Firstly, with the memories still fresh and the wounds healing up nicely, some details about the Fireball
Worlds held in Teignmouth. Draycote fielded a team of 15 boats, making us the best represented club there. There were 176 boats in total from 10 countries, and although Spain didn't send any Fireballs,
they were kind enough to send 'Perilous' Paul (an ex Draycote bloke) to crew for Colin. The organisation was excellent, with a big marquee, weighing and measuring of all the boats, pre-allocated boatpark
spaces, T-shirts, entertainment laid on, blokes to pull your boat up the slip….the lot !
But you can't rely on the weather, and the high pressure system which turned up midweek might have made the beach a great place to be, but it didn't help us get our 10 races in. So the best of the racing was had at the beginning and end of the week. A quick look at a typical sailor's diary offers the following:
Offshore wind, definitely going to be windy out there, zoom off beach, put kite up before clearing the pier (extra kudos), wind kicks in, screaming 3 sail reach lasting 10 mins, fwooorgh. Now 3 miles offshore, arrive at big orange mark all wet and totally exhausted, turns out that this is the windward mark, sail flat out for another 10 mins to start line. Hang about in F6 for ages wondering if new trapeze lines made from Dyneema with the aid of a coathanger really are up to the job. Endeavour to eat sarnies, big waves break over side of boat, sarnies get soggy between sandwich-box and mouth. Endure various general recalls, finally get going. Discover some things about racing in a fleet of this size are not the same as at Draycote. If you aren't in the front row on the startline, you are buried. If you don't go the right way up the first beat, ditto. Other things are v.similar though, eg you will find Eugene shouting at somebody (Graham in this case), and you will never be more than 30 yards away from Badass and JR. Also discover that toilets are not provided out here.
Not very windy. Put on full-cut sails, then spend rest of the day regretting it. Only one race. Water technically flat with offshore wind, but 175 other boats tend to stir up the chop a bit. Perfect our start technique – sail away from committee boat on port along the start line when the 6 min gun goes, then (finding that this will not get you to the far end of the line in time for the start) dive back into the fleet when you come across a gap, ensuring that you do this before the 1 minute gun when the black flag goes up. All to no avail, as if you want to hit the right hand side of the beat, don't start at the port end of the line - it may be favoured, but you can't get back across the fleet. Only one race today.
Day 3: No wind.
Day 4: Lay Day.
Day 5: No wind until 4:00pm. Then rapidly rising offshore wind announced just when we all wanted to go
home. Start race at 5:30ish (tired, hungry), have a bash at the committee boat end of the line for a change. About 40 boats all trying to be in same place, we got remarkably good spot 1 boat back from
the line right by the committee boat. But committee boat is size of QE2, blocks out the sun and covers you in diesel fumes. Boat behind rear-ends us, pushing us into boat in front. Spend 30 secs with bow
bouncing up and down on the transom of boat in front, and when gun finally goes, boat in front takes no notice and continues to sit there. Not good. Wind continues to rise throughout race, sailing back
to shore afterwards v. difficult, light fading, suspect air-sea rescue will be needed for the hindmost.
Day 6: Extra early start and rumours of 3 races today, but we only had 2 in the end. Wind back up to
where it should be, ie F5-6. First race not great, but gave us a chance to suss out the beat for the first time this week. Approach start of race 2 as per Day 2 technique and hellooo, there is current
World champ Andy Smith 50ft in front of us with 30 secs to go. Ignore mutinous comments from crew about black flags and us being over the line, sail v.fast to catch up with Andy, then make most excellent
start ever in history of universe. Then get 1st beat right (ish), come out at top mark in about 30th place. Bonza, but there's more. There is a big channel of wind lurking 30 yards to windward of the lay line to the next mark. Ignore boats around us bunging up their kites and 2-sail it to the windy bit, thinking we will need the extra height to carry the kite to the wing mark. Nope, it's soooo windy and (weirdly) more close-reachy up there, so we give it max power on two sails laughing like drains as we overtake about 20 boats all overpowered, and wooohooo end up at the gybe mark in about 10th place. Lost a couple of places over the next lap, but when Andy Smith reappeared behind us on the run, we knew we were still doing OK. Then the race committee decided to move the leeward mark while we were going to it (wondered what that flag meant), and Andy was gone. Ended up 17th and v. happy.
In the end, Andy Smith lost the title to fellow Brit 'Chips' Howarth. Needless to say, none of the Draycote
crew were ever going to come back with the pot, but a few of us did get some minor prizes. Pictures of this event and the full list of the
results can be found in the scrapbook on our website at www.draycotewater.co.uk/fleets/fireball