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If you want class racing as opposed to handicap, the Fireball is the only performance boat at Draycote to consider. This is particularly noticeable in the winter, when there are usually more Fireballs on the start line than the sum total of all the other performance boats. This may be attributable to the fact that our hotly contested race series run all through the year, or it may just be that we are enjoying our racing so much that we don't want to stop for a bit of cold weather.

We enjoy good class racing, and are benefitted by the large area (700 acres) of water which allows for some long uninterupted spinnaker legs. Draycote is renowned for being windy, and for its tricky wind shifts which encourage skillful sailing.

The Draycote boats are a typical spread of wood, fibreglass and foam-sandwich, and we currently boast around 15 white Winders, with the rest being composite or wooden boats. The latter are in their element at Draycote, and frequently beat the white items (in fact, the fleet championship was repeatedly won by a 22 year old composite Winder). And with boats like this on offer for as little as 1200, there is no reason why any Fireballer should not be able to do well without spending a fortune.

If you've got a reasonable budget, the white Winder boats provide near one-design racing and virtually zero maintenance. At the other end of the fleet, boats change hands for as little as 850 for an entry level 'ready to sail' boat (avoid the 'projects' on eBay - they're mostly not worth the effort). We respect our wooden boats as they represent incredible value for money and offer a budget route into performance dinghy sailing.

To support boats of this ilk, the fleet runs separate 'Gold' and 'Silver' fleets, with boats numbered below 14000 generally racing in the Silver fleet (although the skill of the sailors is ultimately the deciding factor). We also run our popular fleet pursuit events, where sailors are individually handicapped and the slower boats start up to 15 minutes before the fastest (see 55 Go Mad).

At a time when there are more different types of new performance boats than you can shake a stick at, it is perhaps unusual to find such a large fleet of boats of (relatively) old design.

Reasons why Fireballs are so popular at Draycote:

  • Draycote offers such ideal sailing conditions for us.
  • Second-hand boats are so inexpensive.
  • The fleet is backed by an active class association (the UKFA).
  • Compared with some of the newer classes, Fireballs seem stable, well mannered, sensible boats.
  • Early wooden boats excepted, Fireballs are low-maintenance, and don't fold up or suffer structural nastiness.
  • It is more attractive for a newcomer to join a large established friendly fleet than to join in the 'guess which of these new fleets is going to be popular' lotttery, where you get to sail around by yourself a lot and have no one to laugh at you give you any constructive advice.

Whatever the reason, Fireballs are on the increase at Draycote, and we aim to make sure that it stays that way.

If you would like any further information, please email

The Webmaster