A new combination of Graeme Grant and Francis Rowan, 14807, took the first domestic title of the Irish Fireball season, the Leinsters, hosted by Carlingford Sailing Club over the weekend of 7/8th May. Rowan of course is a longtime stalwart of the Class but Grant is a newcomer and in fact will be contesting the Fireball scene with Hugh Butler, Rowan being a first day substitute in Carlingford.
Twenty boats made it to the southern shores of Carlingford Lough for the only domestic Fireball regatta this side of the Fireball Worlds, scheduled for the middle two weeks of June in Sligo. The core of the fleet was made up of Dun Laoghaire regulars, but we were joined by Hugh Johnson & Michael Ennis and Damien Bracken & Brian O’Hara sailing under the burgee of Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club, Simon McGrotty & Ruairi Grimes from Skerries and Ian O’Gorman & Glen Tislen representing the host club.
The Irish fleet has seen an investment in new boats, a change of ownership of existing boats and an injection of new and young talent into the fleet. We now have a further two 15,000 series boats, 15058 (Kenny Rumball) and 15061 (Stephen Oram). 14854, 14865 & 14939 have changed hands within the fleet while 14807 and 13820 are new additions to the fleet (presumably from the UK). New combinations in Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (14820) and Ben Malone & Matthew Bennion (14939) have been on the Frostbite circuit but this represented their first domestic regatta.
Four races were sailed on the Saturday in grey slightly misty but not unpleasant conditions. The first race of the day was shortened to two laps when the physical size of the course was deemed to be too big. The three subsequent races were sailed to full length. Apart from the first race where Noel Butler & Stephen Oram seemed to steal a march of the rest of the fleet, the racing was quite tight. Race wins were shared between Grant/Rowan and Butler/Oram, but behind them the competition was tight. McCartin/Kinsella had a slightly slow start of 5,10 before claiming two second places to finish the day in third overall at the end of the day’s proceedings.
Kenny Rumball & Seamus Moore (15058) were not as convincing off the start line and first beat as they have been in the Frostbites but fought back in at least two races to claim low scoring places. Their 3, 2, 5, & 6th saw them in fourth overall on Saturday evening. McGrotty & Grimes had symmetry to their results 6,4,6,4 to round out the top five. With a 2,1,4,1 Grant & Rowan topped the pile to Butler/Oram’s 1,3,1,3.
Silver fleet racing was tight also with 6 boats contesting this division. By the close of business Malone/Bennion had a three point margin on O’Gorman/Tislen who were two points to the better relative to Nicholson/Bessler.
O’Gorman scampered off the water directly into the galley to finalise the preparation of the Saturday night dinner.
Sunday dawned with a marginally different wind direction, sunshine and a forecast of more wind. And so it evolved! The wind built during the morning, the race area was moved northwards and a downwind slalom to the race area beckoned. There was some reticence onshore but 6 boats showed that they meant business. However, even as they hared off to the start area, the wind was continuing to build and when they got there the Race Officer, James Byrne, after onshore consultation determined that conditions were now at the upper end of sensible. A decision to abandon racing was deemed to be the wisest by those who had gone afloat.
Thus the first regatta of the season was prematurely brought to a close. Still everyone had the relative luxury of a discard.
Carlingford Sailing Club were very good hosts and the weather and wind we enjoyed will certainly have undone the image that some Fireballers seem to have, that Carlingford Lough is a fluky place to sail! They have an excellent clubhouse that is well situated to give a panoramic view of the Lough and the backdrop to the sailing waters is exceptional with the Mournes on one side of the Lough and the Cooley Mountains on the other. Access from Dublin is very easy with motorway access most of the way then a short 15-20 minutes drive on a good secondary road.