after a difficult start.

After that finish the wind continued to swing around and never settled enough to set a course. The race committee took pity on the competitors in the sweltering heat and sent everyone ashore to wait for a reasonable breeze to settle in. Ashore Fireballers were treated to a terrific barbecue put on by a team of club volunteers.

The breeze did fill a couple of hours later and competitors launched again to sail two races with the breeze now Southerly. Again McCartin/Byrne led the way around the course in both races by careful choices of wind zones and angles and judicious tacking and loose covering decisions. Conditions were very tricky and those who found boat speed and made good tactical decisions found their way to the front. Jane Butler sailing with her "old" 420/470 crew Jenny Andreasson played a blinder with two seconds and a third. This placed them in second overall overnight despite race 1 being thrown out.

Her brother Ed Og, Sailing with Ismail Inan, were in third position but the lost race demoted them and Adrian Lee/Ossian Geraghty took over that position. With the stunning weather many sailors camped by the lakeshore and the whole scene resembled the Italian riviera rather than the typical Wicklow landscape. More barbecues, shared meals, shared drinks and shared stories were the order of the evening.

Sunday dawned extremely hot but windless, which was the forecast all along. The postponement flag went up and stayed up and by early lunchtime race officer Joe Crilly made the absolutely correct call to abandon racing for the day. Hanging around for a couple of hours in blazing sunshine gave Irish measurer Owen Sinnott the opportunity to brief the class on what to expect at the measurement checking process at the forthcoming Gul Fireball Worlds in Lough Derg. With 75 boats now registered everyone is keen to have a smooth, fair and fast checking process.

The becalmed conditions also allowed some re-measuring of sails where old measurement stamps had faded to invisibility. After another great barbecue generously provided by the BSC volunteer team prize-giving took place outdoors in idyllic conditions. Besides the above overall winners Brenda Nash and husband Glen Fisher deservedly took the Silver Fleet prize. The junior team prize was won by Max Cully and Lisa Flynn. The lemon prizes were awarded randomly to Nick Miller and Pat McGoldrick for their lack of a boatname, something of a Fireball class habit!

One of the most charming moments at prize-giving was seeing young helper James Geraghty present his father Ossian with his third prize. The class made their traditional presentation to Joe Crilly for his solid race management in very shifty winds, and in addition to commodore Richard Street, the human dynamo who pulled the whole event together.

A particular feature of this event was the incredible welcome and hospitality provided to the class at their first appearance in Blessington in many years. The warmth and energy of the volunteer ethic at the club literally shone through the whole event. The appearance of so many new faces, both young and not so young augurs well for the future of the class.

Next up for Fireballs is their Nationals at Lough Derg, the prequel to the Gul Fireball Worlds in August. Blessington provided a testing ground for sailors to practice their light air skills which will surely be useful at some stage over the week long Worlds, though everyone will be praying for good winds on that very much larger lake.

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