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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 5 report

The breeze was not as strong as was predicted last Friday but it was undeniably warm and Cove SC crews enjoyed an almost balmy fifth race in this year’s Friday Night League.  Full ‘oilies’ and thermal layers have been the order of the day up to now (on less hardy boats than Jay, that is) but summer may just have arrived on the Eastern Bank. Of course, it would have been even better if more Cove SC boats had come racing. The Friday Night League fleet has been slow to build, thus far in 2013.

Bombora’s Paul Kenny acted as OD on this occasion. Starting at buoy number 9, in the vicinity of the Oil refinery, ‘Spenny’ set his windward mark at buoy number EF2, off Aghada. The fleet was then sent on a long run to a leeward mark at buoy number 20, off Cobh, before being asked to retrace their steps and finish back at buoy number EF2 – via buoy numbers 13 and 14 respectively. The White sail fleet were sent on a similar course, turning for home at buoy number 16 instead of going on to the spinnaker fleet’s mark at buoy number 14.

David Lane and Sinead Enright’s – An T’Oileanach, joined in the racing again. The Royal Cork crew have now competed in two of this season’s Friday Night League races and were, as always, most welcome additions to the fleet. Jay were certainly ‘keen to chat’ as the two J24s kept pace with each other around the course.  An T’Oileanach’s crew were not found wanting in this regard and the boats parted with a friendly challenge to meet ‘half-way’ on occasion. A rivalry in the making, perhaps?

Skippers were well behaved at the start and all boats got cleanly away. Tacticians had some work to do during this early phase. White Knight led the fleet over the line, before hooking the committee boat and beating on port for the Aghada-side.  Away on Business and An T’Oileanach followed in their wake.  Jay on the other hand, chose to stay on starboard and beat into the centre of the harbour. Gaelic Kiwi, in their first outing of the season, followed close astern of the J24, as did a number of white sail boats.  Jay won this phase of the race. Settling into the groove early and only tacking on the layline for EF2 – the J24 led the fleet around the windward mark. An T’Oileanach rounded within a boat-length of the leader. The two J24s only had eyes for each at this point and once around the mark, engaged in a short luffing battle, at the head of the fleet. Away on Business rounded in third place – the Formula 28 closing considerably on the leaders, as a result of the J24s’ playfulness. Gaelic Kiwi rounded in a strong fourth place.

Jay and AnT’Oileanach continued to have some interesting racing on the run to Cuskinny.  The J24s were never more than a boat length apart in this phase. Jay’s crew certainly worked hard to stay clear ahead of their rival and prevent An T’Oileanach from establishing an inside overlap. Jay again led the fleet around the mark at buoy number 13.

Tactics were again needed on the trip up Cobh Road. Once around 13, Jay chose to gybe onto port and make for the Spit Bank, happy to put her keel across the out-flowing tide early, in favour of an anticipated slower outflow to be found on the edge of the bank.  An T’Oileanach and Away on Business had other ideas. Both chasing boats chose to stay on starboard, working the Cobh side of the channel and waiting until the layline for buoy number 20 before tacking into the stronger tide. The Crosshaven boat won this battle, and rounded the mark with 30 seconds to spare over the somewhat puzzled Cobh boat.   Away on Business rounded in third, with Gaelic Kiwi staying in touch with the leaders, in fourth. Fergus Coughlan’s White Knight was having a bad night of it and, for the first time this season, was not in touch with the leaders.

The beat back to Cuskinny and the reach on to buoy number 14 was further dominated by An T’Oileanach, who continued to ‘boss’ the race in this phase. Unfortunately, for the Lane and Enright crew, a navigational error saw them turn for home at buoy number 16 instead of going on to buoy number 14 – a mistake that effectively cost them the race. Whilst Jay’s recent experiences allowed them to feel some empathy for the Royal Cork crew, the Cove SC boat pounced on An T’Oileanach’s misfortune to unashamedly lead the fleet around the final racing mark. An T’Oileanach sailed well to recover from their error – quickly running back to the fleet under spinnaker, but their dominance of the race was over and their lead of over a minute was converted into a deficit of almost 30 seconds at the mark.  A quick shrug of the shoulders was all that passed between the respective helms – in recognition of boats’ relative changes of fortune.

The fact that the race finished with a beat added some interest to the closing stages, especially as crews needed to choose to tack right or left into the strongly out-flowing tide.  The leading group replicated Jay’s first-beat tactic and drove for the centre of the harbour before seeking to lay the finish line in one tack. Jay nearly came unstuck here. Tacking a fraction too early, and being headed constantly, the J24 struggled for height on the strongly out-flowing tide and drifted agonisingly below the line, within a length of the committee boat. Jay was required to tack back against the bias on the line, taking what seemed like ‘an age’ to make up the 20 feet that had been left to them when they tacked at Bombora’s stern. Away on Business capitalised on Jay’s frustrations to take line honours, a minute ahead of the J24, on the opposite tack.

Jay placed first in the IRC division, with Gaelic Kiwi second and Away on Business third.  Finishing positions were reversed in ECHO. Away on Business took the win here, with Gaelic Kiwi finishing in second and Jay third. Mystic claimed the win in the white sail division.  Monkstown Bay SC’s Maximiser placed second with Jim Buckley’s Wader in third. Maximiser now leads the White Sail standings – displacing Damien Ahern’s ReEile, who did not race this week.

It is hard to believe that we are now nearly one third of the way through the Friday Night League, but with 5 races sailed that is indeed the case. Finbarr Dorgan’s No Half Measures continues to lead in the overall IRC standings. Jay has moved up to second.  White Knight now lies in third, with Away on Business in fourth, and Gaelic Kiwi in fifth.

(by our man on the water – Mr Liam Coakley)