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Plas Menai 2015

Fireball Open Championship and Classics at Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club

by Cormac Bradley on 16 Jun 2014 14-15 June 2014

The Irish Fireball Class enjoyed a weekend of positives this past weekend at Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club when they sailed their Open Championship and Classic Fireball events. The overall turnout of 21 boats was a huge positive in an era where we have seen pressure on the numbers attending regattas. The Silver fleet had a very healthy turnout of 7 boats, there were three "wooden deckers" contesting the Classic Event and a number of the home based fleet joined us for the racing. The sun shone, it was warm and the only real inconsistency was the wind – details later.

In the Classis Event Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) showed that hull age isn't an obstacle to success when they put three top ten results on their scorecard (7, 4, 5) to finish in a very commendable 6th place overall. Dara & Niall McDonagh (14330) had three scores just outside the top ten to take 2nd place in the Classics, where Henry Rice and Tim McAuley (14244) finished third.

Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) won the Silver fleet with four top ten finishes with the McDonagh brothers, Dara and Niall (14330) in second place. This result gives Mary & Brenda a perfect Silver fleet score as they also won this division at the Ulsters in Ballyholme a few weeks ago.

Another combination with a perfect score over two regattas is Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella (15114) who added this title to their Ulster title. They didn't wind a single race here in Clontarf but put together four second places to take the title, after discard, by a single point.

Kenneth Rumball (15058) used two crews over the weekend, Brian Byrne (Saturday) and Shane McCarthy (Sunday), to take second place overall, courtesy in large part to a win in the last race from what appeared to be a hopeless position down the fleet. Given the conditions, this was an incredible individual race result. Rumball and his "crews" won three of the six races, but also had a "22" to discard – maybe a start line transgression.

The fact that Rumball and McCarthy won the last race combined with a drop from 1st to 5th was the undoing of the third placed combination, Team Clancy, Conor and James, who led the last race at the last leeward mark, but fell away to fifth at the finish – a situation that Clancy later claimed cost him the regatta. They won two races.

The last race win, on Sunday morning, went to Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (15061) who by their standards (and former results) had a poor weekend. For the first time in a very long time they had a double digit finish on their score card which was later discarded, but a solitary race win and only one other result inside the top three makes this a weekend they might prefer to forget.

There were some other performances worthy of special mention, over and above the ones already mentioned – Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) had a great weekend with four podium places in individual races and a worst discard of 8th, to finish fourth overall. Mick Creighton & Hugh Johnson (14698) also enjoyed the weekend with four top ten finishes and relative newcomers Alan Henry & Simon Revill (14645) will have enjoyed the fourth place in the last race.

Race Officer Ian Sergeant deserves huge praise for persisting with the weather and getting six races in! At the briefing on the Saturday morning he advised that with the forecast being what is was (light and variable), he was contemplating racing inside the harbour. Of course the fact that the big boats were struggling to race the ICRA Championships in the main body of Dublin Bay was a substantial indication of the actual wind conditions on the water as opposed to what the forecast was saying. (ICRA had very limited race completion on Saturday.)

A further signal to the conditions was the fact that Ian advised that Windward-Leewards would be sailed until the wind settled – Mother Nature didn't allow him that option on Saturday so we sailed three of these. It was the sort of day when a seven-faced dice would have been useful! For those fans of The Big Bang Theory, one could imagine Mother Nature shouting "Bazinga" every time she inflicted another wind change on the Race Officer and the fleet. The wind was light and fickle meaning that Ian and his team had to change the course for every race – swinging the weather mark left or right (and back again) to try and get a decent starting beat in!

And even then the wind didn't stay for the second beat. The middle race on Saturday started well, but a wind shift to starboard effectively made the second beat a fetch and thus the race became processional. Another shift in the last race of the day forced Ian to shorten course at the second rounding of the top mark of the last race.

Overnight the cut-off for the last start on Sunday afternoon was extended by three-quarters of an hour. (ICRA started an hour earlier, prompted by the same condition.) Unusually, we had a second briefing from the Race Officer on Sunday morning – to confirm the extension to the cut-off for the last race start and to advise of the weather forecast which offered 5 more knots than the day before but from a less consistent direction – we were racing inside again!

In truth we did get more wind, allowing trapezes to be used for the first time. Regrettably more breeze did not bring more consistency and the snakes and ladders character of the first day extended into the second day – just ask Louis Smyth, Niall McGrotty and Conor Clancy, who saw race leads evaporate (snakes) and Kenneth Rumball who climbed a huge ladder to take the final race of the day.

As ever the hospitality of Clontarf was commendable with teas and coffees available on both mornings, a generously proportioned barbeque on Saturday evening and sandwiches available after racing on Sunday.

Overall Results:

PosHelm & CrewSail No ClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella15114RStGYC43222211
2Kenneth Rumball & Brian Byrne/Shane McCarthy15058INSC211227112
3Conor & James Clancy14807RStGYC16391516
4Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer14938Skerries32738318
5Noel Butler & Stephen Oram15061NYC551213822
6Neil Colin & Margaret Casey14775DMYC71041151637
7Mick Creighton & Hugh Johnson14698Clontarf1511854937
8Alan Henry & Simon Revill14645 13951210440
9Louise McKenna & Joe O'Reilly14691RStGYC91666121144
10Louis Smyth & Cormac Bradley15007Coal Harb.614114141045

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