Josh Porter and Cara McDowell have won the Fireball Leinster Championship at Skerries SC held in conjunction with the club’s annual regatta. Their victory rewarded very consistent sailing in often tricky conditions. Overnight leaders on Saturday evening were Chris Bateman and Lucy Loughton in the sixteen-boat fleet. That pair posted two wins on the first day of racing in strong but shifty offshore winds. Conditions on Saturday were initially such that the race management team kept everyone ashore to wait for the 25-knot breeze, and an extremely lumpy sea, to settle. After about 30 minutes it was decided to send the Fireballs out while all other classes were kept on dry land. While race one was windy it wasn’t crazy and there were actually light patches around the course just to make it interesting. That first race was won by the very experienced team of Noel Butler & Stephen Oram while Bateman & Loughton got a chance to get settled and finished 8th. Not a bad score since Loughton, from Devon, had never sailed a Fireball, had rarely trapezed, and was more used to the asymmetric kite of a B14. Having worked out the rough edges the pair went on to win the next two races. The breeze gradually eased to moderate and by race four it had actually gone light. Race four was won by the Thompson brothers, Daniel and Harry. The challenges around the course on the Saturday included a strong ebbing tide and quite big wind shifts. Local sailors Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer usually headed inshore to get out of the strongest tide, followed by several admirers of local knowledge, but it didn’t always pay. After the fourth race sailors headed ashore for food and refreshments at the club, with a barbeque available and a very decent food truck on site also. An evening posting went up from race officer Liam Dinneen warning sailors that with a very light and shifty forecast for Sunday he intended to start on time.

Anyone studying the various forecasts for Sunday would have great sympathy for the race committee. As it turned out sailors headed out in about 7 knots of pressure but by the time of the start there was only a feeble wind, probably three or four knots at best, and plenty of holes to fall into. Most of the fleet headed inshore where there was wind when the cruisers who started ahead went in there. For about half the beat this looked like the intelligent option but the wind there faded while the few who headed out picked up a gentle breeze. As Bateman commented afterwards it was a case of hopping from zephyr to zephyr. And he should know as they managed to round the weather mark well ahead of the fleet and were soon leading by half a leg. Those who went right went beyond the layline to try to stay in the light breeze and ensure they could make the mark as by this stage the current had definitely turned. Nobody suffered as much from this as Porter & McDowell who found their boat going backwards at the mark.  

The rest of the race was snakes and ladders with Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella managing to squeeze past Butler & Oram. That very successful pairing was sailing their new Fireball and their overall fourth place was unusual – partly at least explained by getting the new boat set up to perfection. The inevitable big shift kicked in with the new beat becoming a broad reach in slightly better breeze and those in the leading bunch held their positions for another round to a shortened finish at the finishing boat. The 6th race had an odd start as the wind shifted hard right during the countdown to the start, leading to much bunching and noise at the committee boat end of the line. This wasn’t made easier by a strong tide sweeping boats towards the committee boat. Thus, the first leg became a near fetch with only a short hitch needed to get to the weather mark. Porter & McDowell won that race with Ed Og Butler & Sean Collins 2nd and Kinsella & McCartin 3rd, pushing Bateman & Loughton into fourth. When the numbers were crunched this was enough to give Porter & McDowell the event by one point. When you look at their scores and see that their discard was a 5th you realise that the victory was well deserved for brilliantly consistent sailing in a huge range of conditions. Third overall were Butler & Oram.

Silver fleet winners were Niall & Rory McAllister, 2nd was Jack McNaughten & Ruadhri Maxwell and 3rd were Paul Ter Horst & Pat McGoldrick.

Overall, this was another great event hosted by Skerries SC who pulled out all the stops to make it work despite very tricky weather conditions. #


Next up for Fireballs is the Ulsters in Mullaghmore on 20th & 21st July, a new venue for Fireballs which everyone is really looking forward to. With camping on site and great facilities locally this is promising to be a great event. After that comes the Fireball Nationals hosted by RCYC along with 29ers and 420s. That Tri Nationals takes place over three days from 16th – 18th August and based on the season so far, the competition promises to be extremely hot.

The event was supported by Fingal Co Council and Craftinsure


Photos NY Andrew Fraser/Skerries SC