Autumn 2003
Draycote Water
Fireball Fleet Open Meeting
2018 Review Race Results Joining the
Fleet Buying
a boat Rigging,
Articles & Info Scrap
Book Calendar Draycote

No excuses now. This is the perfect time of year for sailing your fireball. The lake should be free from open meetings, resulting in our having some proper space to play with. The wind is hopefully a bit stronger than the during the summer, and the weather isn't too cold (yet). On top of this, we've got a big pile of potential crews just waiting for you to call them up and take them for a sail. Come on, you know you want to….

Stuff Occurring

The Open Meeting

What can I say. It was truly a great event. 47 boats turned up in spite of us being daft enough to hold it on a half term holiday weekend, and that's the biggest turnout of any Fireball open this year (national and inland championships excepted). The sun shone, we had a bit of proper F3+ wind on the Saturday and some of that F1-2 tactical shifty stuff on the Sunday. We had a brilliant Race Team running the event. They set excellent courses and their start lines were spot-on. For our part, we all went OCS as much as possible and then looked surprised when we got lobbed for it. We charged a mere £15 entry fee for the 2 day event, with a £10 fee for Sunday-only entry for those who couldn't do both days. We then handed out something like £500 worth of prizes and still made a bit of a profit. Then we had some really nice feedback from the competitors, which made us feel REALLY good about the whole thing.

The event was won by Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff, although at the start of the last race there were about 5 boats that could have claimed the honours (and the first-prize of 2 DVD players). First Draycote boat home contained Pete Badham and Mike Pratt, but you have to go down a bit further to the Bronze fleet to find the Draycote prizewinners. Paula with Steve Irish and Ian Jennings got 2nd in the Bronze fleet, Iain and Kath got 3rd. Unlike most open meetings, we spread our prizes fairly evenly over the various categories, so the Silver, Bronze and Classic boat prizes were all worth having, and the recipients were all very happy with their loot. Any of you Draycote sailors who 'forgot' to do this event and can give Iain and Kath a run for their money definitely missed out on the chance to win some nice kit, including rig-tension gauges, battery powered drill kits, tapered sheets, Leatherman tools etc etc etc.

Speed Sails and OnBoard did us a big favour by sponsoring our open meeting this year. You all know about OnBoard already, and probably already buy from them anything that you need which they sell, if only because they are on your doorstep. But a lot of you won't know about Speed Sails, which is why we have sent you a catalogue. Speed do all the same stuff as P&B, including making Fireball sails and supplying Firebally bits like tapered spinnaker sheets. They sponsor Shane McCarthy and ex-Draycote bloke Jeremy Davy to use their sails and have had some notable open meeting successes this year. So in the interests of encouraging healthy competition amongst our suppliers, and by way of saying thankyou for the huge pile of stuff they gave us to use as open meeting prizes, we'd like to support them in return. So next time you need to buy anything, give Speed Sails a ring, tell them you are a Draycote sailor, and let them sort it out for you.


The Marriott Mug – as seen by Kyle Hourigan

This event proved very popular again this year with a record 23 boats taking part on the 1st Sunday of racing. The Pursuit Style handicap with the faster crews giving the slower a head start is encouraging more boats onto the water.

Race one started in a Southerly 5 knots, and most of the early starters made very good progress around the course while the remaining members of the fleet stood on the shore willing the countdown to go faster!   Our handicap time was +10 minutes after the first boats and 3 minutes before the Draycote Hot shots! We knew that a quick launch was paramount, and many of the earlier boats had made the same conclusion with spinnakers being launched before the boats left the shore in an attempt to lose as little ground as possible.

Just as our start time arrived the wind picked up slightly, giving both ourselves and John Tenney with Angie some good speed down to the first leeward mark, where we had already caught up with some of the boats who started  before us.  John showed good speed and started to pull away, cutting his way through the boats with ease, while we did our best to stay somewhere near his transom!

It seemed the 4 minute advantage we had on the faster boats was too big a margin in the light airs,  and while we noticed that they were gaining it was never going to be enough.... So we could concentrate on the slower boats in front (and John of course). We had a bit of luck when John went the wrong way, giving us fourth place with a beat back up to the clubhouse.  We were very impressed with the speed of these front boats who had the bit between their teeth and were not going to let anyone through without a fight!  Colin covered us all the way up the beat, with another two boats in front not seeming to be any closer than at the leeward mark!  We just cleared Colin (VERY CLOSE CALL) at the windward mark and found ourselves in third place, with the first two boats heading downwind nearly a leg ahead. With the wind now a bit steadier  we halved the distance by the next mark and were fortunate to have a fantastic 3 sail reach across to the penultimate mark where we picked off the final two leaders. The following pack were closing fast, but the 3 sail reach had become a bit of a handful in the increasing breeze, allowing the fast boys to pick up a few more places.

Race two saw a very tactical move from Mr 'Pot Hunter' Badham as he moved from the back of the boat (and the starting sequence) to the front, electing that there was no way he could compete with the speed of the Draycote fleet in his own boat, and so joining Paula in hers!  This proved a very wise move, winning race two, with Colin just behind, and ourselves leading the chasing pack in 3rd some way behind!  Graham and Sue led the hot shots and had us worried for a while, but John held them back! Cheers John!

A week passed, giving some of us (all the fast boys at the back!) a chance to work out what went wrong! Sorry, had to get that in!

Sunday dawned again, and we were all faced with a cool 10 knot Northerly wind. 'Pot' Badham had already done his maths, and informed us that we were the leading boat, with Paula a close second. The other hot favourite, Colin, sportingly didn't turn up at all to make life a bit easier for the rest of us. Andy Smith and James Meldrum had come for the day, so they agreed a handicap with the fleet and went for a cup of tea and a postal learning course  while we were starting!

With the wind from the North it proved tactical up to the windward mark, with trapezing in short gusts and 20 degree shifts under the Northern bank. We reached the windward mark just behind a gaggle of boats and Mel elected to sail low round the next reach, we were lucky as all the boats who sailed high ran straight into a hole and watched as we picked off four places in one move… maybe we could catch Pete and Paula today!.

 The chasing hot shots were on the ball today (no pun intended), with Andy and James showing them the way.  We didn't want to be caught  too early in the race and managed to keep the 150 yard buffer between us and Andy for half a lap before he came up on us really quickly and passed us on the beat, and we managed to pass Paula and Pete and a few of the other front runners, only to go right and lose it all again! At the windward mark it we did our usual head low trick and Andy Smith went lower still and pulled out 50 yards! Amazing stuff! Nigel did the same move on the run and undertook us, only to fail to get water on Andy Malin , having to sail the wrong side of the mark, giving us back our position.... Came fourth behind Andy Malin, Peter Wood and Dangerous Dave (Andy Smith was not signing off, something about him being European Champion I think!)

Race four was going to be interesting, and Mr Badham was in full spin doctor mode! Paul was convinced there were going to be white horses by the end of the race ( Sorry Paul! ). I asked James if we could swap boats for the last race, but he informed me our boat was quicker than his! (I knew it would come back to haunt us! No excuses )

Race four started and we set off following Helen and Mike who had a 30 second  handicap on us, everything looked good until we tacked onto starboard, then we saw all the back of the fleet, led by Messrs Smith & Meldrum almost reaching to the windward mark in 15 knots of breeze! That was all of our handicap used up in one go! Never mind, it gave us a chance to compare ourselves with Mike, Don, Eugene, Jez and Graham.  Not for long apparently, as they blasted off in the increasing breeze in chase of more prey!  We managed to cling onto the back of Mike for a lap and re-took a position from Jez and Rosco as the breeze eased a little.  Caught Nigel and he promptly  re-took us with his favourite gybing run manoeuvre (must learn how to defend against that!) and we just pipped Dave on the final leg to the finish, 6th place in that one, worst result in the whole event, but not upset as the boat felt like it was going well, just a few too many mistakes.

We got back onto shore to the congratulations of Pete and Paula, unknown to us Mike and Andy had both managed to overtake them so they had a 2nd place (Andy retired again), giving us the overall result.

But it's not the winning that made this such a fun couple of weekends, it's the chance to "mix it" with the faster boys, seeing how they get that extra ¼ of a knot on a run/reach where normally they would have been 200 yard ahead by that point.    

A thing I noticed from last year was that the fleet is much quicker, throughout the fleet, everyone is learning and that is what these events are all about., when you see how fast a fireball can go in the right hands we all know that we never stop learning...

Kyle & Mel - GBR 14708

Ed's note – Sue held a party the evening before the 2nd day, and as a result a number of fireballers felt unable to stand up on the Sunday. This may explain why the turnout dropped to a miserable 19 boats. We would like to thank all of you who turned up for this event – 28 boats in total over the two days is a pretty good response. Handicapping you all was difficult and not always entirely fair, and we learnt a few things about various people's boat speed which we will put to good use for the next event. Complaints about handicaps were very few, which is perhaps surprising considering that in a fleet of 23 boats quite a lot of people are bound to come in somewhere below 10th place. However, it is good to see that the four races were won by four different boats, and that those boats had handicaps ranging from 4 to 13 minutes. It is also worth noting that due to factors beyond our control, 3 out of the 4 races were a lap longer than we would have liked, resulting in the early starters losing out a bit.


Stuff Forthcoming

16th and 23rd November Draycote Fireball Fleet Championships. 4 races over 2 Sundays, 3 races to count and I get to win, OK.

Sat. 13th December Fireball Fleet Christmas meal and prizegiving. It's a Saturday evening this year. See the Booking form and details below.



We need all the prizes back NOW please so we can get them engraved for handing out at the Christmas meal. Give them to Paul Disney ASAP please.


Fleet Meal

We are going the extra mile with the fleet meal and prizegiving bash this year. It's the same price as last year, but we've managed to lay on a disco afterwards (none of that modern 'music' either), and have moved the whole lot to Saturday evening so you can all stay late and make a proper night of it. We hope you will ALL come to this event and bring your family and friends with you – it's a great way to meet the fleet and it's about as un-stuffy a do as you are likely to find (there is no dress code whatsoever). The food is being done by the Daryl again (as last year), and it's proper nosh. Please join us and help to make this a very special event.



What with the Draycote 'Unshackled' newsletter and the Asymetrics 'Unplugged' winter series, we in the Fireball fleet are feeling the need for a snappy title of our own. We have no idea what the title should describe, but do feel that it should start with the letters 'Un'. Possibilities so far include un- 'hinged', 'loved', 'pleasant' and 'dervalued'. A pointless prize goes to the best suggestion.


Other Stuff

Luke is leaving us due to a rather scary desire to be an aeroplane pilot. Good luck to him, and a note to the rest of you to watch the skies carefully and be very afraid. A big hello to David and Oliver Taylor in a rather nice wide-bow composite Winder and to Jeff and Caroline in Luke's old boat. Hello to Paul Mears and Beth who have bought Thomas Morgan's old HPS (Thomas has just got married and thinks he may re-join next year). Welcome also to new crews Sarah Stirman, Hannah Macinlay and Chris Moody, all of whom would be grateful for a chance to gain some experience crewing for any of you boat-owners. A preliminary hellooo to Ed Ayre, who has abandoned Gordon 'got kids so no sailing' Stokes and bought his own boat, a bargain narrow-bow composite Winder. He won't start sailing it until he burrows out of his hole in the ground in the new year though. Finally a fond and sad farewell to Angie and Alistair who are moving up to Cheshire to pursue careers and mountains. They are two long term and active fleet members who met each other through Fireballing here and will be much missed. Come and visit soon.


Top Tips

From Jez and Rosco. Put your rear buoyancy tank hatch cover in before you go afloat. Otherwise the rear tank is likely to fill with water and it kinda slows you down.

From Mike and Dave. When you are in the lead with 4 boats right behind you, make sure you go the right way round all the marks. Meeting boats coming round the other way is bad news and slows you down a lot.


And Finally

The Fireball fleet would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.