A busy harbour!

posted by Stephen Oram

With the Irish Universities having a team racing event in Dun Laoghaire Harbour over the weekend, with 71 races completed on Saturday and various training initiatives taking place inside (and outside) the harbour, Race Officer Neil Colin (Fireball) was challenged to get his race course in yesterday for the third round of the 2018/19 Frostbites, with an easterly of 10 – 16 knots forecast for the day. Earlier in the morning the keelboats’ Turkey Shoot had attracted a record entry of 75 boats (a statistic gleaned from another article on a popular website) but not to be outdone, the dinghy fraternity mounted a robust attendance for the first race of the day with 55 entries across the three starts. The start area was in the outer western corner of the harbour, between the mouth and the western bight with the committee boat no more than 50 – 60m upwind of the inner wall. Given a heavy swell that was washing up on the rocks, it was a slightly unnerving feeling to have so many boats sailing up and down in such a confined area.

Race 1 of the day was a two-lap Windward – Leeward and the bulk of the fleet went off on starboard tack towards the end of the West Pier.  As to be expected, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (FB 15061) were quick out of the blocks, but your correspondent, crewing for Alistair Court (FB 14706), also got away cleanly pulling away from Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (FB 14713). The longer tack was the port tack up the length of the harbour towards the East Pier with the weather mark in the approximate vicinity of the Boyd Memorial.  With that bit more weight on the wire, Court was able to sail a higher line and had closed to a distance that necessitated a call of starboard when Butler & Oram came across on what they thought was an approach to the weather mark. Except, they chose the wrong mark, going for what was a sizeable spreader mark and on rounding it, launched their kite. Court and Bradley went round the weather mark and found that they were in company with Miller & Donnelly.  The initial part of the downwind leg was a broad reach to the western end of the harbour mouth, followed by a gybe to get towards the leeward gate. Except that was like getting through the rush of a train platform as the Lasers were making their way upwind and going through the start line was taboo……….though some may have done this.

Court rounded in the lead and up the next upwind leg was able to stretch his advantage again with Bradley’s bigger weight on the wire, though he is lighter than this time last year! However, Miller & Donnelly were not to be outdone and came back at them on the off-wind leg. A poor drop by Bradley going through the gate allowed Miller to close even more but Court squeezed the win on the water by a margin of 4 seconds over Miller, with the Thompson brothers, sailing Louis Smyth’s boat, 14007, next 16 seconds later and the unusually errant Butler & Oram next home in 15:27 minutes only 40 seconds behind the winners. The question was did Court’s Fireball have enough on Shane McCarthy’s Solo to take the win and maybe a Frostbite Mug.  The answer was No on both counts, despite being just short of two minutes down on Court’s finishing time, McCarthy won by 1:14 on handicap and the Kona Windsurfer of Des Gibney took second and the Mug by a four-second margin on the Fireball.   

In the Laser Full Rig Class the race win and Mug went to the Dun Laoghaire Laser Class Captain Gavan Murphy followed home by Chris Arrowsmith and Conor O’Leary, the latter having sailed 6 one-lap Flying Fifteen Frostbite races the day before in the last round of 2018 racing for the DL Flying Fifteen fleet. 

In the Radials, the race win and Mug went to Sean Craig, ahead of Marco Sorgassi and Conor Clancy, formerly of the Fireball Class. In the 4.7s, the race win and Mug went to Adam Walsh, followed by Alana Coakley and Conor Gorman.

For the second race of the day a four-lap Olympic configuration was set and the attrition rate started to kick in as the combined entry for this race was down to 44 boats. The weather mark stayed pretty much where it was and the spreader mark was converted to a gybe mark and located just inside the end of the West Pier. Again the consensus was to get off the start line on starboard and head towards the West Pier. The Thompson brothers and Butler & Oram had the best starts of the second race while others were adversely affected by the presence of a Laser 4.7 who was in the wrong place at the wrong time…….in irons. We were all genteel in our language in advising him what he should be doing. Having broken free of the melee, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (FB 14691), Miller and Court found themselves in VERY close company but Court was able to power out between the two. Butler & Oram were never headed off the start line and the race for second, on the water featured Court, Miller and the Thompsons.  Upwind, Court held the upper hand being able to sail much closer to the wind without losing boat speed whereas Miller and Thompson sailed that bit further off the breeze. It invariably meant a coming together in the vicinity of tacking for the starboard lay-line, with Court being “Starboard- hailed” on more than one occasion on the beat. But over the first three beats, Court eked out a lead going upwind which Miller and the Thompsons reduced on the downwind legs. It had been blustery all day, not wipe-out strength, but there were upturned boats on the course as gybes and windward rolls took their toll. On the last beat Court and Bradley were knocked over and filled the cockpit with water, enough to cause their good work earlier to evaporate.

Butler & Oram won by 1:35 on the water over Miller & Donnelly in a race that lasted 24:12, with the Thompsons next home in 26:30, 43 seconds behind Miller and just nine seconds ahead of Court & Bradley who had a second on McKenna & O’Keeffe. McCarthy was 2 seconds short of being five minutes behind Butler & Oram on the water, but on corrected time closed that gap to just seven seconds. With Des Gibney third, Miller & Donnelly picked up the PY Mug for the second race. 

In the Lasers, the win and Mug in the Standard Rig went to Ian Simington, followed by Peter Fagan and Gavan Murphy.  Adam Walsh took the Laser 4.7s on the water, followed home by Alana Coakley and Conor Gorman.  That was good enough to give Conor the Race Mug and considering he has recently come out of Optimists, on the basis of age, this is a great result. His sister is a previous Mug winner in this Series (Day 1 Radials) so Dad Dave, the current Flying Fifteen National Champion, must be “chuffed” at their success. In the Radials, the one-two was repeated by Craig and Sorgassi but this gave Marco Sorgassi the Race Mug, with Jack Hall in third place.



posted 12 Nov 2018, 01:46 by Stephen Oram

‘Louis is coming to get us" exclaimed Noel Butler to crew Stephen Oram. Looking over his shoulder he was watching the young Thompson brothers, Daniel and Harry, and perhaps a ghost, closing in rapidly during the second PY race in yesterday’s DMYC frostbite series. The Thompsons are sailing the Fireball of late veteran dinghy racer Louis Smyth who died in June. The pair have been awarded the youth boat for the Frostbites series in an initiative by Louis’ family and the Irish Fireball Association. While the Wexford based pair, who normally sail 420s, had a slow start the previous Sunday yesterday’s races saw them begin to find their stride. In race one they narrowly missed 2
nd place to Louise McKenna and Hermine O'Keeffe. In race two the pair were close on the heels of leaders Butler/Oram and by the finish were just a few seconds behind. Aldo back in action in Fireballs is the class boat, a composite Winder on loan for the winter to SID member Nick Miller sailing with an enthusiastic range of crews and helms from the Sailing in Dublin stable. Sunday’s racing in Dun Laoghaire harbour saw challenging conditions for all participants. The challenge wasn’t so much the wind strength as the variations in pressure and direction around the course. The game for all fleets was one of snakes and ladders.  For this winter season the fleets are divided between three Laser starts and a very mixed PY start, dominated by the ten Fireball entries. With a Met Eireann small craft warning in force some crews expected decent wind but in the event the Wind Guru forecast proved the more accurate one and with the exception of the occasional gust winds were relatively light. While the line bias may have pointed towards the pin those who started at the committee end of the line tended to come out best at the windward mark with the breeze, when it did occasionally fill, coming from the south. The fleets remained well spread out around the triangular courses though the PY fleet occasionally had to work around a delayed laser start after the leeward mark– a first world complaint and a symptom of the growing frostbites numbers in a confined harbour. For race two the wind shifted right just before the start making the first beat a near fetch and the second reach quite tight. Nevertheless the usual suspects managed to find their way to the front. On handicap the ever consistent Butler/Oram won the first PY race in a Fireball while  Shane McCarthy won the second PY race in his Solo. PY mug winners were Fireballers Louise McKenna and Hermine O'Keeffe for race one and Monika Schaefer and Miriam McCarthy in their Wayfarer for race 2. The large fleet of Lasers with multiple starts challenged the recorders but the results show the 4.7s races were won by Adam Walsh and Alana Coakley respectively, Ali Robinson and Sean Craig won the Radial divisions and Gary O’Hare and Chris Arrowsmith won the full rig divisions. The series, growing again in popularity, continues until late March with intermissions at Christmas and the New Year.

A flurry of Fireballs!

posted 12 Sep 2018, 06:02 by Stephen Oram

The renamed or rescheduled Fireball Munsters, cancelled earlier in the year at Killaloe Sailing Club, were reconvened this past weekend at one of the Irish fleet’s favourite locations, Lough Derg Yacht Club. This was our second visit in as many years and as ever the hospitality was at its best with scones and tea/coffee available on the Saturday morning, an excellent meal on the Saturday night, with commensurate bar service and a Race Management Team led by Commodore John Leech that had a relatively easy day on Saturday but a much more stressful one on the Sunday.

Held in tandem with the Mirror Southerns, the event attracted an entry of 14 boats made up principally of the fleet from Killaloe. This was the primary objective of the Irish Class Association – to encourage the KSC fleet to get themselves to another venue in order that they could sample an “away regatta” that their enthusiasm level at KSC warranted. In this regard a huge thank-you and acknowledgement has to go to Stefany Gorski and Philip Despard who delivered on promises made to get the Killaloe fleet to Dromineer. Jim Ryan also helped significantly with getting boats derigged for the road trip and re-rigged at the Lough Derg end. Eight boats made the trip with one of these claiming KSC and LDYC duality and with Skerries, Sligo, Wexford and Dun Laoghaire entries a 14-boat entry was assembled.

The Wexford Harbour Boat & Tennis Club took the form of Daniel & Harry Thompson sailing Ed Butler’s 14990. Daniel sailed the Fireball Nationals in Skerries earlier in the season so obviously enjoyed himself enough to come back with his brother. While many of the KSC entries are new to Fireballs, it was great to see one of their more senior combinations, Jim Ryan and David Tanner (14584) back in the competitive saddle!

Racing on Saturday was on an Olympic course with the Mirrors having a triangle set up inside an outer triangle for the Fireballs. Thus each fleet had their own windward, gybe and leeward marks which minimised even further the interaction of the two fleets. The Fireballs had first start in a breeze that oscillated to a significant degree in strength on a race area immediately in front of and slightly to the left looking out from the clubhouse.

First blood went to Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938), sailing out of Skerries and fresh back for the Fireball Worlds in Carnac, France. Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713) finished second, with the young men from Wexford third. KSC took a well-deserved 4th place with Jim & David, while behind them the pecking order was Jon Evans & Aidan Caulfield (14748). This was to be their worst results as they were never outside the top three thereafter. Indeed after winning the second race, they led the third until the Skerries combination stepped up a gear to take the final race of the day. The KSC fleet competed manfully with seven of their number finishing the first race and 6 finishing each of the latter two.  Another KSC crew, Brian Keana, sailing with Neil Colin (14775) enjoyed a third place in the middle race.

While the conditions weren’t extreme, the halt to sailing was welcomed by all. A definite 1-2-3 was in place with McGrotty & Cramer on 4pts, Evans & Caulfield on 8pts and Miller & Donnelly on 11pts. Thereafter the scores were the Thompsons on 12pts, the all-lady team of Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) on 15pts and Colin & Keana on 17pts. Philip Despard & Stefany Groski led the KSC contingent in 7th place.

Sunday morning saw a changed “lake-scape” with white horses in the area in the middle of the race area in front of the clubhouse and flags flying as stiff as boards. After taking some individual soundings, Race Officer John Leech conducted a short briefing to advise the assembled fleet of his synopsis of the weather and the likely conditions crews would encounter in the new race area that the wind direction warranted. His recommendation being that those who had struggled the day before might want to consider their options. Consequently a reduced fleet took to the water (from both fleets), but those who did go out enjoyed exhilarating conditions, even under white-sail reaching. 

The “Skerries Scorchers” consolidated their lead at the front of the fleet with another two race wins while Miller & Donnelly and Evans & Caulfield shared the seconds and thirds.  Despard & Gorski really acquitted themselves well by scoring a fifth in the final race, while Louise & Hermine also sailed well in the prevailing conditions to score two race finishes with a 5th and a 6th. Race Officer had problems with anchoring marks in very substantial depths of water which combined with the strong breeze made for some interesting interpretations of the course by the fleets. Still, everyone who came ashore attested to the exciting conditions.

The Thompson brothers also acquitted themselves well on both days in the very contrasting conditions. 

The Classic Trophy was won by Jack Pinson & Anne Gleeson, while the Silver Fleet was won by the Thompson brothers.

All in all this was a very enjoyable weekend which achieved its dual purpose of completing a Munsters and getting the KSC fleet to a new venue. Thanks are due to all those KSC Fireballers who “put their toes in the water” at an away venue. We hope you enjoyed the weekend (the smiles suggested they had). 



Message from Rosemary Smyth

posted 19 Aug 2018, 05:19 by Stephen Oram

I want to thank all those 
who attended the celebration of Louis's life in the National yacht club.  I can imagine a wry, sort of shy smile of pleasure appearing on his face when he realised  how  many people held him in such high esteem. The afternoon brought great comfort to myself  and my family.   A heartfelt thanks from us all.

Rosemary Smyth

Louis Smyth - An Obituary

posted 26 Jun 2018, 04:08 by Stephen Oram   [ updated 26 Jun 2018, 04:09 ]

Louis Smyth who has died at the age of 81 was an inspirational figure in dinghy racing in Ireland. Born in Birmingham in 1937 Louis first went to sea with his father at the age of eight in a torpedo ship which his father bought cheaply from the British Navy who were decommissioning and selling off vessels in the immediate aftermath of the war. As fuel rationing was still in force Louis assisted his father who jumped from ship to ship draining the other boats tanks to fill their new purchase before sailing away to Boulonge-sur-Mer for a spin. It was an early lesson in frugality and opportunism which stood Louis well throughout an adventurous life in sailing and in business. Louis’ father Ralph Reginald Smyth was something of a serial entrepreneur who made and lost small fortunes in a mixture of businesses as diverse as manufacturing hydraulic parts for Spitfires during the war to running a pleasure boat the Larsen in Dublin Bay. When his father finally went absolutely bankrupt Louis had to leave St Columba’s college where he was an Irish scholar (and first fifteen rugby hooker) and was sent to sea at 16 as an apprentice merchant seaman. In that tough environment Louis rose up the ranks over 13 years at sea to become a ships captain.

On shore leave home he met Rosemary Chapple on a blind date and proposed to her on their second meeting. In fact Rosemary had first noticed Louis with his father on the Larsen aged 8. They married six years later in 1963 and he returned home where the couple set up Le Gourmet in Dun Laoghaire, one of the first delicatessens on the southside of Dublin. The venture grew from Louis’ great interest in food and food ingredients and providence during his travels. The business flourished through hard work by the couple and their willingness to source exotic ingredients from around the globe. A parallel catering business became a major part of the enterprise and they found themselves at times coping with three wedding receptions on a Saturday. Louis would pop up for a time back and forward to each reception which left the impression that all clients had his exclusive attention. The business became the caterers of choice for significant diplomatic and government events including a reception for the Princess Grace visit. In time however with increasing competition from supermarkets the retail business in Dun Laoghaire closed and the larger wholesale business was developed in Tallaght into the modern operation it is today.


Louis dinghy adventures started in 1975 initially with a Heron but then in 470s initially coached by Alistair Rumball of INSS and sailing with his son Hugo and daughter Anna. When the 470 class faded away in Ireland Louis’ attention turned to the Fireball which he described as initially terrifying but ultimately exhilarating. An owner of a succession of Fireball designs Louis became the spiritual father of the Fireball fleet in Ireland. From his early Fireball days where he shipped the boat alone in a box to worldwide venues he became deeply involved with the International Fireball organisation and spent six years as commodore of Fireball International and was later elected as an honorary member of Fireball International. A key figure in the growth of the class in Ireland it was Louis’ expertise in shipping which ultimately saw containers with 8 or 9 boats stacked in frames travel from Ireland to world championships in exotic locations around the world. With his son Hugo he trailered to many events and enjoyed great company and adventures on an off the water. At one event in Weymouth the pair stayed in a guesthouse where Louis’ luggage included a bag of live crickets as a gift for his sister Janet who kept reptiles. When the pair returned from their day’s sailing the landlady was extremely apologetic – the guesthouse had been struck by a mysterious plague of insects. Hmmm noted Louis to her, “..we sometimes had that kind of problem in the tropics”. And when in the bedroom shouted out the door “…yes, they’re in here too I’m afraid…” Louis won many trophies but was most proud to win the coveted Travellers Trophy and (with Joe O’Reilly) to carry away the National Championship trophy in 2002. His best international result was a third at the World Championships at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Thailand. In his role as FI Commodore he worked tirelessly with the then secretary to make the event a success and it went down in class history as one of the great events, setting the standard for future Fireball International championships.  



As a competitor Louis was fierce and unforgiving on the water but unstintingly generous in every way ashore. French sailor Frank Juin described him as a small man with a big heart. His tough upbringing and years at sea led Louis to become extremely self-sufficient and somewhat frugal. As a personality he was stoic and could appear austere but behind the dry sense of humour beat a warm and generous heart. The “Elder Statesman” of the Fireball Class in Ireland and internationally, wise and canny, Louis was the go-to person for advice on every issue. With an open and incredibly curious mind he read widely from a range of sources to get a balanced view of politics and international affairs, including a daily reading of Arab News and Al Jazeera. Permanently curious he was never quite satisfied until he understood how everything worked. While he had a firm grasp of email and the internet he never quite understood or trusted social media such as Facebook, perhaps with good reason.

Despite declining health Louis continued to work on behalf of the local community tending to the public park near his home in Dun Laoghaire. He raced on into his 81st year in his beloved Fireball, his latest boat named “Licensed to Thrill” inspired by the sail number IRL14007. Louis remained stoic to the end which came on Sunday 24th June in palliative care at the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford with his beloved Rosemary by his side. Louis is survived by his wife Rosemary, son Hugo and daughter-in-law Annica, grand-daughter Louvisa, and sisters Rhona, Jennifer, Janet and Sandra. His loss is deeply felt by his very many friends in the Fireball fleet in Ireland and around the world.

A humanist event to celebrate Louis’ life is planned for July, details to follow.

Fireball World Championships to blaze ahead in Howth in 2020

posted 15 Jun 2018, 01:30 by Stephen Oram   [ updated 15 Jun 2018, 07:52 ]

The 2020 Fireball World Championships have been awarded to Howth Yacht Club in Dublin, Ireland. The club, established in 1895, is one of the largest yacht clubs in both Ireland and the UK offering exceptional facilities for dinghy and keelboat sailors. Howth Yacht Club has the depth of experience required to provide consistently high standards of race management at club, national and international level. The club has a resident national and international race management team along with dedicated committee boats and a professionally maintained racing infrastructure. The race area is exceptional with a large expanse of open water, free from tidal anomalies and with flat water from the prevailing westerly winds crossing a low flat plain to the west. For the Fireball Worlds a highly experienced regatta team has been assembled led by event chairperson Judith Malcolm and Principal Race Officer David Lovegrove, one of Ireland’s most experienced International Race Officers and a former Fireball sailor himself.

 The venue is located on a peninsula some 18km from Dublin city centre in a high amenity area of exceptional natural beauty and is the second most popular tourist location in the Dublin area. The clubhouse is only 20mins drive from Dublin’s international airport, adjacent to the coastal DART suburban train line to Dublin City and 30 mins from the ferry terminals at Dublin Port. The main event takes place from 9th-14th August 2020 with a short warm-up event expected in advance.

 Howth Yacht Club has previously hosted the Etchells, J24, Optimist and Mirror world championships, many national and regional Laser Regattas and IRC championships and are delighted to have been chosen for the Fireball Worlds in 2020. Speaking at the announcement HYC Commodore Joe McPeake said he was ‘looking forward to providing a traditional Irish welcome to the Fireball crews and their families and providing them with an unforgettable experience afloat and ashore’. The Fireball class is extremely popular in the UK and Ireland across all ages and has a large international following. The event is expected to attract teams from the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Canada, the US, African Nations and Australia.

Speaking from Switzerland Fireball International commodore Christina Haerdi-Landerer said “Fireball International welcomes this new opportunity to deepen our friendship with the Irish fleet, and to experience a great championship at the prestigious Club of Howth and in the beautiful surroundings of Dublin. I am personally excited at the opportunity to visit Ireland for the first time and meet my longtime Irish Fireball friends in their home country! We feel honoured to be part of such an exceptional event. We will thoroughly enjoy combining the treasures of the Fireball tradition with the excitement of young sailors for our lively and challenging sailing activity. I am certain that many Fireball sailors around the world will be attracted to this superb venue.” 

Neil Cramer Irish Fireball Association chairman commented “For several years Ireland’s Fireball fleet has seized upon every opportunity to compete out of Howth Yacht Club in the waters around the spectacular Ireland’s Eye. When the class was approached by the club seeking a major international event to coincide with their 125th anniversary we were delighted to approach Fireball International about bringing a major Fireball International event to Howth.”

The event will be the first International Fireball event in Ireland since 2011 which saw some 60 boats compete in exciting conditions in Sligo. Ireland has previously hosted several Fireball World and European championships including a Europeans in Skerries in 2000 and a Worlds at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in 1995 which saw local sailors John Lavery and David O’Brien carry away the trophy. The Irish Fireball Association hopes that the forthcoming worlds event will attract a new generation of sailors into one of the most exciting yet stable racing dinghies in the country. The local association is keen to see as many Irish boats as possible participate in the 2020 worlds and is embarking on a campaign to encourage young teams to take on the Fireball challenge. In recent weeks at least two competitive Winder Fireballs changed hands in advance of the formal announcement for relatively modest sums. The good news for any sailors interested in campaigning towards to 2020 worlds is that competitive race-ready “white” Winder fireballs can be bought at the moment in Ireland and the UK from c2,500 – 6,000 euros.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is based at The Middle Pier, Howth Harbour, Howth, Co. Dublin.

Email : and Web: Phone: +353 (1) 8322141

Event contact : Judith Malcolm Cell Phone : +353879526825 email: Judith Malcolm (

Irish Fireball Association contacts – Chairman Neil Cramer  + 353 87 2748558 ( ; Hon Sec Frank Miller + 353 87 2584016 (; Fireball Ireland committee member and International Fireball rear commodore for Europe  Cormac Bradley + 353 86 8377891 (

Irish Fireball National Championships

posted 11 Jun 2018, 03:18 by Stephen Oram

Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella are the newly crowned Fireball National Champions after nine races at Skerries Sailing Club over three days. The pair had an almost perfect score winning every race bar the first when a technical issue delayed them getting to the start line on time. The event took place in stunning conditions for those seeking a sun tan but was on the distinctly light side in terms of breeze. Day one saw very light and patchy airs but the two woman race officer team of Micheline Shiels and Helen  Ryan under the direction of PRO Liam Dineen put in a bravura performane. On a day where some race committees would have been very stretched they managed to get four races in.  The preferred "Olympic Triangle" courses were rounded off with a windward leeward. The trick for the competitors was to keep the boat going in the light stuff, avoiding holes and avoiding adverse tide as far as possible. Behind McCartin/Kinsella the most consistent performers were local team of Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer. The pair rarely put a foot wrong and sailed smart and fast for the entire three days. The dark horses of the event were a young 420 team in their first Fireball outing. The "two Dans" Daniel Thompson and Dan Quaid from Wexford took to the Fireball like proverbial ducks to water. The light airs probably suited the duo but even so they quickly got an unfamiliar boat up to full speed and their boat handling and general racing awareness was exemplary. The pair found themselves in close quarters with regulars Louise McKenna and Hermine O'Keeffe. By the end of day two the two teams were on equal points for third place. Day two weather-wise was a bit steadier than day one but with fewer holes. It was still however a day of crews hunched down in the boat or even to leeward. Once again the race management team played a blinder and got four races in. Their thinking was undoubtedly shaped by a forecast promising almost no wind on Sunday.

Ironically then Sunday dawned with a very solid breeze out in the bay at Skerries with a very lumpy sea built up by the easterlies.. While McCartin/Kinsella had the trophy in the bag there was a close match in play for 3rd place in particular. By the time the fleet got out and the wind steadied in direction the breeze and the sea state had settled somewhat. The start was tricky, with the pin favoured and the breeze on the line light the fleet got away in reasonable shape. The McKenna/O'Keeffe team edged ahead of the two Dans and carefully covered them around the triangular course. A strong ebbing tide, a sloppy sea with now light winds and a biggish shift to the right made the beats tricky. The all woman team were unlucky at a mark rounding when a wayfarer got inside them and that was enough to allow the two Dans seize their moment and nip ahead, a position which they held to the finish.
In the Silver Fleet Sligo visitors Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield sailed consistently well and took the main prize from the Keegans, father and son team of David and Michael. 
Next outing for Fireballs sees their Open Event at Greystones as part of the regatta. Then four teams head to Carnac, France for the Worlds where Irish hopes rest mainly on team McCartin/Kinsella, back in the Fireball after an absence of a year but already showing great form.


2018 Nationals - SSC - NOR

posted 23 May 2018, 03:46 by Stephen Oram   [ updated 25 May 2018, 01:15 ]

Folks it's just 3 weekends till the main event....time to time that boat and the body....looking forward to a great Nationals in the beautiful and friendly setting of Skerries...

Irish Fireball Association
National Championships 2018
Friday 8th June – Sunday 10th June
Hosted by Skerries Sailing Club
1. Organising Authority
The Organising Authority is Skerries Sailing Club in association with the Irish Fireball Association
This event will be governed by the ‘Rules’ as defined in the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS), the International Fireball Class Rules in force at the time of the event, this Notice of Race (except as any of these are altered by the Sailing Instructions), and the Sailing Instructions.   International Fireball Class Rule 23 'Limitations of Equipment' SHALL NOT apply to this event.
Rule 25 of the class rules, ‘propulsion’ may apply. Changes to this will be posted on the Notice B

3 Identification
Subject to the approval of the Race Committee a boat chartered or loaned for the event may declare at the time of entry or registration a sail number which may be different from the registered number of the hull provided that the number declared shall not be the sail number of any other boat competing in the regatta (References RRS 77, Appendix G).
The event is designated a Category C event in accordance with Appendix 1.  The Organizing Authority may require competitors to display Event Sponsors advertising material as prescribed under Appendix.1 and International Fireball Class Rule 24.
5.1 General
All competitors shall comply with ISAF Eligibility Rules (RRS Appendix K1).  The Regatta is open to boats of the International Fireball Class whose helm and crew are members of a National Fireball Class Association recognised by Fireball International.  Proof of membership shall be by means of a Fireball International membership card and boat sticker.
5.2 Entry Procedure
Competitors may enter by completing the event entry form, which is available on the 
Irish Fireball Association website, website and at registration.  
5.3 Entry Fee
The Entry fee will be €75. Boats only racing Saturday & Sunday may enter late at a reduced rate of €50. 
5.4 Entry Disclaimer
It is the Competitor’s decision to enter the event or to start in any race.  Competitors shall accept that their participation in the event is at their sole exclusive risk in every respect.  By way of entry to the Regatta competitors shall indemnify Fireball International, the International Fireball Association of Ireland, Skerries Sailing Club, their officers, members, servants, and agents in respect of all claims and demands of whatever nature which may be made upon them in connection with or howsoever arising from their participation or intended participation in the Regatta. Competitors shall acknowledge that Fireball International, the International Fireball Association of Ireland, Skerries sailing Club, their officers, members, servants, and agents accept no responsibility in respect of loss of life, personal injury or loss or damage to property which may be sustained by reason of their participation or intended participation in the Regatta or howsoever arising in connection with these events..
5.5 Insurance
All boats shall have adequate third-party insurance cover of not less than €3,500,000 (or the equivalent thereof in any other convertible currency) for any accident. All owners / competitors who sign the entry forms are deemed to have made a declaration that they hold such cover. Owners / competitors not holding this cover shall withdraw their entry. 
6. Registration  
Registration will take place from 11:00 – 13:00 hrs Friday or, Saturday from 10:00hrs – 12:00hrs
Measurement, examination of measurement certificates and / or measurement checking may take place as part of the registration process.  Each boat shall have a valid class measurement certificate, which must be available for inspection
7. Race Schedule
Nine races are scheduled: -
Friday 8th June – up to 4 races
Saturday 9th June - up to 4 races
Sunday 10th - remaining races to complete series of nine races No race will be started after 15:30 hrs on the Sunday (except to restart a race which was subject to a general recall). Regatta Briefing: Friday 12:45 hrs  
Warning Signal:  13:55 hrs on Friday, 11:55 hrs on Saturday and 10:25 hrs on Sunday. The schedule of all subsequent races as directed in the Sailing Instructions.
8. Scoring & prizes
The Low Point Scoring System Rule A4 will apply, modified so that each boat's series score will be the total of her race scores with her worst score discarded according to the table below.  
Discards applied based on races sailed
1, 2 or 3 races sailed  no discard
4, 5, 6 or 7 races sailed  1 discard
8 or more races sailed 2 discards
Prizes will be awarded to the winners of the event as designated by organising authority. Perpetual prizes remain the property of the Irish Fireball Association.  
Gold Fleet & Silver Fleet, prizes appropriate to fleet size will be presented.  
For further information contact:
Neil Cramer –, 087 2748558

Fireball Silver Fleet Training in Killaloe

posted 15 May 2018, 02:56 by Stephen Oram

The second Fireball coaching session of the season took place in the stunning surroundings of Killaloe Sailing Club on last Thursday and Friday evenings. Aimed primarily at the enthusiastic and growing silver fleet at KSC Frank Miller coached some 12 sailors in 6 boats on the optimum techniques for handling one of the most competitive yet manageable dinghies sailed on this island. The first evening was a bit of a baptism of fire for the local fleet who found winds touching 16 knots somewhat daunting. Despite a few capsizes with shouted advice and careful rescue cover the local fleet grew in confidence and eventually began to believe Miller's assertion that the boat, if properly set up, is capable of being sailed safely in 25 knots and more. The debrief ashore was indeed brief, primarily a group slagging for straying too far from the core exercise area. Further advice was absorbed over quiet pints in the local Pipers pub..

The following evening saw medium conditions fade to light which gave the fleet time and opportunity to practice hoisting, gybing and dropping their kites on a windward/leeward course. The lighter conditions allowed Miller to help the teams fine tune their sailing skills with an emphasis on boat trim and perfecting the sequence of actions needed for simple and effective spinnaker handling. Great things are sometimes achieved in baby steps and this nascent Fireball fleet may point the way forward for the next generation of Fireballers. The most recent success of Fireballs in Killaloe is down to the energy of Steffany Gorski who with Philip Despard has built upon the ongoing dedication of Jim Ryan and others. Their campaign to grow the local fleet is greatly helped by the incredible value now of Fireballs. One classic boat recently changed hands for 350 euros while good "white" Winder boats can be had for as little as 2,000 euros. One of the participating boats in the coaching sessions was the class-owned Winder composite Fireball currently on loan to Domnick O’Sullivan and Kieran Ruane, two big boat sailors who are quickly learning how much more fun Fireballs are than big boat sailing. The loan boat will be available again at the end of the summer, perhaps to a team who want to take on the DMYC frostbites next winter.

Besides teaching the obvious techniques common to all dinghies the participants learned how to quickly tune the Fireball on land and water to depower and power up the boat so that sailing it is comfortable and easy in a huge range of conditions. While the range of controls can look daunting at first one of the key differences between the Fireball and many other dinghies is how very manageable it is when set up properly. Miller demonstrated the initial set-up to get optimum pre-bend and then explained the various controls and showed how effective they are. He also emphasised how important it is to get everything working properly on the boat so that sailors can get on with enjoying their sailing. This is especially true of the older boats which might need more TLC but with care are still extremely competitive. By the time of the final debrief in the Pipers pub, the sailors were tired but happy and enthused for the season ahead. The next Fireball event is the National Championships at Skerries SC on 8th, 9th and 10th June being run in tandem with the Wayfarer class – all welcome! Other upcoming events include a one-day open event at Greystones on Sat 23rd June, the Worlds (and pre-worlds) in Carnac, France from 22nd-31st August, the “Ulsters” in Lough Derg YC on September 8th& 9th and the (postponed from last weekend) Munsters in Killaloe at a date tbc


ISA Fireball coaching with Ger Owens at DMYC

posted 25 Apr 2018, 03:27 by Stephen Oram

Fireballs enjoyed champagne sailing in Dun Laoghaire on Saturday for a pre-season coaching session with Ger Owens, thanks to the support of the ISA. Ger's wry and funny delivery once again reduced the most complex of questions to the key fundamentals, the ones we all know but so often forget. In the briefing he spoke especially about body symmetry and muscle memory and how those of us sailing for many years have effectively trained our muscle memory to do things in a less efficient way than we should. The key being to break down the series of actions needed for a manoeuvre into a set of steps which are practiced slowly to get them embedded in the brain, and then speed up the routine through practice. Another incredibly simple but important tip is to keep the majority of the fleet "under your boom" to consolidate gains and avoid big losses, especially in larger fleets.. After about 30 minutes of briefing the four boats took to the water with several others helping and learning from the RIB. Any fears that the beautiful weather might mean drifting conditions were thankfully banished as by now a very decent wind had become established in the harbour. 

On the water sailors were put under pressure in an intense series of bear aways, hoists, reaches, runs, drops and round-ups and beats. Suffice to say that even those who sailed through the winter found they were rustier and less fit than they realised. Top of the class were Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella who provided near textbook examples of how to dance around a racecourse. Other participants included regular teams Louise McKenna with Hermine O'Keeffe and Frank Miller with Ed Butler. A hybrid pairing of Stephen Campion with Michael Keegan completed the watery learners while Neil Cramer, Brian O'Hare and others had the pleasure of learning from the drier vantage point of the RIB.

A lunch break was accompanied by a debrief and some more discussion  and then it was time to go back on the water. This time the action took place outside the harbour with even better wind. The exercises were similar but were led off by "follow the leader" style sequences with breaks downwind and up signalled by the unforgiving whistle. Such were the gusts and the pressure from the whistle that a couple of capsizes were witnessed. Those on the RIB remarked that they could already see a significant improvement in performance over the morning session. That was good to hear as those in the Fireballs were by now well stretched, especially the crews who were doing most of the hard work...
Ashore a final debrief took place at the DMYC and the fleet took to the bar for a well earned cuppa, cobwebs well and truly blown away and the fleet energised for the season ahead. Speaking of which the next Fireball event is the Munsters in Killaloe on 12th & 13th May , with coaching and advice evenings on the preceding Thursday and Friday evenings.

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