Spring 2004
Draycote Water
Fireball Fleet Open Meeting
2018 Review Race Results Joining the
Fleet Buying
a boat Rigging,
Articles & Info Scrap
Book Calendar Draycote

This winter has offered us sailing conditions ranging from '*!&%$ that's cold where's the wind gone why are we not moving' to '*!&%$ that's fast oh no waaaargh gurgle', but left out the moderate wind bit in the middle which we actually enjoy. So the best I can say is that the fleet turnout on the bank throughout the winter has been excellent, and that when the wind sorts itself out and delivers something we can sail in, we're gonna be there.

Stuff Occurring

Winter Series 2003-4

Hampered by the aforesaid stupid weather, but that hasn't stopped Capn. Bob and Paul from getting in some impressive results to lead the series, followed by Helen and Mike in 2nd place. Bob has also been updating the results on the website religiously after each race, and posting a précis of the position on the mail group. The series runs to the end of March, so don't hang about.

Fleet Championships 2003

When we planned for this event to be in November, we weren't expecting light airs. So predictably enough, that's what we got. We also got one of the most hard fought contests in living memory because nobody rules the roost in the light and shifty stuff, except possibly Graham and he didn't turn up. Race one was memorable for having a start line that you couldn't sail around the end of. It was a committee-boat to OL affair, but the committee boat was moored in shallow water about 20ft to the left of the jetty, and you couldn't get between the boat and the shore without getting out and walking. Pete Badham missed the start altogether because he was looking for a committee boat on the water, rather than on the beach. The rest of us sussed it out OK though and tanked off up the biased beat towards B in a pleasant sunny F2. Jez and Roscoe got there first, closely followed by Mike/Paul with the entire fleet in joint 3rd place and Badders about 3 minutes behind. Over the course of the next lap, Mike/Paul grabbed the lead and zoomed away, the entire fleet caught Jez/Roscoe, and Pete/JR overtook everyone except Tessa/Pete. After going round for a bit like this, for some reason the first three boats all ended up in the same 20 square feet of water going up the last beat. Pete/JR overtook Mike/Paul, and Tessa/Pete overtook both of them. Having caught up the three minute handicap from the late start and proved the point about how fast they could go, Pete/JR promptly started going backwards, and at the end it was Tessa/Pete, Mike/Paul and Pete/JR in that order.

The second race was more of the same, except that the course was huge, and the wind shifted to make half of the reaches into fetches. Mike/Paul led for most of this one, assailed in turn by Pete/JR and Tessa/Pete, and with occasional sorties from Iain/Kath who appeared to have forgotten about the concept of B fleet boats staying behind the A fleet. Pete/JR spent a brief period in the lead, but lost it again on the gybe at Z. We then found ourselves finished on a club-K line, which came as a bit of a surprise to most of us, particularly Mike who was so impressed to find he'd won that he fell out of the boat. Tessa got 2nd and Pete came in 3rd again. Then home again for a drinky and some ritual bitching about the quality of the ODing.

Day 2 was exactly the same, only about 20oC colder. Pete/JR got themselves a convincing lead, leaving Mike/Paul and Tessa/Pete to fight it out for 2nd place. Tessa's challenge ended with a bad choice of route down the run on the 2nd lap, leaving Mike/Paul free to make inroads into Pete's lead. Now another bit of interesting ODing had gifted us a course which included the sequence J, K, X, OL, which involves sailing through OL on the way from J to K, and then actually going around it a bit later, after doing X. Pete/JR had a rather less convincing lead when the finish gun started up, and apparently somehow got the impression that they had finished on the way from J to K (although they didn't actually stop as a result). Working on the principle that the Fireball flag was not flying so the finish hadn't happened yet, we all carried on anyway, and by virtue of some fairly frenetic tacking, Mike/Paul were sitting on Pete's transom at X. This left a dead run to the finish at OL. Pete/JR went a bit further on starboard than strictly necessary, giving Mike/Paul the chance to throw a quick gybe in and sail over the top of them while they were sorting the kite out. Result, another first for Mike/Paul and the end of Pete's chances for winning the championship.

The last race was run without Pete and JR, and frankly they made the right choice as the wind dropped, the rain came in, the temperature plummeted, and by lap 3 you couldn't feel your face. Iain/Kath got to the first mark first, followed by Mike/Paul and Tessa/Pete. Iain wanted to win and got in the way a lot. Tessa wanted to win but couldn't get past Mike/Paul. Mike didn't care where he came as long as Tessa didn't win. So for most of the race Mike/Paul and Tessa/Pete stayed tied together by a bit of invisible elastic and slowed each other down, while various challengers turned up and self-destructed. Iain/Kath went from 1st to about 6th by going too near the windward shore on the reach (ha ha), and Captain Bob/Paul came over for a look, but faded again (rather generously claiming later that they didn't want to interfere in the epic battle for the lead). In the end the invisible elastic broke when Mike/Paul put the kite up on a shy reach and Tessa/Pete didn't, and we were all truly thankful when the race finally ended and we could get out of the bloody rain.

Final places were as follows:

      • Overall:
      • 1st Mike Deane and Paul Disney
      • 2nd Tessa Nicholls and Pete Connor
      • 3rd Pete Badham and John Rohde 
      • 4th Jez White and Rosco  
      • 5th Iain Christie and Kath Jackson 


      • B Fleet
      • 1st Iain Christie and Kath Jackson
      • 2nd Bob Morris and Paul Butler
      • 3rd Helen Sailisbury and Mike Shreeve
      • 4th Paul Anthony and Paul Melhuish
      • 5th Paula Symons and John/Sue

Fleet Meal

Well attended, although lacking some of the usual suspects this year (where were you guys ?). We had a nice nosh with crackers and things which were either party poppers or very small weapons of mass destruction. Paul handed out prizes to about half the fleet, followed by Captain Iain's awards for 'synchronized swimming' (Dangerous Dave) and 'most crap performance of the year' (Mike and Nick). Then some of us had a bit of a disco and partied on into the small hours, and the rest of us went home feeling old.


Symmetric Grand Prix - Datchet Water – 5 and 6 October 2003


Fireballs are the best!  Yes, the Fireballs were the overall winning class at this great event! With 38 boats, covering all skill levels, we proved that not only is the Fireball a superb 3 sail dinghy, but we out-performed our rivals – Flying Dutchman, Hornet, 505, Osprey, National 18, Javelin and 470.

An amazing 101 symmetric dinghies assembled by lunchtime on Saturday to demonstrate what fun can be had by all ages. Combined crews' ages ranged from less than 50 to 123 years!  The venue was Datchet Water, which Mike and I had never visited before, but was best summed up by the spokesman for the Flying Dutchman – like sailing in a half filled wok! The dry summer apparently had put a totally different perspective on this reservoir, with previous sailors turning up saying, "Where's the water gone?"

You missed a good weekend's sailing and socialising. All credit to the vice commodore of Datchet SC for taking on the race officer role, most of which went without any major problems, although the black flag rule was quickly introduced before race 1 eventually sailed up the first beat!  However, it did take him 50 minutes to set the course before this first race on Saturday, while we all tacked up and down and nervously looked at the size of the proposed start line and wondered how on earth 101 dinghies would get round the windward mark, not to mention a small Topper open which was taking place to the east of the pond!  Yes, the start line was horrendous and we never actually made the front wave, the helm preferring to nip in on the second raft at the committee boat end and usually tacking off, when we could find some stable wind. Beating was always challenging in the turbulence created by so many boats, and the longed-for winds all summer did appear, blowing force 3, gusting to 5 both days. It seemed to me that placings in each race were sorted out mainly by the first windward mark. If you came in on port from the west you had to find room to push in at the mark to tack onto starboard, or, if you chose to come from the east, along the bottom of the concrete 'wok', you seemed to run out of wind and had great difficulty in passing the buoy.  On race 4, an overtaking Hornet was so busy trying to get ahead with an early spinnaker hoist, that he put yet another hole in 14645, this time on the starboard side. Ah well, it keeps P & B in business.

The first reaches were challenging, too, particularly with a 505 sitting on top of you with its large sails, leaving the Fireball at times with little wind to bear away and find fresh air, and make good time to the gybe mark. However, each lap became easier as the fleet spread out, always sailing 3 laps per race – triangle, sausage and triangle. We had some good 2 and 3 sail reaches, a great relief after the fickle winds this summer. Crews had plenty of opportunity to practise their keep fit skills on the beats, needing to move rapidly from full stretch wiring to sitting inboard.

Chips Howarth won the Fireballs, followed by Vince Horey and Paul Cullen.  Overall Mike and I were 71st, having lost one race because of spinnaker pole and shot cord problems. Our best place was race 7, when we came 49th.  We were 30th out of 38 Fireballs. Make a note to check the www.fastsail.org website and put this event in your diary for JULY 10/11th 2004.

Helen Salisbury - Fireball 14645

Stuff Forthcoming

Sunday March 28th , 3:30ish

  • Fleet AGM in the wetbar after sailing. Most if not all of the committee posts will be up for grabs, and you get your chance to volunteer to do stuff or to make helpful suggestions.

Sundays 25th April and 9th May.

  • Firebowl Personal Handicap Event. Beach starts, personal handicaps of up to 15 minutes and more fun than you can shake a spinny pole at.

Sat/Sun 1st and 2nd May

  • Fleet Training / Beer / BBQ weekend. More details on the website soon.

Sat/Sun 19th and 20th June

  • UKFA Training weekend. Serious training from some of the best Fireballers in the UK. You need to book in advance for this one – it gets oversubscribed and we have to turn people away. Let Captain Iain know if you want to attend.

Other Stuff

David and Oliver Taylor bought a rather nice wide-bow composite Winder and joined up last year, then David fell over on the slipway on the first time out and twisted his back. While David recuperates, if anyone wants to buy the boat it's probably for sale. A proper hello to Ed Ayre, who has abandoned Gordon and bought his own boat, a bargain narrow-bow composite Winder. Gordon has vowed to start sailing his boat again, if only to show Ed who's best. So two new crews required please. And Mike Deane is available to helm or crew for anyone who wants to go faster in the last race on a Sunday through the summer.


Tessa managed to set up a fleet mail group on MSN, which is a private group open only to those elite in the Draycote Fireball Fleet who can work a web-browser. It's a great way to stay in touch with the news and gossip, and of finding a crew or helm for the following weekend. Anybody who would like to sign up to it should drop an email to tessanicholls@hotmail.com.


UnHinged ?

Following our find-a-name competition last issue, we are planning a new and somewhat mental race series for the last race on a Sunday, probably just once a month. It involves teaming up the fastest entrant in the race with the slowest, 2nd fastest with 2nd slowest etc, and the score for both boats when they finish will be the average of their positions. Oh, and the faster boat has to be behind the slower at the end of the first lap (although not necessarily all the time during it). The idea is that the 'fast' team encourage and assist the 'slow' team for at least the first lap, and can then zoom off to get a really good position or stay and continue to help. Not to be run on windy days though



Details removed from the internet copy to protect the guilty parties....


Fireball AGM – Sunday 28th March at 3.30pm after the second race

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Fireball Fleet 208 will be held at the clubhouse on Sunday March 28th at 3.30pm in the wetbar when the following business will be transacted.

1. To read and approve the minutes of the 2003 Annual General Meeting

2. To receive the report of the committee.

3. To prescribe the new rate for the fleet subscription (currently £10/boat).

4. To elect officers to the following posts:

  • Post         Est. time Responsibilities    
  • Treasurer 1hr/mth

    • Keep accounts, issue cheques, collect fleet subs (if any), do banking

    Secretary 4hrs/yr

    • Take and circulate the minutes of meetings.

    Bosun 0hr/mth

    • Boat park organisation.

    Social secretary 4hrs/event

    • Organise the Christmas meal and Prizegiving, (other events ?)

    Open meeting Co-ordinator 5hrs/yr

    • Organise the Fireball open meeting, buy & engrave prizes.

    Open meeting Race officer 2days/yr

    • Run the Miracle open meeting.

    Results secretary 3hrs/mth

    • Collect and publish race results

    Prizes officer 10hrs/yr

    • Buy, retrieve & engrave prizes.

    Fleet Captain 4hrs/mth

    • Organise the above, liase with club, do race events, marketing etc.


    5. To transact any other business.

  • Note that being on the committee is not terribly onerous, cos we don't do very much and we don't do it very often either.