Last Dinghy Frostbites of 2023 brings winners in on a spring tide
In the days leading up to the final day of the pre-Christmas series, the range of forecast models provided a variety of predictions about the wind conditions to be expected come the time of the first gun. The choice spanned from 8 to 32 knots, but thankfully more moderate ones prevailed; although the fleet still had to contend with gusts of up to 28 knots during the first race.
With some of the earlier races in the series having been casualties of the weather, HYC Commodore Neil Murphy, moonlighting as race officer for the day, squeezed in three races over a triangular course with a windward-leeward middle lap. The race management team got the course and start lines laid quickly, and adjusted as needed, to both keep the legs properly aligned and the sailors (not to mention the mark layers) warm. The immediate turn-around from one race to the next saw all three concluded and the sailors back ashore within two hours of the first gun, helped by the fleets getting away first time in all the races - despite the enthusiasm of some over-eager starters earning them the handicap of individual recalls.
The scoreboards for each of the fleets showed tight battles for the podium places before racing started and, with three races scheduled, only three discards available for the series and the demanding conditions forecast, anything could have happened. On the day, the south-westerly breeze coming around the west side of the Hill of Howth made for some tricky gusts and wind shifts. The snakes and ladders upwind conditions, combined with a spring tide flooding across the course area, gave everyone the feeling at some time during the morning that the finishing gun might be theirs today!
In the ILCA 7s, Rory Lynch (Baltimore SC) topped off a successful year for the Lynch family by winning all three races. None of them came easy, with Dan O’Connell (Cove SC) and Daragh Kelleher (Skerries SC) jostling for the lead at every corner. With seven wins out of the eleven races sailed in the series, Lynch was a deserving winner, while Daragh Kelleher took 2nd and Dave Kirwan (Malahide YC) took 3rd. It marks the first HYC Dinghy Frostbites series win for Rory, and his name being engraved on the Courtney Cup will bring to an end the Ronan Wallace monopoly that has lasted since 2018.
In the ILCA 6s, Tom Fox (Rush SC) posted a 1, 2, 1 to seal his overall win in the series. Darragh Peelo (Malahide YC) and Peter Hassett (DBSC) tied on points for 2nd place but Peelo took runner-up on countback. With five different race winners in the ILCA 6 fleet across the series, competition was fierce and no doubt will continue to be so in the post-Christmas series. In the ILCA 4s, Oleksandr Bezpalyi (Obolon SC) maintained his lead to win overall, despite the late charge from Optimist National Champion Harry Dunne (Howth YC), who stormed the day’s racing with a 1, 1, 2 to secure 2nd overall. Stan O’Rourke (Malahide / Howth YCs) also had a very strong day with a 2, 2, 1, sealing his 3rd place, tied on points with Charlie Power (Howth YC) who took 4th overall. This group has been getting coached by HYC’s Youth Worlds Champion Rocco Wright and the progress made by them over the series, especially in the occasionally gnarly weather conditions encountered, confirm the benefit of time on the water with a good coach. No doubt the battles between them will intensify further in January.
In the PY Handicap Class, the RS Aeros, GP14s and the B14 battled it out on the final day before Daragh Sheridan (Howth YC) sealed the series win in his RS Aero 6 with three more firsts, building his tally of race victories to 9 from the 11 races sailed, with only Michael Evans (Melges 15) and Sam Street (GP 14) depriving him of a clean sweep. The GP14s of Conor Twohig (Howth YC/Sutton DC) and Sam Street (Blessington SC) and the RS Aero of John Phelan (Howth YC) filled out the remaining podium spots on the final day’s racing, with John Phelan securing 2nd overall on countback from the B14 of Jeremy Beshoff (Howth YC).
The fleet takes a Christmas break now before continuing in 2024. First up is the New Year’s Day race on 1st January, first gun at 11.55. Come on down to dust off the cobwebs and start the year right! The post-Christmas series is open to all dinghy competitors, and online entry is available here.