Friday Night League – Race 3 report

May can be frustrating.  Fleet numbers are low and regular crew can be left without a berth as they wait for their boat to be launched.  Equally, some skippers can find themselves short of crew, as their regulars juggle home and work commitments and struggle to ‘dial-in’ to the rhythms of a new season.  Furthermore, whilst there are always those recidivistically keen to re-ignite past-seasons’ rivalries, many early season races can be less than competitive, and sometimes even processional in nature.   It has been thus over the first few races of the season, and so it was again, last Friday, when a small fleet of three spinnaker class boats and four white sail boats turned out for round 3 of Cove SC’s Friday Night League.

Early season pace-setters – No Half Measures – provided the ODs on the night and Finbarr Dorgan and Domnic Losty set an initially tight course between their start line at buoy number EF4, a windward mark at buoy number 13, and a proposed finish line at buoy number EF2.  The ‘best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry’ however, and to their credit, the ODs reacted to a late change in weather conditions by adding a further mark (buoy number 8, off Crosshaven) after the gun – and in so doing, ensured that the fleet had a reasonable chance to stretch their legs.

A pin-end start was favoured, and all boats got cleanly away.  Voices were raised on ReEile as Jay crept above them off the start (recidivists, you see) but the potential for indigestion was short-lived as the J24 accelerated into her favoured lane and quickly moved clear-ahead, without impeding the bigger boat.

The first trip to buoy number 13 was uneventful for most, and many of the higher pointing boats were nearly able to lay the mark in one tack.  White Knight, was hampered by their choice of a lower lane off the start and was comfortably tracked by the higher starting Jay, before being forced to tack onto port as the J24 overhauled her.   White Knight never regained the position.  Sonic Boom – Brian Carroll and Richard Marshall’s new SB20 – initially kept pace to windward of the two leaders.  However, the sportsboat’s basic speed quickly allowed them to establish a lead, as the fleet approached Cuskinny.  Sonic Boom’s experienced crew was never going to be caught from there.  Monkstown Bay SC’s Maximiser completed the leading group in this early phase.

Sonic Boom rounded the windward mark in first position.  Jay rounded in second and White Knight rounded in third.  Maximiser led the White Sail fleet around.

From there, the fleet retraced their steps and ran back to buoy number EF2.  White Knight struggled with their kite on this leg and a wrapped spinnaker forced them to abort their hoist.  Jay, on the other hand, hoisted in good order, and easily maintained their advantage over Impala.  However, overly conservative tactics aboard the j24 led them to drop their spinnaker far too early on the approach to buoy number EF2, losing any advantage that may have accrued from White Knight’s misfortune.

There was some confusion as the leaders visited buoy number 13 for the second time, as the OD’s sought to make their course alteration known, without the aid of a VHF radio.  However, Domnic and Finbarr soon got their message out and the fleet were calmly redirected to their new mark at buoy number 8.  Sonic Boom and Jay chose to sail high on this leg, eschewing any potential advantage to be gained from staying in the falling tide in favour of the extra speed-over-the-water bestowed by a higher angle of attack.  White Knight chose a different course and sailed a deeper, more direct course to the mark.  This course proved the correct one and the Impala closed slightly on the two leaders on the long run down to buoy number 8.  Jay was never in danger of losing second place on the water however, and the leading boats rounded buoy number 8 in the same order they rounded buoy number 13.

Some astute tacking on the beat back to Cuskinny allowed Jay to avoid the worst of the falling tide on the one hand and the lee of Spike Island, on the other, but Sonic Boom was never going to be caught and once around buoy number 13, and off the wind again, the SB20 showed her speed to open a considerable lead and finish a good 10 minutes ahead of Jay.

Jay placed first in both the IRC and Echo divisions on the night.  White Knight placed second.  Maximiser placed first in the White Sail division.  ReEile, taking a break from the Spinnaker division, placed second.  Chanteuse placed third.  No Half Measures continues to lead in the Spinnaker Fleet standings, with 3 wins from 3 races.

It is to be hoped that more Cove SC boats will join in the fun as May gives way to June.  Indeed, fleet numbers will surely be higher this coming Friday as the newly launched Bombora get their 2013 campaign up and running.  Of course, White Knight, for one, may be less than delighted with that prospect. At least one of Bombora’s crew have been spotted guesting’ with them, over the past few weeks.  Could be frustrating for Fergus Coughlan – but that’s May for you.

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