Murphys chased all the way

Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen

Alan Balfe reports on the DLFF Chase

Peter Murphy with his son Tom, aged 6, as crew held off a fleet of keen pursuers to win the Annual Dun Laoghaire Flying Fifteen Chase for 2010, on June 27. 

The sun was shining on a beautiful Sunday morning as a fleet of six crews assembled at the National Yacht Club at 9:45.  With a SSE wind of force 2-3, and a flat sea, conditions were perfect for this fun event.  The start and finish line was in the harbour between the bandstand and the end of the Carlisle Pier, and with the car ferry due to arrive at 11:50, the Race Officers had a short discussion with the fleet, before deciding on a course to leave Pier mark to port, Saoirse to starboard, Boyd to starboard, Turning mark to port, then to the finish. 

Crossing the line

Peter and Tom Murphy cross the finish line


The Race Officers then withdrew to discuss the handicaps.  Peter Murphy and Tom, sailing High Fibre (3704) were assigned the scratch start, with Conor and Peter Cronin sailing Raceffion (3558) to start at +3 minutes.  Peter’s other son, Cian (age 9), had the privelege (whether he knows it or not) of sailing with Alan Green in Deranged (3665).  As Alan had demonstrated that he can sail a Flying Fifteen very fast without any crew, when winning the single handed race the previous Tuesday, he was handicapped to start one minute further back. 

The last flight, two minutes later, and +6 minutes after the first starter, consisted of Tom Leonard and Mary-Jane Mulligan sailing Mellifluence (3706), Alan Dooley and Joe Hickey in Flogger (3773) and Tom Murphy and Joe Brady in Rollercoaster (3774).

The race got under way a little later than intended at about 10:50.  As the rest of the fleet champed at the bit in the start area, Tom Murphy’s boat showed no signs of departing from the pontoon.  The Race Officers showed great forbearance, waiting graciously until Tom eventually presented himself at the start area. 

Peter Murphy did not make the most of his favourable handicap, by being rather far back from the line when the Start Flag was lowered, but got away on a broad starboard reach.  The Cronins started next, sporting a newer main sail and jib borrowed from David Mulvin (the number 3919 gave the game away!), but with their usual red and black spinnaker set. 

Alan Green started well a minute later, but as he set his spinnaker there was a big wind shift in the harbour which killed his momentum.  All had to gybe to port, while the flags over the bandstand still showed a SSE wind.  Tom Murphy and Alan Dooley perhaps felt that the handicappers’ evaluation was too lenient, for when their start was signalled, they were loitering on the course side, and while they were scrambling back to start, Tom Leonard was getting away in fine style with spinnaker set, at the port end of the line. 

Outside the harbour, Peter Murphy led as he rounded Pier mark, followed by the Cronins. Alan Green, in hot pursuit, seemed to have gained some ground and Tom Leonard and Mary-Jane had closed the gap on Alan.  While the fleet headed for Saoirse, the Race Team headed for coffee.

Pleasantly refreshed, the Race Team took up station at the finish line.  At 11.45, as the fleet sailed up the harbour to the finish, the handicappers were pleased to see all six boats in close formation. 

In an exciting dash to the line on starboard tack, Peter Murphy and Tom just held on to cross at the starboard end close to the Carlisle Pier, 15 seconds ahead of Tom Leonard and Mary-Jane finishing very fast towards the middle of the line.  Their heroic race from the back had just fallen short at the end.

The Cronins came in third, finishing close to the wall at the bandstand, 36 seconds behind the winner.  Next, also finishing near the bandstand, were Alan Dooley at 1 minute and 6 seconds and Alan Green one second further behind.  Tom Murphy came in 24 seconds further back.  A good race keenly contested and enjoyed by all.

Thanks to my fellow Race Officer Ray Duggan for his generous assistance and advice, and to Fergus Balfe who wielded the air-horn with aplomb.

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