Round the Island Race kickstarts the Dinghy Frostbites series
The 2023 HYC Dinghy Frostbite kicked off with a twist this Sunday, as the race organisers decided to begin the series with a race around Ireland’s Eye. 24 boats hit the start line, with the usual ILCAs involved, as well as a diverse PY fleet involving some of Ireland’s blossoming Melges 15s, in addition to International 14s, a B14, a Mermaid, RS Aero and a RS Feva. Boats travelled from as far as Cork and Galway to take part. HYC’s Round the Island Race now has the honour of being the first event to race Melges 15s under PY handicap! Harry Gallagher and his team on the committee boat as always got the fleets away on time on fair courses.
As always in HYC’s iconic race, the sailors can choose which way to round Ireland’s Eye. After a short beat to windward, the sailors can choose whether to round clockwise or anti-clockwise. After much discussion while rigging and changing, no consensus was reached, and all fleets split at the turning mark and headed different directions. A westerly breeze and flood tide left many undecided until the turning point came. The race involves a huge amount of variables, including how close you want to cut certain corners - many a sailor has lost chunks from daggerboards by flying too close to the sun on the rough edges or Ireland’s Eye. Although this has been curbed in recent years by the addition of a mandatory rounding mark off the southern-most point of the island, following some ambitious corner cutting in years gone by.
The PY fleet’s wide variety of entrants made for interesting results. Chris & Rob Bateman’s International 14 went anti-clockwise around the island, which the ILCA fleets found to be the “slow” way around this year. However the speed of the Batemans’ I14 was enough to let it outpace their competitors, and they took gold with a margin of 1 minute and 19 seconds over the next closest. Mike Evans and Troy Hopkins switched from their usual twin-trapeze RS800 to the new Melges 15, and came in second place. Expect to hear a lot more about Melges 15s in Howth by this time next year! Daragh Sheridan, frequent winner of PY fleets in his RS Aero came in 3rd.
In the ILCA 7s, 5 boats rounded the first mark almost side by side - Rory Lynch, Andrejs Samoilovs, Dave Kirwan, Conor Murphy and Colm Cunningham. Rory and Andrejs went clockwise, Dave, Conor and Colm went anti-clockwise. Rory led the rest of the way around, and fresh from success sailing with brother Finn at the Champions Cup in Fenit, he added another 1st place to his results for the year. Andrejs and Dave rounded out the top 3.
In the ILCA 6s, regular Frostbiter visiting from the RStGYC, Hugh Delap, came back to take first place, followed closely by MYC’s Glenda Gallagher. Viktor Samoilovs rounded out the top 3, marking a successful day for the Samoilovs. The ILCA 4s was won by Oleksandr Bexpaly, and second was HYC’s Charlie Power.
The series in HYC is only getting started - racing for dinghy classes will continue until mid-March. This year marks the 49th year of winter dinghy racing in HYC, and plans are in motion for a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary next year. Entries for all fleets are still open and can be found here. While great weather can’t be promised - great racing outside the harbour, under top class race officers and excellent facilities ashore can be.
Report by Conor Murphy