Friday Night League – Race Report No.15

Cove SC’s Friday Night League was sailed in light winds for the second week in a row last weekend, but race officer Brian Curtis set a fine course on the night and managed to finish all boats in good time.  Starting at EF2, the fleet beat to a first mark at bouy number 9, turned and ran to bouy number 13, before turning again and beating to a weather mark at bouy number 10, off Spike Island.  From there, it was a straight run to an EF2 finish, via a gybe mark at buoy number 11.

Skippers adopted different approaches on the line. Some, such as Away on Business, opted to stay high, favouring a port-hand approach at the pin end and seeking to lay the first mark on one tack.  Others, such as Sonar, Jay and C’est la Vie chose a more cautious starboard-hand approach, safe in the knowledge that they would have rights should any contact arise on the line.  Sonar timed her run well and dominated any port-hand traffic she encountered on the line.  Jay, however, suffered in this early phase.  Arriving a few seconds too late, she could not press her starboard advantage and was forced to sail beneath the fast starting Upstart.  Compelled to sail in the larger boat’s dirty air, and with no tactical advantage to be gained from tacking off, she struggled to maintain her lane and gradually fell to leward of the leading group.  Sonar, Bedlam, and Away on Business led the fleet to the first mark and maintained a slight advantage on the run to number 13, off Cuskinny.

The tactical decisions made off Cuskinny did much to determine finishing positions.  Leaving number 13 to port, the leading group all chose to harden up and beat towards Cobh.  Kodachi, Bedlam and Away on Business tacked onto Starboard at the layline for number 10, but Sonar and Jay chose to sail farther upriver, delaying their tack until well beyond the layline, in the hope of avoiding the incoming tide on the shallower water of the Spit Bank.  Jay made great gains here, passing Away on Business and eating considerably into Sonar’s lead on the water.  At the head of the fleet, Bedlam and Kodachi rounded number 10 in quick sucession, followed a short distance behind by Sonar and Jay.  Jay made further gains on the run to the finish, but could not make a telling move against the well-sailed Sonar.

Bedlam placed first in IRC with Sonar taking second and Jay third.  Jay took first in the Echo division, followed on this occassion by Away on Business and Bedlam. Barry Crocket’s undercrewed Upstart won the ‘white sail’ division.

With 15 of the league’s 18 races now sailed, attention is inevitbly being drawn towards the Fridy Night League tables. Season-long pace-setters, Gaelic Kiwi and Re Eile may yet have a hand to play, but it now seems unlikely that overall honours will be awarded anyone but Sonar or Bedlam.  Bedlam has sailed consistently well all season, a feat made all the more impressive by this boat’s frequent change of helm.  However, proving the adage that leagues are rarely won at the start of the season but rather at the end – the momentum lies with Sonar, who now seems certain to capitalise on her recent dominance of the fleet.  Finbarr Dorgan and his crew have now carded four firsts, one second, and one third in the six races sailed since their return from Scotland at the start of July.

The ECHO division is more open in nature.  Away on Business and Bedlam currently top the standings and enjoy a healthy lead over the rest of the fleet.  However, when likely discards are taken into account, most regular competitors remain in the hunt for honours here.  John Doyle’s Chanteuse and Jim Buckley’s Wader dominate the ‘White Sail division’, as they have done for most of the season.