Well here we are again at the dog-end of the year, wondering where all those weekends went to, and why there was never any wind when we wanted it.
Half of last year's 'B' fleet have upgraded to Winders and are nibbling at the heels of the 'A' fleet, resulting in some very competitive sailing and one or two victories for the challengers. Those of
you who are sailing frequently are definitely getting better. The other half of the 'B' fleet didn't manage to sail this year. Real life has a regrettable tendency to impinge on one's sailing. Come back
next year guys, we missed you.
Draycote Fireball Open Meeting
The weather forecast cheerfully suggested 15mph winds on Saturday and 30mph on Sunday, later revised to 60 or 70mph. Lots of rain was also mentioned.
So when those of us who weren't still hiding under the bed arrived at lunchtime on Saturday, fully kitted out in drysuits, survival gear and an aqualung, we were a bit miffed to find no wind, no rain and
lots of sunshine. Much sweaty drifting around ensued, in which Pete nearly got a good result and everybody else didn't.
Sunday produced one of those nasty gusty shifty offshore winds varying from force 3 to 6. Draycote sailors put up a good fight in the windy stuff,
and managed to embarrass a number of the visitors, but never really got to grips with the top ten. The event was won by national champion Vince Horey (again), with Andy Smith second. Pete was best placed
Draycote boat at 13th with the rest of us somewhere in the top 20.
The first scheduled day's racing was postponed due to extreme windiness, but in the event the day it was rescheduled to was every bit as windy
it was just that it was offshore and not as obvious. It also turned out to be very shifty, gusty and generally unpleasant. Race one, and John and Angie got a huge cheer when they managed to push off from
the shore, pull the kite up and capsize all within the first 30 seconds. Iain and Sue managed about 5 minutes before they went in (and not for the only time). Don managed to be late for the start in
spite of having both boat and crew in the water ready to go when the gun went off, by virtue of being in the changing rooms looking for his lifejacket. Everyone sailed round for a while, and those who
didn't capsize overtook those who did. At the end, Colin and Richard crossed the line first with Dave and Mike second and Mike/Paul 3rd. Respect is due to Gordon and Ed in Firestarter who
started first, capsized five times and finished last.
Race two was prefaced by one of those unpleasant squalls and loads of rain. Iain and Ed were off first, but squandered their lead by trying to fly the kite on
the first leg. John and Angie also tried this with similar results. The ODs in their infinite wisdom had contrived a course with no 3 sail reaches at all, so we all plodded round in rising winds and
rain, taking turns to get knocked down by the inshore gusts and having not much fun at all. Dave/Mike won by miles, with Mike/Paul second and nearly everybody else pretty close behind. Iain and Ed had
one capsize too many and broke the mast on Iain's newly (and lovingly) refurbished boat. Big respect to everyone who sailed this race.
The second day offered light airs and started with a memorable course which offered no beats. Surprisingly, given that there was no skill involved
beyond staying upright and sailing round the marks in the right order, this one turned out to be very close at the finish. Jeremy and Scotty got to there first, closely followed by Colin/Richard who
re-took 2nd place from Don/Pete on the line. Further back, Alistair and Iain sailed the wrong course and came in last. Race 4 of the series gave us a marginally better course, but strangely, less opportunities for overtaking. Jeremy and Scotty were still pulling their sails up when their start gun went, and Mike/Paul managed to push off from the shore with their kite flying but their rudder abandoned in shallow water. Further round, Alistair and Sue capsized for no very good reason, and were forced to sail some distance up to their gunwales in water. The late starters made no impression on the mid-fleet fellows in this race and Eugene/Bob eventually finished first, followed by Don/Pete and John/Angie. The final results were: 1st Don/Pete, 2nd Eugene/Bob, 3rd Mike/Paul. For full results check out the website.
Beer and skittles and darts and beer evening
Held in October in some dodgy pub near Coventry, this event attracted over 50 people, mostly from our fleet. Now everyone knows how to play darts,
and even the very pissed can fathom the concept with some help (Dart Dartboard
Dart Dartboard etc). However nobody is quite sure how the skittles work, and in our usual Fireball organising fashion, we didn't bother to tell them. So it wasn't too surprising that, having knocked all the skittles down with her first two balls (pucks ?), Alison started aiming at Mike Tredwell (who, in fairness, does look a bit like a skittle in a poor light). Others amongst us seemed convinced that a good score was to be had from hitting the coat-stand, the light fittings or Miles. And who are we to argue. Paul Disney and Tina Watkins won their respective darts leagues, Dave Pratt and Judy Badham won the skittles and somebody else won the raffle (can't remember who). Jolly good evening, big thanks to Miles for organising it.
Alison and Paul have acquired Jeremy's 'old' boat, and have even managed to sail it a few times. Jeremy has a new boat which looks identical to the
old one. Miles has discovered that if you spend enough money on 'Whiskey and Coke', you lose your 'Big Chopper' (well it happens to the best of us). The latter has been bought by Iain and Kath, although
Iain has renamed it for some reason. Can't think why… All this trading up leaves two more old boats looking for a good home. Various people have discovered that Ray has been hoarding Fireball bits
for years, and are helping him to kick the habit. Selling off your old and 'spare' bits puts new life into somebody else's old boat and does no end of good for the prosperity of the B fleet, plus making
you a few quid on the side. Old boats, sails, masts, rudders, sheets etc are no use whatsoever in your shed or garage let us know what you've got, and we'll advertise them for you. Email email@example.com with details of stuff you could sell.
November 18th Fleet Championships Races 1 & 2
November 25th Fleet Championships Races 3 & 4
Fleet Championships are best three results out of four to count over two Sundays. In the event of a tie we use discards, then the result of the last race.
The Fleet Championships is scored with categories for 'overall' and 'B' fleets.
Fireball Nationals 2002
Is going to be held at Marazion (near Penzance) on August 23rd to 30th next year. This is one of the nicest venues you can ask for and a bonza place to take the family. There will be one race per day, so there's plenty of time for sitting on the beach and making sandcastles with the kids. And 2002 is the Fireball's 40th birthday, so the UKFA are organising something a bit special to mark the occasion. In order to make the event more attractive for those of us who aren't going to be enormously competitive, boats are assigned to the Gold, Silver or Bronze fleets (much like we run A & B fleets), so sad old wooden boats don't have to compete with white Winders (or even off-white Winders with wooden decks and a P&B logo on the sail). And the UKFA also run a 'buddy-system' throughout the week, where the fastest boat is teamed up with the slowest, 2nd fastest with 2nd slowest etc, and the fast crew in each team try to help the slow crew to go faster, with prizes for the best placed team over the course of the week.
Having pretty much ignored the Nationals for many years, we are trying to arrange for as many Draycote Fireballs to go to this one as possible. We have already
got six boats on our list, and are aiming for at least ten to make it a proper Draycote crowd. Anyone who likes the sound of this, but is put off by the idea of racing in the National Championships
because it implies lots of serious racing and keen buggers shouting at you, should be aware that this event is a whole lot easier to cope with than the average club race. For one thing there are gate
starts, which allow you to make a good start without ever going near another competitor. Also, the wind is more constant than on Draycote and there's a whole lot more space to play with so you don't have
to keep getting out of the way of other boats. And there are no grumpy Flying Fifteens wandering around. Oh joy. On the down-side, the waves taste salty and it is quite easy to get sunburnt.
Anyone wanting to join us there should have a chat to Mike or Cap'n Bob for more info, and you want to get your accommodation booked up pretty sharpish. Start
by phoning those very nice Penzance Tourist Information people on 01736 362207 for details of hotels, B&Bs, cottages caravan parks etc. Don't muck about do it now !
Fleet Prizegiving and Meal - December 16th
This starts after sailing at 6.30ish. The usual top notch nosh courtesy of Mick and Debbie, followed by the prizegiving for the year's race series
with much alcohol. Tickets cost £11.00 for adults and £6.00 for children under the age of 12. All money to Mick and Debbie please, along with any special requirements for those of you who don't fancy
meat. Time and equipment permitting we will round off the evening with a video of a load of nancy boys sailing 18ft skiffs very badly, projected well massive on the end wall. Last date for booking is
The Collected Thoughts of Fleet Captain Bob.Winter sailing can be fun! When I was a Miracle sailor I used to hibernate all winter but
now I am a hardy (hunky?) Fireball type I sail through the winter without a second thought (or any feeling in my fingers). In practice I have discovered the joys of dry-suits (they are made for winter
sailing and are very warm in sub-zero temperatures in a way that wet-suits simply are not). I hope that some of you other hunky types out there have also discovered the joy of dry-suits and will also
give the winter series a go. I know that some fireball sailors from other clubs will be joining us over the winter, which should keep things interesting. We had a great open meeting at Draycote with one
of the best turnouts in the country this year. Thanks to Pete Badham and Eugene for organising the prizes. We eventually got the Marriott Mug competition under way after cancelling a couple of times due
to high winds (it ended up being quite windy anyway on the second Sunday). Nigel unfortunately missed the first Sunday (he says nobody told him when it was which is probably true) and so was unable to
defend his title. It was really close this year with Don and Pete sailing consistently in all four races to become the new Marriott mug champions. Well done boys. The darts and skittles social evening
was also a great success. My thanks to Miles Thomas for thinking up the idea and organising such a fun and enjoyable evening. Finally don't forget to attend the social event of the year! This is the
event at which all the excuses that you could possible imagine are bandied about to explain why each helm / crew is not actually walking away with all the prizes (even though they could have if they were
really wanted to!). The Fireball Christmas Party and Prize-giving evening will be at the Clubhouse on the 16th of December. Be there, somewhere, or be square!
The idiots guide to sailing a Fireball no.4 the Roll Tack (by our ace reporter Iain 'Underwater' Christie)
Having just joined the illustrious ranks of the Fireball fleet, and with my boat still sat unfinished in the back garden, I was really happy to
receive a call one evening from the ex-fleet captain to offer me the honour of sitting in his Fireball for a ride round the floating dustbins one summer Wednesday evening.
Having been on a Fireball and on a trapeze only once, I thought it would be very wise to make detailed mental notes of all these technical sailing type
manoeuvres and techniques, especially when I noticed that we'd got round the windward mark first on the almost windless day in question.
One particular area of mystery to me was the ancient art of "roll tacking". So, for the benefit of any new or inexperienced members, here are some detailed mental notes that I made.
"Lee-ho!" says helm. "Oh flippin' heck I'm still on the wrong side of the boat!" says I, nervously looking at the water coming up the side deck at an alarming
rate. Hmmm, horizon at 30 degrees, self-preservation takes over, and I make I dive for the high side.
"Ok", says helm, "but you moved far to early. Not much of a pump out of the tack…stay put until I say go." "OK" says I.
Right then, here's another tack, wait for it…don't move until he says…I'll look over the high side this time…won't seem so scary…bloody hell that tank seems almost above my head now…sod this I'm going…trip over centreboard case, land in a heap…muppet!
"Ok…ish" says helm "but you still went to early. Wait for the go, don't move an inch before that…big pump…lots of boat lengths to be had etc etc…"
Right then. This is it. Don't move a muscle.
Grab onto thwart, try not to shove fingernails into the varnish. I know…close my eyes…wont be able to see scary things like horizons or water coming up the deck…just wait for the "GO….."
"Lee-ho!" from behind.
Wait….wait….wait…keep eyes closed…wait….don't move…wait for it…
Hang on, why is my ear wet? Open eyes. Hmmm….vertical horizon.
Masthead sitting on the side deck of a conveniently placed Solo. Bearded face looking vertically down from above. "Oh yeah…I forgot. Go."
Afterwards, in the bar I found out that the "roll tack" is a manoeuvre performed in light winds to enable you to quickly remove weed from the centreboard and
It requires a Solo or similar conveniently placed boat to rest your mast on so you don't go turtle. It is also useful for your crew to check the efficiency of the new wetsuit and buoyancy they have just purchased.
The Fireball Fleet would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a windy new year