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Last weekend saw a hybrid Fireball Open Weekend hosted by the DMYC. This year instead of a two-day racing event, the class decided to experiment with a blended event combining coaching and racing writes Frank Miller.

The coaching took place over two days under the expert eye of Thomas Chaix of Dinghy Performance.

As well as being one of the more expert dinghy coaches on the island, Thomas has first-hand experience having sailed a Fireball in the last year’s World Championship at LDYC Dromineer.

Fireballs launching from the DMYC slipway at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire HarbourFireballs launching from the DMYC slipway at the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire Harbour for the Open weekend made up of coaching and racing

The forecast for the weekend was light, and so it proved. Saturday dawned with light northerlies, so most coaching took place inside the harbour. The particular focus was on starts and leeward mark roundings, a perennial obsession with sailors in all classes, given the potential gains available. The briefing before going afloat examined starting issues of positioning, lay lines to the two sides and "runway" positioning to determine the timing on the approach to the line. Thomas has an interesting and arguably more useful approach to the idea of transits, favouring the identification of two transits, one being a safe zone for the approach and another to identify the actual line position.

For Leeward mark rounding, Thomas impressed on the sailors the importance of a plan of approach far in advance of the mark, with zones in which to formulate a plan and others in which to execute the plan. In particular, the areas around the leeward mark were divided into pizza-type slices and the advantages and dangers of approaches into each "slice" were discussed.

Fireballs racing in Seapoint Bay on Sunday in light airsFireballs racing in Seapoint Bay on Sunday in light airs

On the water, the 14 Fireballs went through a series of starting drills. The shifty winds inside the harbour meant that the coach was saved the trouble of moving marks to vary the line bias. Equally, even the short practice races provided plenty of shifts and hollows to keep sailors on their toes. The leeward mark exercises were made challenging by downwind starts with sailors forced to decide early on the best approach to achieve inside berth in crowded conditions with little breeze to spare. The fleet then moved outside the harbour for short races in different conditions. While everyone hoped for a bit more breeze and a few waves, the reality around the corner in Salthill was very light winds and an adverse ebbing tide. Starts were challenging, to say the least, and one of the funniest video commentaries features the coach timing the fleet's struggle to get across the line. After a couple of entertaining races, common sense prevailed, and the fleet went back to the DMYC for showers, tea, beer and pizzas.

The plan for Sunday was a series of short races with coaching overview and advice between races, with some active advice allowed to the silver fleet during racing. Besides that on-the-water advice the huge benefit to the participants came in the form of a series of video commentaries by the coach uploaded to the Fireball WhatsApp group after sailing. The subtle movements by the top two teams in particular are worthy of careful analysis in the search for optimal sail shape and speed. All-in-all, this was an extremely successful weekend and sailors at all levels drew considerable benefit from the event. Special mention must go to Team Cork, where Chris Bateman is spearheading a Fireball revival and introducing a new young generation to the delights of the boat. In recognition of his work, the class has relocated the class loan boat to the other capital for at least a year.

The class welcomes new sailors, young and not so young and continues its drive to mobilise dormant boats into active new hands. With a busy season ahead, the next class event is the Ulster Championships at Newtownards on May 27th & 28th.

See the race report for the Fireball Open Championship by Cormac Bradley here

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The last Sunday of the Frostbites, hosted by Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club (DMYC) and sponsored by Viking Marine at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, ended on a high with steady winds out of the north that allowed two races to be sailed without adjustment of the course, allowing two 3-lap Olympic courses to be set. The wind strength was up on forecasts on both XCWeather and Windy, getting as high as 16/17 knots in Race 1 but easing for Race 2.

This allowed a large course to be set on the N/S axis of the harbour with a mark in the middle of the harbour mouth, a gybe mark in the middle of the harbour and a leeward mark off the end of the Carlisle Pier and close to the East Pier. Indeed, some of the pedestrians on the East Pier were able to enjoy a close-up view of a Fireball trying to get off the wall, which at that stage was almost like a lee shore.

All three fleets, PY, ILCA 7s & 4s and ILCA 6s, had good fleets out for the first race, but the robust conditions of the early afternoon took its toll on the ILCA 6s in particular, with nearly a quarter of the fleet not staying out for the second race. The races were sailed in overcast conditions with a bit of drizzle that gave way to drier conditions, and late in the afternoon, the sun also appeared.

A late prompt from a competitor suggesting the start line was very pin biased caused the Race Officer to amend the pin position, and this paid off as all three fleets got away cleanly at the first time of asking. In the PY race Frank Miller (14915) persuaded the newest helm in the Irish Fireball fleet, Jack McNaughton, to go on the trapeze and they were rewarded with a big win on the water, romping home by 1:30 on father and son Frank & Hugh Cassidy (14934) with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775) a further twenty seconds adrift and Alastair Court & Gordon Syme (15167) another twenty seconds behind. Court & Syme’s early race was looking much better, but a hail of water at the first leeward mark from Cassidy and a subsequent capsize in dropping the kite didn’t help the Court cause. As usual, however, despite a delta of 2:40 on Noel Butler (Aero 6 3289) and 4:28 on Roy Van Maanen (Aero 6 3822) on the water, Miller & McNaughton were relegated to third on handicap. Behind Miller, the Aero 6 (3433) of Sarah Dwyer and the Aero 7 (3288) of Stephen Oram closed out the top five.

The ILCA 7s have seen an injection of enthusiasm in recent weeks and they had eight boats on the water for the third or fourth Sunday in a row. Racing in this fleet has been tight and as of the previous Sunday less that ten points covered positions 1 – 4 in Series 2.

Here the order saw Conor Byrne lead them home in Race 1, followed by Gary O’Hare, Sean Bowden, Gavan Murphy and Niall Cowman.

Conor Byrne (181204) leads Chris Arrowsmith (201829) with Niall Cowman (211857) and Gary O’Hare (201364) in close pursuit in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Conor Byrne (181204) leads Chris Arrowsmith (201829) with Niall Cowman (211857) and Gary O’Hare (201364) in close pursuit in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Ian Cutliffe

In the ILCA 6s, the master has been Sean Craig – those that know Sean will recognise the pun! He scored the first of two wins by a comfortable margin with the chasing pack led by Conor Clancy and followed by John O’Driscoll, Brendan Hughes and David Cahill.

Sean Craig (218154) and Darren Griffin (219867) in close company at the weather mark in Race 1, Sunday 26th March in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Ian CutliffeSean Craig (218154) and Darren Griffin (219867) in close company at the weather mark in Race 1, Sunday 26th March in the final race of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Ian Cutliffe

In the ILCA 4s Lucy Ives has made a late-season entry into the proceedings and has been rewarded with a win in each of the races in which she has featured. On Sunday, she took both races with Patrick Foley and Zeta Tempany finishing behind her in the same order, second and third, in both races.

The second race, the starting procedures was blotted by one OCS, but the transgressor was identified and the appropriate flag flown – the boat didn’t return.

In the PY Fleet, Court and Syme made amends for their struggles by winning by a huge margin – they were the only boat to finish in under 30 minutes, 28:47. As a measure of their lead on the water, some random finish times are as follows; Butler, 32:33, Oram, 32:46, Dwyer, 34:38, Colin & Casey 30:01 and Miller 31:11. But on paper, they lost out to Butler by 47 seconds, but saved their time against Oram, Dwyer and Van Maanen.

In the ILCA 7s, Byrne and O’Hare repeated their feat of first and second from the first race, but behind them, the order was changed, with Murphy, Chris Arrowsmith and Niall Cowman closing out the top five.

In the ILCA 6s, Craig took another win, with the order behind him being Hughes, Hugh Delap, Clancy and O’Driscoll.

And that brought the curtain down on the 2022/23 Frostbites!

Noel Butler, Aero 6 with the PY Perpetual Trophy of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerNoel Butler, Aero 6 with the PY Perpetual Trophy of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Sean Craig (ILCA Winner across 3 ILCA fleets) with Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour sponsor Ian O’Meara (R) Photo: Frank MillerSean Craig (ILCA Winner across 3 ILCA fleets) with Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour sponsor Ian O’Meara (R) Photo: Frank Miller

Neil Colin and Ian O’Meara enjoying a moment at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank MillerNeil Colin and Ian O’Meara enjoying a moment at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank Miller

PRO Frostbites, Cormac Bradley addresses the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving with DMYC Commodore, Ian Cutliffe, in a relaxed mode in the background Photo: Frank MillerPRO Frostbites, Cormac Bradley addresses the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving with DMYC Commodore, Ian Cutliffe, in a relaxed mode in the background Photo: Frank Miller

 Gordon Syme (L) and Alastair Court, Fireball 15167, with the Fireball Perpetual Trophy at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank Miller Gordon Syme (L) and Alastair Court, Fireball 15167, with the Fireball Perpetual Trophy at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prize-giving Photo: Frank Miller

1st Lady in the ILCA 6s, Shirley Gilmour, with Ian O’Meara at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prizegiving at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller1st Lady in the ILCA 6s, Shirley Gilmour, with Ian O’Meara at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites prizegiving at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Zeta Tempany, Winner ILCA 4s overall of the the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites Photo: Frank MillerZeta Tempany, Winner ILCA 4s overall of the the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites Photo: Frank Miller

Sarah Dwyer, Aero 6, 4th overall at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour and 1st Lady PY Fleet, with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank MillerSarah Dwyer, Aero 6, 4th overall at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour and 1st Lady PY Fleet, with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank Miller

Gavan Murphy – ILCA 7s winner of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank MillerGavan Murphy – ILCA 7s winner of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Frank Miller

Roy Van Maanen, Aero 6, 3rd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank MillerRoy Van Maanen, Aero 6, 3rd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank Miller

Stephen Oram, Aero 7, 2nd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank MillerStephen Oram, Aero 7, 2nd overall in PY Fleet of the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour with Ian O’Meara Photo: Frank Miller

Frostbites Series 2 Overall

PY Fleet
1st Noel Butler, Aero 6
2nd Stephen Oram, Aero 7
3rd Sarah Dwyer, Aero 6
4th Stuart Harris, Aero 6
5th Pierre & Remy Long, IDRA 14.
6th Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, Fireball.

ILCAs 7s
1st Conor Byrne
2nd Theo Lyttle
3rd Sean Bowden
4th Gavan Murphy
5th Chris Arrowsmith

ILCA 6s
1st Sean Craig
2nd Conor Clancy
3rd Darren Griffin
4th John O’Driscoll
5th David Cahill

ILCA 4s
1st Patrick Foley
2nd Zita Tempany
3rd Grace Gavin.

At the post-racing prize-giving in the DMYC clubhouse with Frostbite sponsor Ian O’Meara in attendance, the prizes for the combined Series were awarded with Ian doing the honours in tandem with Frostbites Director Neil Colin, who welcomed the competitors to the club.

Principal Race Officer, Cormac Bradley made a few observations on the racing, noting that since Christmas we had managed to race every Sunday, only losing three races, one to rising winds and two to insufficient wind. This contrasted with the pre-Christmas Series when only six races from a potential fourteen had been completed. He thanked those competitors who had discreetly assessed his beats at his invitation to make sure this leg of the course was fair. He also noted and thanked the volunteers who turned out week in, week out to allow racing to take place – mark-layers, rib crews, committee boat volunteers, the results team and the bar and catering staff who look after us after racing. DMYC Commodore, Ian Cutliffe, thanked all the competitors who raced the Series and also thanked the volunteers.

Viking Marine sponsored Frostbites results

Overall Series Results 2022/23
PY Fleet (37 entries)
1st Noel Butler, Aero 6, 31pts – Perpetual Trophy
2nd Stephen Oram, Aero 7, 90.5pts
3rd Roy Van Maanen, Aero 6, 112pts
4th Sarah Dwyer, Aero 6, 118pts
5th Stuart Harris, Aero 6, 131pts
6th Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, Fireball 15167, 144pts – Perpetual Trophy.

ILCA 7s (11 entries)
1st Gavan Murphy, 212521, 78pts
2nd Conor Byrne, 181204, 81pts
3rd Theo Lyttle, 211129, 90pts.

ILCA 6s (39 entries)
1st Sean Craig, 218154, 30pts – Perpetual Trophy
2nd Conor Clancy, 213048, 58pts
3rd Darren Griffin, 219867, 65pts
4th John O’Driscoll, 210361, 106pts
5th David Cahill, 186302, 116pts
7th Shirley Gilmour, 143pts.

ILCA 4s (8 entries)
1st Zita Tempany, 211122, 37pts
2nd Patrick Foley, 211274, 39pts
3rd Grace Gavin, 213526, 50pts.

Fireballs only (12 entries)
1st Frank Miller & Ed Butler, Neil Cramer, 14915, 48pts
2nd Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, 15167, 53pts
3rd Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, 15016, 65pts.

Aeros only (8 entries)
1st Noel Butler, (6) 3289, 26pts
2nd Roy Van Maanen, (6) 3822, 60pts
3rd Stephen Oram, (7) 3288, 66pts.

In addition to perpetual trophies for the PY Class, the ILCAs and the Fireballs, vouchers for the first three in each of PY, ILCA 7s, 6s and 4s were presented by Viking Marine as well as prizes to Shirley Gilmore and Sarah Dwyer for being the first Lady in the ILCA 6s and the PY Fleets, respectively.

On receipt of his perpetual trophy, Sean Craig spoke on behalf of all the ILCA fleets to commend DMYC and the volunteers for what he considered an exceptionally good series, particularly since Christmas. He noted that the day’s racing would not have looked out of place at a more serious championship. He suggested that a racing fleet of 39 ILCA 6s would currently be hard to beat anywhere.

Noel Butler addresses the Viking Marine DMYC prize-giving with Ian Cutliffe (Commodore DMYC) and Neil Colin (Frostbites Director) for company Photo: Frank MillerNoel Butler addresses the Viking Marine DMYC prize-giving with Ian Cutliffe (Commodore DMYC) and Neil Colin (Frostbites Director) for company Photo: Frank Miller

Noel Butler echoed Sean’s sentiments and noted that this was his 28th or 29th Frostbites without missing a year and agreed that the racing in 2023, in particular, had been very good.

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A few weeks past, the Fireball Class gathered at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour to celebrate the 2022 season, to recognise the superb effort that so many people put into the Fireball Worlds in Lough Derg in August and to award prizes for the summer just past. Joined by a number of past members, there was good turnout of current members on the night which left plenty of opportunity to reminisce on the success of the Worlds.

Class Chairman Neil Cramer (Skerries) opened the proceedings by giving a precis of the season just past, noting that while the turnout at some of the domestic regattas was modest there had been a big turnout of Irish boats at the Worlds – 29, exceeding the number at the Sligo Worlds of 2011, when it could be argued that the fleet was a good deal healthier in terms of numbers. Neil also recorded the fact that for the first time in a number of years the Fireball Class had a representative at the Champion of Champions regatta and could have had two, potentially, except that the National Champion couldn’t make the regatta.

In addition to the perpetual trophies that the Class awards, the evening recognised excellence on the water as confirmed by the Travellers’ Trophy, which scores the domestic regattas on aggregate throughout the season.

Travellers’ Trophy

Gold Fleet
1st Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix 14750, 11pts
2nd Ed Butler (Jnr) & Fionn Conway 14969, 13pts
3rd Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 15061, 16pts

Silver Fleet
1st Brenda Nash & Glen Fisher 14663, 83pts
2nd Cariosa Power & Marie Barry 14854, 87pts
3rd Jim Ryan & David Tanner 14584, 88pts

Perpetual Trophies

  • 1st Lady: Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe 15016, 5th Overall, Gold Fleet, 30pts
  • India Trophy: Most Improved; Alastair Court & Gordon Syme, 15167, 8th Overall, Gold Fleet, 43pts
  • Asterix Trophy: Significant Contribution; The Irish Fireball Class Members – for their support and work for the Fireball Worlds.
  • (Dun Laoghaire) Class Captain’s Prize: [Owen Sinnott] – Awarded to Glen Fisher for his efforts to get multiple Fireballs back on the water – he owns nearly 10% of the registered fleet, 3 No.
  • Bradley Trophy – Awarded to Owen Sinnott for his management of the measurement process at the Fireball Worlds – with a newly International Class Measurer in attendance.
  • Neil Cramer made a presentation to Cormac Bradley to recognise his ongoing efforts on behalf of the Class and his representation at Fireball International.

A presentation was also made to Ian O’Keefe for his work on all the merchandising for the Fireball Worlds in Lough Derg. It had started with a T-shirt and ended up as T-shirts, Polo shirts, caps and banners for the event.

All photos below by Frank Miller.

Class Chairman, Neil Cramer about to get proceedings underwayClass Chairman, Neil Cramer about to get proceedings underway...

And starts with a special presentation to Ian O’Keeffe for designing the merchandising for the Lough Derg Worlds...and starts with a special presentation to Ian O’Keeffe for designing the merchandising for the Lough Derg Worlds

Thomas Chaix, Winning Crew, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ TrophyThomas Chaix, Winning Crew, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ Trophy

Ed Butler (Jnr), 2nd Placed Helm, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ TrophyEd Butler (Jnr), 2nd Placed Helm, Gold Fleet, Fireball Travellers’ Trophy

Stephen Oram (L) and Noel Butler (R), 3rd Place’ Gold Fleet, Travellers’ TrophyStephen Oram (L) and Noel Butler (R), 3rd Place’ Gold Fleet, Travellers’ Trophy

Glen Fisher & Brenda Nash, Silver Fleet Winners, Travellers’ TrophyGlen Fisher & Brenda Nash, Silver Fleet Winners, Travellers’ Trophy

Cariosa Power (L) and Marie Barry (R), 2nd Place, Silver Fleet, Travellers’ TrophyCariosa Power (L) and Marie Barry (R), 2nd Place, Silver Fleet, Travellers’ Trophy

 Louise McKenna (L) and Hermione O’Keefe celebrate winning The Ladies Trophy Louise McKenna (L) and Hermione O’Keefe celebrate winning The Ladies Trophy

Alastair Court, India Trophy Winner with Gordon SymeAlastair Court, India Trophy Winner with Gordon Syme

Class Chairman Neil Cramer announces that the Irish Fireball Class Members have won the Asterix TrophyClass Chairman Neil Cramer announces that the Irish Fireball Class Members have won the Asterix Trophy

Cormac Bradley (L) presents the Bradley Trophy to Owen SinnottCormac Bradley (L) presents the Bradley Trophy to Owen Sinnott

Class Chairman Neil Cramer makes a presentation to Cormac BradleyClass Chairman Neil Cramer makes a presentation to Cormac Bradley

Louise McKenna closed out the speeches (nearly) by responding to the award of the Asterix Trophy to the membership of the Class by paying tribute to the principal parties involved in bringing the International Fireball World Championships to Lough Derg Yacht Club.Louise McKenna closed out the speeches (nearly) by responding to the award of the Asterix Trophy to the membership of the Class by paying tribute to the principal parties involved in bringing the International Fireball World Championships to Lough Derg Yacht Club. By popular acclaim the regatta had proven to be a huge success, by way of total entries, 79 boats, the social side of the regatta and the catering undertaking. Considering the circumstances at the time, and the perceived risk of trying to organise the event at such short notice, it was a tribute to Neil Cramer (Management and Overall Financial Control), Frank Miller (Marketing & Meetings), Owen Sinnott (Measurement) and Marie Barry (Catering) that the event had been such an enormous success. She then revealed a secret plot to have a further dinner to celebrate the success of the regatta and to recognise the contribution of the four named individuals by way of an invitation for them and their partners to attend. A fund has been initiated for the dinner which will take place in February 2023.

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With November just ended, today’s assessment at the beginning of December for the latest “Sailors of the Month” listings would normally include at least one of our young sailors who starred to such good effect in the European Sailing Championship in the south of France from 14th to 20th November, most notably Rocco Wright (16) of Howth who scored Gold – and with it the top U21 – in the ILCA6 Class.

But as it is, Rocco has already been up in lights with his Gold in the Youth Worlds in The Netherlands in July, scored in an extraordinary demonstration of improving performance with a cool mindset overcoming of any end-of-series nerves. Thus this further Gold - quarried from a demanding series on a Cote d’Azur which at times wasn’t at all Riviera-like – has only added to the lustre of his already-registered achievement.

Rocco Wright – November saw him adding extra lustre to his Gold of JulyRocco Wright – November saw him adding extra lustre to his Gold of July

This may sound frustrating for the adjudicators, as sailing achievements in November can be rare enough. But in fact, the assessment team are delighted, as it leaves them with a clean slate to honour some specialist sailing people whose recognition might normally be crammed into late December’s final roundup.

CROWDED POST-PANDEMIC PROGRAMME

For in the very crowded catch-up post-pandemic season which was crammed almost entirely into June, July, August, and early September, somehow our race-administering brotherhood and sisterhood found enough volunteers from among their ranks to stage no less than four World Championships: the GP 14s at Skerries, the 505s with the Royal Cork YC at Crosshaven, the Fireballs on Lough Derg, and the SB20s at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire.

LOSS OF JACK ROY

The demand which such high-profile “in the searchlight” events place on the relatively small group of appropriately-qualified individuals drawn from the within the Irish sailing community’s many volunteers for duty afloat and ashore was exacerbated by the untimely death of one of their key top-level race officers, Jack Roy of Dun Laoghaire, in December 2021.

With his supportive wife Rosemary, Jack provided the very experienced and competent core for race management teams to the highest event levels. His sad demise was not only a real loss in that he was a much-loved truly life-enhancing individual, but it was also a blow to the established Irish ability to comfortably cater for world class events. And it was also felt at every level of our sport, for Jack and Rosemary were the vey embodiment of the spirit of sailing in Ireland. 

 Much missed. The late Jack Roy with his wife Rosemary in their Hallberg Rassy 48 Tangaroa at the Fastnet Rock. Rosemary has since taken on the voluntary task of Honorary Secretary to Dublin Bay Sailing Club. Much missed. The late Jack Roy with his wife Rosemary in their Hallberg Rassy 48 Tangaroa at the Fastnet Rock. Rosemary has since taken on the voluntary task of Honorary Secretary to Dublin Bay Sailing Club

They had been anticipating gradual retirement from some of their multiple commitments in sailing in the near future, yet in the extra pressures of 2022, their reassuring background presences would have been a comfort for harassed Event Committee Chairmen. But in any case we can’t help but wonder just how smoothly their planned extraction from the top level of racing administration would really have been. For in July 2022. Rosemary took on the role of Honorary Secretary of Dublin Bay Sailing Club, one of the most demanding positions in our sport.

RISING LEVELS OF EXPECTATION

These days even the most modest club event needs its race teams, and the personnel and expertise demands rise as we move up the scale through regional, national and international championships. But then we move into an entirely different state of affairs when we take on the rarefied conditions which prevail in a recognised World Championship for a global-status class.

 Howth Yacht Club’s senior Committee Boat Star Point is both a race organisation platform and a full backroom support office. Photo: Annraoi Blaney Howth Yacht Club’s senior Committee Boat Star Point is both a race organisation platform and a full backroom support office. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

Thus while we really would like to make “Sailors of the Month” our of every Race Officer who made major championships possible in 2022, we have to acknowledge that they’ll have been doing it among their own folk who may well be prepared to make allowances for the occasional error.

But with a Worlds, local friendships are irrelevant. An International Jury which occasionally will feel that it has to justify its existence with some conspicuously severe judgment on race management has to be taken into account. Increasingly, too, Race Umpires are making an input. And it’s all under a level of widespread yet intensely focused international media attention which you don’t get – however big the numbers taking part might be - with events which are further down the feeding chain.

RACE OFFICER TEAMS

In such exposed circumstances, the senior Race Officers need to be a bit like the owner-skippers of a substantial cruiser-racer, who will know that they have to build up a reliable and accessible crew panel which is roughly twice the number of people actually needed to race the boat on the day. And within that “crew panel”, he or she has to have a core of experts – an inner cabinet, if you like – of specialists who can be totally relied on to maintain and operate the necessary data and key support services.

A classic case in point is Peter Crowley of Cork, whose services to sailing over many years have included being President of the Irish Sailing Association and Admiral of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, in addition to being a stalwart of the National 18 Class and the cruiser-racer scene.

Peter Crowley’s Beneteau Trawler Yacht Sparetime has served as Committee Boat at countless sailing events at all levels from club racing to World Championships. Photo: Robert Bateman Peter Crowley’s Beneteau Trawler Yacht Sparetime has served as Committee Boat at countless sailing events at all levels from club racing to World Championships. Photo: Robert Bateman 

For many years now his personal flagship has been the versatile Beneteau Trawler Yacht Sparetime, and in providing the full services for Race Management to World Level, such as August’s particularly demanding 505 Worlds off Cork Harbour from 3rd to 13th of August, he was able to draw on the support of his key team members like Siobhain Keane-Hopcraft, John Stallard and Joanne O’Brien in order to provide a sound foundation for the larger group – including those in support RIBS – which is necessary to create a fully-furnished worlds.

Sparetime in use as the Committee Boat at the 2022 505 Worlds – keep the message simple, keep it clear. Photo: Christophe FavreauSparetime in use as the Committee Boat at the 2022 505 Worlds – keep the message simple, keep it clear. Photo: Christophe Favreau

 Royal Cork YC Admiral Kieran O’Connell with Jennifer Barry and Peter Crowley when the latter received a memento for his services as Race Officer at the 505 Worlds 2022 at Royal Cork YC. Royal Cork YC Admiral Kieran O’Connell with Jennifer Barry and Peter Crowley when the latter received a memento for his services as Race Officer at the 505 Worlds 2022 at Royal Cork YC

TWO SAILING MAJORS BACK-TO-BACK

The particular demands of the pressure-cooker 2022 season were also felt on the East Coast, where qualified personnel availability restrictions were such that Race Management veteran David Lovegrove of Howth found himself heading the race organisation for the very international J/24 Europeans at Howth from 30th August to 3rd September, and then doing the same for the SB20 Worlds at the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire from 4th to 9th September – in other words, two especially-demanding majors back-to-back.

Giving her the welly…..SB20 Worlds 2022 in Dublin Bay in September. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyGiving her the welly…..SB20 Worlds 2022 in Dublin Bay in September. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

While the SB20 Worlds found itself experiencing the first hints of strong Autumnal winds, the J/24 Europeans had a last blast of sunny onshore summer breezes from the northeast. But earlier in August at Skerries for the GP14 Worlds from the 14th to the 19th, Race Officer Bill O’Hara of Ballyholme found himself handling the needs of an international 104-strong fleet – the biggest turnout of any of Ireland’s 2022 Worlds – for Skerries Sailing Club.

RUGGED ONSHORE WINDS

Sailing in North Fingal may be expanding by leaps and bounds these days, but the 1934-established Skerries SC sometimes finds itself at the pin of its collar in catering for extra-large fleets in the inevitably-restricted spaces available within the confines of the Red Island Peninsula.

 Spinnaker work with an onshore breeze in the GP14 Worlds 2022 at Skerries. Photo: GP14 Worlds Spinnaker work with an onshore breeze in the GP14 Worlds 2022 at Skerries. Photo: GP14 Worlds

Yet despite a series of sometimes rugged onshore nor’easters making conditions almost coastal oceanic in the race area, particularly in wind-over-tide situations, the determination of the Organising Committee led by Colman Grimes and the huge experience and good humour of Bill O’Hara, saw this mega-event through to a successful conclusion.

MYSTERIOUS MAGIC OF LOUGH DERG

In looking back at the four Worlds staged in 2022, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Fireball Worlds at Lough Derg from 21st to 26th August best expressed the spirit of sailing as it is experienced in our island nation. Admittedly a certain level of secrecy seems to come over events which are staged on our somehow well-hidden great lakes, but it is a fact that once people have started taking part in even a major sailing event on Lough Derg or Lough Ree, they seem to have entered a completely self-contained environment which feels no need to communicate with the outside world.

Away from it all yet right on the pace – Fireball Worlds 2022 on Lough Derg. Photo:LDYCAway from it all yet right on the pace – Fireball Worlds 2022 on Lough Derg. Photo:LDYC

Thus when we talk of sailing as an ideal activity “to get away from it all”, we find this best-expressed among those who have disappeared off to sail on on the Shannon’s many waters. In due course we did get official information about what was clearly a hugely enjoyable and superbly scenic event for the fleet of 79 boats, but at first it was thanks to Race Officer Con Murphy being a dab hand in getting evocative photos - while at the same time running a great event – that we became aware there was some magic sailing going on at a deservedly popular Irish venue.

So when it comes down to it, our four Sailor of the Month for November are all retrospective awards for Services to Sailing, and as every one of them made a huge contribution, we simply list them in the chronological order of the events they organised.

PETER CROWLEY OF ROYAL CORK IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

 The affable Peter Crowley brings comprehensive experience of participation and organisation to any major championship with which he becomes involved The affable Peter Crowley brings comprehensive experience of participation and organisation to any major championship with which he becomes involved

The 505 Worlds 2022 from 3rd to 13th August at the Royal Cork YC came laden with historic associations. For though this attractive class may still look as modern as tomorrow, it goes way back, and around 70 years ago Cork Harbour was the hotbed of a busy fleet which was part of a worldwide movement. But now – like former Olympic classes such as the Finn, the Star and the Dragon – the 505 class is an elite international travelling circus, making the highest demands on any venue that it selects for its words.

Unfortunately for Cork in the first part of the 2022 Worlds, the event was frustrated by calms. But even here, the fact of having Peter Crowley as Race Officer was all to the good, for on the Lay Day he gave everyone a convivial harbour tour on his Beneteau Trawler Yacht Spare Times which much improved the mood, and then when the breezes came good towards the end of the week, he clicked through enough races in champagne sailing to get a real result, with the USA’s Stuart McNay & Caleb Paine winning from GBR’s Nathan Batchelor & Seam Pascoe, while best of the Irish in a 78-strong and totally international fleet were Ewan Barry & Charles Dwyer at 12th.

BILL O’HARA OF BALLYHOLME IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

Bill O’Hara when he was Race Officer for the Ocean RaceBill O’Hara when he was Race Officer for the Ocean Race

Bill O’Hara first leapt to national fame when he skippered the Bangor Grammar School team to overall victory in the annual Britain & Ireland Schools Championship in Scotland in the days when it was an event of prime importance, which is now a very long time ago. Since then, he has starred in Olympic Finns and Lasers to the highest international levels, while his unrivalled race management expertise been enacted with many high-profile events, including the multi-stage round-the-world Ocean Race.

This in getting him to oversee their 2022 Worlds from 14th to 19th August at Skerries with a fleet of 104 boats, the GP 14 Asociation and Skerries SC really were getting one of the Main Men to see them through a challenging week, from which Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliff (GBR) emerged as the Champoons, while the top Irish were the host club’s Colman Grimes crewed by Rob Gingles at fifth, and the top female helm was Jane Kearney of Royal North of Ireland YC in 14th, crewed by Oliver Goodhead.

CON MURPHY OF DUN LAOGHAIRE IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

A round Ireland sailing record holder for 19 continuous years, Con Murphy is noted for many other sailing achievements A round Ireland sailing record holder for 19 continuous years, Con Murphy is noted for many other sailing achievements 

There are few sailors in Ireland with more eclectic interests afloat than Con Murphy, as he is the husband and father of Olympic sailors, his wife Cathy having raced the 470 in the 1988 Olympics, while his daughter Annalise won the Silver Medal in the Lasers in 2016 in Rio.

But with interests extending in many directions, he has long been a multi-hull enthusiast, and in September 1993 he persuaded the late Steve Fossett to bring his superb 60ft trimaran Lakota to Ireland for a joint tilt at the Round Ireland Record, which had stood since November 1986. They did it with such style that their new time stood until June 2016, when the three larger MOD 70 trimarans finally sliced a little more off it during that year’s multiple record-breaking Round Ireland race from Wicklow.

An eye for the beauty of sail – one of Con Murphy’s “snatched” images while organising the Fireballs on Lough Derg. Photo: Con MurphyAn eye for the beauty of sail – one of Con Murphy’s “snatched” images while organising the Fireballs on Lough Derg. Photo: Con Murphy

Such breadth of experience brings its own deep sense of reassuring calm at challenging moments during World Championships, and on Lough Derg in late August Con Murphy oversaw an enjoyment-plus Fireball Worlds which saw Tom Gillard (GBR) and Andy Thompson (East Antrim Boat Club) take the title, while the best all-Irish team of Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsaella (Royal St George YC) just missed the podium with a very commendable fourth overall in a notably strong fleet.

DAVID LOVEGROVE OF HOWTH IS NOVEMBER “SAILOR OF THE MONTH (SERVICES TO SAILING)

In his element – David Lovegrove assessing the readings while setting a course. Photo: Judith MalcolmIn his element – David Lovegrove assessing the readings while setting a course. Photo: Judith Malcolm

September is always a bit of a gamble as the time for staging a major sailing championship, for although the sea temperature may be at its warmest, the closing in of the evenings and a sometimes unexpected nip in the air can combine with big winds – usually from the west – to tell us that our predecessors in sailing may have been wise in drawing most sport afloat towards a close by the end of August.

Yet, with modern boats and the growing precision of weather forecast, early September can be a real Godsend in completing the season’s main national and international events. But when David Lovegrove arrived at the beginning of September to oversee the Royal Irish YC’ staging of the SB20 Worlds 2022, he may have seen it as just another day’s voluntary work at the top level of the sport, as he had already master-minded the Wave Regatta at Howth in early June, and he’d overseen a host of other lesser events throughout the summer before taking on the J/24 Euros at his home port in the week before the SB20 Worlds began across the bay.

It was a tough one. If September was coming in as a month of gentle mists and mellow fruitfulness, it was doing so somewhere other than Dublin Bay. This was the Big Boys’ Game, and no mistake. But they battered their way through, and by the end Jose Paulo Ramada of Portugal was the winner out of a 56-strong fleet, while best of the Irish were Royal St George’s Michael O’Connor, Davy Taylor and Edward Cook in fourth.

Afterwards, David Lovegrove supposedly retired home to rest for a while at his house on the Hill of Howth. But rumours abound about him being spotted in the main role aboard the Committee Boat at various events since the SB 20s were blasting so spectacularly around Dublin Bay. Either way, he certainly deserves praise for his extensive work on behalf of sailing.

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On Monday 21st November, the Irish Fireball Class Association held its AGM on Zoom, with an attendance of twenty-six people, including a number of new faces who have made their appearance in the boat over the course of the 2022 season – always an encouraging sign!

Chairman’s Report

After the reading of the minutes of the previous year’s AGM, by Class Secretary, Frank Miller, Chairman Neil Cramer gave an overview of the season just concluded, starting with a training event in Lough Derg at the start of the season and incorporating events in Blessington, Sutton, Killaloe and of course, the highly successful hosting of the 2022 Fireball World Championships which attracted an entry of eighty (80) boats, of which 29 were from Ireland. While a small core of individuals took responsibility for organising specific aspects of the event, the Chairman commended the whole membership for “getting stuck in” at the Worlds themselves. Given the circumstances by which the regatta had stayed in Ireland – Covid and a rejigging of the international calendar – transferring from one club to Lough Derg Yacht Club at relatively short notice - the regatta had been a huge success. Feedback from our international visitors had been extremely positive.

Domestic participation in our own events was modest with the consequence that we still need to embrace the idea of sharing venues with other classes in order to make events viable.

The Chairman also acknowledged that we had two invitations to Champion of Champions Regatta in Nationals winners Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix and President’s Invitees, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella. The former crew were unable to make the event, sailed in GP14s, while the latter finished 4th behind combinations who all have GP14 experience in their sailing CVs.

A discussion on the conditions for participation in the Champion of Champions regatta followed on from this report, specifically the requirement to have a National Judge in attendance at the Class Nationals.

2023 Regatta Programme

A provisional regatta list for 2023 is in consideration with an early start in Dun Laoghaire, a Leinsters in Skerries and Nationals in Dunmore East. Other possibilities will include visits to regular Fireball venues. Internationally, there is a Europeans in Portoroz, Slovenia in September and a convenient French Nationals in July. Dates for the UK Nationals weren’t immediately to hand. As dates and venues aren’t confirmed, no further details can be made public just yet.

Secretary’s Report 

Frank Miller updated the meeting on the activities from the secretary. Specific reference was made to the arrangements for the Fireball Worlds. Frank also elaborated on the efforts to get more people into the class and noted the number of former Fireballers who had returned to active sailing for the Worlds.

Treasurer’s Report

Marie Barry updated the meeting on the finances of the class which are in a healthy state. The enhanced entry to the Worlds had generated a bigger income, but conversely had also required a larger expenditure but due to the spreadsheets of Class Chairman, his tight rein on the numbers, good sponsorship and the efforts of all those at Lough Derg, a favourable balancing of the books had been achieved.

Election of Officers

The 2022 committee was re-elected en masse with the addition of Chris Bateman who has accepted a Youth Development role for the Class. Josh Porter continues as the Northern Rep. while Owen Sinnott continues in the role as Dun Laoghaire Class Captain and Paul Ter Horst is the Silver Fleet Class Captain. Class Chairman, Neil Cramer, Secretary, Frank Miller and Treasurer, Marie Barry retain these key roles. However, Frank Miller warned that the current officers can’t go on forever and younger members need to take on the mantle of leadership of the class.

Prize-giving

The Class’s prize-giving took place on Friday 25th November, in the National Yacht Club and Fireballs continue to race in the Viking Marine sponsored DMYC Frostbites between now and Christmas and in the New Year up to the end of March.

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Fireballs are having a hot time of it at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbite series in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At the first outing on November 6th, competitors faced challenging conditions with extreme gusts in the high twenties coming from unexpected directions, often 30 degrees off the average. This resulted in some capsizes, mostly to windward, in the fresh and chilly conditions.

Neil Colin and Margaret Casey prevailed in race one, closely followed home by Alistair Court and Gordon Syme. Just behind was Frank Miller sailing with crew Dave Coleman whom Miller shanghaied on the slipway. It was Coleman’s first test on trapeze of his new knee and happily, the pair stayed upright around the course so that knee may be tested again. A capsize saw Louise McKenna and Marjo Moonen relegated to fourth in that race. The chasing pack of the nine-boat fleet saw good close racing right down the line.

Franco Cassidy has been out sailing with his young son Hugh, the latter’s first time in a Fireball and on trapeze and the pair are rapidly improving every race.

The SID Fireball was out in the safe hands of Pat McGoldrick with Jos Dornschneider-Elkink, who edged in ahead of Cariosa Power and Marie Barry.

Nick Miller has bought Miller’s previous Fireball Blind Squirrel, and with Cearbhall Daly has raised his game. Glen Fisher is guest helming with Michael Keegan in the latter’s boat and enjoying good competition in the middle of the fleet. Race two on the 6th saw several head for shore as the breeze picked up a notch but in fact the wind eased a little while racing was underway. This race saw Court and Syme prevail over McKenna & Moonen with Miller & Coleman again 3rd. Fisher & Keegan were 4th & McGoldrick & Dornschneider-Elkink 5th with Nick Miller & Daly 6th.

Court/Syme lead Colin/Casey in a Fireball duel at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Pat KierseycCourt/Syme lead Colin/Casey in a Fireball duel at the Viking Marine DMYC Frostbites at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Pat Kiersey

The following Sunday the forecast was pretty terrible and many expected racing to be cancelled, but in fact conditions in Dun Laoghaire Harbour were quite sailable. While it was windy and sometimes very windy, the wind was far more stable than the previous Sunday. Race officer Cormac Bradley wisely went for one long multiple round race with 6 triangles. Happily, for the Fireballs in winds in the high twenties, the gybe mark was set low and spinnakers could be carried on the reaching legs. Frank Miller and Ed Butler took full advantage and blazed their way around the course leading by a good margin from McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, the Cassidys and Fisher & Keegan.

The following Sunday 13th November another terrible forecast turned out to be all too accurate and racing was cancelled without any complaints from competitors! But the Sunday just gone, November 27th, saw the best racing so far of the series.

Eleven Fireballs rocked up for the start line, necessarily a short line set close to the harbour mouth at the West Pier. Race seven of the series was a Windward-Leeward affair in medium winds from the south and southeast. Race officer Cormac Bradley set the windward mark well down the corner of the East pier, making maximum use of the harbour and giving competitors plenty to think about in terms of strategy up the beat. While the better wind was on the left side of the course, shifting and bending wind off the shore provided plenty of opportunity for those going at least some of the way right also. Too far right could lead to disaster and mucky broken wind but equally, too far left could leave competitors out on a limb.

Miller sailing with Fireball chairman Neil Cramer ultimately prevailed in race one, but it was hot and heavy all the way around the course and places changed several times with Court & Syme and McKenna & O’Keeffe leading at different points in the race. The run was especially tricky as decent gusts propelled the chasing boats towards the leaders. Colin & Casey had minor gear failure in that race which left them in 5th to Owen Sinnott & Grattan Donnelly. The chasing pack had close racing all around the course. Race eight saw a four-round Olympic Triangle course signalled but the race team changed that to three rounds as the clock was ticking and the winter sun getting close to diving behind the Dublin Mountains. Again, it was hot and heavy for Fireballs around the course. Miller & Cramer narrowly led around the windward, followed by Court & Syme, McKenna & O’Keeffe and Colin & Casey. Everything changed on the second beat as Colin & Casey banged the left corner and found good breeze to steam in on the port layline. On the run Miller & Cramer managed to nip ahead after a gybe, but that pair lost the lead again on the final beat by going too far left seeking the magic Colin had found previously.

Court & Syme, McKenna and O’Keeffe and Colin & Casey sailed a more conservative middle right course and made the most of a couple of shifts and a few pockets of good breeze to finish in that order and see Miller & Cramer relegated to fourth. Again, the chasing pack had extremely close racing with Power & Barry prevailing over Sinnott and Donnelly, Fisher & Keegan staying just ahead of Colm Breen and son Rory, and Paul ter Horst and son Morris keeping the SID boat of McGoldrick & Dornschneider-Elkink. While Miller & Butler currently hold the overall lead by a very thin margin all bets are off for this winter series.

In light and medium conditions, both Colin & Casey and McKenna & O’Keeffe are deadly, while in all conditions Court & Syme are extremely fast and extremely consistent. What is abundantly clear is that this is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested winter series for Fireballers in some years.

Published in Fireball

Fifteen Fireballs competed in the two-day event at the completely remodelled club on the shores of Lough Derg.

The class were greatly honoured to be the first class hosted by KSC since the completion of their brand-new clubhouse. On the Saturday night the class sat down to a terrific meal hosted by club volunteers in its function room, the first meal in the newly built room. The area around the club has been completely remodelled with greatly improved boat and vehicle parking, and room for tents and camper vans.

All in all, the completion of the works is a huge achievement and the Fireball class were delighted to be the first customers.

Briefing at Killaloe sailing club ahead of the Munster Fireball championships

The event itself was a tale of two halves. The forecast for day one was to be breezy, shifty and exceptionally gusty and for once the forecast was 100% accurate. With the conditions just seven boats launched initially to test the waters, in every sense. As the morning wore on that number increased to ten as conditions eased somewhat. Race one was a windward-leeward affair and in fact principal race officer Doireann Kennedy, mentored by Geoff O’Donoghue, wisely stuck to windward-leeward courses for the day, giving sailors the choice of angles downwind, and allowing the race team to quickly re-configure the course for big shifts. And it was those big shifts which provided the greatest challenges during racing, with stinging gusts striking at unexpected angles leading to that water sampling mentioned earlier.

Butler/Oram won races one and three, but didn’t have things their own way by any means. They were frequently beaten to the weather mark and it was their brave/inspired choice of downwind angles where they pulled back places. While most of the fleet tried to follow the gusts downwind Butler/Oram took off in frequently extreme directions, seeking out more pressure and high-wiring down the runs to take places and get back into contention. Race two was won by Ed Óg Butler and Sean Collins who were fast throughout the entire event in all conditions, and were especially sharp upwind.

Frank Miller and Hugo Mickova sailed consistently on day one, posting three third places in the breezy stuff. Josh Porter and Cara McDowell, being lighter, were a bit behind on day one with two fifths in the first races but a second in the final race of the day when conditions had lightened somewhat. Before the meal on Saturday night the class had an open forum meeting to get views on the season ahead and in particular to get views on the racing calendar for 2023. It was especially heartening to see so many young faces at the meeting and get feedback for the next season. Since many Fireballers also sail other classes balancing the racing calendar is never easy. After the meal and some libations, the sailors crawled back to their various tents, vans, hotels and apartments.

Chara McDowell and Josh Porter with organiser Jim Ryan (rt)

Sunday dawned as expected with little wind but by the time the sailors convened at the club there was a very decent land breeze. However, by the time boats launched that breeze had considerably reduced and then disappeared. Consultations with Geoff O’Donoghue led to the prediction of a thermal wind filling from the opposite direction and so it proved, allowing three “Olympic Triangle” races to be sailed in a fair breeze. Race four was won by Porter/McDowell, leading Butler/Oram and Thomas Chaix/Conor Flynn across the line. Porter/McDowell took the gun again in race five from Butler/Oram and Butler/Flynn.

Sean Collins and Ed Og Butler Sean Collins and Ed Og Butler 

The final race was a fraught affair with a port/starboard incident leading to Porter/McDowell doing turns, and a very interesting gybe mark situation where Butler/Oram went on what seemed like a gybing dance to attempt to get the inside overlap at the mark in very thin air. We can’t report whether they legally acquired that overlap as it looked distinctly hairy from our viewpoint but they emerged with the inside berth. It was a very noisy affair but Ed Óg did not follow through with a protest. We don’t know if that’s because he is a gentleman or if he conceded that an overlap was established in time. If it was the former his good sportsmanship was rewarded because he and Sean Collins won the final race, with Butler/Oram relegated to fourth through some shifts and light patches approaching the finish.

Butler/Oram were able to discard that race to take the overall with a three-point lead, and Porter/McDowell took second on equal points with Butler/Collins who finished third overall. Miller/Mickova took fourth place overall. Special praise has to go to Jakub Ozarek and Lara Killen from East Down who showed great boat handling ability in all the conditions and went on to win the silver trophy at their first ever Fireball event. And a round of applause for Lara’s dad Paul who drove from East Down and organised the camping and feeding of the youth team. Second Silver were Richard Street/Ollie Lloyd and third were Brenda Nash and Glen Fisher. Another youth team took the classic trophy, carried off by Sam Street and Denis Cully from Blessington SC, with Sam’s father the indefatigable Richard Street as logistics manager and master chef, as well as sailing the event himself.

Sam Street and Denis Cully won the classic prizeSam Street and Denis Cully won the classic prize

At the prize-giving ceremony led by main organiser Jim Ryan much thanks and praise went to the club and its volunteers and small gifts were presented to the race officers. It is fair to say that this was an extremely successful event, capping off a remarkable season for the class in Ireland. Despite the effort and time which went into the recent Worlds just a few miles up the lake at LDYC the class is energized and rejuvenated and very much looking forward to the winter DMYC Frostbites series, to the summer 2023 season in Ireland, to the French Nationals in nearby Brittany and to the Europeans in Slovenia next September.

East Down YC's Jakub Ozarek and Lara Killen won the silver trophyEast Down YC's Jakub Ozarek and Lara Killen won the silver trophy

2022 Fireball Munster Championships results 2022 Fireball Munster Championships results

Published in Fireball

Andy Thompson (50), originally of Larne and East Antrim Boat Club, is one of the most successful international dinghy crews in the world. Yet he is equally successful at keeping himself under the radar, as he never has to spread the word about his exceptional abilities. A significant cohort of top skippers are well aware of the remarkable ability he has to bring out the best in boat and helmsman, for as multiple champion Shane McCarthy of Greystones puts it, “the boat leaps to life when Thompo steps aboard”. And though Andy is as demanding of himself as he is of his helms – and he is definitely demanding of the highest standards – the result at the end is another Gold in a world championship.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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The GUL Fireball World Championship 2022 took place last month at Lough Derg Yacht Club. The event was a huge success, with 79 boats from eleven countries competing.

While the Irish Nationals pre-event was distinctly windy, with gusts of over thirty knots at times, the Worlds were mainly sailed in winds between eight and twelve knots.

The sailing on the large lake was tricky and technical, with shifts and bends, gusts and light patches, with a premium on boat speed and clean starts. But what were the actual experiences of sailors at the event, and in particular what were the winning techniques and priorities which saw the top teams make it to the podium?

Irish Fireballer Frank Miller conducted a Q&A with the top ten boats

10th Place Derian and Andy Scott GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. In the run-up – attended open meetings and Nationals and paid attention to how we were doing on speed & height. Worked to improve on things from that. Boat: Checked all the fittings were secure & working (replaced worn pulleys); replaced worn mainsheet & strut rope; replaced one side of the slot gasket (half came off 2 weeks before the event); replaced the Astro-turf on the trolley; cleaned and polished the hull; checked the mast settings; checked the spare mast settings; used pro-lube on pulleys & cleats; made sure we had a good spares tool kit. Us: Did a lot of work overcoming shoulder injuries (both of us!); made sure we had basic snacks and electrolyte drinks at the event to ensure we kept fed & hydrated while on the water; did less fitness training that we’d have liked!

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making?

A. Mainsail: Hyde, Jib: North (Hyde was too tired!) Spinny: North We knew our boat speed was ok. The conditions were very variable, so we made sure we were regularly questioning if they’d changed and upwind were making a lot of use of changes to jib tension & kicker. I don’t remember raking once during the Worlds! We sailed on 22’6” – that’s our upright.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A.53Kg & 80 Kg

Q. What boat make did you use?

A. 2006 Winder

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air, and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Hard!!! We generally started up the committee boat end as often going right paid, and the line was mostly square. When there was pin bias, we moved towards the pin, but not all the way down.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. We did off and on! Definite bends up the right when the wind was WSW … when it went further right, this didn’t work! We noticed Tom Gillard quite often came in from the left. There were differences in pressure too – Right, but not too far right seemed to have good pressure as did coming in on port at the top of the beat.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. Loved it!

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. A good start with clear air, play the shifts and keep an eye out for pressure changes.

9th Place Christina Haerdi and Cederic Landerer - SUI

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Preparation was minimal. I cleaned the hull and checked for damages. Same for the foils. I missed the problem with the slot gasket, therefore, Ruedi and Cedric did the job of repair during the meetings Monday evening :-(

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making?

A. From the Swiss Nationals, I knew the settings pretty well: Cumulus mast, Spreader length 38cm (according crew weight of 118kg) prebend 2.5 cm (ideally 3cm) therefore with strut position 0.5cm above neutral (e.g., slight pull). Sails North T10 main, North jib, North Spinnaker. Most importantly, I found the constant check of the mainsail leech tension: less wind = less kicker tension = open sail. Opposite in gusts. Less adjustment of jib, but in parallel.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Helm: 53kg, Crew: 65kg

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Duvoisin 2004

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. The line was most often perfectly perpendicular to the wind, and the length adequate to find a nice space. I mostly preferred to stay in the middle; thanks to the opportunity to estimate the transit, the line sagging was minimal. By doing so, we normally had the option of choosing the better side even after the starts. However, whenever we missed getting a clear start, we had to sail to the extremes until getting into clear wind. The chance to be on the correct side was still ok, so even the extreme could pay!

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. Except for the last day, we could not find a pattern. Even within one race, the preferred side could change. The middle normally did not pay. On the last day however, it was very obvious, that the gusts came from the right side. We, therefore, chose to start at the windward side and tack as soon as possible.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. We were positively surprised about our starts and the general boats-peed, which allowed us to get and mostly stay at the front. Anything but frustration :-)

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Self-confidence in us and our boat! If we failed, we could clearly nail the reason. And go on. There were usually good chances to get through to the top flight.

8th Place Isaac Marsh and Ollie Davenport - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Unfortunately, this year we had not been able to find the time to prepare as well as we would have liked, so other than the British nationals, we had not really been in the boat. We took the tactical decision to not touch anything after the nationals as we felt our setup felt fast :)!

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed? Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. We used a full suit of P&B sails (cross cut main) & M7+ mast and stuck to our normal setup of as per the P&B tuning guide. We have always used these and just crossed checked our measurements once in Ireland to check the fairies had not been in the boat and changed anything!

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Olly was 82kg, and Isaac hasn't dared stand on the scales for serval months! at a guess, we would have been around 150-55kg, possibly.

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Winder hull and foils with a P&B fitout

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Starts were crowded and at times it was tricky to hold a clean lane, the important bit was to always have a bail-out plan - the main thing to take off the start was being able to get back over to the side of the course where the boats were getting lifted inside you (which ever one that was)

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. The wind pattern could only be described as shifty! Knowing that there were huge shifts of about 60 degrees at times helped us to stay focused when down the pan as there was always a chance you could convert the race back into a counter!

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. The club did a great job of hosting and the race committee did well to get the number of races in they did. Having everything so compact such as camping and the dinghy park made everything quite relaxing. A wavy sea venue with 20 knots each day would always go down well with us however, I know other teams may have different views!

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. More hours on the water training and racing in various conditions at various venues will always pay off!

7th Place Dave Hall and Paul Constable - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. We knew it could possibly be a light wind week and tried to get a mindset so we were prepared mentally. The problem we have is that we love a good breeze and are very fast in it! So, this was a tough one. At our club we made an effort to race and sail when it was light (and not always fun) to focus our thoughts. We know our boat is fast – it was going to be a mind game.

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed? Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. We use an M7 with P&B sails – a recent change that some may have noticed. We were on our upright setting all week, and only once before a race went to change it before putting it back again. Rake- 6920 we are metric. 25mm prebend.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. I am 68 kg, and Paul is 78kg

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark of course! In case people are not aware, seven of the nine races were won by teams in a Weathermark. Tom & Shandy, Steve & Tom Goacher, Martin & Dan Lewis. The other 2 were won by Claude and Ruedi in a Duvoisin, which is actually the same as the Weathermark

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. We tended to go for the middle of the line, it was hard to choose an out and out end because the direction was often different along the line’s length. It was hard to get off the line – never being able to see the ends, difficult to get a transit and not able to hear the sound signals! We got it right sometimes but also very wrong a few times which shows in the results. One had to get clear to get the first bend or shift – if not it meant a lot of tacking often to the wrong side of the course and the inevitable mid-fleet mess followed by a slow climb back to a respectable position (for us, you understand!). Otherwise, it was standard stuff, trying to ensure there is a gap to leeward and not getting rolled while not being over.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. It reminded me of Chew Valley. Rolling shifts coming over or around the headland just to the right of the windward mark. One knew a shift would come and it wasn’t always the one you would want. I’m not sure there was a pattern, sometimes the clouds gave a hint but sometimes they would just approach, and we would have no idea until they hit. We had one shift that was so abrupt that it tacked us into a capsize (we weren’t the only ones from the top 10 I understand). The last day was interesting. After a mediocre start, we found ourselves on the wrong end of the massive bend up the first beat. After a good reach, we found ourselves in a better position at the leeward mark and got into a rhythm with the wind to claw back some places.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. It was what we expected. I did hope we might get a couple of days like the Nationals with an Atlantic low sweeping across the country just to have a sort out! The club as a venue was great, all together meant there was good chat and lots of chances to meet new people and get reacquainted with people we had not seen since 2018.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Better ask Tom (Gillard); while we struggled a lot of the time, he was on top the game and rarely seemed to put a foot wrong. When he did his attention to what was going on brought him back.

6th Place Martin and Daniel Lewis - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. What with Covid and my university/work commitments, my father and I hadn’t sailed together since the French Worlds in Carnac about four years ago! So, when we agreed to do the worlds in Ireland, we decided we should probably get some practice in to see if we remember how to sail. So, in preparation, we sailed the 60th-anniversary regatta at Hayling Island and the Irish Nationals / pre-worlds at (of course) Lough Derg. Neither of these were particularly helpful for the wind conditions we saw at the worlds; both were very heavy wind events. However, they were certainly a good reminder of what it felt like to be on the water again.

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. We sailed a Cumulus mast, a North Sails t-10 mainsail, North Sails jib and North Sails spinnaker. Our rig setting was anywhere between 22”4 and 22”8 depending on wind, though the settings we tweaked during the pre-worlds (22”4) were mostly useless during the worlds as we tended to be bolt upright for the majority of the Worlds. Saying that, there were a few times we would adjust the rig for more bend (22”6) when a squall would come through before a race or let the rig off slightly during a race as a temporary fix. We have seen an intriguing contraption which allows you to fully adjust the rig during racing though, which seemed to work on the off-wind legs of the particularly light days.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. We sail a somewhat untraditional weighting where the majority of the weight is in the back (Helm: 83kg), but we still have the height on the wire (Crew: 70kg). Note: only useful when putting the kite up and down in big breeze and waves...

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. I come from fleets which tend to sail flights in big events, but I must confess, I much prefer a single start line; it makes for far more exciting and close racing and seem like much less fuss to organise for the race committee, even if we do push the line a bit! One thing a long line does provide though is a massive line-sag, so we found it fairly easy to trigger early and find a clear lane in the middle to take us up the first beat. On those occasions where we didn’t have the greatest of starts, our strategy had to be finding the earliest opportunity to tack off into a lane and go out right into the clear air (especially important in a light breeze).

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. Though we do not profess to be experts in meteorology and topography, we had some theories that we relied on in those days where the wind was blowing a south-westerly. The first thing we noted was that the shifts were big and usually lasted a good enough amount of time to tack on each one as they arrived so you could benefit from every lift up the beat. It is true that there were some races where banging the favoured corner would put you on top but as a rule, we tended to read the compass and take the shifts up the middle, and it seemed to work! Secondly, we saw an island right at the top of the beat and concluded that the breeze seemed to funnel either side of said island, so (again only as a rule of thumb) mid right seemed to be favoured on the beats. On the off-wind legs, it was important to keep your head out the boat and stay in the gusts of breeze that were coming down the course, usually either side of that island. The gusts were quite easy to see on the water, but missing one was usually the decider on who made it to the bottom mark first.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. Though we are lake sailors so this may be slightly biased, we were extremely satisfied with the venue. It had an abundance of sailing area and the wind was good for the majority of the event. It is also hard to be frustrated when you knew you had free beer tokens waiting for you onshore!

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. In our experience, the most important thing for a good result was a good start where you can take the first big shift and cross the fleet so you weren’t dragged out to one side. It was also important to check for weed, it’s hard to go fast when you’re dragging!

Fireballs converge on a leeward mark on Lough derg Photo: Oisín HigginsFireballs converge on a leeward mark on Lough derg Photo: Oisín Higgins

5th Place Jiri Paruzek and Jakub Kosvica - CZE

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. No special preparation. We just visited as many Fireball events in our homeland as we could to get as many hours on the water under our belt as possible. So mainly much smaller lakes than Lough Derg!

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. Super Spars M7 and North Sails. We use the figures from general NS tuning guide, no fine-tuning on our side - we don't have conditions to do so and we like just to sail more. It worked to an expected level - what we're used to. (Btw. North Sails have a nice all-round tuning guide for Fireballs.)

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. 68 / 90 kgs

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark Sailboats.

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. I would say it was not that important to start close to an end, which was clearly helpful, probably because of the length of the beat, as you still had a lot of room to make up for that slight advantage - and you could find a less congested spot down the line. We had like four good, two OK and three not so good starts - don't know if you can draw some conclusion from that.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. We found approaching the windward mark from left wing helpful more often than not, though it definitely wasn't always the case (ask Heather and Chris!). It was better to ignore shifts of 10 or less degrees if the wind direction was more or less from the windward mark - which we sometimes didn't and ended up overstanding.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. It was nice. The shifts were nowhere near as brutal and frequent as they can be in Czechia. We also got lucky with the wind direction being mostly the same and possibly best there can be, I guess. We would have liked a bit more wind, though. Not sure if we could get a better result, as there were more crews who do better in stronger winds, but we would have definitely enjoyed it more.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. No surprise there: boat speed at/right after start. It didn't always guarantee a good result and you could still do well with a bad start, as we had few (e.g., in our first race), but it is the best way to get top results consistently - and that's the absolute key.

4th Place Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella - IRL

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Myself and Conor bought a boat again at the end of 2021 after a few years out of class from Carnac Worlds 2018. We did UK Inlands to learn where the fleet was at then did some winter Frostbite dinghy racing (when it was on) in Dun Laoghaire until March 2022. Barry was away with work in the US for 4 months then until July when resumed some sailing once more. We both lost some lockdown weight pre-empting a lighter regatta and practiced mostly on lakes in Ireland - Blessington then Lough Derg approx. 4 weekends with a few other Irish teams when there was wind. This was before the Irish Nationals/Worlds were scheduled mid-August. We both kept fit outside of sailing by some cycling and running, plenty of walking the Tullamore show and at times practising pints of Guinness too! :P

Q. What was your rig and sail combination?

A. M7 Superspar rig with chocks and puller. P&B sails crosscut ODL06 mainsail, full jib and standard P&B spinnaker (in brilliant green!). No issues, all worked well and was quite happy with setup.

Q. What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well?

A. Standard Fireball tuning guide, light week <12knots so was in 22'8" full rake all week, tension 400lbs, prebend 27-30mm, chocks neutral mostly. Settings were fine, boat felt balanced, setup for max power while still able to hold lanes if needed. A bit more wind would have suited us a bit more compared to some of lighter teams but we were okay.

Q. What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making?

A. On the water sometimes played the jib cars in/out from centreline and used the jib up/down depending on slot shape, focus on keeping the jib tell-tale flying/edge of stall. Centreboard down mostly or up a little when full trapeze wishing to go lower & faster e.g., to a side of course if thought it may be favoured.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Helm 68-69kg, Crew 80-82kg so around 150kg combined weight so a good in-between weight for various wind ranges. As it turned out, it was a lighter event so a spread of conditions may have suited us more.

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Winder Hull built 2013 in the UK, standard fitout by Allen with chocks & puller, winder foils, boat no. 15093.

Q. How difficult were the starts?

A. Start-lines had 80 boats on a line start. There was generally enough room but certainly got crowded on the ends when one was favoured. The key was to ensure to have the correct timing, be in front row, accelerating before the go to ensure you were not spat out the back. On the starts due to the long line, (1.5 boat lengths x80 Fireballs) there were large fluctuations in bias due to the wind moving 10-30 degs and often more made it hard to pick which end would definitely be favoured at gun-go. Getting away from the start clear, with options to get to better pressure one side, or getting onto lifted tack early was vital.

Q. How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. If we had a good start, it was easier to maintain clear air but even still boats 10 lengths to weather could pick up better breeze than you. We often went towards a middle side on starts so as not to be too affected by a large shift and prioritised where we wanted to be 100-200m up the first beat in terms of wind pressure, ensure we were sailing in clear air and sailing the lifted tack. Don't be afraid to duck a few boats if it means getting on the lifted tack/into a better breeze. As helm I could focus on speed & Conor as crew was great at boat balance & making calls. The couple times we didn't do that i.e., sail towards a side that looked like it was working early on for boats-we ended up sailing a header in and header back out in reality which meant we got eaten up by the fleet. Instead, one had to trust instincts sailing in pressure, and on the favoured tack and trust that eventually the oscillation would come back (80% of time it did)

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. Wind was oscillating typically back and forth, first day 5-20degs, other days 20-40degs and last day close to 80degs. It typically did follow the forecast predicted direction throughout the day but maybe the timing could never quite be predicted. A few times the wind did hold certain direction or stayed one side was maybe when close to an island. It was hard to follow and important to keep eyes out of boat, further up the course for any breeze/clouds coming (which certainly Gilly did better than anyone else since he was always fast)

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. Overall we really enjoyed the event. It was great to sail in a big fleet of 80 boats in an international, competitive, rewarding boat to sail such as the Fireball and especially in our case since we were in Ireland, our home nation so was extra special. The Irish hospitality was second to none and even I was amazed at the effort put in by LDYC and the Irish Fireball Association so job well done. Sailing wise, the Pre-worlds were on the upper wind of sailing 20kts+ but lots of fun even though capsized too many times! The main week of worlds was much lighter <12kts all week and suited lighter teams but meant more tactical & probably closer racing. Due to the big shifts, it meant a lot of boats made their way to the front at different points so kept it interesting compared to a pure boat speed, little tactical decision-making racing (even though we would have enjoyed that too as we normally sail on the sea and waves!) :)

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Enjoying ourselves, not taking it too seriously and remembering even if the racing wasn't going so well, we were choosing to be there and could not pick many better places than Lough Derg. No matter what place we were in, we were sailing a terrific boat against other great sailors, getting to know many more people on the water and had great craic! Easily beats 1-1.5 weeks of work, that's for sure and after looking forward to it for so long, just have fun! However, the most important thing was of course the love and support of our wives and girlfriends! (Well just 1 each in reality but they kept us honest and our egos in check throughout the last few months!) :P

3rd Place Heather MacFarlane and Chris Payne - AUS

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. We prepared by sailing by ourselves in Melbourne and tried to get out on the water 3-4 days a week but we often had issues with conditions. We worked mainly on boat handling on each leg type: upwind, run, wiring run, reach; mark roundings and lots of slow boat speed manoeuvres.

Q. Weights, Rig and Sails

A. Simple answers are Heather is 52 kg and I am 74kg. We used winder hull super spar M7. P&B cross cut main and Irwin (Australian) jib and spinnaker. We were on upright rake for almost all races (should have been all). Had a lot of rig tension to induce bend and had strut all the way forward. We measure that as 22’8” rake. Pre-bend is 45mm at neutral and strut forward making it bigger.

Q. How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. We discovered right seemed to pay with bigger lifts so we often started at the starboard end and tacked as soon as possible. This sometimes worked against us when the shifts came in from the left. We felt like the edges of the fleet were easier to get clear wind, so close to port end or close to starboard end.

2nd Place Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser - SUI (based on a phone conversation)

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Claude acknowledges that their lake sailing experience was a big advantage at Dromineer, though they actually prefer strong winds. He feels comfortable making judgements about shifts and felt that primarily the wind pattern on Lough Derg was oscillating winds. However, they were conservative during the much windier pre-event/Irish Nationals at LDYC where gusts reached 30 knots – this was due to a back injury suffered by Ruedi earlier in the year, and to protect the boat, mast and themselves from injury or damage just before the worlds. During one very windy race at the Pre-worlds they discovered they had rigged the spinnaker sheets the wrong way through the ratchet blocks, making spinnaker adjustment somewhat difficult.

Q. Weight and rig, sails.

A. Crew weight 64kg/80kg Rig - Mast upright, Pre-bend 2.5 Interestingly they used a P&B sail from 2018 stored since Carnac Worlds and not used since. Sails cross-cut main and standard jib. They use older sails for local and regional Swiss events and still get top results with those (!).

Q. How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Found starts difficult enough, they opted to stay away from crowded areas for a clean start. In the event of a messy start, they had enough boat speed and good handling to get into clearer air in a few tacks. Asked how they managed to hold height in their lane with good speed after the start Claude put it down to experience and careful steering through any waves, mainsheet in hand all the time being played and avoid being stopped by a wave at all costs. Claude puts a big part of their success down to teamwork, moving together to make the boat work – “like ballet!”

Q. Choice of boat

A. Their Duvoisin boat, one of the first wide-bowed boats, is nearly 20 years old.

*Glitch - They had an interaction with the jury during one race. While playing the small waves during a race, moving their weights to help balance and steer the boat down the waves, they were aware that the jury was watching but confident that their movements were legal. However, they were penalised by the jury and had to drop their spinnaker and do a 720. Claude is still perplexed by this and feels the jury were wrong in this case. Happily, their lead on the nearest boats meant that they didn’t actually lose a place.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. The single most important thing for Claude was self-confidence and being settled in the boat. On the penultimate evening of the worlds, with everything to play for, he received a motivational call from his son Yves Mermod, a top 470 sailor, which helped spur them to their second race win in the final race of the Worlds.

Fireball Championship winners Tom Gillard and Andy ThompsonFireball Championship winners Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson

1st Place Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. We only prepared with boat work. Making the boat as close as possible to what we used to use many years ago.

Q. What was your rig and sail combination?

A. North sails full standard suit. Selden Cumulus mast

Q. What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making.

A. We were confident that old numbers would work in this class

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Helm 75kg approx., Shandy 79kg

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark

Q. How difficult were the starts>? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Wind shifts were everything. We had a poor start in almost all the starts.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. wind patterns were very readable.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. Venue and hospitality were absolutely on point with what is expected of a world championship.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Head out of the boat at all times. Judging angles of other boats can assist you greatly in picking the correct side of the course to head to. We normally prefer the windier conditions so pretty happy with our result.

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Lough Derg Yacht Club in County Tipperary, Ireland is quiet this morning! The yacht club, which played host to the 2022 GUL Fireball World Championships over the past seven days, is a scene of tents being dismantled and trailers being prepped for road trips.

In the past few days, the regatta’s WhatsApp site has seen multiple instances of sails and spars and even boats being offered for sale. Teams that came with two boats are going home with three.

And for the fifth time, Tom Gillard is a World Champion Fireball Helm, this time crewed by Andy Thompson. But before all that, a commentary on yesterday’s proceedings.

As predicted, the wing had swung to a more NNW direction and initially, there was some strength to it, of the order of 8 knots and occasionally creeping up to ten knots. However, there was some movement in the wind direction and Race Officer Con Murphy took his time before getting the fleet away.

An initial start under a “U flag” was canned and after an approximate fifteen-minute General Recall he got the fleet away at 11:19. The beat was shortened slightly to make sure the course was out of the wind shadow of the windward shore.

Even so there were modest boat speeds up the beat.

A white spinnaker was the first to show. Who was it? Mermod & Moser, Gillard & Thompson or MacFarlane & Payne. It turned out to be Mermod & Moser, SUI 14799, with Gillard & Thompson, GBR 15122, back in fourth. According to Tom’s pre-race assessment, this wasn’t a crisis. The leaders gybed as per the mark location, but Gillard sailed on by quite some distance before he gybed. Others would follow suit. Asked afterwards why this was happening the answer was a) slightly more wind and b) a better reaching angle. It didn’t cost them anything as they rounded the leeward mark in the same position, fourth.

Mermod & Moser led, followed by Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport (GBR 15162), Christina Haerdi & Cedric Landerer (SUI 14859), Gillard & Thompson (GBR 15122), Josh Porter & Cara McDowell (IRL 14695), Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093), Chris Owen & Andy Service (HKG 14754), Martyn & Daniel Lewis (GBR 15151), Charles La Calvez & Eloise Maussion (FRA 14950) and Patrice Olivier & Jean Francois Nouel (FRA 14959).
Of the initial bunch, Marsh & Davenport took an initial tack to the left-hand side of the course before coming back right which is what the others had done. The wind was easing again as the race progressed, but then more breeze would fill in and the fleet would accelerate accordingly.

At the finish, Mermod & Moser took their second race win, followed by Gillard & Thompson, Haerdi & Landerer, Marsh & Davenport, Porter & McDowell, McCartin & Kinsella, Lewis & Lewis, Owen & Service, La Calvez & Maussion and Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek (CZE 15019).

Gillard’s pre-launch assessment was that even if Mermod & Moser won two races, he only needed a “better than 5th “finish in one race to secure the Worlds. On that basis, he and Thompson were World Champions. However, they showed no inclination to sail home for an early de-rig and shower.

With a fading wind that moved around continuously, Race Officer Con Murphy did his best to get the fleet away for a tenth race. When “stronger” wind came in it came from the north but as it passed through, the direction clocked westwards before flicking back again to the right-hand side. 14:00 came and went with no sign of a stable breeze. 14:30 passed with no improvement and at 14:41 “N over A” was signalled, we had new Fireball World Champions.

It was a fully warranted win, Tom and Andy won five of the nine races, counted two-second places and dropped a sixth and an eighth. They won by a margin of eight points. Second-placed Claude and Ruedi won two races, counted a fourth as their worst score and dropped an eighteenth and a sixteenth. Heather and Chris scored races results in the range 2nd to 8th and dropped a 12th and a 13th to finish third, thirteen points adrift of Claude & Ruedi.

Fireball Worlds, Lough Derg

At last night’s prize-giving, other additional prizes were awarded;

  • Perseverance Trophy: Barbara & Guy Newsome; GBR 14872, (77th)
  • Classic Trophy: David Evans & William Draper; IRL 14213 (54th)
  • Modern Classic: Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister; IRL 14637 (45th)
  • Youth Prize: Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister; IRL 14637 (45th)
  • First All-Female Prize: Katie Byne & Lia Horne; GBR 14883
  • Veteran Prize: Heather MacFarlane & Chris Payne.

As to be expected, thanks were recorded to all those who had contributed to the success of these World Championships – sponsors, LDYC and its members, Fireball International and the Irish Fireball Class Association, whose Chairman, Neil Cramer, was unable to join in “in-person” but did join us via a Zoom link.

From this correspondent, my thanks to all those who listened to me through all the “discretionary daily prize-givings” and the final prize-giving ceremony last night.

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