2004 for the Fireball fleet went out with the fleet prizegiving / Christmas meal. In a nice departure from
the usual 'grab the prizes and run' approach, a number of people stood up and talked a bit. Or a lot. From this we deduced that there are some blokes in this fleet who really care a lot about the fleet
and the club, and for whom sailing is a way of life rather than just a bit of a distraction. Cap'n Jez may be incapable of rigging a spinnaker so it goes up reliably, but he clearly has Draycote water in
his bloodstream. Pete Badham came up with some inspirational words, and was almost too generous to mention having missed out on the fleet championships prize to someone who had worse results. Then Iain
Christie (at least 5 parts alcohol by this time) turned up with the stupid prizes, including the huge homing pigeon prize for those who can't sail the right course and the calendar for worst start
timekeeping prize, and well by this time it was 11:00pm and the bloke who came to run the disco was getting bored, so we did some of that disco stuff and then went home to sleep it off.
In the presence of greatness, some competitors will raise their game to meet the challenge.
Others will get into a good position and then capsize, crash into 'X' or get tangled up in the committee boat's anchor rope. Say hello then to the WINTER SUPER SERIES. Cap'n Jez's idea of course. We did
the same thing when I was fleet captain about 6 years ago, and it was rubbish. Too cold, too windy, too foot'n'mouthy etc. So I wasn't terribly polite when the idea came up again, and seriously expected
it to be another exercise involving Draycote's usual suspects (who turn up anyway) and 2 visitors who were going to Notts County but took the wrong exit off the M6. Wrong !
It seems we've got a reputation now as not only the biggest fleet of 'balls in the country, but also as not totally the worst. And there's that World Championships in Teignmouth coming up real soon now, so lots of people wanted some practise…… and it's been great. Loads of new winter members joined up (hi guys), 36 boats took part, and the best turnout was 25 boats on one cold day in February. We all had the chance to race the current World champion and a bevy of past and present National and European champions. And frankly, none of 'em look unbeatable. As usual it all boiled down to who got the good results on the last day. We knew Dave Wade would win the series, but the next four boats were separated by only 2 points and none of them could afford to have a bad day. Dave was busy at the boatshow, but the current World champion Andy Smith showed up to give us something to aim at. So - cometh the hour, cometh the big windshift on the second beat, and it was yours truly and Paul on the sunny side of the lake reaching in to the top mark in 3rd place, with Badders and JR just behind. Then something bad happened in the latter boat involving no rig tension and a rapid fall to about 8th place, whilst upfront the first 3 boats battled it out in fine style. We lost count of the number of times that the lead changed (we were there three times), and if Andy had a faster boat then it really wasn't obvious at all. But you don't get to be world champ for nothing, so it was predictable that he would be the boat in front when we came to cross the finish line. Less predictable however was the way that the wind dropped as we got to the finish line, then filled in for the following pack, resulting in about 4 boats climbing our transom as we finished. Yup, they don't come much closer than that and my blood pressure is only now getting back to normal. Final results for the series were:
1st Dave Wade / Richard Wagstaff
2nd Mike Deane / Paul Disney
3rd Sam Methan / Richard Anderton
4th Pete Badham / JR
5th Vince Horey / Gav Tillison
Full details at http://www.draycotewater.co.uk/Fleets/fireball/results/2004/Wintersuperseries.htm
And come the glorious Spring, we have the following fun lined up:
27th March to 27th November Hancock's Early Bird, Winship Cup, and Summer 72 Trophy race series
6th April to 22nd June Silver Salver race series
17th & 24th April The Firebowl personal handicap event. 6 races, 4 to count, shore starts, one foot on the ground etc and the hotshots aren't allowed to win.
7th & 8th May UKFA Fireball training weekend. Hotshot tuition, book early – space is limited.
28th & 29th May Fleet training weekend and BBQ if nice.
And it is perhaps worth mentioning that the Fireball is still a boat which you can buy for as little as
£500, and we still run separate racing fleets so you don't have to directly compete with the blokes who spent 10 times that amount. We are committed to training, so you get to go faster. And we are
primarily committed to having fun. The Fireball sailor* drifting past the committee boat in irons on port tack 10 seconds before the gun goes is not going to get a lot of verbal GBH in the earhole from the hotshots – anyone worthy of that title in this fleet is capable of going round the obstacle and still getting a good start. If you want to learn a bit more or just to have a go, just come on down and ask for Jez, Iain, Bob, or Mike. Or email email@example.com.
*Yes Rob, I was talking about you