Fireballs are having a hot time of it at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbite series in Dun Laoghaire. At the first outing on November 6th competitors faced challenging conditions with extreme gusts in the high twenties coming from unexpected directions, often 30 degrees off the average. This resulted in some capsizes, mostly to windward, in the fresh and chilly conditions. Neil Colin and Margaret Casey prevailed in race one, closely followed home by Alistair Court and Gordon Syme. Just behind was Frank Miller sailing with crew Dave Coleman whom Miller shanghaied on the slipway. It was Coleman’s first test on trapeze of his new knee and happily the pair stayed upright around the course so that knee may be tested again. A capsize saw Louise McKenna and Marjo Moonen relegated to fourth in that race. The chasing pack of the nine-boat fleet saw good close racing right down the line. Franco Cassidy has been out sailing with his young son Hugh, the latter’s first time in a Fireball and on trapeze and the pair are rapidly improving every race. The SID Fireball was out in the safe hands of Pat McGoldrick with Jos Dornschneider-Elkink who edged in ahead of Cariosa Power and Marie Barry. Nick Miller has bought Miller’s previous Fireball Blind Squirrel and with Cearbhall Daly has raised his game. Glen Fisher is guest helming with Michael Keegan in the latter’s boat and enjoying good competition in the middle of the fleet. Race two on the 6th saw several head for shore as the breeze picked up a notch but in fact the wind eased a little while racing was underway. This race saw Court and Syme prevail over McKenna & Moonen with Miller & Coleman again 3rd. Fisher & Keegan were 4th & McGoldrick & Dornschneider-Elkink 5th with Nick Miller & Daly 6th.

The following Sunday the forecast was pretty terrible and many expected racing to be cancelled but in fact conditions in Dun Laoghaire Harbour were quite sailable. While it was windy, and sometimes very windy, the wind was far more stable than the previous Sunday. Race officer Cormac Bradley wisely went for one long multiple round race with 6 triangles. Happily, for the Fireballs in winds in the high twenties the gybe mark was set low and spinnakers could be carried on the reaching legs. Frank Miller and Ed Butler took full advantage and blazed their way around the course leading by a good margin from McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, the Cassidys and Fisher & Keegan.

The following Sunday 13th November another terrible forecast turned out to be all too accurate and racing was cancelled without any complaints from competitors! But the Sunday just gone, November 27th, saw the best racing so far of the series. Eleven Fireballs rocked up for the start line, necessarily a short line set close to the harbour mouth at the West Pier. Race seven of the series was a Windward-Leeward affair in medium winds from the south and south east. Race officer Cormac Bradley set the windward mark well down the corner of the East pier maxing maximum use of the harbour and giving competitors plenty to think about in terms of strategy up the beat. While the better wind was on the left side of the course, shifting and bending wind off the shore provided plenty of opportunity for those going at least some of the way right also. Too far right could lead to disaster and mucky broken wind but equally too far left could leave competitors out on a limb. Miller sailing with Fireball chairman Neil Cramer ultimately prevailed in race one but it was hot and heavy all the way around the course and places changed several times with Court & Syme and McKenna & O’Keeffe leading at different points in the race. The run was especially tricky as decent gusts propelled the chasing boats towards the leaders. Colin & Casey had minor gear failure in that race which left them in 5th to Owen Sinnott & Grattan Donnelly. The chasing pack had close racing all around the course. Race eight saw a four round Olympic Triangle course signalled but the race team changed that to three rounds as the clock was ticking and the winter sun getting close to diving behind the Dublin Mountains. Again, it was hot and heavy for Fireballs around the course. Miller & Cramer narrowly led around the windward followed by Court & Syme, McKenna & O’Keeffe and Colin & Casey. Everything changed on the second beat as Colin & Casey banged the left corner and found good breeze to steam in on the port layline.  On the run Miller & Cramer managed to nip ahead after a gybe but that pair lost the lead again on the final beat by going too far left seeking the magic Colin had found previously. Court & Syme, McKenna and O’Keeffe and Colin & Casey sailed a more conservative middle right course and made the most of a couple of shifts and a few pockets of good breeze to finish in that order and see Miller & Cramer relegated to fourth. Again, the chasing pack had extremely close racing with Power & Barry prevailing over Sinnott and Donnelly, Fisher & Keegan staying just ahead of Colm Breen and son Rory, and Paul ter Horst and son Morris keeping the SID boat of McGoldrick & Dornschneider-Elkink. While Miller & Butler currently hold the overall lead by a very thin margin all bets are off for this winter series. In light and medium conditions both Colin & Casey and McKenna & O’Keeffe are deadly, while in all conditions Court & Syme are extremely fast and extremely consistent. What is abundantly clear is that this is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested winter series for Fireballers in some years.

Photographs by Pat Kiersey