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Gul Fireball World Championship at Lough Derg Yacht Club - Day 3

by Cormac Bradley 24 Aug 2022 12:35 BST 18-26 August 2022

The dinghy park at Lough Derg Yacht Club, hosts to the GUL Fireball World Championship, is quiet this morning! Is that down to Irish hospitality on Crews' Night? Or is it rather that the sixth race of the World Championship programme was completed on Tuesday afternoon. For those seasoned international competitors, you know it has to be the latter!

A further three races were completed yesterday, again light to slightly stronger winds that presented challenges to both the race management team and, of course, the competitors. When the committee boat took up station in the start area, the wind strength was measured at above 6 knots, not huge numbers, but enough to justify the start of racing. During the first two races this grew and on occasion got into double figures, but more at the 10, 11, 12 range. An occasional reading of 14/15 knots was noted but these were very short sharp blasts. The other issue for IRO Con Murphy was that the breeze was flicking right and left and that made for a difficult decision as to what number to set his weather mark at. There was continuous chatter between the committee boat, the pin end boat and the weather mark to monitor wind strength and direction.

Race 4, the first of the day got away to the most perfect start under a U Flag that any race officer would wish for. A row of Fireball bows stretched the length of the line, with absolutely no sag in the middle. It is a rare sight and regrettably not one we were able to get a justified photograph of. Within a short distance off the line the fleet was spread across the width of the course from left to right, east to west. The beat was around the one-mile mark and post-race I was advised that the first boat around was Niall McGrotty & Joris Rooney (IRL 14938). This is not a combination that has featured in any of the reports from this regatta. Why? Because they are a brand-new, out of the box combination. Niall's crew was forced out of the regatta due to illness and Joris was recruited overnight. A Mirror sailor, the first time he stepped in a Fireball was Tuesday morning. Niall advised me that they took their time getting set up for the spinnaker which is why he doesn't feature in my first leeward mark rounding report.

The lighter winds seem to have suited our antipodean visitors, Heather MacFarlane & Chris Payne (AUS 15152), because at the leeward mark they had a healthy lead. I am unable to tell you which way they went up the beat because of the length of that leg, but by the leeward mark they had a 150m lead on the fleet. Behind them the chasing park consisted of a multi-national pack including FI Commodore Christina Haerdi & Cedric Landerer (SUI 14859), Tom Gillard and Shandy (GBR 15122), Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093), Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141), the Willcocks brothers Anthony & James (GBR 14928), Kevin Hope & Russell Thorne (GBR 15133) and Katie Byne & Lia Horne (GBR 14883).

Up the next beat the favoured side seemed to be the left initially but some of the boats took a hitch across before a long port tack. At the finish, the order was as follows, Gillard & Shandy, MacFarlane & Payne, Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek (CZE 15019), Ed Butler (Jr) & Fionn Conway (IRL 14969), and Paruzek & Kosvica (CZE 15141).

Race 5 required a postponement and a General Recall before it got away. The symmetry of the first race start was absent as there was a bunching towards the pin end of the start line. The wind was getting closer to the 8/9 knots mark at this stage but was still moving around. Again, this led to a wide spread of boats across the width of the course. In the Pre-Worlds, rec spinnakers had dominated the opening stretch of the top reach. For the Worlds, some of these were sporting new downwind colours, but the dominant colour at the front was white - a la MacFarlane & Payne and Gillard & Shandy. However, in this race a silver/grey spinnaker was making a huge difference to its owners, father and son combination, Martyn & Daniel Lewis (GBR 15151) as they powered over boats in front of them en route to the gybe mark. By the leeward mark, the running order and spinnaker colour was MacFarlane & Payne, (white) Lewis & Lewis, (silver/grey) Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799), (white), McGrotty & Rooney (IRL 14938) (blue), Mianne Erne & Clay Poulson (SUI 15063) (light blue/red) and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (IRL 15167) (blue).

The approach to the second beat saw more boats working a middle and right aspect of the course and the boat to benefit most appears to have been David Hall & Paul Constable (GBR 15155), whom I didn't pick up through binoculars at the gybe mark but on the downwind leg of the sausage their yellow and black spinnaker was rather conspicuous. Indeed, they looked to be putting in a strong challenge to Lewis & Lewis approaching the leeward mark from different directions. Race 5's finishing order saw the fleet led home by Lewis and Lewis, holding off Hall & Constable, followed by MacFarlane & Payne, Mermod & Moser and Katie Byne & Lia Horne (GBR 14883).

Race 6 was set at three laps partly due to the running time of the first two races, marginally short of target time and partly due to stronger wind. This time the log jam was at the committee boat end and one of the combinations to suffer most from that was a high-profile Irish combination. Yet again, the fleet spread very quickly across the course. At the weather mark, white, blue and green spinnakers were to the fore and the first three boats looked to have broken away from the rest of the fleet. By the leeward mark, the running order was as follows: Gillard (GBR 15122/white), Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix (IRL 14750/blue), MacFarlane (AUS 15152/white), McCartin & Kinsella (IRL 15093/green), Mermod (SUI 14799/white), Haerdi (SUI 14859/can't remember), Lewis (GBR 15151/silver grey) and Josh Porter & Cara McDowell (IRL 14695/blue).

As the fleet approached the leeward mark for the second time, the conspicuous absence of the committee boat would have alerted them to the fact that things were not as they should be. The dropping wind strength necessitated a change of plan and the Race Officer settled on a shortened course at the gybe mark. From that vantage point, the tactic for the last beat was to go right and then sail a long starboard tack leg to the weather mar.

The finishing order therefore was; Gillard, MacFarlane, Mermod, McCartin, Bateman.

With six races complete, we were back on programme and all those loosely made plans for lay-day could be fulfilled. Tuesday night also saw the hearing of two protests and another protest was withdrawn due to "an out of court settlement" with the knowledge of the Jury Panel.

Following racing, the SUP Games took place in the inner harbour in front of the club. Organised and refereed by Jane Butler and Barry McCartin, they featured individual races, backward racing and an international relay race. The RRS wouldn't have covered some of the on the water transgressions, but they attracted a lot of spectators with much cheering on for the competitors.

The "discretionary daily prize-giving" by the Irish hosts, supported by GUL was delayed pending the outcome of the protests, but was completed before supper - pig on a spit. That was followed by a live jazz band with a special trumpet appearance by French helm Charles La Calvez (FRA 14950).

Results after Day 3:

PosHelm & CrewSail NoR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Tom Gillard & ShandyGBR 1512228116111
2Heather MacFarlane & Chris PayneAUS 15152126623219
3Barry McCartin & Conor KinsellaIRL 1509334569422
4Claude Mermod & Ruedi MoserSUI 147991184164328
5Jiri Paruzek & Jakub KosvicaCZE 15141728524931
6David Hall & Paul ConstableGBR 151558521721734
7Martyn Lewis & Daniel LewisGBR 151519139131739
8Derian & Andy ScottGBR 14941511718151048
9Christina Haerdi & Cedric LandererSUI 1485911153298649
10Isaac Marsh & Oliver DavenportGBR 15162102037122452

Other Placings:
15. Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek, CZE 15019, 75pts
16. Kevin Hope & Russel Thorne, GBR 15133, 75pts
20. Charles La Calvez & Eloise Maussion, FRA 14950 92pts (1st French)
26. Patrice Olivier & Jean-Francois Nouel, FRA 14959, 122pts
34. Fabio Palermi & Adriana Curcio, ITA 15054, 156pts
36. Chris Owen & Andy Service, HKG 14754, 169pts
46. Richard & Liam Quinlan, CAN 14547, 216pts
70. David Laing & Clarissa Dee, RSA 14877, 317pts
79. Andres Gonzalez & Ana Maria Grande Martin, ESP 14244, 391pts

Irish Placings: (top ten)
3. Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella, 22pts
13. Ed Butler (Jr) & Fionn Conway, 72pts
14. Josh Porter & Cara McDowell, 73pts
18. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix, 83pts
23. Jane Butler & Jenny Andreasson, 110pts
25. Daniel & Harry Thompson, 118pts
27. Niall McGrotty & Joris Rooney, 129pts
29. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, 132pts
30. Adrian Lee & Ossian Geraghty, 146pts
39. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, 185pts

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