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RPS Irish Fireball Nationals at Royal Cork Yacht Club

by Irish Fireball Association 31 Jul 2007 08:04 BST 27-29 July 2007
Action from the RPS Irish Fireball nationals © Irish Fireball Association

Butler & Moore win the RPS Fireball National Championships

The Royal Cork YC was the venue for this year’s RPS sponsored Fireball National championship, over the past weekend. A considerably strong fleet gathered, with visitors from the UK travelling to compete against the best Ireland had to offer. Amongst the pre regatta favourites were the teams of Clancy/Rowan, following their impressive victory at the Dun Laoghaire regatta, Butler/Moore who had won two of the three ranking events this year, and Bracken/O’Hara who had shown impressive form in the three previous events.

The Fireball has seen a resurgence in the younger realms with teams such as Boyle/Byrne and O’Toole/McNally also hoping to impress. Travelling from the UK were teams like the World and European Champions of Andy Smith and James Cooper and Dave Wade and Ben Dunton. These were joined on the journey westward by the legendary Richard Estaugh and Andy Thompson, and John Curzon and Peter Elver.

Friday saw the start of racing with 15knots of breeze and a choppy sea. An Olympic course was set and it would be the visiting boats of Wade/Dunton and Estaugh/Thompson who would be led to the windward mark by the Irish team of Butler/Moore. Closely followed by Bracken/O’Hara. A mistake on the 2nd beat let Butler/Moore rescind the lead to Estaugh/Thompson. So the story of the weekend was to be of shifty winds and strong tide. Race one was won by Estaugh/Thompson followed by Wade/Dunton The team of Boyle/Byrne put in a strong performance to finish here in 5th, in what was to be the best event for the young guns.

Races two and three followed a similar pattern, with Estaugh/Thompson, Wade/Dunton and Smith/Cooper all swapping the leads. Consistency was the name of the game for the Irish teams with Butler/Moore scoring 6,3,3,3 and the Dumore East team of Murphy/Voye scoring 12,4,4,4. Four races in trying conditions left the fleet tired on returning to shore, seven hours on the water is a long time in these battling conditions. Friday evening saw a foreign body in the skies above Crosshaven, I believe in some countries it is called the sun. So the Barbeque was rolled out and a fine evening of wining and dining followed. Early bed was the order of the day, unless of course you were sleeping in a tent, in which case the party went onto the small hours.

Saturday dawned with the vision of a glass lake on the coast of Cork. But the Race Officer summoned the fleet to the start line for an on time start. Breeze filled in and conditions were 5/8 knots when racing started. Race five was again to be an Olympic course, which again Butler/Moore led to the windward mark, followed closely by Estaugh/Thompson. A luffing match in mid fleet, let these two teams slip away and they were never to be caught. It was however Estaugh/Thompson who crossed the line first, only to be OCS’d. So it was Butler/Moore who took the bullet, followed by Clancy/Rowan and then Wade/Dunton.

Race six, and two of the day saw a port end favoured link, and when the breeze shifted again by 30 degrees, it saw the fleet fetching to the windward mark. It was Estaugh/Thompson who put the OCS in the previous race behind them to lead the fleet from start to finish. Followed by Smith/Cooper who also put their OCS behind them to finish 2nd. Curzon/Elver who made it a british one, two, three.

Race seven saw a windward leeward course set. Boyle/Byrne got a cracking start and lead the fleet for much of the race, but it was Wade/Dunton who eventually passed the young guns to take 1st. Smith/Cooper took 3rd. This race saw a return to form for Clancy/Rowan with a 4th.

So after another gruelling day the fleet retired to dinner at the club. This was to be the prize giving for the Dun Laoghaire regatta, and the open meeting held over the same weekend. Dancing was to follow with the mighty Frankie Zappa. A excellent night was had by all. Heading into the final day the fight for the Irish Nationals had now becoming a two horse race, between Butler/Moore and Murphy/Voye. At the top of the open meeting it was Wade/Dunton who were setting the standard, followed by the other UK hotshots.

Sunday dawned with no wind, and so it saw the fleet being towed to the race area in the hope of sea breeze. Finally it filled to about 8 knots and a Olympic course was set. Conor Clancy and Francis Rowan’s form returned and it saw the team lead the fleet to the windward mark, The reach turned into a run, then a beat which saw the OOD shorten the course to finish after the first lap. Clancy and Rowan were gradually reeled in by the UK combinations thus finishing 4th on the water. This race saw Butler/Moore loose covering the Waterford team of Murphy/Voye to finish 7th relative to Murphy/Voye in 10th. Boyle/Bryne showed great form to finish 5th in this race, with blistering speed in the light conditions.

Race two started in the same vein, and a windward Leeward course was set. Again it was Clancy/Rowan to lead followed by Estaugh/Thompson and Boyle/Byrne. Racing was again cut short in the slackening breeze, It was Clancy/Rowan who won, followed by the 4th UK combination of John Curzon and Peter Elver, with Conor Byrne & Leo Bishop in 3rd place.

And so it was the team of Noel Butler and Seamus Moore who kept their consistent form to take the Irish National title, a fine performance from a team who were never outside the top 10 this weekend. Conor Clancy and Francis Rowan’s return to form saw them clinch 2nd, and the young guns of Andy Boyle and Teddy Byrne made it their first podium finish of their Fireball career. David Wade and Ben Dunton took the open title, representing a successful defence of the 2006 title won by Dave in Fenit last year. Richard Estaugh and Andy Thompson finished second and Andy Smith and James Cooper took 3rd.

The Gold two fleet again saw close competition throughout the event. It is fast becoming the show ground of new talent in the fireball fleet, and so it was Conor O’Toole and Daire Mc Nally who took the title, a great result from the Skerries team. Hopefully they can bring this success with them to the Worlds next month. Jon Evans and Adrian Caulfield took second and Class Secretary Frank Miller & Ismail Inan took third.

The Silver fleet was won by the Coal Harbour combination of John Dunne and Matt Barnes, followed by Brian Nolan and Tim Leonard of Clontarf with Marguerite O’Rourke and Dara McDonagh of Dun Laoghaire Motor & Yacht Club third.

Overall Results:

National Championship
1st Noel Butler & Seamus Moore (DMYC/SSC)
2nd Conor Clancy & Francis Rowan (RstGYC/NYC)
3rd Andy Boyle & Brian Bryne (RIYC/WSC)

Open Championship
1st Dave Wade & Ben Dunton (Stokes Bay Sailing Club)
2nd Richard Estaugh & Andy Thompson (Speed Sails)
3rd Andy Smith & James Cooper (Notts County Sailing Club)

Gold Two Fleet
1st Conor O’Toole & Daire McNally (Skerries Sailing Club)
2nd Jon Evans & Aidan Caulfield (Clontarf)
3rd Frank Miller & Ismail Inan (DMYC)

Silver Fleet
1st John Dunne & Matt Barnes (Coal Harbour)
2nd Brian Nolan & Tim Leonard (Clontarf)
3rd Marguerite O’Rourke & Dara McDonagh (DMYC)

The domestic Fireball scene in Ireland now takes a break to accommodate those who will be sailing the August events of the World Championships in Silvaplana in Switzerland, preceded by the pre worlds in Lake Garda. A strong Irish contingent will be led by the Butler/Moore combination who will hope to build on their regatta success in Cork.

Special thanks must go to RPS Consulting Engineers ( for their sponsorship of the event. Ireland’s largest multi-disciplinary consulting engineers, RPS employ approximately 900 people in Ireland on both sides of the border with offices in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Letterkenny. In addition they have a substantial presence in the UK and are listed on the London Stock Exchange. An international company, with operations as far afield as the USA, Canada and Australia, they can provide a multitude of services. The structural nature of their business certainly secured the foundations of this great championship.

Thanks also to International Race Officer Peter Crowley and his team, for their superb race management. With favourable conditions for the regatta on Friday, Peter and his team turned races around in very quick time to get four races in thus ensuring that a regatta was completed with a discard for the fleet at the end of Day 1. Saturday and Sunday were to prove more challenging, but ultimately the nine races were sailed thus affording everyone a second discard.

Thanks too, to the Royal Cork Yacht Club for an excellent event and venue. Famed for their biennial Cork Week, they showed why they are so highly regarded by their hospitality and warmth of welcome and ability to accommodate the fleet over the three days.

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