Laser Round the Island Race

15 March 2015

30 brave souls of the Laser Frostbites tackled a blustery easterly and flood tide on the Round the Island race, the final race of the 40th anniversary season. The lineup included travelling representatives from Connaught (Frankie Leonard) and Munster (Ed Rice), a welcome return from Kingstown’s Sean Craig, and, most notably, veteran of the 1st round island race Davie Jones. Inclement weather for the past few years has prevented the race, and despite the fresh breeze, engine failures in both the Free Enterprise and a support RIB, the 40th round island got underway a little after 11am on Saturday.

A clean start with a slight committee boat bias saw the fleet beat up the sound to the windward mark just of the south east shore of the island. Sailing to the left of the beat saw the leaders approach the top mark from the Port lay-line. Ronan Cull led Paul McMahon onto the downwind leg to the turning mark quickly followed by the chasing pack. The long waves made for a great downwind leg and high speed surfs by the lee. 

A starboard-rounding at the turning mark, Cull and McMahon went their separate ways. Cull opted for an anti clockwise venture while McMahon went clockwise followed by the chasing pack. Ed Rice and Sean Craig to name but a few followed Cull beating up the sound and sticking close to the beach on the island. Approaching the safety mark just of the Rowan marker Cull avoided the rocks sailing a slightly deviated course before turning to reach across the island's easterly facing cliffs. Ed Rice from RCYC with nerves of steel threaded the eye of the needle sailed through the rocky gap to make up some ground before turning onto the Starboard reach.

Meanwhile McMahon lead the majority who chose a clockwise rounding, starting with an energetic tight reach to the tower. ‘The rock’ was still just rearing its ugly head, which allowed for some confident tight roundings into confused chop behind the island. Beating along the north cliffs was difficult and there were some near misses as helms man-handled their way through tacks to avoid getting into irons in the swell. But getting tight into the tower and stack allowed for some gains, and there was much mid-fleet place changing.

The two groups met on the east stretch of the island, and the washing machine analogy wasn't lost on all sailors who battled to stay in the boat and upright with waves deflecting off the shore for an uncomfortable reach.  McMahon looked to be well in the lead from the chasing pack and those who opted for the clockwise route. For Cull and his followers, a short run down a great swell made for a fantastic surf down the back of the island, before gybing to reach to the last turning mark. As Cull hardened up, McMahon was sailing fast on a run down the Sound. It was too close to call.

Every gust, every surf counted with McMahon pipping Cull to line honours by a mere 16 seconds. Ed Rice came in third whilst Steve Quinn and Dan O'Connell followed in fourth and fifth.

Very close to call, a brave attempt by those who went anti clockwise but the clockwise group just about won out. Closest round island race in decades!

The race was followed by the prize giving and lunch, the only blip being a stubborn and disciplined Welsh defence. Apart from the norm, some ‘special’ prizes were also awarded: Dave Kirwan and his hangovers won a cheap box of paracetamol; Joe Cull won a cork for most nervous Frostbiter; and Darrell Reamsbottom won a toilet roll (read into that what you will).  

It was another great season for the Laser frostbites and thanks must go to Christine Kerley and John Deane on results/prizes/photos; Suzanne Kane and Emmet Dalton for general support; Brian Turvey for uploading (and editing!) our weekly reports; Berchmans Gannon for officiating the prize giving; all those in the class who contributed to the weekly write-ups especially Ronan Cull; to Dan O’Connell for simply being too slick; and Paul McMahon on keyboards. Of course none of it would have been possible without our race committee of Liamo Dinneen, Harry Gallagher, Neil Murphy, Richard Kissane, John Doran and Davie Jones.

Very special thanks to our sponsors: Keith Cassidy and H&K, Shane Murphy and Dinghy Supplies, and Gareth Craig for on-the-water photos.

We’ll have a struggle for the next few months of fair weather, long warm summer evenings, ‘15 knots & sunshine’, and comfortable big-boat stuff. Not to worry: among the certainties of death and taxes are the chill blains, inexplicable bruises, stiff muscles, achy joints, salty gullets, stinging faces and general glamour that are all part of the Frostbites.

See you in the winter.

All the results here

Prizegiving photos (by John Deane) here

Photos (including the main top picture) by Conor Lindsay...



Some older photos...

Frostbites 1974/5  Laser Nationals 1975  Laser Nationals 1975  

Laser lunch 1990  Laser lunch 1990  Laser lunch 1990

Laser lunch 1990  Laser lunch 1990  Laser lunch 1999

A proud day for Simon Knowles - he still keeps this in his wallet today....