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11 nations and 106 boats contested the 2012 Fireball Europeans, hosted by Yacht Club Bracciano East during the week of 21 – 27 July. The fleet boasted an entry from Namibia, Nikolai & Pascal Allers, whose boat is stored in Switzerland, a single entry from Germany, Joerg Noller & Roger Leeman, 2 Canadian boats, including FI Executive members Joe Jospe (Commodore) and Tom Egli (Technical representative), 3 Belgian boats, 3 Slovenians, 5 French, 9 Irish, 17 Swiss, 18 Czechs, 19 Italians, who also contested their National Championships at the event, and 28 British boats.

As to be expected with an event that was within drivable distance of all the centres of European Fireballing, the means by which the boats arrived was of much interest. And winning the award for the most attention in this category was the Irish entry which brought 9 boats on a single jeep/trailer combination; eight boats stacked either side of the trailer with the ninth on the roof of the jeep. It took a team effort to load and unload the boats, but the trailer was easily loaded.

Measurement for the regatta took place on the Saturday and Sunday and Monday morning saw the first upset of the week!

The prevailing wind in Bracciano at this time of year blows onshore at the club. This morning it was blowing away from the club and was accompanied by grey skies........this wasn't in the brochure! In the distance we could see windsurfers scudding across the waves and when we did get the odd glimpse of sun, we could see the white tops of the waves in the distance as they ran away from us. An initial postponement was signalled! When we did set sail for the start area we were to find a committee boat struggling to hold position and a pin boat that was struggling to get upwind. The former was due to depth complications – we were in 150m of water – the latter was due to the wind and sea. A start was eventually attempted but a major wind shift meant that the beat turned into a two-sail fetch, especially for those who started at the pin. The first reach was another two sail fetch in the opposite direction, which meant that spinnakers were only broken out on the third leg! Boats went left and right to avoid sailing a direct line to the leeward mark. Some of us continued our conservative outlook and two-sailed rather gingerly to the downwind turning point. An early abandonment signal was flying from the committee boat as the stragglers sailed upwind again; problem was the leaders were already on their way back to the leeward mark under spinnaker. That left a long slog home! The reaction shore side was one of consternation.

Day 2 and the wind looked as if it had returned to normal service. The fleet went out again and proceeded to have a very long wait for the first start. Race 1 was sailed to full length, but the second start only got underway after 17:30 and was truncated to a triangle, sausage and final beat. The first race was started in good breeze that faded as the day wore on. The arrival of black clouds in the vicinity of the lake meant that the 2nd start was going to be a bit lively.......and so it was until haven't spent itself out, the breeze faded again to leave us with sunny conditions but a dying breeze. The day was characterised by multiple starts, with initially general recalls being used then the dreaded Black Flag start. Race 2 got away at the second attempt under black flag conditions. It was also a day on which the IJ exercised their muscle, policing Rule 42 infringements. The fleet was back ashore by 19:00, however the IJ were working much later into the evening. Two days gone, two races completed, only one of which went full length.

Day 3: Wind onshore! 13:00 arrives with the postponement flag already in place. Just as well, at the scheduled start time the numbers of boats in the start area could be counted on two hands. The RO is now in a difficult position – starts have not got off on time, so there is less enthusiasm from the fleet to go afloat and wait for a delayed start. The first start of the day is attempted at 14:30. One General Recall and two Black Flags later the fleet is let go under a Z-Flag start. Later 20 boats were listed as being in trouble at the start! Race 2 starts after 17:00 and concludes with the fleet getting shore after 19:00. We have had 6.5 hours on the water for two shortened races.

Day 4: A second Skippers' Briefing has been arranged for 10:00. It proceeds to be a clearing of the air between the fleet and the RO. The frustration of long hours on the water with less than satisfactory results leads to an agreement that a) the fleet will be kept ashore until the wind has stabilized and a race can be started quickly and b) a request that the start lines are laid square to the wind to try and preclude the need for everyone to start early and c) a request that the race committee get on the water earlier to assess the wind situation.

Two full Olympic courses get sailed today, but with a first start after 15:30, we have another late return to shore, post 19:00. These are the best races of the week, relatively quick and clean starts, good spinnaker legs and breeze that stayed on for the duration of the races. Conditions are very pleasant for sailing – warm wind and warm water – and the trapezing isn't heavy duty upwind, though the 2nd reach of the triangles are a bit more challenging. During the second race the wind got up a bit but it didn't last overly long.

As the Championship dinner is scheduled for this evening, the fleet has little time between unwinding after the racing to getting ready for dinner. However, our Italian host put on a great spread – simple but very tasty – antipasto, pasta, spit-roasted pork and ice-cream with lots of wine and water to accompany the meal. The Slovenians also give a presentation on the venue for the 2013 Worlds in Portoroz in September, but the impact of their presentation is partially lost due to us all seating outside and the sheer volume of numbers.

Day 5: While we all have a discard with six races sailed, everyone would like to see more races to improve their position. However, being the last day of the event, there is an early cut-off for the last race start of 16:00. And in a typical application of Murphy's Law (if it can go wrong it will go wrong), there is no wind when we arrive at the club. Not a good start! The routine postponement flag goes up and the fleet settles in for a shoreside wait! Noon comes and goes; 13:00 comes and goes. We do go afloat around 15:00 which means at best we will only get a single race in. problem is that the wind is moving significantly with huge shifts that are a RO's nightmare! A start is attempted but we are in default again. Re-jig the line, lift the weather mark, everyone is clock-watching now! We are down to less than 20 minutes before cut-off. The minutes tick by.................and as 16:00 arrives we are done without a race being started. The leaders will be relieved, though the top boat has a six-point margin! The majority of the fleet will be relieved in a different way, they can start packing!

Most regattas are won on the basis of brilliance and consistency. This regatta required both these attributes in a much more conspicuous way. The ease with which big numbers could be accumulated – even for top ten candidates in a Fireball fleet – was unreal at this event.

On the Tuesday evening, Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser were sitting atop the pile with a 1,2 and three points. Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek were equally comfortable in second with a 1, 4 and the Venhodas, Kurt and So (SUI 14987) were in third with 9 points. 24 hours later, the Tuesday evening leaders had acquired a Black Flag and an 11, Kubovy/Rocek scored a 9,8 and the Venhodas had picked up a 30 and a 9. The British challenge manifested itself with Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff scoring a 1,2 on Wednesday, Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey scoring a 2,4, Sam Mettam & Richard Anderton securing a 3 in Race 4, David Hall & Paul Constable winning Race 3 only to fall foul of the Z-flag at the start and david wade/Bob Gardner getting a 4th (Race 4), but also a Black Flag.

Thus Wednesday saw a change in the order with Burge/Wagstaff tied with Kubovy/Rocek on 22pts, and Birrell/Brearey in third on 26pts. At this stage Kubovy/Rocek were the only combination inside the top ten overall who only had single digit finishes.

On Thursday Kubovy/Rocek's record of single digit finishes went AWOL as they recorded a 15 and 13, the former becoming their discard. Burge/Wagstaff scored a 1,6, Birrell/Brearey a 9 & 4. Hall/Constable replaced the Z-flag first with the real thing in Race 5 and followed that up with a 6th. Mettam/Anderton also had a good day with a 5,9.

Fireball Europeans – Yacht Club Bracciano East R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Nett

1 GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff 8 11 2 1 6 1 18

2 GBR 15065 Christian Birrell & Sam Brearey 15 5 4 2 9 4 24

3 CZE 15019 Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek 1 4 9 8 15 13 35

4 GBR 15083 David Wade & Bob Gardner 4 12 bfd 4 13 2 35

5 CZE 15059 Milan Cap & Filip Prochazka 12 14 3 5 32 3 37

6 GBR 15085 David Hall & Paul Constable 11 9 1 18 1 6 45

7 CZE 15079 Jaroslav Verner & Pavel Winkler dnf 2 14 7 11 12 46

8 GBR 15081 Sam Mettam & Richard Anderton 26 15 20 3 5 9 52

9 CZE 14979 Eva Skorepova & Jakub Napravnik 7 10 11 29 10 15 53

10 SUI 14799 Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser 2 1 bfd 16 21 14 54

Thus the top ten split is GBR 5, CZE 4 and Switzerland 1. This reflects the growing strength in numbers and talent level of the Czech fleet, which we are advised is the fastest growing fleet in Fireball. They are a very young group, which would suggest they are going to be around for a while.

Trophy Winners

Race 1 Swiss Cow Bell CZE 15019 Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek

Race 2 Czech Crystal Bowl SUI 14799 Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser

Race 3 Slovenian Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Race 4 UK Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Race 5 Italian UVM Trophy GBR 15085 David Hall & Paul Constable

Race 6 French Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Overall Fireball Europeans European Trophy GBR 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff

Classic Boat Classic Boat Trophy CZE 14056 Karel & Matej Smetana (63rd)

Ladies Prize YCBE Trophy CZE 14809 Klara Janderova & Jitka Bidlova (64th)

Under-25s Italian Fireball Association Trophy GBR 15065 Christian Birrell & Sam Brearey

The regatta was generously sponsored by Carige Assicurazioni, an Italian insurance company, who were the main sponsor, Sperry Topsider, who provided a pair of their shoes to every competitor, Dicofarm who specialize in the development of early childhood products and, technical sponsors Aires Tech, a mechanical engineering company and Aliacom, a mass communications agency.

The hospitality of our Italian hosts was exceptional. Bottled water was free and available on each day of the regatta. A small team of Italian ladies produced enormous amounts of food from a very small kitchen on a daily basis – pasta was served to the fleet when it came ashore every day. The Championship dinner was simple but excellent fare and the shore teams enthusiastically helped boats off the small beach into the dinghy park at the end of each day's racing.

Photos by Bob Hobby and Urs Hardi

Published in Fireball

Forty-nine Fireballs gathered in Pavlov in the SE corner of the Czech Republic in the last week of September to contest the Fireball Europeans. Nine countries were represented – eight European and one African and some of the newest Fireballs in the World, including the latest, were present.

GBR (4), SUI (3), SLO (3), BEL (2), FRA (2), GER (1), IRL (1), NAM (1) were balanced by thirty-two boats sailing from the host country.

The range of boat ages went from SLO 13861 to the highest number this author has seen, 15047, the sole African entry from Namibia, owned by Nikolai Allers.

Various tales of long distance drives were exchanged as the fleet assembled on the shores of Nové Mlýny in SE Czech Republic, ranging from the 30hour solo drive by Tim Rush of North Sails to the more leisurely trek of the Irish that started in Dublin on the Thursday morning preceding the regatta and concluded on the early Saturday afternoon. The Namibian boat was towed from the UK while its owner flew in to Switzerland and travelled to the regatta from there. During the regatta it turned out that one of the Swiss entries also brought his Finn in case he didn’t get enough sailing in his Fireball.

The British contingent may have been small but it was a quality field, Tom Jeffocate and Andy Thompson (15045), Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (15041), Nikki Birrell and Bevis Field (14980) and the aforementioned Tim Rush (14807) with Martyn Lewis on the trapeze. The Irish were represented by perennial traveler Louis Smyth (15007) with Cormac Bradley on trapeze, France had another regatta regular Jean-Francois Novel sailing with Martin Peculier (15015). Rear Commodore Europe, Maja Suter, with new crew Thomas Boehm headed up the Swiss contingent. The Germans were represented by Jörg Nolle & Roger Leemann, sailing 14508.

The local fleet included the well-known names of Eva Skořepová, Martin Kubový, and Petr Kořan. However, there is evidence of lost of investment in the local fleet as they boasted a number of boats over the 15000 mark and a lot in the high 14,000s.

Measuring took place in a very efficient manner on the Saturday and Sunday before a practice race was provided for those who wanted it on the Sunday afternoon. Not everyone availed of the offer as it was quite breezy, cold and there was a light drizzle falling. However, there were enough boats out to suggest that a major event was imminent.

A trilingual opening ceremony took place in the marquee erected for the event in the grounds of Yacht Club Dyje. Petr Kořan was later to tell us that the club had invested in further land purchase in order to gear themselves up for the hosting of the event. Regatta Chairman Tomáš Musil and Race Officer Marek Pavlovský welcomed the visitors and the home representatives to the club and after the speeches we ate from a spit roast provided by regatta sponsors Hotel Pavlov.

Daily regatta briefings were convened two hours before the start of racing and in the first Race Officer Marek Pavlovský confirmed the plan to run two races per day. He then explained a slightly different mark layout with a different coloured mark used (with a spreader mark) for the windward mark of the sausage leg of the conventional Olympic course. This allowed him extra flexibility to move the marks in accordance with wind shifts, an asset he would use to significant effect later in the week. Thus, the position of each of the second and third weather marks (of an Olympic course) could be moved significantly in the race without being dependent on the rounding having been completed from the preceding lap.

The start and finish lines were separate from each other with the limit mark of the start line sitting to port of the committee boat and the limit mark of the finish sitting to starboard of the committee boat. Apart from these clever modifications the racing was conventional.

On the water, the British crews dominated the race wins with Gillard/Brearey claiming five and Jeffcoate/Thompson three. The eighth race was won on the water by Rush/Lewis but they crossed the finish line to deafening silence and a ruling of OCS from the Race Officer. Rush was not impressed as the call of OCS had been made from the pin end and as he argued that as he couldn’t see the committee boat, there was no way the race official could have seen it either…………aside from the fact that he only learned of his OCS, on a black flag start, at the finish.

Gillard/Brearey took the day 1 honours with two race wins followed by Czech combinations in Verner/Winkler and Kubový/Roček. Conditions were great for Fireballs with good trapezing conditions though the temperature was cool.

Day Two and the wind cranked up. A solitary race was sailed in attritional conditions and only 18 boats in the 49 boat fleet finished. Jeffcoate/Thompson stamped their authority on the race, with Verner/Winkler 2nd and the much lighter Gillard/Brearey an impressive third. A shore briefing debated the possibility of a second race with the RO offering the prospect that a show of hands might determine if a second race should be sailed. Fortunately that scenario was averted when the conditions deteriorated and thus Wednesday was set down for a three race schedule.

Jeffcoate/Thompson took the day’s honours with a 1,2,1, but Gillard/Brearey kept their overall lead with a 2,1,3. The Germans had a great day scoring a 3 and a 4 in their three race schedule, Peculier/Novel scored two ninth places and Rush/Martyn had a 7,3,7 to creep that bit further up the table.

Thus, at the halfway point Gillard/Brearey led with 8pts to Jeffcoate/Thompson’s 14pts with Verner/Winkler in third overall with 19pts!

Wednesday evening saw the mid-week party with a superb spread of food and entertainment by a six-piece rock & roll band, “The Fireballs”. They kept the marquee rocking until quite late in the night when a drinking game took over for those of hardier stamina.

Thursday saw a complete change of weather with sunshine, lighter winds and thus the prospect of a change in the running order. Some of the hardier souls of the night before had a late arrival to the starting area for the first race. A five boat group managed a slight breakaway on the first lap and on the second windward leg the Irish tried to break the stranglehold of the Brits on the race wins. They led into the windward mark and down to the leeward mark but lost four quick places in the first hundred odd metres on the final beat. Gillard/Brearey came from the four boat bunch to lead the balance of the race and consolidate their position at the top of the fleet. Jeffcoate/Thompson fell away to a 13th, while Rush/Martyn scored a second.

Race 8 saw Rush/Martyn pick up the aforementioned OCS, Gillard/Brearey another first, Martina Koutná & Zdeněk Adam, the second, Petr Kořan/Milan Kvasnik the third and Jeffcoate/Thompson a seventh. However, this was a difficult race sailed in the most fickle winds of the entire week. It boded ill for the forecast for Friday with the locals suggesting that more of the same could be expected on the final day of racing.

Friday’s briefing was originally scheduled for 08:30, but in view of a pessimistic forecast this was postponed to its usual time of 10:00. The symptoms were there for all to see on the water – mirror-like conditions and not a breath among the trees. With a 15:00 guillotine for racing on the last day, the RO advised that the latest time we could go afloat to affect a start was 13:50. We waited………and we waited!!!!!!!!

At 13:50 the signal was given to abandon racing for the day and therefore the regatta – the Fireball Class had new European Champions – Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey GBR 15041. They were followed home by Tom Jeffcoate and Andy Thompson GBR 15045 and Jaroslav Verner and Pavel Winkler CZE 14809.

An open air prize-giving took place at the club at 16:00 followed by dinner at the Pavlov Hotel at 19:00 and an after dinner party back with live band at the marquee. Yet again the food was superb, a turkey carvery with lots of trimmings.

The Czechs were superb hosts and very conscious of the distances that people had travelled to contest the regatta. Tomáš Musil ran a very efficient organization and handled the challenges of the Tuesday with calm and aplomb. Race Officer Marek Pavlovský and his team on the water made every effort to keep the course relevant to the changing wind conditions and used a combination of general recalls, I-flags, postponements, one abandonment and black flags to marshall the fleet on the start line. His decisions won’t have met with universal approval but no Race Officer ever achieves this high.

The food provided as part of the regatta proceedings was superb and the beer was plentiful and cheap. The two live bands were entertaining but the mid-week Fireballs had the advantage of playing music that the visitors could recognize. Most people stayed in tents (and vans) or within easy walking distance of the club. Pavlov itself is quite quaint, but it is much more picturesque from the water, surrounded as it is with vineyards.



Sail No.











Tom Gillard

Sam Brearey

GBR 15041











Tom Jeffcoate

Andy Thompson

GBR 15045











Jaroslav Verner

Pavel Winkler

CZE 14809











Martin Kubový

Roman Roček

CZE 15019











Tim Rush

Martyn Lewis

GBR 14807











Published in Fireball

Two races were completed today in the Fireball European Championships writes sole Irish sailing competitor Cormac Bradley. Conditions started cold and blustery in in the Czech Republic. The day got warmer but the breeze eased off as the temperature rose.

It wasn't T-shirt weather but it was a lot better than y'day. Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (GBR) lead with two wins followed by a host of Czech combinations.; Verner/Winkler (14809), Kubovy/Rocek (15019) and Koutna/Adam (14879).

Tim Rush/Martyn Lewis (GBR) lie 8th, Tom Jeffcoate/ Andy Thompson 5th and Ireland's Smyth/Bradley 15th (15,19).

Three protests are to be heard within the hour. 49 boats are contesting the event being sailed in a large dam. RO Marek Pavlovsky got the first race away at the first attempt but an aborted second race required a black flag as did the 2nd race completed on the water.

A major windshift made a soldier"s course of the 2nd beat and in truth the first and second reaches were already in trouble - pity we rounded in 4th or 5th!

Last night's opening ceremony was conducted in three languages followed by a spit roast and local foods and wine. This evening it is thankfully dry.

Published in Fireball

Pavlov, SE Czech Republic 18:48 local time. Flags of at least 8 Nations fly from the Yacht Club Dyje - GBR, IRL, CZE, SLO, BEL, GER, SUI, FRA are here in varying numbers, the Czechs having the biggest contingent writes Cormac Bradley.  We are the sole Irish Fireball boat (Smyth/Bradley) but the British may only have 5/6 boats here. The trip across Europe was long and full of rain with an overnight stop in SE Germany.

Today, Sunday dawned windy, wet and cold. A practice race was scheduled for 16:00 but not everyone (including us) took to the water. The Czechs are investing in new boats with quite a few over the 15000 mark. Two more GBR boats, here for the sailing have already been sold on to the Czech fleet. Newest boat here is 15047 registered to Nikolai Allers from Namibia. The boat will be campaigned out of Switzerland. Opening ceremony is within the hour - can someone please crank up the heat for tomorrow. 

Published in Fireball

The Czech Fireball fleet are accepting registration for the Fireball Europeans, held at the end of September in the Czech Republic. The sailing event will take place on the Nové Mlýny lake, a large reservoir near Brno.

The event website is at The Czech fireball fleet have even put together a simple video advertising the venue, and featuring some of the colourful characters that will be putting the even together. Kudos to them for having a bit of imagination and putting the effort in to showcase their offering for the Europeans a lead clubs around Ireland should be able to follow at little or no expense to promote their own events.

Czech it out below.



Published in Fireball
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