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Irish Fireball National Championship at Lough Derg Yacht Club - Overall

by Cormac Bradley 19 Sep 2017 14:45 BST 15-17 September 2017

Noel Butler and Simon Revill are the 2017 Irish Fireball National Champions winning seven of the nine races that concluded with two light air affairs on Sunday 17th September.

Indeed, I think the mathematics meant that the pair didn't have to sail on Sunday, but Noel professes to enjoying sailing so much that there was no question that he wouldn't complete the series on the water. For Revill, this gives him a 2017 double – he is one half of the IDRA 14 National Champion crew, sailed a few weeks ago in Galway on the west coast. A further testament to his effort this weekend is that he was suffering with flu the entire weekend and at one stage admitted to Noel that he didn't think he could finish a particular race he was feeling so weak.

Sunday provided a pleasant close to the proceedings! Race Officer Liam Moloney was minutes away from "blowing it off" when a fickle breeze came in from an easterly direction and built sufficiently to persuade him that at the very least a single race could be sailed. With a postponement signal flying from the committee boat's mast rather than ashore he was able to get the fleet out quickly to provide a sunshine finale to the regatta.

While Butler/Revill were very secure in 1st Overall, the gap between second and third was only two points, in favour of Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer of Skerries Sailing Club sailing 13938, and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey of Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club sailing 14775. Both were out on the water early to "suss out" the racecourse. While a windward/leeward was contemplated given the light conditions, the RO decided an Olympic configuration could be contemplated. After the start, seven boats went to one side and Colin & Casey went the other.

Their bravery/confidence in detaching themselves from the rest of the fleet was vindicated when they rounded the weather mark first and were never headed again. They were followed home by the "pink ladies" Louise McKenna & Hermine O'Keeffe (14691) and the new National Champions.

McGrotty & Cramer finished seventh which meant there was everything to play for between McGrotty & Colin in the ninth and final race. The breeze had developed a bit more strength to the extent that there was some off-wind trapezing required on the reaches – not full-on but enough to justify the decision to race. McGrotty/Cramer led the first two-thirds of the race but Butler was never too far away and on the second beat, to the last weather mark they were passed out by Butler/Revill who then led around the final triangle with McGrotty, at most, two boat-lengths off their transom.

In the short hitch to the finish a covering match took place and McGrotty threw one perfect dummy tack that Butler swallowed "hook line and sinker" but it was not quite enough to get McGrotty into the cherished 1st place. In the meantime all Colin could do was watch from third place as he was too far off to influence the proceedings.

In the end, McGrotty & Cramer's 2nd place was not quite enough to protect their second place overall.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelm & CrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9Pts
115061Noel Butler & Simon RevillNational Yacht Club1121111317
214775Neil Colin & Margaret CaseyDun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club24125371316
314938Niall McGrotty & Neil CramerSkerries Sailing Club33332227217
414691Louise McKenna & Hermine O'KeeffeRoyal St. George Yacht Club76754432428
514748Jon Evans & Aidan CaulfieldSligo Yacht Club52648846734
614990Grattan Donnelly & Joe O'ReillyRoyal St. George Yacht Club67463658837
714713Frank Miller & Ed ButlerDun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club4557*6765637
814865Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuireDun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club8888*7584545

* The score card shows these as being DNF, but that is a gremlin.

The event was sailed in parallel with the Mirrors' Southern Championships and the host club's Harvest Regatta which generated a fleet of Shannon One Designs and three Squibs. While Liam Moloney managed the Fireball and Mirror racing, son Damien ran the domestic racing and both "tick-tacked" with each other to ensure that races were started when fleets were available to start rather than waiting for everyone to re-assemble. Thus, Mirrors were started while Fireballs were racing and vice-versa and SODs and Squibs used the start line when it was vacated by the Fireballs and Squibs. Thus, for the Fireballs, three days of almost seamless racing was provided by Liam and his team with three races on Friday and four on Saturday.

Ashore, the hospitality team led by Rear Commodore Ann Atkinson ensured that a warm welcome was extended to everyone with scones on Saturday morning, the bar opened when the fleets came ashore and an exceptional barbeque with salads and a dessert spread that the Great British Bake-Off would be proud of on the Saturday night. The prize-giving was preceded by tea/coffee and pastries, again as a consequence of Ann and her team.

In his "thank-you" comments, Class Chairman Neil Cramer extended an invitation to the Mirror fleet to try out the Fireball and advised that contact could be made through the Class' Facebook site or by email.

The Silver fleet was won by Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield, with Grattan Donnelly & Joe O'Reilly the runners-up.

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