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Flying Fifteen Rudder Bag
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Flying Fifteen Facet Trophy at Dublin Bay Sailing Club

by Cormac Bradley 3 Aug 15:42 BST 31 July 2021
Niall Coleman (centre) and Susan Halpenny winners of the Flying Fifteen Facet Trophy presented by Facet Jeweller's Pat Shannon © Cormac Bradley

The Facet Trophy for Flying Fifteens on Dublin Bay is unique in that it is the only event within the DBSC Flying Fifteen Series where the trophy is presented on the day of the racing. This is due to the fact that it was primarily intended to encourage the Flying Fifteen fleet to race on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland. In recent years it has been hotly contested and 2021 was no exception with one high-profile "Fifteener" procuring the services of an Irish Olympian to helm on the day.

The name of the trophy is due to the fact that the sponsor is a local Dun Laoghaire jeweller and the owner, Mr Pat Shannon, is currently the Commodore of one of Dun Laoghaire's four seafront yacht clubs, the Royal Irish.

The forecast for the day promised very light winds, of the order of 4-5 knots which were forecast to move from NNW to NE during the course of the afternoon and with hindsight, Race Officer Eddie Totterdell would have taken that with open arms! Instead, we arrived in the race area with light winds as forecast except that as race time approached the wind from the NNW quarter disappeared and a southerly wind came in in its place. That would have been manageable, except that the big boat classes started their race on time in the western part of the bay with the forecast winds from the NNW. Indeed, one of the more readily identifiable big boats, the Sisk-owned WoW, was able to sail a longish upwind leg and the following off-wind leg in this breeze while the Fifteens and other Green Fleet classes were sailing in a southerly and then no wind at all.

The Race Officer persisted, and we set off in what appeared to be a reasonably steady but light breeze from a southerly direction. Wishful thinking! Fourteen Fifteens started with two boats called for being OCS. With a flooding tide in such light winds, the sensible thing to do was to go inshore, where there would be less strength in the tide. And the boats that did that seemed to be rewarded - Niall Coleman and Susan Halpenny, aka Mr & Mrs N Coleman (4008) were to feature prominently and consistently at the front of the fleet, starting at the first mark of a 2-lap Windward-Leeward course. Others at the head of the fleet at this early stage were Ger Owens & Alan Green (4083), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028), Alan Balfe & Tom Galvin (3995) and Tom Murphy & Carel (4057) - though the latter combination would have their minds on later events off the water in Cape Town. Other combinations enjoying a good race early on included Peter Sherry & Mick Quinn (3749) and Joe Coughlan & Andrew (3913).

This correspondent was having a more difficult day, forced left early on when the declared intent had been to go right, things went from bad to worse when the combination of a foul tide, relative to rounding the windward mark, and fading breeze necessitated multiple tacks to get around the mark - race over potentially.

As the race progressed, the wind became even more fickle, in strength and direction. At one stage on the second "beat" we were sailing away from the mark, almost in the opposite direction to where we needed to go. In conditions like these the various fleets on the course were concertinaing with Ruffians, Mermaids and Sportsboats all looking to find zephyrs of wind on the same patch of water!

Regrettably, I can't afford a blow-by-blow account of activity at the head of the fleet - I was not close enough, but there was movement and the interaction with boats from other fleets, unavoidable in the circumstances, may have also influenced the eventual outcome. The Colemans, Colin and Owens monopolised the head of the fleet - at least judging by spinnaker colours and certainly Colin & Casey laid claim to occupying first, second third and ultimately fourth place at different stages of the race.

The final finishing order was, Niall & Susan Coleman (4008), Ger Owens & Alan Green (4083), Alan Balfe & Tom Galvin (3995), Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (4028), Tom Murphy & Carel (4057) and Peter Sherry & Mick Quinn (3749).

Having lost an hour in getting the first race away, there was no time for a second race! At the prize-giving in the National Yacht Club, MC-ed by Frank Burgess, Pat Shannon opened the proceedings by thanking all the participants and the race team for their involvement in the regatta. Additional speakers included Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen Class Captain, Neil Colin, the Race Officer and the winning helm of the Facet Trophy, Niall Coleman. Collectively they thanked all those who had contributed to the afternoon's activities. Special thanks were given to the Race Officer, Eddie Totterdell, in persisting with the conditions to get a race in.

In addition to the Facet Trophy Cup, crystal prizes were awarded to the podium places in each fleet and all participants got a prize to acknowledge their attendance.

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