The 2005 Marriott MugBucket event was a small revelation. Ever since I can remember, I have been telling anyone who will listen that this is the race
series that anyone, yes really absolutely anyone, can win so come on down and have a go. And ever since I can remember we have been setting the slow boats off first and they have cheerfully thrown away
their advantage by sailing to the wrong marks, sailing upside down, not signing off or (in some cases) visiting the A&E dept. mid race – indeed anything to avoid actually winning the thing. This is
of course a great fleet tradition, epitomised by Mike Tredwell's performance in 1998 when he rounded J in first place with a 30 second lead and needing only to get past OL to win. So in the best British
tradition he stood up to hoist the kite or salute the Queen or something and fell out of the boat, which promptly capsized. The whole tangled mess eventually drifted across the line in last place, and
quite right too. Anyway, back in the present, and as per usual, at the end of day one we didn't know who was going to win the thing, but the smart money was on Pete Badham and Mike Pratt (1,3,6), or Adam
Whitehouse and Mike Woodward (3,1,3), or even John Taylor and Jim Reed (2,5,1), none of whom are gifted anything of an advantage by the handicapping system, not being 'slow' boats per-se. Then all of a
sudden, halfway through day two, Ian McWhinnie and Greg Hilliard realised that technically they could win the series if they won the last race and various other people didn't come second. Suitably
galvanised into action by this concept, we were treated to the sight of Ian actually trying to win, including race winning tactics like being-there-at-the-start, going-quickly, sailing-the-right-course
etc. And win it they did, and with it the series and the Bucket. So well done to Ian and Greg (and day 1 crew Craig Simpson) not only for winning the thing, but for finally proving me right.
Then we had the Fleet championships, which was a bit of a disappointment this year. In previous years it has been a tooth and nail affair involving
at least 3 serious contenders for the pot. This year Adam wasn't around, and when Pete was present it was in body rather than in spirit, and the biggest challenge to the current title holders was when
Dangerous Dave holed our boat during the first race (and we can't even blame him for that as he was on starboard at the time and er, well yes, get the sticky tape out again Paul). Still, 20 boats
contested the thing and it's going back on my cupboard again, so not a bad result really. First Silver Fleet boat contained Peter and James Wood in a shiny White Winder, so well done and you can guess who's going into the Gold Fleet next year, can't you boys ?
Somewhere around the same time the Fireball Open Meeting and Inland Championships came to Draycote, bringing with it 61 boats. In spite of being the
most expensive open meeting we have ever run at £35 a boat, we gave away something like £25 of this in free beer, food and entertainment. Fortunately the event was sponsored by Speed Sails, whose
benevolence in donating prizes meant that we didn't quite make a loss. As a result of all those freebies, everyone stayed at the club that Saturday evening instead of going to the Dun Cow and the evening
entertainment thereafter was apparently something to behold. Regrettably nobody is able to clearly remember exactly what went on, although the fact that the bar takings that night actually caused a large
enough blip in club profits to need explanation by the club treasurer sort of tells you all you need to know. Out on the water, Adam Whitehouse and Ed were making up for missing out on the MugBucket by
putting in some stonking results. The 1st, 3rd and 4th places were good enough to put them in contention for winning the thing, but the OCS and the 23rd (partly due to my starting tactics, sorry guys) pulled them back to end up 5th overall. Nevertheless a truly bonza performance, which we duly rewarded by forgetting to give them the Best-Draycote-Boat prize at the prizegiving. Good old us.
Now it is officially Winter, so we are into the Winter Super Series. Last year this was sponsored by P&B, who sent Dave Wade down to win the
event. This year it is sponsored by Red Eye Sails, who are donating some decent prizes instead and providing a suit of their sails for use by competitors during the series. The idea behind this being
that you won't know if you like Red Eye sails until you try them, so here's your chance. There's only the one suit though, so book your trial using the link on our website.
Next up is the Fireball Fleet Christmas Meal and Prizegiving evening on Saturday December 10th at 6:30 for 7:00pm. Ticket forms are available from the fleet noticeboards, Sarah and the club office. Get them back to one of the latter two by Monday Dec 5th please. Non-fireballers, relatives and hangers-on all welcome. As part of our continued bid to lose money, we've made it cheaper than last year at £15 per person, £8 for children and a no-food ticket at £5 for those who aren't hungry. Be there or be, er, somewhere else…..
Back on the water, and a big welcome to Richard Le Mare who fancied doing a bit of Fireball sailing and has ended up crewing for Don. Hello also to
Hannah's new boat, now splendidly re-varnished by Keith. We also gained a couple of other new boats over the last couple of months, but memory is fickle and I can't remember whose they are. No worries,
I'll catch up with you when you next sail. All that remains then is to wish a big Firebally Christmas to you all.