A full Autumn has come and gone, with notable events including the fleet training day, Marriott Mug event, running the Miracle Inland Championships
and our Laserquest evening. Next up is the Christmas Meal and Prizegiving bash on Sunday the 12th of December, which always used to be two different events, but which we are combining into one this year.
Marriot Mug Report 1999
With a forecast of 20 to 25 mph winds, the 14 assembled Fireballs were rigged good and early for their 10:30 start. Regrettably the course was not as prompt in
arriving, so 28 Fireballers wandered around for a while asking each other to explain the timing sequence. Then we were off !
Race 1 Force 3-4
This was windy enough that the slower boats got a good lead, and also windy enough that they capsized and lost it. In a race which was rather longer than we intended, the mid-fleet boats made short work of the upside-down mob, and were just being overhauled by the hotshots when the shortened-course flag went up. First place went to Jeremy 'dangerously fast' Davy, who just pipped Dave Pratt to the line by a matter of inches. Further back, Dene's jib had ripped in half, rather spoiling their race, and Graham had been unsportingly capsized by a Flying-Fifteen (boo).
Race 2 Force 1-2
Was run with the 'windy' handicaps as we couldn't believe it had dropped that much. Also, as it rained throughout, I was unable to see what was going on at the front, but when the mist cleared it transpired that Alistair had held off John Tenney, with Nigel taking third.
Race 3 Force 1-2 Turned into a procession when the beat evaporated, and resulted in an inspired win for Don with Alistair second and Thomas third.
After the third race, Jeremy Davy sportingly removed himself from the competition on the grounds that we had been unable to give him a sensible handicap, these
being his first fleet races.
With the isobars suggesting nothing at all, we were pleased to find a force 2-3 and bright sunshine for the morning race. At this stage it was still possible
for anybody to win, although both Alistair and Don were looking strong.
Race 1 Force 2-3
Memorable for the fact that the entire fleet converged on the finish line almost together, with places being won and lost in the closing minutes of the race. At the front, Dave Pratt just pipped Thomas to the finish by virtue of a debatable manoeuvre on the finish line. (Back on shore, Thomas chose to continue the debate with a protest form, and after taking some slightly suspect advice, Dave chose to retire). Nearer the back of the fleet, Graham stuck his kite up on a whim on the last reach and instantly lost four places. Thanks Graham.
Race 2 Force 3-4
We got away before the club's start sequence for this one, and had a good 10 minutes of trouble free racing before we were joined by Steve 'Just Joining In, Won't Get In The Way' Irish in his 470, who proceeded to get in the way of nearly everybody. (Steve mate if you want to race in a big fleet, get a proper boat.) With more wind, the early starters all spent rather too much time upside down again. Don was flying, but John somehow stayed ahead to take the race. The late starters came in as also-rans, and Alistair (without Tony today) was down the pan again, which effectively ended his chances of taking the cup. This was a very hard race over a crowded course, and involved a bit more argy-bargy than some of us were used to. Somebody even hit the 470 oops !
Race 3 Force 3
Only six out of the original thirteen boats stayed on for this one. The position now was that Don and Pete could take the series if they won the race, otherwise it would most likely fall to John and Angie. Another early start attracted the 470 again, which we could have done without, but it was the approaching weather front that really did the damage. First the beam reach went close, causing John and Angie to capsize with the kite up and allowing Don through into the lead. Then, with the whole thing apparently in the bag, Don found himself on the wrong end of a 45 degree wind shift and could only watch as John took the entire beat without tacking. On top of this the wind dropped away, the rain set in, and the race became a procession in which boat-speed was everything. Needless to say, John and Angie kept their lead to take the race and the series, with Don and Pete getting second place.
Held in the clubhouse on the 1st of November, this was an entirely forgettable event with the exception of two things.
1) The sailboarders are manoeuvring themselves onto the General Committee to get a bit of a voice in the running of the club. This caused instant paranoia
amongst dinghy sailors but is probably not a bad thing in the long run. It appears that the extent of their interest is to get more parking spaces by the water, and to avoid having to wear buoyancy aids.
2) Various people including sailboarders and flying fifteen sailors objected to the quantity and extent of open meetings, and made the point that ordinary club
members get a bit of a raw deal out of these without there being any noticeable benefit except possibly to the club's reputation.
The Fireball Fleet's current stance on these issues is (1)
couldn't care less, and (2) largely agree. As we are promised more of a say this year on these and other matters, anyone with an opinion should tell their fleet captain about it PDQ.
No running, swearing or climbing on the scenery....
Around half the fleet plus some friends went Laserquesting in October, which involves shooting people with laser-rifles until their packs flash madly and they
have to run away. It is all set in dimly lit, wobbly mock Gothic architecture with sound effects, dry ice and UV lights which make everybody look like the BeeGees. Various tactics were employed ranging
from 'creepy-creepy-sneak-up-behind-you-shoot-you-in-the-back' to 'suicide-squad-full-frontal-attack-NOW-outa-my-way-peasant-you're-dead'. Most dangerous psychopaths of the evening were Dave (Terminator)
and Lucy Littlewood, with Thomas and Phil also being a bit scary. Angie, Carol and Catherine teamed up as 'Women In Black' (very scary), attacked en-masse and were notably difficult to hit even when only
three inches away. The rest of us just piled up in the trenches.
Looking distinctly sweaty after all this, we set off in search of a welcoming hostelry, but were barred from several establishments by various bouncers ('No
trainers, jeans, people wivout ties, swearing or climbing on the scenery'). Dave, still in Terminator mode, tried to argue with one but the rest of us ran away. Later we found somewhere too
cheap to employ bouncers and had a drink before moving on to an Indian meal. Memory is fickle thing, but I do recall that Tony fell over a lot and Angie got herself handcuffed, so it definitely qualifies
as a good night out.
Fleet Training Day
This was run at the beginning of September in suspiciously light winds. Originally intended to be a general racing course, it ended up as more of a starting and
upwind course due to the fleet's apparent inability to do either of these reliably. This was excellent practice, and the assembled Fireballs went from being nowhere near the line at the start of the day
to being all on it (or over it) by the end. Thanks to Pete and Steve Badham, John Rohde and Richard Byne for organising and running the event in a truly professional manner with video evidence of
misdemeanours, course notes, and debriefing afterwards. We also had a bit of a barbecue in the sunshine, which was nice.
Welcome to Jeremy Davey, ex-Optimist national champion who appears to have picked up Fireball sailing in about half a day and without spending any time at all
upside down. On the other hand, it's goodbye to Miles Thomas while he explores Solo sailing, and hello again if he decides he doesn't like it. Steve Digby wants to stay with the fleet, and there are two
other experienced sailors who would like to crew for someone. Also joining us are Andrea and Norman in a red Fireball, and possibly some other people if I can lie to them convincingly enough.....