Pete Badham and John Rohde won three out of the four races to take the Masters prize, with Dave and Mike Pratt getting the Challengers item (beating a few
'Masters' on the way). A pursuit race formed one race out of the four in this event, so Paul and I made a point of winning that one.....
Fleet prizegiving evening
Arranged by Angie (social stuff) and Paul (prizes), with whizzo catering by Mick and Debbie, this had to be the social event of the club year. There must have been 50 or more people attending, including pretty much everybody from the Fireball fleet and a healthy contingent of Miracle sailors. We managed to give prizes to 25 people, and impress the hell out of people from lesser fleets (ie, everybody) while setting it all up.
Boxing Day Pursuit Race
Five Fireballs turned out with crews in various states of consciousness, and all five were on the start line when our gun went off. The scenario in most boats
was something like this:
-20 seconds, jib in, head for line. -10 seconds, main in, kicker on, kick crew out. -5 seconds, right up to the line, moving fast, sheet in tight. 0 seconds,
gun goes off, here-we-go-here-we-go-here-we-go etc. +1 second, huge gust comes, dump all sails. +2 seconds, realise this is not enough, water comes over side. +3 seconds, lose crew, abandon boat for
And that was it mate. In the space of three seconds, every single Fireball was knocked flat, along with all the other performance boats still to start. So we
all pulled our boats up and plodded off up the beat with cockpits awash. Then some of us (by the name of Pete Badham) went v. fast and won the race, while others of us (no names please) went v. slowly
and/or capsized some more and ended up way back. One of us came in virtually last. It was me. Merry Christmas.
New Years Day Pursuit Race
This had NOT WINDY ENOUGH written all over it, with a big helping of CRUMMY COURSE and was never going to be a Fireball benefit gig. There were 8
Fireballs on the start line, and with 20 seconds to go, 'stormin' Norman was downwind of everything else and clearly about to put the boot in, so we went down the far end and listened to the screams.
Although not a pretty sight, that was pretty much the highlight of the race. Pete and John pootled off to take 6th place and everyone else was more or less down the pan. Andrew and Phil in 'Firestarter'
retired when the volume of water coming in through the bailers threatened to overwhelm them, and the race was won by an Optimist, with a Finn second and a Laser third. Nice to see the minority fleets
getting some good results occasionally.
Last year's racing schedule was the same as every year before, and when colour coded for ease of understanding looked like an impressionist watercolour of
Peruvian rainfall statistics. The results for all races were posted regularly, but apparently it was too much like hard work finding out which series was happening at any given moment and then finding
the right page for the results. So this year, we're getting simple. There will be four race series, running from January 1st to December 1st, and these will be called 'Sunday First Race', 'Sunday Second
Race', 'Sunday Third Race' and 'Wednesday Evening' (or something similar and equally idiot-proof). Within these series we will have categories for Master and Challenger fleets, boats under 14,000
and boats under 13,000. Results will be posted BIG on our new noticeboard in the wet-bar (other stuff stays on the usual board), and updated at least monthly so we all know where we are. Also, we are
running two Marriott Mug events this year, but as we only have one actual Mug, the second one is going to be called the FireBowl event. Confused ? You will be.....
This time last year I predicted we would have an average of 8½ boats on the start line for club races during 1999. Statistics being what they are, I never
bothered to do the maths to confirm this, and the half-a-boat never got sailed anyway. However I can report that our maximum turnout in any one race was 14 boats, and that our membership has increased a
bit since then. There are now about 25 boats in the fleet, of which 18 get raced. It is apparent that we are not at all short of people who want to sail Fireballs, but we are a bit short of people who
own them. We are effectively turning away potential crews from the fleet because there are not enough helms and boats to go round. It is also becoming apparent that the price of second-hand boats is
increasing again, so if you are thinking of buying one, do it now while there are still bargains to be had.
Whilst on the subject of new boats, a big welcome to Eugene and Bob in a black boat which looks nicer (less waterlogged anyway) every week, and watch out for
Phil's new boat when it arrives, and the long awaited White Winder for Dave and Mike.
The UK Fireball Association wants to know more about you, on the basis that you sail a Fireball and probably aren't a member. For those of you who like to
insure your boats through a proper marine broker, there is a scheme for UKFA members which gives you cheaper insurance and may make the £25.50 membership fee look a bit more attractive. If you who are
interested and didn't fill in the form at the Christmas bash, contact the UKFA on 01929 439168 and talk to Jackie Barker.