Hey everybody, summer's arrived. You can tell because there has been a bit of sunshine between the monsoons, half the country is underwater and the
wind has deserted us. But up until this point, the entire year has been fantastic with a decent amount of wind every Sunday and most Wednesdays. Also there are currently more Fireballs on-site than we've
seen in a very long time, the best estimate being 39 or 40 at time of writing. The racing has also been excellent of late; I've seen open meetings with less boats turning up than the 16 Fireballs we had
racing on a recent Wednesday evening. Party on dudes.
Water Board Pursuit
A fantastic day's sailing in a gusty F3-4. A number of Fireballs got their capsize practice in before the start to save time later, although Iain and
Kath's rudder pintel shearing off left them with no alternative but to pack up and miss the race. After the start it was a still a bit windy and the unassisted boats were overpowered allowing us to see
them off fairly easily. The new classes and asymetrics didn't seem to like the gusts, although the broad reaches must surely have been good for them. Pete Badham and John Rohde spent most of the race as
first Fireball, with occasional appearances from Mike Deane and Paul Disney. When the 100 minutes were up, both boats were hacking up the beat and it was not entirely obvious which one was in front. So
when a distinctly biased finish line materialised in front of Mike/Paul, they wasted no time in diving across it and claiming first place much to the annoyance of Pete/John who were actually
marginally in front at the time but further from the line and therefore second. One long drawn out protest later saw Pete and John restored to their proper position as race winners, but the rest of us
had got fed up by this time and gone home.
FireBowl Personal Handicap Pursuit
Strictly for Fireballs, and strictly for FUN
some people take this event a bit too seriously. The weather was sunny but a bit cold, winds F1-3, but mostly F1. Race 1 saw the early starters disadvantaged by a lack of wind, although this didn't seem to slow Mel and Kyle down very much as they won. Mike/Paul started last and finished second with Colin 'new boat' Snowdon and Richard coming in third. Race 2 was better, with Mel/Kyle chasing Iain/Kath all the way round, culminating in a nail-biting finish which just favoured Iain. Third home were Mike/Paul at the front of a big lump of boats. Further back, Gordon and Sue capsized when Gordon got the tiller extension stuck up his lifejacket. Race 3 (in a departure from past practices, the third race of the day was also part of the series) saw less boats competing, but generated a pretty good turnout for a third race. Iain and Kath led the race for ages, but were eventually overtaken by almost everybody after squandering their advantage on a detour to the wrong mark (DOH !). Paul and stand-in crew Jonathan held on for a win with Mike and Helen close behind. Ray and Phil took third place. Further back, Gordon and Sue capsized again, this time for no particular reason at all.
The second Sunday of the Firebowl was postponed twice (the first due to a clash of O.D. duties and an open meeting, the second time because it was way too
windy. When we finally managed to find some decent weather, the wind (18 - 22 knots) was enough to keep things exciting without being overpowering. This breeze was very much to Mel and Kyle's liking and
they sailed consistently and fast for the first two races and seemed to have the event sown up by race 5. However in a dramatic turn of events it turned out that they had forgotten to sign on for the 2nd
race. Don and Sue spent a fair amount of time examining the superb finish on the underside of their boat in the first two races. Iain bravely volunteered to crew for Don in the last race although still
suffering from a hangover. Gordon and Ed also seemed to be going well when they were the right way up. In the meantime Paul Butler decided to recruit Captain Bob as crew (or simply as additional ballast)
for the final two races in a desperate attempt to challenge Mel and Kyle in the breezy conditions. Helen and Mike were also getting in some consistent results (they finished 2nd in every race so far).
What it boiled down to was the last race was going to decide the overall Firebowl champion between Mel, Helen and Paul. The last race went like this:Gordon/Ed started well and got a good lead. Mel/Kyle
and Helen/Mike were neck and neck until Helen capsized allowing Paul/Bob to get through into third place. Gordon capsized on the spinnaker leg allowing Mel to take the lead. Paul/Bob bravely flew the
spinnaker on a very tight reach from Y to J to no avail (very exciting though), before capsizing to windward allowing Helen/Mike to catch up. They then battled back to second place and (with the
finishing line in sight) capsized after gybing around J. Apparently the main sheet had wrapped itself around the tiller extension making it impossible to steer. Paul/Bob then watched Mel/Kyle cross the
finishing line in first place followed by Helen/Mike, Don/Iain and Gordon/Ed. The final results were 1st Mel and Kyle, 2nd - Helen and Mike, 3rd Paul and a small crowd of people. The general consensus was that the Firebowl event was very enjoyable unless you happened to be sailing a Flying Fifteen.
The deal was that we would get half of the Enterprise park below the road in return for giving up the bit of the Enterprise park above the road which
we had accidentally annexed some years earlier. We didn't organise any fleet members to turn up and help with this, but it was predictable that those who did come along and give up their Saturday
afternoon would get first pick of the tasty new berths near the water. Respect to the Enterprise fleet for clearing the site in the morning, and lending us their wheelbarrow and shovel in the afternoon.
The John Siggers (MayDay) Pursuit
The Force 2-3 on offer wasn't too inspiring, but the OD made up for it by setting an interesting course which was big on close reaches and would have been a
gift to an RS600 or Contender sailor, only there weren't any. Around 6 Fireballs took to the water, and at least 4 were present in a big heap at the windward mark. Dave and Mike tacked below the lay-line
and ended up going the wrong side of the mark, Pete and Sue went round, but had 'kite rigged under the jib' problems. Miles and Paula somehow lost out to Mike and Paul and the latter pair zoomed off for
a nice easy lead. Pete/Sue fixed the kite, but at the expense of the jib cunningham, overtook a few other boats, then stopped to re-tie the jib. Then they came across Miles/Paula and mistook their call
of 'Starboard' for 'Hold your Course' (easy mistake to make), which led to a quick tack involving no crew participation whatever and the inevitable capsize. Helen and Mike took advantage of all this
nonsense to overtake Pete/Sue. Nearer the front Mike/Paul had overtaken everything else available, including a Flying Fifteen which was sailing its own unique version of the course, and were watching the
49er cruise towards them whilst the finish line cruised away. They do this; the two rescue boats that form the moving finish line will come over to the lead boat, make a line, and then drive along just
in front of you until the 100 minutes are up. Then they stop and you get to cross the line. Until they stop, you just have to keep going and try to make it as obvious as possible that you are still in
the lead. In this case, the line stopped moving just before the 49er came past, so we got the win after all (just).
The RNLI Pursuit Race
Bit of a disappointment this; for one thing, it was nothing like as sunny and windy as the day before had been. Then we saw the course (beat,
broad-reach, broad-reach, beat, broad-reach). Mutinous mutterings were heard if us Fireballers thought broad-reaches were pants when there's not much wind, you should look at it from the point of
view of singlehanders and boats without kites (a laser sailor was heard to say that he wanted his £1 entry fee back). It looked like the sort of course that asymetrics would enjoy, but sadly there were
only about 4 of them sailing. Anyway, it turned out somewhat better than anticipated. For one thing the wind picked up. Then, to liven things up, the OD cleverly posted the 'Next Start 28
mins' board before the 27.5 minute gun, thereby causing Eugene and Bob to start their watch 30 seconds early. After making a perfect start at 28.5 minutes, they were just able to come back in time to make a piss-poor start at the proper (29 minute) gun. Miles was massively over the line at the start, and Alistair/Tony were arguably a bit previous but got away with it. We all hacked up the beat, at the top of which Mike and Paul were in front, followed by Eugene/Bob, Pete/John and Tessa/Ed. With the extra wind, the reaches became tolerable in the gusts the trick being to get the boat planing and then keep it on the plane whilst attempting to sail roughly towards the mark. Mike/Paul held their lead throughout, Bob and Eugene swapped places with Tessa/Ed, and the 49er sailed past everybody a good 5 minutes before the end of the race. We ended up Mike/Paul 2nd,
Pete/John 3rd, Tessa/Ed 7th, Eugene/Bob 8th, Miles/Steve 11th.
Abersoch Dinghy Week 2002 by Helen Salisbury and Mike Shreeve
Mike and I have just returned from a great sailing holiday in Abersoch. There were 32 Fireballs, ranging from an 11000 series to the newer
Winder hulls, offering plenty of competition for all levels of skill. We were very pleased with our overall15th place.
Racing ran daily from Sunday to Friday, wind varying from Force 1 to 2 to a memorable Force 5 on Thursday.
That will be remembered as providing a superb 3-sail reach all the way down the coast from Abersoch beach to Llanbedrog: more than worth the beat back again to the Club House. It was also the day when we achieved our best result of coming 12th.
The series was won by Jenny McLeod and her boyfriend in 14738, who are now all set up for the Nationals in Mounts Bay next month.
In fact, 3 Fireballs belonging to the McLeod family (now based at Carsington SC) raced during the week. That sums it up really. It's a well-organised event that annually attracts a good turnout of Fireballs. There is one race a day, promptly at 2.20 pm for Fireballs. The race officer operates from a transit line off the Club house on the cliff and only has to have his cup of tea to hand, none of this tearing about in a fast boat and laying marks! The slow boats, such as Lasers, Radials, Toppers, GP14s and Mirrors, race in the morning. The other afternoon starters were 49ers and 29ers, who helpfully trail-blazed the courses, RS400s, RS200s, Enterprises, etc. This meant that the racing fitted in well with family commitments: some time to sail and the rest of the time to build sand castles or go sightseeing.
Starts were interesting some days, depending on the wind direction. Several were fetches to the windward mark and one day there was even an immediate kite
hoist as the gun went!
Do give it a thought when planning your holidays another year.
It's a great chance to hone up on sea sailing skills ready for the Nationals! We found an excellent family campsite just ¾ mile away from the coast at Tyn Y Mur, £10 a night, with good, clean facilities for everyone. The dates for 2003 are Sunday 20th to Friday 25th July.
The Sir Charles Barratt Pursuit Race
the summer turned up all unexpected on this particular Sunday, leaving us with a fitful F1 blowing from a variety of directions (if at all), and three Fireballers on duty. Phil, Gordon and Ed did an excellent job of OD'ing in very tricky conditions, and if we had a reaching start, you can blame the 135o windshift just after datum (and who cares anyway). So we all reached off and Eugene/Bob who had started late just beat Scotty/whoever to the first mark so you get the idea just how stupid it was out there. Then Scotty took the lead, shortly after which Mike/Paul overtook them by flying the kite up the beat and all the Fireballs arrived at 'F' together in a big lump ('er, water for 6 please'). At this point. Scotty zoomed off a bit, leaving Mike/Paul and John/Angie fighting with Eugene/Bob. At the end Bob/Eugene hung on for second Fireball, Mike/Paul just pipping John/Angie and a Laser 5000 on the finish line. There were still a pile of Solos and Lasers in front of Scotty (although he retired), so we managed 7th, 8th and 10th.
Not bad results for no wind, and surprisingly good fun too.
August 23rd to 30thFireball National Championships at Marazion. We're all going.
September15th & 22ndFleet Championships. 6 races, 4 to count.
October19th & 20thDraycote Fireball open meeting and Inland Championships 1st start roughly midday Sat.
November10th & 17thMarriott Mug personal handicap event. 4 Races, 3 to count, great fun.
December15th after sailingFireball fleet prizegiving and Christmas meal.
Jeremy and Eugene took their boats to the World championships in Florida and suffered mixed fortunes. Jeremy turned in some very impressive results
(eg, 2nd), but tended to get disqualified a lot and came away with 28th place. Eugene was more consistent and ended up38th. Buoyed up by this result, Eugene went off to
do the South African Fireball Nationals, where he came 7th. He now has a new boat and is going dangerously fast. Norm and Andie have defected to the RS400 fleet (if you can call 2 boats a
fleet), so Colin Snowdon has bought their composite Winder. Good luck to Norm and Andie with the new boat
Colin won't need luck with his choice, we all know it's pretty fast and he proved it recently by getting to the windward mark in second place (and then capsizing). Luke has traded up to Paul and Alison's previous boat complete with shiny varnish. Gordon has bought a composite Severn Sailboats item, which looks like fantastic value for money and coincidently appears to be as fast as most Winders. This is significant as it effectively means that you can buy a race-winning low maintenance Fireball for under £1800 or so, which is way cheaper than the previous estimate. Our winter members Mike, Helen, Mel and Kyle have all joined up as full members; pretty damn impressive as none of them live particularly close to Draycote (the latter pair have to commute from the Outer Hebrides or similar). Big hello also to George Deeks and crew who have joined us this year in Dave Hotten's old boat, and goodbye to Mike Curtis who has decided that living in Ross-on-Wye is a bit too far away after all. Hello also to Lis Ainsworth in Gordon's old boat (bought it, broke it, fixed it already), and Scott Wilson and family in a very lovely wooden Severn Sailboats item. Ignoring swapsies, I make that 6 new boats in the fleet so far this year and only two deserters - impressive. And Dave Bevan has just been introduced to Fireballing by Iain (so he knows how bad it can be) and he's about to buy a boat too. Oh, and a certain red boat is going too damn fast. Stop it at once John.
The collected thoughts of fleet captain Bob.
As you may know Eugene and I went to Ireland over a long weekend to try our hand at the Irish National Championships. It was held over 3 days with 9
races (three on each day, back to back). I was glad it was not too windy! Our main problem was that they had a very quiet hooter on the committee boat and very small flags and we were merrily sussing out
the beat when the rest of the fleet started (not good!). Having learnt from our mistake we did exactly the same thing on the next day (even worse). Eugene pulled the tiller extension off in another race
and so sailed the race in beginner mode crouched at the back. Unfortunately the last days sailing on Sunday was cancelled due to fog. The good news was that wefinished7th out of a total of 32 entries,
our best finishing position yet in a major championship. Eugene's other boat (14612) was sailed by Greg and Warren from South Africa and came 6th overall. Louis Smyth (whose age must be 60+) won the
event, which gives hope to the rest of us who are getting on a bit. The most interesting aspect for mewas that Greg and Warren were not going that well onFriday and decided to do a bit of spreader
adjustment on Friday night. On Saturday they came first and second! Methinks that there may besomething in this spreader adjustment after all!
May all your committee boat hooters be loud and your start flags large!