Apparently we have an image problem. Apparently we have managed to make the Fireball look like a difficult boat to sail – the sort of thing that
makes hardened dinghy sailors back away in fear and has the rookies running for the safety of a double-reefed Wayfarer. How can this be?
As we know, the dear old Furball is a pussycat. In light airs you can roll-tack it and hone your skills spotting wind-shifts with the rest of the fleet – light airs racing only works when there's a decent number of boats to compete against. When it gets a bit windier, the Fireball planes easily on the close reaches, and you don't have to hurt your legs by hanging out of it, because the crew is already dangling languidly on the trapeze and making sarky comments about your driving skills. And when it gets seriously windy, well you just let the sail out a bit further and enjoy the sensation of speed that comes from being so close to the water. You're not going particularly fast, but it feels as though you are. And as the wind builds and everything else on the lake falls over or heads for the shore, the Fireball is generally the last boat left upright.
In short – this is not a tricky boat to sail.
Consider Sue Alexander, who turned up fancying a go in the Fireball having just taken her RYA level 2 course and never having trapezed or flown a
spinnaker. By the time the race started she had mastered trapezing, and she got the hang of the kite on the first 3-sail reach. By the second reach, she was doing both at once, playing the spinnaker from
the trapeze as though she'd been doing it all her life.
So the fundamentals of crewing, although highly satisfying, are not a big deal to acquire. From personal experience, neither is helming.
So how did we get ourselves into this situation then?
Well it seems to me it's one of two things. Either you lot have spent too much time swimming round your boats on windy days - making them look
difficult to sail. Or you have spent too much time not swimming round your boats on windy days - making yourselves look like superheroes and thereby convincing the world that you need to be a superhero
to sail a Fireball.
I can see that this will be a tricky one to deal with. While we think about it, we'd like to invite anyone who thinks they might fancy a Fireball to
come and have a go in the fleet-boat and decide for themselves. Help and advice come as standard.
Superhero types need not apply.