Autumn 2002
Draycote Water
Fireball Fleet Open Meeting
2018 Review Race Results Joining the
Fleet Buying
a boat Rigging,
Articles & Info Scrap
Book Calendar Draycote

Here we are again at the dog-end of the year, wondering when (and if) the summer actually occurred, and if so, were we asleep for that particular half hour. But it was (right up until the end of June anyway) an absolutely fantastic year from the point of view of good wind, dry weather and full-on racing. At this precise moment we don't have much to look forward to apart from the Marriott Mug event (starts this weekend) and Christmas, but the fleet racing is absolutely wide open. I have never before known a time when you could start a race and not know whether you would come first or fifth. The current crop of A fleet boats (and a good chunk of the B fleet) all go at pretty much the same speed. Sail well and you can win. Sail badly or make a mistake and you're down the pan without a toilet duck. This is how it should be. Party on dudes.

Stuff Occurring

Coventry Evening Telegraph Pursuit

We were away at the Nationals, so not a clue what went on. John and Jim came in 12th out of 21 starters. Doesn't look like we missed much.


Fireball National Championships at Marazion

Eleven Draycote Fireballs attended this out of a total turnout of 68, making us the best represented club. We wore our Draycote Fireball polo shirts to make sure everybody knew it too, although sadly, this tactic didn't make our results any better. The weather was wonderful with serious sunshine for the first 4 days then a bit of cloud for the last 2. The winds varied from F3 to F6 and the racing was well organised and very enjoyable. It turns out that a large chunk of the assembled boats all go pretty much the same speed, so you could gain or lose a load of places quite easily. Mostly we lost them.


Results were as follows

Jeremy & Scotty


Mel & Kyle

53 (3rd Bronze fleet)

Pete & John

27 (2nd Silver fleet)

Miles & Paula


Eugene & Bob


Tessa & Peter


Mike & Gordon


Jez & Sue


Helen & Mike

50 (2nd Bronze fleet)

Iain & Kath


Ray & Phil




Fireball Fleet Championships

Held over two Sundays in September, there was a poor turnout for the first day of a mere 12 boats. This was a shame, as the wind was F1-2, meaning that almost anyone could have won the thing (or at least done reasonably well). In the 1st race, it was Graham and Sue who set the pace, chased by Tessa/Peter, John/Angie, Mike/Paul and Miles/Paula. Most of these took a turn at the front, but it was Mike and Paul who were there at the end. The same pair went on to win all three races on the first weekend, with Tessa/Peter, Graham/Sue and John/Angie all making appearances in the top 3. Back in the Challengers (B fleet) stakes, Alistair and Tony scored 100%, with Mike and Helen doing marginally better than Iain and Kath over the day. Day 2 was a windier F2-3, and gusty with it. 14 boats turned up for this one making the racing very close. Race 4 started out as a 4 boat battle between Jeremy/Norm, Mike/Paul, Graham/Sue and Eugene/Bob. We lost Graham to a capsize and Eugene to the wrong side of the beat, and Mike eventually allowed Jeremy to get away, although he had to work hard for his victory. In the afternoon a 2 way battle between Mike/Paul and Eugene/Bob ended abruptly when the latter pair capsized at the gybe mark (at which point Eugene came up with a very rude word indeed). Tessa/Peter claimed a convincing second place with John/Angie getting 3rd. Back in the challengers fleet, Helen/Mike got top placings in the 4th and 6th races, Alistair/Tony took race 5. In race 6 Iain/Ed had a storming 1st beat and rounded the windward mark in 2nd place just behind Eugene/Bob. However, the spinnaker then tied itself into a knot which could not be undone, and then refused to come back down again. Once this was sorted the stowed spinnaker pole got caught inside Iain's bouyancy aid, nearly capsizing them. Finally they then got a load of weed stuck around the rudder. Iain leant over the back of the boat and removed the rudder pin and the rudder promply shot up and hit him in the face causing a split lip. They still finished though!


Results were as follows:


Positio n



Mike & Paul


Alistair & Tony


Tessa & Pete


Helen & Mike


Graham & Sue


Iain & Kath


John & Angie


John & Jim


Miles & Paula


Colin & Ron


Eugene & Bob


Jez & Helen


Fireball Inland Championships

No excuses for failing to do this one, as it was held here. 38 Visitors turned up to be joined by a very impressive 18 club Fireballs (total of 56) . The wind was a lightish F1-2 for most of the weekend, rising to a decent 3-4 at the end (but with biting cold wind and rain to add to the fun). In the first race defending champions Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff led at the first mark, with Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend in hot pursuit and Vince Horey and Jon Mildred in third. Wade won by a comfortable margin. Howarth and Horey followed around in second and third respectively for most of the race. However, Kevin Hope and Rob Gardner positioned themselves on the inside of a lift on the last beat to overtake them both to take second.

For the second race, Howarth led from start to finish, with Wade second and Daren Fasey and Colin Davies third.

In Race 3, Howarth squeezed around the first mark just ahead of John Curzon and Pete Culver. Howarth extended his lead throughout the race and Curzon had put himself into a fairly safe second until he fell out of the boat on the penultimate beat whilst trying to remove some weed from his rudder, gifting second spot to Andy Smith and James Meldrum. Richard Estaugh and Simon Potts were third.

Race 4 saw some new faces at the front. Mike and Ben Rayner, led at the first mark from Curzon and Fasey. The shifty conditions resulted in much place changing which benefited Howarth who sailed his way up the fleet throughout the race to steal the lead at the bottom of the last beat. He went on to win the race with Curzon (this time able to remain in the boat) to finish second and Fasey third.

Howarth and Townend had now won the Championship already and elected to sit out the last race in the warmth of the bar. Horey sized his opportunity to win the race by some 3 minutes in the increasing breeze. Jeremy Davy with Norm were second and Estaugh was third.

Meanwhile, for the rest of the Draycote fleet it was business as usual, with everyone mooning about in the middle of the pack and desperately trying to beat people that they knew. Some light relief was generated when Eugene and Bob managed to lasso the start mark with their spinnaker sheet (accompanied by more interesting phrases), and watching Iain and Kath going for the best place on the start line also caused some amusement. The rest of it was a bit depressing until the wind picked up in the last race and those of us who hadn't already given up got the chance to go fast and have fun.

When the dust had settled, Jeremy and Norm were Draycote top banana with a highly respectable 4th place overall. There was a 4 way tie for 2nd place in the Silver fleet between Mike/Paul, Eugene/Bob and a couple of visting boats. This resolved itself in favour of Mike/Paul on whatever tie-break criteria is used these days (don't ask me). Miles/Steve got first Bronze fleet, with Ray/Phil just behind in 2nd place and visitor Steve Popple with our own Dave Bevan in 3rd. A very nice job was done by the Miracle fleet in running the racing, so thanks to them. Respect also to Pete Badham and his amazing goody bag for providing a number of the prizes. Very good prizes .


Fireball Polo Shirts

These are proper embroidered Gill articles no rubbish. We had 35 made earlier this year and still managed to leave out a few people who would have liked one. If you want a shirt from the next batch, specify S, M, L or XL and give Iain Christie a cheque for £20. If you had a shirt from the last batch and still haven't paid for it, do it now !


Stuff Forthcoming

     November10th & 17th - Marriott Mug personal handicap event. 4 Races, 3 to count, great fun.

     December15th after sailingFireball fleet prizegiving and Christmas meal. Book now.


The collected thoughts of fleet captain Bob.

I am glad to say that our fleet seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment. We have quality and depth within the fleet (with most of us providing the depth). In fact I am finding it hard to keep track of all the changes going on within the fleet at the moment, new boats arriving, boats changing hands, potential new members interested in joining the fleet. JohnTenney our berthing officer has never been so busy (and he makes it seem so easy!). Anyway the visible proof of all this was a great week at the National Championships with Draycote being the largest fleet there and a fantastic turnout at our Fireball Open Meeting.A thought for the day (inspired by Pete Badham): The most important thing is to have fun at all times, so when the tiller extension breaks off in your hand and the crew is bailing out (in a controlled descent to avoid injury), always try to remember what a fun time you're having.See you on the water.



Some Gems of Wisdom

Sailing a Fireball

Most important thing to remember when rigging your Fireball is to allow no more than 25 minutes between arriving at the club and the start of the race. Bring absolutely no tools or spare parts, as these are much more conveniently borrowed from other yachties just as they are heading for the water with the toolboxes safely locked away inside the car. Raise the jib. Take a good crack just under the right eyebrow from the flailing jib clew while you thread both jib sheets around the same side of the mast. Ensure that at least one kite sheet runs underneath the jib or inside the forestay. Forget to tighten the strut controls, outhaul and rig tension.

Jump into your wet or dry suit, which should be unwashed, wet and clammy from last week, smelling like the cat's been in it.

With that (as you forgot to bring anything else much) you can wear the jumper your mother knitted for you for Christmas. One more day's sailing shouldn't hurt it. Pull on your harness (crew) and wind up the tension on the shoulder straps until you walk and talk like E.T. . Leave the rudder securely locked inside the car, forget to take off the antique watch you inherited from your grandfather and it's time to hit the water.

Launching a Fireball

The boat should be held by the crew in such a way that his Royal Highness can step cleanly in without getting wet above the ankles. The crew should then proceed out into deep water, just a little bit further than the point at which all traction with the slip is lost. The helm can take his time to slot on the rudder, a process that will require plenty of instructions to be issued to the crew on just how to hold the boat steady. Having achieved this, you can depart. The crew should preferably come along as well. He/she should leap nimbly out of the shoulder-deep water over the high side of the already-heeling boat, straight onto the wire and pull in the jib-sheet while ... NO, LET IT GO, f**! sh%@ f&^%, GET IT IN! ON THE WIRE ... Make for the start-line, ensuring you get there in time to come barrelling in, in everyone's way right on the pin.


It's worth deviating for a moment to discuss language and its use on a Fireball. All violent activity - tacking, gybing, starting, launching and bagging the kite, trapezing with the kite, capsizing, hitting marks, sailing in an open meeting etc. - should be punctuated by appropriate comment from both skipper and crew. It should go something like this: F$%! F$%! F$%! F$%! F$%! Sh&& F$%! Sh&& ... It must really help, because everyone seems to do it.


It would make sense to start like this: Approach the point at which you want to start with 40-50 seconds to go, dive round to leeward of some unsuspecting victim and round up underneath them with 20 seconds left, hitting the line at full tilt on the gun with clear water underneath you. Do not attempt this as a beginner. It really shags other boats off, especially when they are the unsuspecting victims, and a better way to shag them off is this: Hit the committee boat hard with about 20 seconds to go, and because you don't want to cross the line early, just bear away and accelerate along the line, hitting all others in front of you. You might hear some language like that described above but remember it's really fast.

The first beat

After the start, you should be neatly placed in some really bad air. Move well away from your crew and things might smell better. If you don't have a faster boat driving clean over the top of you, take at least 30 seconds to get settled down and going properly - there's sure to be someone going over the top of you by then. Everyone knows you have to tack to find clear air, so do this immediately, then tack back in front of a good group of approaching boats so that they all have to go around your now-stationary boat.

Remember that if a Fireball feels comfortable going to windward, you're not pointing high enough or sailing it sufficiently level. The helm should luff up until the jib backs, and ease off the main until the crew gets washed off the back of the boat. You're sailing it sufficiently level when your crew's feet are kicking up spray. Ensure that the crew has lowered him/herself on the wire for maximum leverage. If the crew is the right height, his head hits the water before the rest of his body.


Uncleat the mainsheet and say "Tacking" sufficiently quietly that you can't be heard. Put the helm down and leap into the boat at which point the boom comes over and your lifejacket gets caught on the spinnaker pole. Meanwhile, the crew should be caught about half way across the boat with feet tangled in the biggest knot of ropes since the last Hangmen's conference. The crew should also fail to get the jib released. When all this is sorted, the crew should yank the jib board-tight on the next tack, forcing the boat to heel enormously so that the cockpit scoops up 200 litres of water, and go out on the wire, leaving the jib totally over-powering the rudder and the boat going sideways. Recommended communication during the tack goes like this: Helm - "F$%! F$%! F$%! F$%! F$%! F$%!": Crew - (calmly from the wire as the helm struggles in the centre of the cockpit) - "What the hell are you doing?". Such comments help a lot.

Spinnaker work

Kite work is simple if you remember a few simple rules. The crew should, as ever, obey the quiet orders of the Transom-Ballast regardless of whether their arms are about to pull out of their sockets. The real magic of course is to be performed by the helm: When the boat starts to heel to starboard, steer right; To port, steer left; To the front, yell something incomprehensible and watch as the crew follows a parabolic trajectory over the cockpit and head-first into the forestay.

If you can't fly your spinnaker to good effect on every point of sail (beats included), then it is clearly rubbish and time you bought a new one.

At the gybe, the crew should balance the boat while not allowing the kite to collapse for more than half a second, regardless of the course steered by the helm. As ever, the helm will need to continually instruct the crew on what to do next and point out impending disasters with helpful screams of 'NO NO, THE F$%!ING THINGY IS STUCK ON THE OTHER THING'. At the bottom mark, the crew should nimbly leap into the boat and bag the kite before leaping back out on the wire ready to take over the tactical decisions from the poor, exhausted helmsman. Poking the helm in the face repeatedly while stowing the pole is permissible and part of the fun.

After the race

One simple rule to remember - never be present when the glasses need filling.

So that's how it's done. Now it's time to leave your wet-suit in the cupboard and the spinnaker in the garage and head for the water.

(Adapted from an article on the Laser 5000 website which they stole from the 18 foot skiffs, so that's OK)


Other Stuff

New bloke Dave Bevan has bought Mike Curtis' old boat (a woody but a goody), and is pootling round with Paul Melhuish (another new bloke). Big Firebally welcome to both. Gordon and Maria have had a baby (girl, all lovely), hence the conspicuous absence of Gordon recently. Jez has acquired Dave & Mike's White Winder and is going a whole lot faster now as a result. Too fast Jez, stop it at once. Pete Badham sold his fantastic white Winder just in time to miss the fleet championships (ha ha) in order to buy a brand new one (something to do with having to keep up with an old composite boat, I believe). Norman and Andie who recently sold their Fireball and bought an RS400 have had to sell it and buy another one (this time brand new). The first one was cracking up apparently. No, I didn't say a word. Welcome back to Norm, who will be crewing for Jeremy Davy at various Fireball events in 2003. Back with the new blokes, big it up for Pete Muggleton and Jane who have joined us from Rutland solely on the strength of the fleet here (so the rest of you buggers had better keep on turning up). Any deprived helms out there, take note; Graham Collett  is looking for a regular crewing job, or failing that, an irregular one. Andy Smith and James have signed up for the Winter, and there's a big list of other potential Winter-membership blokes who may or may not actually turn up, so we'll wait and see before we get too excited.

TIE YOUR BOATS DOWN PROPERLY. A number of Fireballs were caught in the nick of time during the last windy day. Next time your boat may not be so lucky. And if it jumps onto somebody else's boat, your insurance gets to pay for both.


If you've got any of the trophies from last year, please return them to Eugene or Bob now, so we can get them engraved in time for the….

Christmas Meal and Prizegiving evening

Please fill in this form and return to Iain Christie, Bob or the Draycote secretary's office by the end of Sunday Dec 8th 2002 with a cheque for the full amount. Dress is casual / smart / anything.