There are days when it is difficult for competitors, there are days when it is difficult for the Race Officer and then there are days when it is difficult for everyone! Sunday 5th February was one of these latter days!! From mid-week the weather forecast was favourable, with a consistent prediction of southerly winds of 9/10 knots with a little westerly influence coming in as the afternoon wore on. Temperatures were good as well, in the high single figures. Wind-wise it was in complete contrast to the strong gusty winds of the previous Sunday.
Except that the signs in the inner harbour were not that good – glassy areas of now wind at all and no sign of the bigger boats coming in from their first round of the Spring Chicken Series – maybe I was too late for that.
There was breeze in the outer harbour but it was blowing from the West, not what had been forecast and it was varying between 3 and 5 knots, again, not what was forecast. The decision was taken to put in a short Windward – Leeward to get at least one race in in view of the contrast between what was happening on the water and the forecast. On that basis a weather mark was set in the elbow of the west breakwater and the West Pier with a leeward gate set in the vicinity of the obelisk on the upper level of the East Pier. However, as the clock counted down towards the first signal of the day, the wind started moving as well, clocking from a westerly towards the north. In physical terms this meant the weather mark would be just inside the end of the West Pier. A postponement had to be sounded!
The rejigged course saw the weather mark located as described above with a spreader mark in place, a feature which bamboozled many last Sunday. The leeward gate was located off the Royal St George Yacht Club. Given that the sun was shining nobody seemed to be put out by this delay and I’m sure many twigged why the course had to be changed.
The 21-boat PY Fleet got away cleanly, with the majority view that going left was the way to go. Not everyone shared that view and one of the biggest beneficiaries of going right initially was father and son Paul & Morris ter Horst (FB 14790) as they rounded the top end of the course with a healthy lead. Also, well up was Brian Sweeney in his Finn, who must have been ahead of many on time at that stage. With a number of Aero stalwarts absent there was a changed complexion to the head of the PY fleet with the IDRA of Pierre Long well up and the Wayfarer of Monica Schaeffer with Charlie Dunn also in a good place.
A combination of five ILCA 7s and three ILCA 4s shared the second starts and they too got away cleanly at the first time of asking.
The ILCA 6s had, by their standards, a modest seventeen boat fleet and they presented the Race Officer with the tightest start of the afternoon, particularly with boats parked in the immediate area of the committee boat’s port quarter. The closest of these was on the right side of the start line by inches when the gun went.
All three fleets had some form of beat on the first leg to the opposite side of the harbour before the wind started to move further right. For the PY fleet, they sailed most of the first two legs in the configuration that had been set for them by the RO. But the ter Horsts, sailing a lower line to the leeward gate found that the other Fireballs who had stayed high were benefitting more as the breeze shifted to the north-east. That enabled Alastair Court & Gordon Syme (15167), Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keefe (15016) and Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) to close on them. Court got ahead before the leeward gate and then found that he had to drop the spinnaker to get to the gate. And of course, on going through the gate and pointing in the direction of the “weather mark” found he could hoist spinnaker again. And he held it almost all the way to the mark.
The ILCAs initially sailed a downwind leg from the weather mark but all too soon found themselves fetching or beating to the leeward gate. Due to the physical size of the course and the spread of the fleets, it is well nigh on impossible to change a weather mark and given the vagaries of the wind on the day one change would probably have necessitated another. The smoke from the incinerator was giving no confidence that the wind was going to stabilise and a reconnaissance of Dublin Bay by the weather mark rib offered no respite from the fickle conditions.
All three fleets sailed the two-lap race with finishing positions being recorded from a committee boat that swung 360° during the finishing sequence.
A message from Frostbites Director Neil Colin that the consensus on the water was that we had done well to get a race in and should call it quite for the afternoon simply mirrored the thoughts of the RO and his team on board the committee boat. Thus, on successive Sundays we have had one race each, because of too much wind and too variable a wind.
In the PY Fleet Court & Syme were able to hold onto their on the water win when the numbers were crunched for the handicap results. They had a minute to spare on the 2.4m of Patrick Hassett and just short of two minutes on the Finn of Brian Sweeney, with Pierre Long and son in the IDRA 4th and Schaeffer & Dunn 5th in the Wayfarer.
In the ILCA 7s, the finishing order was Niall Cowman, Conor Byrne and Gavan Murphy. Two of the three ILCA 4s got a scoring finish, Patrick Foley and Grace Gavin.
In the ILCA 6s, Sean Craig led home Pascal Boret, Shirley Gilmore, Michael Norman and Hugh Delap.
Even with three prominent Aeros absent, there was no real change in the overall standings in the PY Fleet; Noel Butler (Aero) has a very comfortable margin on 2nd placed Stephen Oram (Aero) who has a nine-point cushion on the next boat, Stuart Harris (Aero). However, Harris needs to be aware of Court/Syme on 47points, only one point behind and Frank Miller & Ed Butler (FB) a further 3pts off Court Syme. Sarah Dwyer is the leading lady in the PY fleet, in sixth overall with 56pts.
In the ILCA 7s Conor Byrne leads with an 18pt cushion, but Chris Arrowsmith is only two points off 2nd placed Niall Cowman with 29pts.
Sean Craig has stretched his lead over Conor Clancy to 6pts, but Clancy’s early twenties points score contrasts with the next three boats who have scores in the forties – Darren Griffin (43), John O’Driscoll (46) and Pascal Boret (48). Leading lady in this fleet is Judy O’Beirne in 11th.
In the ILCA 4s, the order is Patrick Foley (11pts), Zeta Tempany (17pts) and Grace Gavin (19pts).