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After the loss of two races yesterday, Sunday, to insufficient wind, IRO Con Murphy advised the fleet at the GUL Fireball Worlds that three races would be on the agenda for Monday with an earlier start time of 11:00. He was true to his word as he departed the shore shortly after 10:00 and got the fleet away to a punctual start for Race 1, a two-lap triangle and sausage course. Wind at this stage was of the order of 8knots with occasional fluctuations above and below this number.

The procession of red spinnakers on Thursday and Friday’s racing last week was broken when a white spinnaker was seen to take the lead at the weather mark, just less than a mile away from this correspondent on the committee boat. It turned out to be the spinnaker of Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799) and they held the lead throughout the race. Behind them we found another white spinnaker but with a mainsail that had a distinctive sailmaker’s label – that of Tom Gillard & Shandy (GBR 15122) and North Sails.

However, the hosts of this regatta, were also well to the fore with the green spinnaker of Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093) in third. Hayling Island’s David Sayce and Gareth Edwards (GBR 15112) would be next in line with Derian and Andy Scott (GBR 14941). The top reach of the triangle looked exciting from our perspective and the second reach was also of a high standard. These ended up being the final positions.

Race 2 was also a two-lap course but with more wind – the knots creeping up to 10 – 12. We also found ourselves with a new running order with Steve & Tom Goacher (GBR 15145) leading the fleet around the course – again quite comfortably. The Czech Republic pairing of Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141) made their way to second place with Mike Deane & Paul Disney (GBR 14778) getting into third. McCartin & Kinsella sailed into fourth with David Hall & Paul Constable (GBR 15155) getting into fifth. The religious conviction that left was the way to go started getting diluted in this race as more boats set off for the second weather mark by taking a hitch to the right. Also, on the downwind leg of the sausage, the fleet was more inclined to split left and right.

Having completed the two races slightly ahead of schedule, the Race Officer decided to give the fleet a three-lap third race – triangle-sausage-triangle. After another clean start in winds that were consistently above ten knots, the North jockeys, Gillard & Shandy had a very substantial lead. Indeed, the first three or four boats had pulled away from the body of the fleet and all looked comfortable. The balance of the podium places on the water were filled by Hall & Constable and Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport (GBR 15162), the P&B jockeys, but McCartin & Kinsella were in the chase as well as Mermod & Moser and Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne (AUS 15152). During the latter stages of the race the wind started to fade but never got below the 5knot threshold.

Hall & Constable chased down the leaders and by the last leeward mark there were only boat-lengths between them. Marsh & Davenport took third, followed by Mermod & Moser. McCartin & Kinsella were the best of the Irish again in 5th, with Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (IRL 15061) coming home in 17th.

GUL Fireball Worlds – Top Ten (after three races)

GUL Fireball Worlds, Lough Derg Yacht Club.



Sail No.







GBR 15122

Tom Gillard & Shandy






IRL 15093

Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella






GBR 15155

David Hall & Paul Constable






CZE 15141

Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica






GBR 15145

Steve & Tom Goacher






SUI 14799

Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser






GBR 14941

Derian & Andy Scott






AUS 15152

Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne






GBR 15151

Martyn & Daniel Lewis






GBR 15162

Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport






Full results below

Another three races are scheduled for tomorrow with another 11:00 start. 

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There was no sailing today at the GUL Fireball World Championships on Lough Derg in County Tipperary.

The Race Officer held the fleet ashore as there was no wind in the proposed race area. He went afloat in a rib to assess the wind and recorded speeds of less than two knots.

When the Race Committee went afloat, the wind strength did not reach the minimum requirement set by the Race Officer.

It flickered above the 5-knot minimum briefly but never developed across the course. N over A was signalled at 16:15.

Fireball World Championships on Lough Derg

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The Pre-Worlds phase of the GUL sponsored Fireball World Championships started off yesterday morning in much the same way as it had concluded the day before – with lots of breeze, from a broadly similar direction - 240°. However, early on in the morning it brought in rain as well but by race time the rain had disappeared leaving us with the odd short sharp shower.

A reduced fleet came out to the race area and maybe by way of being a smaller fleet, the starts got off that much smoother though they were all under a “U-flag”. The majority of the fleet decided that left was the way to go on the beats, though conventional wisdom in these parts apparently suggests that “when it comes from Hare, go to Clare”, Hare being an island in the racing area and Clare being the right-hand shore of the Lough. Certainly, in one of the latter races of the day there was a noticeable difference in angle of sailing between the solitary boat that worked the Clare side of the course and the rest of the fleet.

In the first race of the day (Race 4) wind speeds in excess of 20knots were being regularly recorded on the committee boat’s anemometer, getting as high as 26knots is some of the more severe gusts that came through. That would explain some of the two-sail reaching across the top reach of the course after a 1-mile beat. However, the same three red spinnakers of Messrs Marsh & Davenport (15162), Paruzek & Kosvica (15141) and Bateman & Chaix (14750) dominated the occupancy of the leading bunch. Further back we could see the green spinnakers of another Czech boat and Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (15093). At the leeward mark for the first time the sequence of rounding was, 15162 (Marsh & Davenport), 14750, (Bateman & Chaix), 15141 (Paruzek & Kosvica), 14941 (Derian & Andy Scott), 15061 (Noel Butler & Stephen Oram), 15152 (Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne), 15093 (McCartin & Kinsella) and in eighth, 15091 (Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek). The approach to the second beat was mixed, some when right for a short period before heading left, others tacked immediately at the mark.

Kinsella & McCartinKinsella & McCartin

Gilmartin, Bateman & ChaixGilmartin, Bateman & Chaix

Gilmartin, Butler & OramGilmartin, Butler & Oram

Paruzek & KosvicaParuzek & Kosvica

The downwind leg of the sausage was high speed stuff, some flew bags, others didn’t, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour.

The finishing order for the race was 14750, 15162, 15141, 15019, CZE 15163 (Milan & Matej Snajdr), GBR 15112 (David Sayce & Gareth Edwards), 15093, AUS 15152 (Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne), 15061, GBR 15145 (Steve & Tom Goacher).

Race 5 saw a slight abatement in the wind with less of the 20+ knots being registered though still in the high teens. Again, the favoured approach to the beat was to go left and the same three red spinnakers were broken out after the weather mark – Marsh, Paruzek and Bateman. Again, the action was fast and furious, even under two sails on the off-wind legs. The latter half of the race saw a further drop in wind strength but it had little impact on the placings on the water. The same three boats occupied the podium places with the finishing order being Paruzek & Kosvica (15141), Bateman & Chaix (14750) and Marsh & Davenport (15162). McCartin & Kinsella took 4th, ahead of Snajdr & Snajdr (15163), Butler & Oram, Kubovy & Rocek, Frank Miller & Conor Flynn (IRL 14915), GBR 15096 (Michael & Adam Whitehouse) and tenth, GBR14753 (John Cowper & Martin Mills).

 Maussio & LaCalves Maussio & LaCalves

Marsh & DavenportMarsh & Davenport

Gilmartin Ben Graaf & Alexander Farrell

Gilmartin Ben Graaf & Alexander Farrell

By Race Six, the pace of the race started to become positively pedestrian compared to what had got beforehand. Wind readings on the committee boat were getting down to the mid-teens by mid-race but the high-octane and physicality of the preceding two races had taken its toll on the fleet and the start line length was halved for an 18-boat fleet. Yet again the fleet favoured going left and Marsh & Davenport revelled in the conditions building an insurmountable lead by the weather mark. Instead of three red spinnakers at the head of the fleet we could only see two followed by two green spinnakers and again some boats two-sailing the top reach. At the first rounding of the leeward mark the sequence was; 15162, 15141, 15093, 14750, 15061, 15163, 15019, 15145, 15096, IRL 14637 (Tiarnan Brown & Oisin McAllister), FRA 14950 (Charles LaCalves & Eloise Maussio), 14915 and IRL 14213 (David Evans & William Draper). For the downwind leg of the sausage the fleet favoured middle and (their) right and the pace of execution of this leg dropped with the reducing wind strength. It had a minimal impact on the occupancy of the podium places on the water which had been dominated by Marsh, Paruzek and Bateman, with Bateman & Chaix dropping out and McCartin & Kinsella getting into third place.

David Hall & Paul ConstableDavid Hall & Paul Constable

Imogen Hauer & Hugo MickaImogen Hauer & Hugo Micka

Evans and Draper with Joe GilmartinEvans and Draper with Joe Gilmartin

And thus, the Pre-Worlds and Irish Nationals were concluded, finished under a substantially blue sky and moderating winds, though they came back before the afternoon was out.


The prize-giving opened with a welcome from Irish Fireball Class Association Chairman, Neil Cramer (IRL 14938) and the prizes were handed out by Lough Derg Yacht Club Commodore Joe Gilmartin. Neil thanked all the volunteers who had worked to get the event to this point but especially mentioned (International) Race Officer Con Murphy for running the two-day event. Con commended the fleet for their efforts and said that it had made for very exciting viewing. Special mention and thanks were also made to recently appointed Class Measurer, Chris Henderson who had been on site from early in the week. As Chris will be en route to Canada for another major regatta from Ireland he won’t be in attendance for the Worlds themselves. Irish Class Measurers Owen Sinnott and Eddie Ferris were thanked for managing the local input to the measuring process.

The presentations for the Pre-Worlds and Irish Nationals were made as follows;

Perseverance Award (Discretionary)
David Evans & William Draper, IRL 14213, for their attempts to finish all six races. David had stepped into a Fireball for the first time the day before racing commences.
Classic Trophy (Irish Class Trophy)
David Evans & William Draper, IRL 14213.
Youth Trophy (Discretionary)
Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister, IRL 14637.
Veteran Trophy (Discretionary)
David Hall & Paul Constable, GBR 15155.
First Lady Helm
Imogen Hauer & Hugo Micka, IRL 14740.
“Silver Fleet” prizes
1. Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister, IRL 14637 (12th Overall)
2. Charles LaCalves & Eloise Maussio, FRA 14950 (13th Overall)
3. Ben Graff & Alexander Farrell, IRL 14378. (17th Overall)

“Gold Fleet” prizes

1. Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport, GBR 15162
2. Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica, CZE 15141
3. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix, IRL 14750.
Irish Nationals (Perpetual Prizes – which don’t leave the island of Ireland).
1st Place – Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix, IRL 14750
2nd Place – Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella, IRL 15093
3rd Place – Noel Butler & Stephen Oram.

Silver Fleet

1st Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister, IRL 14637 (12th Overall)
2nd Ben Graff & Alexander Farrell, IRL 14378 (17th Overall)

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So where are they? The hurricanes, we mean. Or more accurately, the “decaying tropical storms” which occasionally make their ominous and often unpredictable way towards Ireland as the Summer progresses and morphs into Autumn. For as it happens, back in May the more pessimistic among us were led to believe we could expect quite a raft of them this summer.

Certainly it’s some time now since news-room reports appeared suggesting that the “acknowledged international agencies” were agreed that all the signs indicated that the approaching summer of 2022 had the makings of a particularly busy year for hurricanes in the western sub-tropical Atlantic, with some of the usual subsequent fall-out adversely affecting Europe’s weather, of which Ireland is the frontier outpost.

But thus far, on the cusp of the final full week of August, we’ve had a decidedly odd summer, with the European weather machine grinding itself into sufficient high pressure action to keep the temperate Atlantic westerlies at bay. While most of us found the virtually windless heatwave weather from North Africa far too much of a good thing – if it was a good thing at any stage – we dreamt of those typical classic Irish days of perfect-sailing temperate westerlies, which in truth are so rare that we remember each one individually.

A decent breeze with some west in it, a generous portion of sunshine, and you’ve Irish sailing perfection – Squibs in action at Kinsale. Photo: Robert BatemanA decent breeze with some west in it, a generous portion of sunshine, and you’ve Irish sailing perfection – Squibs in action at Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

Thus our header photo is there because it is the beau ideal of our sailing weather. When we try to sell Ireland as a sailing venue of the best international standard – indeed, as a sailing venue of better than international standard - then that scene aboard the race-winning J/99 Snapshot is exactly the kind of image that speaks volumes in support of our case.


Yet such perfect days in 2022 have been conspicuous by their rarity. Tedious flat calms have never been far away. And when we do get a breeze, the wind likely as not comes from the nor’east, which is good for neither man nor beast. Recently, it has been sending in lumpy grey seas which meant that at this week’s GP 14 Worlds at Skerries, photographer Bob Givens found himself recording images of disembodied heads and sails in which we’ve to assume that people and boats are attached.

Disembodied experience…..GP14s racing in this week’s Worlds at SkerriesDisembodied experience…..GP14s racing in this week’s Worlds at Skerries Photo: Bob Givens

But whatever has caused it, it certainly hasn’t been any follow-on effect from the very few minor hurricanes which have so far reached the Caribbean this year. For it seems that instead of curving north and then northeast, they simply continued heading on west and have gone clean across Central America to make nuisances of themselves in the Pacific.

Hurricane Katrina on August 23rd 2005, through the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico, and headed for New Orleans. As Katrina made landfall west of Florida, the chances of a later effect on Irish weather were greatly reduced.Hurricane Katrina on August 23rd 2005, through the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico, and headed for New Orleans. As Katrina made landfall west of Florida, the chances of a later effect on Irish weather were greatly reduced.

However, it would be a big mistake to start to feel complacent. The old Caribbean hands are always ready to give out their bit of hurricane-period passage-making warning doggerel, which goes:

July: Stand By;
August: Only If You Must;
September: Remember;
October: All Over.

It used to be preceded by “June: Too Soon”, but there has been a marked tendency in recent years for the season to start earlier, which means that June is no longer too soon to expect tropical storms. Either way, there’s still quite a bit of potential poke left in 2022’s slow-to-start Caribbean hurricane programme, which affects us directly in Ireland in 2022 as the latter part of our season has us hosting an unprecedented number of international and world championships, all of which – when the weather is volatile - place an extra burden on that mysterious group, the International Race Officers.

They are mysterious simply because they are not as other people. If they are worried by the fact that their decisions on any particular day will directly affect the quality of the sport of sometimes hundreds of people, then somehow they don’t show it, whereas ordinary mortals would worry themselves into dithering incompetence.

Broad shoulders. Bill O’Hara of Ballyholme – currently running the GP14 Worlds at Skerries – has an impressive CV which includes being the Main Man in running the Volvo Ocean RaceBroad shoulders. Bill O’Hara of Ballyholme – currently running the GP14 Worlds at Skerries – has an impressive CV which includes being the Main Man in running the Volvo Ocean Race

But the top Race Officers, they have extremely broad shoulders. And it’s quite something to see the effect their arrival has at the venue for some major event. There, the Organising Committee will have been working at an accelerating pace for months or even years, and nerves are becoming frayed. There will have been increasing contact with the Race Officer. But then he or she arrives in person, on time and cool as a cucumber, and the atmosphere changes or the better. The Main Man or the Top Woman is here. The show will go on.


It may well be something to do with the fact that, from 1870 onwards, Irish sailing played a disproportionately important role is the development and codification of the International Races of Yacht Racing. But the reality is that we have an elite group of star Irish race officers who can put on a plethora of majors at much the same time without drawing on talent from outside the island. For although the demanding final weekend of the Shannon One Design Centenary at Lough Ree did bring in the services of Suffolk-based Owen Delany for a weekend of difficult decisions, he is of course of Shannon and Dublin Bay origins.

Assessing the situation. David Lovegrove at Race Officer duties. Photo: Judith Malcolm

Thus in a season which has already seen Scorie Walls put in an exemplary performance in her administration of the Mermaid Championship at Foynes while David Lovegrove had to make some difficult but ultimately right decisions in Wave Regatta at Howth, we’re now into a new phase which sees Con Murphy of Dun Laoghaire in charge of the Fireball Worlds on Lough Derg, while back on the east coast, Derek Bothwell will soon be facing up to the J/24 Europeans at Howth after a masterful management of the Squib Easterns there.

Across the bay in Dun Laoghaire, they’ll be looking for the calming presence of David Lovegrove for the SB20 Worlds at the RIYC in September, while the highly-experienced Harry Gallagher of Sutton and Neil Murphy of Howth are no strangers to the hot seat on the Dublin Bay SC Committee Boats.

Con Murphy – currently running the Fireball Worlds on Lough Derg, earlier in the year he called the shots at Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough. Meanwhile, his sailing experience includes holding the Round Ireland Open Sailing Record from 1993 to 2016.Con Murphy – currently running the Fireball Worlds on Lough Derg, earlier in the year he called the shots at Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough. Meanwhile, his sailing experience includes holding the Round Ireland Open Sailing Record from 1993 to 2016.

All the top racing administrators are keen sailors themselves in addition to their multi-tasking abilities as Race Officers. In fact so keen are they in their general enthusiasm to help our sport in a voluntary capacity that they’ll use their unique locations to take the occasional well-judged photograph. Having opened with a photo of the Fastnet Rock being raced round on a glorious day, we’ll close with one taken this week by Con Murphy on Lough Derg as Chris Bateman of Cork Harbour and Thomas Chaix of Tralee Bay win the third race in the preliminaries of the Fireball Worlds, an image which perfectly captures the vision of the absurdly beautiful Lough Derg at its sailing best.

 Lough Derg at its sailing best, with Fireball winners Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix getting into their stride. Photo: Con Murphy Lough Derg at its sailing best, with Fireball winners Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix getting into their stride. Photo: Con Murphy

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If Mother Nature was considered stingy with her allocation of wind to the 5o5 Worlds recently sailed in Cork and the start of the GP14 Worlds currently being hosted by Skerries, she lavished her bounty on the Fireball Pre-Worlds and Irish Nationals which are the curtain raisers to the Worlds which start on Sunday next.

We woke to grey and slightly overcast conditions and in his briefing to the competitors, International Race Officer, Con Murphy (Dun Laoghaire), indicated that a) we could also expect drizzle and b) the forecast was for the wind to go westwards.

Forty-six boats completed the first race, which was sailed in winds in the high teens and got away reasonably cleanly. The fleet had a three-race agenda for the day so races were restricted to a triangle and a sausage with an offset finish mark, administered from the committee boat which didn’t (voluntarily) move during the first race.

Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix IRL blast reaching on Lough DergChris Bateman and Thomas Chaix IRL blast reaching on Lough Derg

The P&B liveried boat, sail number GBR 15162 led the race for its entirety, I think as they flew a red spinnaker and there were three of those at the head of the fleet for the off-wind legs of the triangle. As has become the custom, the fleet spilt downwind high-wiring it on both sides of the course. It made for exciting racing as the fleet converged on the leeward mark from opposite sides of the course. If they weren’t always in the lead, they were at the most critical part of the race – on the finish line. Thus, Isaac Marsh & Ollie Davenport opened the regatta with a race win.

Second place went to David Hall & Paul Constable sailing GBR 15155, an experienced duo who relish the stronger winds. The first Irish boat also occupied third place at the finish. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix IRL 14750 were at the head of the fleet for the majority of the race. Bateman has just sailed the 5o5 Worlds in Cork and rumour has it that he thinks the Fireball is a nicer boat to sail in these conditions.

Fourth went to the father/son combination of Martyn and Daniel Lewis (GBR 15151) while the Swiss combination of Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799) took fifth and first of the continental visitors.

For Race 2 the breeze ramped up and became more variable in direction and that signalled problems for the pin end boat which was having difficulty staying on station and eventually had to be replaced with a rib flying the pin end flag. It was a wet station in life! The rising wind took its toll on the fleet with only 24 boats finishing the race and that in part may have been due to the difficulties in getting the second start away. A swinging breeze, a pin end that was moving, multiple attempts at a start under P, U and eventually black flag resulted in three boats being sent home for an early shower. For those who persevered, they were rewarded with another exciting race. We could see the boats scudding across the top reach but negotiating the gybe mark seemed to a bit more challenging. By now the wind speed was routinely going above the 20knot mark on the anemometer on the committee boat. Many chose to two-sail the reach, having seen the difficulties the leaders had.

Race 2 went to the Czech combination, Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141), with Davis Hall & Paul Constable second and Bateman & Chaix 3rd and the first Irish boat again. Fourth went to another Irish combination, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093), while another Czech combination, Marin Kubovy & Roman Rocek (CZE15019) rounded out the top five. Special mention must be made of Ben Graff & Alexander Farrell (IRL 14378) who were the only boat to fly spinnaker between the leeward mark and the finish line.

By Race 3 the rib on the pin end had been replaced by a Dory and the start that got away was the most conservative of the day. The fleet had almost halved again! Bateman and Chaix arrived at the leeward mark with a considerable lead, that was obvious across the top reach except, we in the committee boat didn’t know that it was them – it was simply another red spinnaker. The P&B boys, Marsh & Davenport were chasing hard and by the time they reached the leeward mark for the second time the Irish lead had been shortened considerably. However, a home win was secured by Bateman & Chaix to end the day on a high for the hosts. Behind Team P&B were the Czechs, Paruzek & Kosvica, ahead of their compatriots Kubovy & Rocek with another Czech boat Milan Snajdr & Matej Snajdr (CZE 15163) fifth.

Thus, with three races complete, the overall situation is as follows;

1. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix, IRL 14750: 3, 3, 1, 7pts
2. Isaac Marsh & Ollie Davenport, GBR 15162: 1, 7, 2, 10pts
3. Martin & Daniel Lewis, GBR 15151: 4, 6, 7, 17pts
4. Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek, CZE 15019: 13, 5, 4, 22pts
5. Milan & Matej Snajdr, CZE 15163: 6, 11, 5, 22pts
6. Steve & Tom Goacher, GBR 15145: 12, 8, 6, 26pts
7. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, IRL15061: 10, 9, 8, 27pts
8. Michael & Adam Whitehouse, GBR 15096: 16, 13, 9, 38pts
9. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer, IRL 14938: 20, 20, 11, 51pts
10. Frank Miller & Conor Flynn, IRL 14915: 24, 15, 13, 52pts.

Another three races are scheduled for tomorrow.

Published in Fireball

This morning in Lough Derg the Fireballs have grey skies and low clouds on the County Clare side of the water.

A briefing is scheduled for 10:30 from Race Officer Con Murphy (IRO) who arrived on site this morning. Racing in the Irish Nationals which will double up as the Pre-Worlds is down for a 12-noon start, with three races on the agenda.

The Australians, Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne arrived yesterday and took to the water as soon as they could, not having seen their boat for close to three years.

Yesterday, 45 boats went through the measurement process with some very favourable comments on the speed and efficiency with which this process was carried out.

Photo (by Cormac Bradley): The 60th Anniversary Fireball Flag flies over Lough Derg this morning – maybe not so healthily as we might like, but at least it’s flying.

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Barry McCartin and Teddy Byrne were crowned the new Fireball Leinster champions at Blessington Sailing Club at the weekend. The pair won every race in the 19-boat fleet with top-class boat speed and brilliant picks of wind zones. Race one on Saturday saw light and tricky winds from a northerly direction which shifted up to 80 degrees during the race. The first downwind leg of the triangular course in particular was difficult to judge and the fleet spread out over a wide area as sailors picked high angles to keep their boats moving. While there were winners and losers downwind in general places did not change that much. Race officer Joe Crilly decided very sensibly to shorten the race after one round to the start/finish line a little up the beat.

Fireball Leinster Champions Barry McCartin (right) and Teddy ByrneFireball Leinster Champions Barry McCartin (right) and Teddy Byrne

Unfortunately, although a rib and an S flag signalled the intention to all sailors at the leeward mark this particular method of shortening was not accounted for in the Sailing Instructions and the race was thrown out following a protest from Noel Butler/Stephen Oram who scored an 8th in that race after a difficult start.

After that finish, the wind continued to swing around and never settled enough to set a course. The race committee took pity on the competitors in the sweltering heat and sent everyone ashore to wait for a reasonable breeze to settle in. Ashore Fireballers were treated to a terrific barbecue put on by a team of club volunteers. The breeze did fill a couple of hours later and competitors launched again to sail two races with the breeze now Southerly.

Max Cully and Lisa Flynn Junior team prize winners - Max Cully and Lisa Flynn

Again McCartin/Byrne led the way around the course in both races by careful choices of wind zones and angles and judicious tacking and loose covering decisions. Conditions were very tricky and those who found boat speed and made good tactical decisions found their way to the front. Jane Butler Sailing with her "old" 420/470 crew Jenny Andreasson played a blinder with two seconds and a third. This placed them in second overall overnight despite race 1 being thrown out. Her brother Ed Og, Sailing with Ismail Inan, were in third position but the lost race demoted them and Adrian Lee/Ossian Geraghty took over that position. With the stunning weather many sailors camped by the lakeshore and the whole scene resembled the Italian riviera rather than the typical Wicklow landscape. More barbecues, shared meals, shared drinks and shared stories were the order of the evening.

Jane Butler and crew Jenny AndreassonJane Butler and crew Jenny Andreasson

Sunday dawned extremely hot but windless, which was the forecast all along. The postponement flag went up and stayed up and by early lunchtime race officer Joe Crilly made the absolutely correct call to abandon racing for the day. Hanging around for a couple of hours in blazing sunshine gave Irish measurer Owen Sinnott the opportunity to brief the class on what to expect at the measurement checking process at the forthcoming Worlds in Lough Derg. With 75 boats now registered everyone is keen to have a smooth, fair and fast checking process.

Adrian Lee/Ossian GeraghtyAdrian Lee and Ossian Geraghty and young James Geraghty

The becalmed conditions also allowed some re-measuring of sails where old measurement stamps had faded to invisibility. After another great barbecue generously provided by the BSC volunteer team prize-giving took place outdoors in idyllic conditions. Besides the above, overall winners Brenda Nash and husband Glen Fisher deservedly took the Silver Fleet prize. The junior team prize was won by Max Cully and Lisa Flynn.

Brenda Nash and Glen Fisher Brenda Nash and Glen Fisher

The lemon prizes were awarded randomly to Nick Miller and Pat McGoldrick for their lack of a boatname, something of a Fireball class habit! One of the most charming moments at prize-giving was seeing young helper James Geraghty present his father Ossian with his third prize. The class made their traditional presentation to Joe Crilly for his solid race management in very shifty winds, and in addition to commodore Richard Street, the human dynamo who pulled the whole event together. A particular feature of this event was the incredible welcome and hospitality provided to the class at their first appearance in Blessington in many years. The warmth and energy of the volunteer ethic at the club literally shone through the whole event. The appearance of so many new faces, both young and not so young augurs well for the future of the class.

Next up for Fireballs is their Nationals at Lough Derg, the prequel to the Gul Worlds in August. Blessington provided a testing ground for sailors to practice their light air skills which will surely be useful at some stage over the week-long Worlds, though everyone will be praying for good winds on that very much larger lake.

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A surge in entries before the main closing date for the GUL Fireball Worlds at LDYC Dromineer on Thursday saw entries reach 75 boats. Earlier in the week additional sponsors GUL and Failte Ireland came on board, joining Carrickcraft and Tipperary Co Council as key supporters of the event in August. The watersports apparel company GUL becomes the title sponsor of the Worlds, now known as the GUL Fireball World Championship 2022. The event has additional support from Fireball International.

As this is the first Fireball World Championship since Montreal in 2019 there is significant interest around the globe with teams entered from Australia, Canada, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic and South Africa, along with a large contingent from the UK and a rapidly growing local fleet. Many teams are travelling with their families and extending their trip so the event is expected to provide a strong boost to tourism in the lakelands area and beyond.

The stunning lakelands area, a lesser-known gem of the Irish tourism offering, is likely to surprise domestic and international sailors alike with its beauty. With special Irish Ferries rates for competitors the ‘Trip to Tipp’, is an attractive option for sailors from mainland Europe and the UK. Another great attraction at LDYC is the amount of space available for camping and for camper vans so much of the Worlds fleet is expected to live on-site for the event helping to keep the event both affordable and extremely social. With Carrickcraft cruiser hire as one of the sponsors discounted cruiser hire is available to competitors and their families, providing an attractive accommodation alternative which would allow families to view the racing from their floating holiday homes based on the marina beside the sailing club.

 Up for grabs - The historic Fireball World Championship trophy which dates from 1966 and is engraved with some of the most famous names in sailing worldwide.Up for grabs - The historic Fireball World Championship trophy which dates from 1966 and is engraved with some of the most famous names in sailing worldwide

In preparation for the Worlds, the International trophies have been shipped to Ireland. Of these the most impressive is the World Championship trophy, a genuine work of art dating back to 1966 and featuring the famous sailor and journalist Bob Fisher as the first winner. Other famous names include John Caig, Ian Pinnell, Lawrie Smith, and of course the only Irish winners John Lavery and David O’Brien in 1995. The class celebrates its 60th anniversary this year with the major events being the Lough Derg Worlds and the special anniversary event at Hayling Island UK last weekend.

International race officer Con Murphy will be PRO for the event. The World Championships take place from August 21st-26th with a warm-up event on 18th & 19th August which doubles as the Irish National Championship. Measurement checking is expected to take place mainly on Wednesday 17th and Saturday 20th August with the racing programme of two races per day running from Sunday through Friday with Wednesday as the lay day. With some fifty square miles of open lake the venue is likely to challenge sailors with a good mixture of conditions over the week. While not at all as shifty or light as smaller lakes it will be interesting to see if the venue suits the Swiss and Czech competitors who predominantly sail on lakes. Amongst a hot entry list are multiple World champion Tom Gillard (UK) and former Fireball World champion Ruedi Moser (SUI). There are several top Irish teams participating including Barry McCartin and crew Conor Kinsella, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram, and also several new teams who have joined the fleet in recent months and have shown real potential. Not least of these is Chris Bateman who won the recent Fireball Ulsters in very lively and hotly contested conditions and has teamed up with professional dinghy coach Thomas Chaix for the Worlds.

The event will include an activity programme for families and non-sailors with many and diverse regional attractions. The long lead-up to the event, with the delay caused by the pandemic, has given the domestic Fireball fleet a great boost and the last couple of years have seen a big increase in local numbers. Some 28 Irish boats have now committed to the event, the first Fireball Worlds on local waters in eleven years.

Youth sailors are welcome and can enter at a discount of 20% and the class is encouraging sailors from other classes to get hold of a Fireball and to join the fray. Recent months have seen a huge increase in interest in Fireballs in Ireland and sailors have joined from the 420s, GP14s, 49ers amongst other classes. Latecomers are advised to enter now via the club website at before the event finally closes to late entrants on Friday August 13th.

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Chris Bateman of Monkstown Bay Sailing Club and Conor Flynn of Blessington Sailing Club are the new Fireball Ulster Champions after six hard-fought races in lively conditions at Sutton Dinghy Club on Dublin Bay last weekend.

The young team, who also took the youth prize, counted two wins, a second and two thirds to win the trophy by five points over Ed Óg Butler and Fionn Conway.

 Bateman (right) and Flynn close in at a leeward markBateman (right) and Flynn close in at a leeward mark

Bateman leading and Flynn lead the fleet on Dublin BayBateman leading and Flynn lead the fleet on Dublin Bay

Second was Ed Og Butler and Fionn ConwaySecond was Ed Og Butler and Fionn Conway

Third was Niall McGrotty (left) and Neil CramerThird was Niall McGrotty (left) and Neil Cramer

The event was one of the most exhilarating and competitive Fireball regional event for several years.

Several new teams were afloat testing their skills and their boats against more experienced opposition in conditions which ranged from medium to very strong North-Northwest winds. Saturday saw good medium breezes, mostly from the northwest, with testing shifts and light patches.

Day one racing under the Pigeon HouseDay one racing under the Pigeon House

Every race saw multiple place changes over the various legs with no one team dominating.

Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly pulled off a win in race one by going slightly further inshore on a beat and finding better wind and a lift to the weather mark to take them from fifth to first and holding on to the finish.

Frank Miller and Grattan DonnellyFrank Miller and Grattan Donnelly

Race two saw Bateman/Flynn take the bullet from the highly experienced team of McGrotty/Cramer in second.

Race three saw Butler/Conway prevail. Race four saw McGrotty/Cramer squeeze inside Louise McKenna/Hermine O’Keeffe at the final leeward mark to take the win, and the overnight lead on points over Bateman/Flynn.

Courses were the of the preferred triangle-sausage variety leading to some great reaches thanks to the skill of race officer Scorie Walls and her team.

What was really remarkable about the weekend’s racing was the level of competition. New sailors quickly found their feet in the Fireball and gave plenty of challenge to the more experienced, often emerging on top. Whoops of delight were heard on some of the windier reaches.

Day two dawned with a slightly ominous forecast. Slightly different forecasts were on offer from Wind Guru, Windy and Met Eireann. The bottom line suggested possible breezes of up to thirty knots. After consulting the thirteen-boat fleet and taking in to consideration the flat sea conditions and the ability of the Fireball to be tuned to sail comfortably in very strong winds racing went ahead in a building breeze which ultimately saw some gusts reach 27 knots.

Special mention here for Paul Ter Horst, who with his son Maurice were probably the only true “silver” fleet sailors afloat. The pair took to the conditions and finished every race but the last when the wind was very clearly on a steep upward trajectory.

On the course, there were some very strong veins on wind, most coming over the hill from due north, with some great lifts, and also some great headers. Racing was a game of making the most of these patches and lifts while staying upright and flat. This is probably where Bateman/ Flynn really excelled, sailing “bow down” for maximum speed and crossing ahead on the big shifts. The pair won race five and were second in the final race to Butler/Conway. Their victory in the event is all the more remarkable because this was Bateman’s first competitive outing in his Fireball. The silver fleet prize was won by Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter.

The Fireball silver fleet prize was won by Conor Twohig and Matthew CotterThe Fireball silver fleet prize was won by Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter

The very fast team of Josh Porter and Cara McDowell had been leading the final race and heading for their best result when a strong gust wiped them out at the final gybe mark. Equally McGrotty/Cramer went down to a strong gust in race six but their overall solid scoring saw them take third overall by a point from Miller/Donnelly.

Special mention too for Fionn Conway who crewed for Ed Óg – the highly skilled Laser and Moth sailor was trapezing and flying a spinnaker for the first time.

This was a tremendous weekend at Sutton, who led by event organisers Andy Johnson and Jim Lambkin, stepped up as an unlikely but terrific venue to host the Ulsters, just North of the Liffey when other venues and dates fell through.

The event organisers Andy Johnson (left) and Jim Lambkin (centre) with Race Officer Scorie WallsThe event organisers Andy Johnson (left) and Jim Lambkin (centre) with Race Officer Scorie Walls

The club, which has just finished a major renovation, provided exemplary race management and extremely warm and open-hearted hospitality to the class to mark its return to the spiritual home of the Fireball in Ireland. It was from Sutton in 1962 that the first Irish Fireball was launched by Roy Dickson.

race six fireball startlineThe Fireball race six startline

This year is the 60th anniversary of the class, a landmark being celebrated at a special event at Hayling Island in the UK and at the World Championships at Lough Derg YC in Dromineer this August.

Appropriately enough numbers for the Worlds at 58 are now close to that 60 mark. The event in Sutton last weekend showed clearly that there is new Irish talent entering the fleet ready to take on the best the world has to offer.

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This weekend, Sutton Dinghy Club on Dublin Bay welcomes the Fireball fleet to Sutton Creek for the first time in quite a while. It will be an unusual situation as it will the first time we have hosted the Fireball Ulster Championships. With the Worlds in Ireland this year, the Class were very keen to ensure as many of their events were run and Sutton were more than delighted to help out writes the Club's, Andy Johnston.

The Fireball is a Class that Sutton are very familiar with from a historical perspective, as it's here 60 years ago that the first Irish Fireball was sailed by our former Commodore Roy Dickson, when in September 1962 Roy sailed hull number 38 across Dublin Bay to Dun Laoghaire.

Fireball 38 in Sutton Creek sailed by Roy DicksonFireball 38 in Sutton Creek sailed by Roy Dickson

By the following years, Roy had helped build a formidable fleet of Fireballs with the likes of Bunny Conn, Ian Baird, David Lovegrove, Hugh Morton, Ronan Henry and Brian Galton all involved. In 1963 the first Fireball Nationals were sailed from Broadmeadows in Malahide and were won by Noel 'Bunny' Conn and Ronan. Roy with Pat Gilmour crewing won the Championship in 1964. The fleet remained strong in Sutton well into the 1970s with Barry O'Neill, Jamie Wilkinson, Brian Matthews, Joe McKeever, Vincent Wallace, Freddie Harrison, Ian Baldock all campaigning out of Sutton Dinghy Club. Aside from winning multiple national championships, the Sutton fleet campaigned at World and European level with a 4 boat team travelling to Bendor in France in 1967, where Roy Dickson and Hugh Morton took 3rd with David Lovegrove and Ian Baird in 4th. The quality of that fleet is demonstrated with Barry O'Neill and Jamie Wilkinson progressing to Olympic level together in Montreal in 1976. Jamie returned to partner David Wilkins in Moscow in 1980 to a Silver medal.

1973 Fireball Nationals and the winners take their prize1973 Fireball Nationals and the winners take their prize

The fleet started to disappear from Sutton in the late 70s with intermittent campaigns by the likes of Ruan O'Tiarnaigh and Stephen Boyle in the 90s. The pair were quite successful, with podium places at a number of Fireball National Championships including 1994 and 1995, with Ruan ultimately taking the Helmsmans Championship in 1995. The most recent sighting of a Fireball in Sutton was multiple IDRA14 Champion Alan Henry and Simon Revill who attended a number of events from 2015-2017. Simon in fact won the Fireball Nationals in 2017 as a crew with Noel Butler.

Fireball Worlds 1967 - 3rd Prize Fireball Worlds 1967 - 3rd Prize 

This weekend's Ulster Championship will have a small but perfectly formed fleet that includes the ever-active Class Captain Frank Miller and will include we believe a crew from the host Club. With the GP14 Worlds also in Ireland in 2022, Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter are using the Ulster Championship to hone their skills and get more time on the water and are joined by another GP14 crew from Blessington in Richard Street and Lisa Flynn. We believe there are a few notable Fireball crews missing so hard to gauge who is the most likely winner. Maybe there will be a surprise. Irrespective it is brilliant to see the Fireballs back 'Home' in Sutton Creek and we look forward to a great weekend.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago