More excellent conditions on day two of the International Fireball Worlds sailed in Comet Bay, Mandurah under clear blue skies with just a hint of wispy alto cirrus and gusty southeasterly offshore winds. Some tired sailors came ashore with big smiles on their faces after ideal Fireball sailing conditions including some exhilarating reaches. With a bullet and a second, South Australians, Robin Inns and Joel Coultas take a two point lead in the regatta over Brits, Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey with two more Adelaide teams just five points adrift. The second start was clean under black flag and the fleet of 65 Fireballs headed upwind deep into Comet Bay towards the beach. Robin Inns and Joel Coultas and Greg Allison and Richard Watson, absolutely flew downwind to power into the lead. Robin Inns said modestly in the bar later: “We got a bit lucky, we read the shifts well but they were big! There was a short delay to adjust the course but the conditions remained similar apart from the gusts just got stronger! Surprisingly more of the fleet finished both races today proving that lessons are learnt at all levels which is a great sign for a healthy class like the Fireball. The Mirror followed a few years later, along with mini skirts, flower power and The Beatles. The Daily Mirror’s publicity department decided to champion this new family dinghy and Jack Holt was called in to refine the concept. Forty-five years since the Mirror first appeared, there are still plenty of red sails to be seen, but some things have changed. To bring the Mirror totally up to date, Phil Morrison was asked to design a Mk3 deck layout suitable for epoxy foam sandwich construction.
Our MK3 test boat was ‘Wind Whisper’, the latest of an illustrious line owned by Jeremy Pudney. The Winder Boats MK3 (blue boat) looks beautifully finished with a cockpit that is open, comfortable and designed to make things as easy as possible for the crew to sail it fast. Rigging the two boats was rather as expected — the Bermudan rig was quick and easy, while the gaff rig was more of a hassle. With the kite up, you can see that a totally modern Mirror is nicely powered up for two teenagers in a Force 3-4. We still love the Mirror; it ranks with Jack Holt’s great designs and those red sails are still a cheerful sight at any sailing venue. Every month Y&Y features expert advice about how to perfect your sailing technique, the very best marine photography, boat tests and the latest sailing news for competitive racers. Sign me up to receive emails on the latest news, exclusive offers and competitions to your inbox.
Lough Derg Yacht Club's freshwater regatta completed the 2015 one design season for the SB20s, Flying Fifteens, (see our earlier report here) and Dragons last weekend.
With a combined turnout of 54–boats across the four classes and some tight races on Lough Derg there were some noteworthy winners including a second overall for debutante Squib campaigner (and London 2012 International Race Officer) Jack Roy sailing with daughter Jill. Ignis Caput sailed by National Yacht Club pairing David Mulvin and Ronan Beirne were overall winners of the Flying Fifteen end of season keelboat regatta sailed at Lough Derg Yacht Club in Tipperary today. The biggest Irish Fireball fleet of the year, seventeen boats had a mixed bag of weather over the weekend just past for their Munster Championships at Lough Derg Yacht Club. With two of the more successful skippers missing this weekend, there was going to be change to the podium places at this regatta and so it proved. As Afloat reported earlier, at the skippers’ briefing on Saturday morning, Race Officer John Leech, and Vice Commodore of LDYC, postponed the start of proceedings as rain squalls over the race area were producing a white water scape and given the amount of time we had, discretion was deemed to be the better part of valour. A more subdued race area met competitors when proceedings did get underway and a trapezoid course was set – a compromise position to accommodate both Classes. The balance of the day’s racing was in this stronger breeze and more than one of the top combinations took a swim for their pains.
At the close of racing on Saturday evening the first three boats in the Classic Trophy were separated by a point.
LDYC were excellent hosts with a superb meal served in the clubhouse on the Saturday night and a late bar.
The concluding regatta of the season was intended to be over the first weekend of October in Dun Laoghaire. Fourteeen 420s travelled to Lough Derg Yacht Club this weekend to take part in the Connacht Championships. Three races were completed in Day one in windy but predominantly dry conditions on Saturday. A good call by the race officer meant that despite extremely light conditions on Sunday morning, racing began as scheduled, with the first general recall of the event in Race 4. The event saw a great turnout from the 420 fleet, with boats attending from the home club LDYC, from Northern Ireland and from Galway and Wexford, as well as Dublin and Cork clubs, all sailing in a challenging set of weather conditions. Holding the event in conjunction with the Fireball Munster Championships meant a busy weekend in Lough Derg.
The penultimate regatta of the Irish Fireball regatta season has seen the best turnout of boats this year–16 writes Cormac Bradley. Sailing with the 420s (15 boats) on Lough Derg and hosted by Lough Derg Yacht Club, the fleet took advantage of favourable conditions to have four races today. The article obviously struck a chord because on revisiting the story on the Afloat website recently, it had received over 5,000 reads! So, as a follow-up to that widely read article, Bradley reports that Michaela and Ryan successfully defended their Worlds title, but with their roles in the boat reversed, Michaela helmed and Ryan crewed. This time the strongest threat to the defence came from a concerted British team which had a number of combinations finishing at the top end of individual races.
Two years ago the Lough Derg Yacht Club championships attracted 91 boats from seven countries.
The event will run alongside Abersoch Mirror Week and be hosted by South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club on the Irish Sea. Other than some frost-bite sailing out of the National Yacht Club (NYC) in November most SB's have been packed up for the winter.
The first Regional event planned for 2015 is the Easterns in Howth Yacht Club which will be preceded by the spring warmer out of the same club.
Over 10 Irish boats are currently planning on attending the worlds at one of Europe's premiers sailing venues.
The remaining dates and locations for the 2015 Irish circuit will be published once they have been confirmed with the respective clubs. So it says much about the sheer fun-filled exuberance of the great International Mirror Dinghy festival which concluded last night at Dromineer that for ten days - apart from Simon Coveney's sail with John and Adair Leech on their Shannon One Design - the SODs were sidelined. For those of us hoping to savour this remarkable event at its very best, it was a matter of Carpe Diem, Seize the Day, and the magic day was Tuesday. At the opening ceremony were (front row, left to right) David Meredith (Vice Commodore, LDYC), Cllr Virginia O'Dowd, Commodore LDYC Denis Hassey, Minister Simon Coveney, Mayor North Tipperary Ger Darcy, President Int. In fact, the regatta was already in full swing by the time Minister Coveney performed his official duties, as the Irish Mirror National Opens had completed a successful if sometimes flukey four day eight-race buildup to the big one in the week beforehand, with a fleet of 68 boats getting results which were encouraging for visitors and the home fleet alike. Clear overall winners were Ridgeley Balladares and Rommel Chaves of the Philippines with a convincing scoreline of five firsts and a fourth, discarding a 48th in Race 7 and a DNC in Race 8. New Irish Open Champions Ridgeley Balladares and Rommel Cahvez of the Philippines were on top form in the opening four day event. The runners-up were Cian Hickey and Caolan Croasdell of Skerries, which doubtless caused dancing in the streets of Fingal. Lough Derg YC (founded 1835) has an attractive, substantial and very efficient clubhouse which was opened after massive membership endeavour back in 2005, and deservedly saw LDYC taking the Mitsubishi Motors "Club of the Year" award. Even the daily reports have been a good example of team effort by the shore squad in the clubhouse and Mirror supporters out on the water. Out on the water, PRO Con Murphy and his crew were based on the Levie family of Clonmel's substantial steel ketch Shindilla. So the scene was set, with the community in the attractive village – on a good day it's the Tipperary Riviera - and the members in the bustling clubhouse all together on message.

Amaryllis's hefty nature meant we couldn't mix it in the heat of the fleet with the proper photographers' RIBs, but we got the flavour of it, and more particularly we were comfortably back in time for the post-sailing atmosphere in Dromineer. By this time, I was so Mirror mesmerized that I'd got to the stage of thinking any boat with a pointy bow and white sails was an oddity. Lough Derg Yacht Club, founded in 1835, is situated in Dromineer, close to Nenagh, in Co Tipperary. A number of competitors remarked that this was the fastest speeds they had achieved in their boats.
First round the windward mark was Western Australian, Americas Cup and past Fireball master, Gordon Lucas and his crew Jake Flintoff, closely followed by the Brit pack including regatta leader Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey.
John Heywood and Brett Littledike had also worked up through the fleet to get in sight of a podium finish. By the last windward mark rounding Lewis and Byrne sailing Mutleys Revenge were lapping back markers and opening up a 100m lead. His great designs — including the Cadet in 1947, GP14 in 1949, Enterprise in 1955 and Solo in 1956 — were created to make dinghy sailing accessible for the maximum number of people, during the austere decade which followed the Second World War. Post-war austerity was a fading memory and do-it-yourself home improvements were all the rage. He produced a totally new design to the same criteria — The Daily Mirror wanted it to be 100 per cent foolproof for their readers — using the innovative stitch-andglue construction method.
Later that year, the first Mirror national championship at Burnham-on-Crouch attracted 28 entries.
Having been the musthave dinghy for a generation, the popularity of the Mirror took a dive. Various Mirrors had been built in fibreglass for three decades, but never in oven-baked, vacuumbagged epoxy sandwich which is widely considered to be the number one system for super-light, super-stiff, long-lasting dinghy hulls, which, unlike their owners, should not put on weight.
In times gone by, Jeremy rescued and revitalised the International 14 class with a ‘no holds barred’ update including unlimited spinnaker area. My old Mirror — bought and sold for ?250 — was beautifully built for the 1970 London Boat Show and had original everything.
Sail numbers are closing on 71,000 and although growth is nothing like the early days, 50 new boats were sold in the UK last year. Second were Dun Laoghaire club–mates Niall Meagher and Keith Poole with County Antrim's Brian Willis and John McPeake third in the six boat fleet. On Saturday we had healthy winds, rain squalls that upped the strength of the breeze but fortunately didn’t give us too much rain, followed by sunshine. Another combination who have had a lean time of it in terms of regatta wins recently got back to winning ways in a dominant style and there was a healthy turnout of boats for the Classis Trophy. However, the physical size of the course proved to be much too small as stronger breeze came in to render the race a 20-minute session – an unusual error for the Race Officer to be caught out on his home waters. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer (14938) finished second overall, tied with Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield (14748) on eighteen points but taking second place on the basis of a third in the final race versus a seventh for the latter boat. Race Officer John Leech and his team turned races around very quickly and set good courses which was quite a challenge in Sunday’s lighter airs circumstances. However, the combination of date and venue is not confirmed so Irish Fireballers should watch for a communication on when and where the Leinsters will be sailed. Race 4 was shortened as the light conditions persisted but by race 5 the breeze had picked up slightly. Fireball correspondent for Afloat, Cormac Bradley, raced against and worked for their father, Michael, during his time in South Africa and after the regatta in Lough Derg, Michael wrote a piece on the campaign to compete in the Irish hosted Worlds. Three points separated the top three teams after a season that saw four different regional event winners. This is sure to provide the fleet with some breezy conditions in preparation for the 2015 worlds which are being held on Lake Garda in early July.
With the 2016 worlds already confirmed for Cascais, Ireland are lodging a strong bid and are hopeful in securing the 2017 worlds. These slinky beauties of Ireland's inland waterways have an exotic attraction heightened by the fact that, despite their occasional visits to salt water, they only seem truly at home on the great lakes of the River Shannon. The characterful little Mirrors – 91 of them from seven diferent countries – totally dominated the scene both on the Dromineer waterfront, and out on the magnificent lake. The morning may have seen the brisk westerly bring one large rainsquall blotting out the Clare hills as the fleet scampered along under spinnaker, but for the rest of the day the sun was strong from a vigorous sky.
And for anyone new to the Mirror scene, it gave a comprehensive insight into the variety of people these unique 10ft 10ins boat attract these days.
If you think - like most folk in Ireland - that Mirrors are useful little multi-purpose boats for kids, then the Philippine pair were an eye-opener. They finished on 25pts to the 9 of the Filipino crew, and four points ahead of Alfie Wisdom and Sam Warren of the host club, while in fourth and fifth came names which were to come to greater prominence in the Worlds proper, with British crew Sarah Richards and her son George one point behind on 30. Hickey and Croasdell are fairly standard at 18 and 14 years respectively, while Wisdom and Warren are 20 and 14.
The first entry for the entire regatta came from Ken Barnes of Montrose Bay in Australia, and he's 61. In effect, it functions as the lakeside village's community centre, and hosts such an extraordinary variety of events that in honour of one of them, the Dromineer Literary Festival, it was described this week as a Poetry Society with Sailing Club attached. But meanwhile there was this business of the club taking on the biennial Mirror Worlds at a time when Mirror Dinghies are supposed to be rather passe despite their Golden Jubilee this year, and with the reality of Ireland being in recession and Dromineer being a place of limited visitor accommodation. A fleet of 91 boats isn't one to be sniffed at, and when you take on the mantle of a World Championship, you have the additional task of hosting teams of mandatory officials who have been guaranteed a certain level of comfort. From the race course, Andy Johnston of Sutton Dinghy Club was filing in a stream of regular reports on tactical developments in each race, with additional input from Brian Raftery of Sligo. Originally built in the Netherlands in 1958 for Bob Berridge of Galway and Cork, the 38ft Shindilla is the ideal size for a committee boat on Lough Derg, as she's not too large, yet her weight provides a solid platform on a bit of water which can sometimes serve up rollers which wouldn't shame the sea. And there, wonderful as ever, was the lake, ready for it and astonishingly beautiful as only Lough Derg can be, particularly in a week when the changeable weather gave it a new brightness of sunlight and a welcome freshness after the choking and often windless heat of most of July. My own observation point was from Reggie Goodbody's gaff sloop Amaryllis, which is yet another Lough Derg curiosity, as her hull was built in Italy, then the boat was finished in Holland.
Thus we saw senior crew Donovan Alp and Daniel Coady from Canada making their early return to find a very strong looking family of swans had taken up residence on the Canadian's allocated berth. Normality had become a boat with a bluff little hull and red sails, sailed by people who race for fun.
One false start as the majority of the pack ganged up on the pin end of the line which was a shame for current 470 Olympic Gold medallist local, Tessa Parkinson as she flew out of the starting blocks on port tack.
British boat Southpaws sailed by Derian and Andy Scott sailed a solid first beat to round just ahead of fellow Brits, Martin Lewis and Richard Byrne.
Good boat handling downwind secured them a deserved victory over the new regatta leaders Inns and Coultas.
The formula was straightforward: hulls and decks were shaped from big sheets of marine grade plywood, making home boatbuilding as easy and economic as possible.
Barry Bucknell, who was the BBC’s guru of DIY, came up with an idea for a new family dinghy for sailors of all ages. A frenzy of home building, backed by Mirror kits and complete boats produced by Bell Woodworking, ensured that red sails became a common sight on the water.
The idea of building your own boat didn’t seem so attractive, when money was more plentiful and supposedly ‘maintenance-free’ glassfibre was all the rage.
The team at Winder Boats started building the Mk3 in August 2007, using the same materials and techniques as his ’07 world championshipwinning Fireball and ’07 national championshipwinning Merlin Rocket and Solo.
The Mirror update is not quite so extreme, but is intended to provide junior racers — including Jeremy’s second round of children — with a truly modern sailing experience in a classic class.
The gunwales have lost their lips and the decks have been gently dished, instead of the ‘flat as a plywood plank’ appearance of the older decks. Just like a 1960s Mirror, there is plenty of room for an adult to sail singlehanded (it also sails nicely without the jib) or with a child. It was cheap to own and lots of fun for mucking about on the water, but felt floppy rather than formidable to sail.

The secondhand market for competitive racing boats is strong, thanks to the Mirror’s role as an RYA junior class, and there is a vibrant UK competition circuit at all levels — including adults who are still allowed to compete! On Sunday we had much lighter breezes and drizzle that turned to heavy rain as the racing concluded.
In addition to the Dun Laoghaire cohort we had participants from nearby Killaloe, Youghal and Skerries.
On Saturday evening in the racing post-mortem they admitted to capsizing on one of the downwind legs, but they were sufficiently far ahead that it didn’t cost them any places.
John Bolger & Jay Dalton of Killaloe (14150) also scored well on Sunday to secure second overall in the Classics.
The essence of Michael's article is that it isn't necessary to have the latest boat and sails in order to win a Worlds and he chronicled how the family had engaged with the Mirrors from a relatively modest investment of time and money to a full blown Worlds campaign. The fleet will be arranging a training event for any and all boats prior to the worlds in order to maximise the best results for the Irish competitors. And when the organisers of the Mirror Worlds 2013 sounded out Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and The Marine, to perform last Sunday's official opening ceremony at Lough Derg YC at Dromineer, they discovered he was one of these secret Shannon OD admirers. And they had a tremendous week of racing despite a difficult period of weather in which four different seasons in one day – indeed, sometimes in one hour – set PRO Con Murphy a daunting task in which he completed a full programme despite Met Eireann outdoing itself in the gloomy weather prediction stakes throughout the week. And the wind was brisk, then strong and then stronger again, such that by mid-afternoon further racing was curtailed. Balladares is 36 while Chaves is 40, and the word was their day job is as crew on a superyacht whose owner encourages their dinghy racing. On 36 points in fifth were South African siblings Ryan and Michaela Robinson of Boskop YC, poised (if they but knew it) to become International Mirror World Champions 2013, and leading a strong South African contingent in anticipation of the Worlds there in 2015.
It's a formidable organizational effort, but for a very long time in advance, Event Manager Ian Roberts and his Assistant Manager Lucy Sanders were putting their team together, and anyone who has been following the daily up-dates on from Dromineer on the progress of the regatta will know that the sailors have been having a mighty fine time. Back in the clubhouse, LDYC Press Officer Eleanor Hooker kept tabs on the reports she collated a daily report each evening which gave an excellent overview of the progress of a world class World Championship. For although the Irish championship which started the regatta had occasional lack of wind pressure, for the Worlds it was a dream scenario with sailing at its best. But now she is such a ubiquitous feature of all Ireland's inland waterways that she's believed to be the only boat which has crossed the M50 under sail – she did it on the Royal Canal aqueduct.
Somehow, it was sorted out (Canadians are good at peace-making), and the swans re-located to a suitable spot beside the Shannon One Designs. Multiple Fireball World champions Chips Howard and Vyv Townend finished their day with the final step on the podium for race four.
But the wooden gaff looked a bit weird paired with the aluminium mast which had become standard issue for all junior racers. Combined with the design tickling skills of Phil Morrison, the provenance of the Mirror Mk3 is just great.
We sailed the new boat at Itchenor SC, which boasts a strong Mirror fleet in Chichester Harbour, plus an older boat with the gaff rig for comparison and two teams of junior sailors.
The Mirror class has taken care not to commit mass suicide by allowing the Mk3 to be a lighter or quicker boat.
The first big difference with the Mk3 is no rowlocks — unlike the classic Mirror, there’s no room for oars to clog up the cockpit!
This boat is primarily or even exclusively targeted at crews and helms in the RYA Junior Racing Scheme where it appears to go head-to-head with the Cadet. Last year’s week-long national championship at Brightlingsea attracted 72 Mirrors, but the big news came from the world championship in South Africa at the start of the year.
The event was shared with the 420s who were sailing a Connaught Championships and the Wayfarers who were enjoying the latter stages of a cruising event that had started the previous weekend. The hosting of three classes at the one venue over a single weekend worked well – though in reality the Wayfarers were doing a distance race on the Saturday so the rest of us only saw them onshore. But by that time the legendary Mirror zest for sailing had been expressed yet again with gusto. And the promising South African brother and sister Robinson crew had one of the lowest average ages of all, with Ryan being 16 while Michaela is 13. But all were put in the ha'penny place by Rex Henderson from Australia's Royal Freshwater Bay YC who admitted to being 70, but who knows, it might be more. Just about everyone got involved, and the visitors from far and wide who couldn't find accommodation either in b&bs or people's houses found that there were berths available on the large variety of cruisers in the harbour.
After racing at a saltwater venue, you have all the hassle of washing down boat, gear, sails and crew with fresh water. Plywood panels were loosely ‘stitched’ with copper ties, then ‘glued’ together with fibreglass ribbon and resin. It was a curious change for a multi-purpose family dinghy that had been enthusiastically raced by adult helms — often with a child as crew — and could be rowed or even pushed along by a small outboard motor. In addition, the wood to make the gaff had become way more expensive than aluminium, was heavy to drop (normally by mistake) on a crew’s head, needed regular varnishing and was prone to break when tuned with high loads for racing. Tara Bottomley, Charlotte Fitzgerald and Hugo Sloper are all from the RYA National Squad with many years experience of Mirror racing, alongside Felix Irwin- Brown who was more accustomed to old wooden Mirrors with a gaff — like so many sailors of all ages. Charlotte pointed out that unlike older Mirrors, the Mk3 has no cubby holes to stow drinks, sponges, bailers or even sandwiches, which seem likely to get lost in a capsize. Tara and Charlotte were markedly quicker than the boys when they sailed their own gaff rigged boat but maintained a similar advantage when they swapped to the new Mk3. Anna Mackenzie and Holly Scott from Windermere beat 79 teams, including Australian, South African, Irish and other British in the top 10, It was not only the first time a British boat had won the worlds for a decade, but also the first win by an all-girl team. So these crazy Mirror maniacs are the living embodiment of the ISA's motto of sailing being a sport for life. But the Mirror has found a new life as an RYA Junior Pathway Class, helping to provide young sailors up to the age of 16 with a year-round mixture of top-level training and regatta sailing. What’s more, the mainsail is tricky to tune with a gaff and lacing the sail to the mast seems a bit old school – as well as being impossible if you’re too short. Simon Lovesey, who has taught two sons to sail in a Mirror, provided a dad’s perspective on fitting into an 11ft long boat. You might not expect a boat with a new deck layout to be quicker — although small improvements to boat handling can make a difference round the course — but it was surprising to find no obvious performance advantage between the gaff and Bermudan rigs. And as for running a successful World Championship being a matter of club and community endeavour, in a little place like Dromineer, it just has to be – it wouldn't work any other way. So along came the Bermudan rig, with a choice of one or two-part aluminium mast, which ISAF approved for international adoption in 2006, followed a year later by approval for the new fangled centre mainsheet. In theory, the gaff should suffer from more windage and weight at the top, but it doesn’t appear to matter much at all. This is perceived as being monumentally old fashioned compared to a stylish, funky asymmetric kite, but has two big plus points in its favour. But it seems the sweetener that drew him to Dromineer was the chance of his very first sail in a 17ft clinker-built Shannon One Design at one of their most historic strongholds. It feels extremely precise with sail, rudder and crew trim dictating what will happen next. Both boats encourage a tweakable and technical style of sailing through experimenting with rig and sail settings, distancing them from the Feva which offers a complete one-design solution aimed at windwardleeward (gybing downwind) racing. Even my old Mirror was quite sprightly in a breeze, but wouldn’t hold a candle to the acceleration and response of the youngest generation. Unless conditions are really difficult with wind and waves, the Mirror is not an easy boat to capsize. In doing so, they demonstrated that the new cockpit layout and revised buoyancy distribution make the boat much less inclined to turn turtle, and therefore a lot quicker (and safer) to pull back up from a capsize.

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