This morning, Friday 27th May, the entry stands at 58 boats, spread across 9 nations and 3 continents. The spread of countries covers Ireland, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Shetland Islands, France, Czech Republic, Canada and Germany, with the continents being Europe, Australia and North America.
The home contingent boasts 28 boats, followed by GBR with 17 boats, France and Switzerland have three entries each, Canada and the Czech Republic 2, with Australia, the Shetlands and Germany each having one. However, there is a late attempt to get a second Australian entry to the event and in fact with entries being open right up to the eve of the regatta, there is always the prospect that more boats may still declare. I also know of one entry that isn't on the list yet as the crew was only secured last weekend and the boat is still being finished out.
So which names stand out in the entry list thus far?
Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey are the current European Champions having won that title in the Czech Republic in Pavlov last October. They gave a very convincing display in that regatta and have shown good form in the UK regattas they have sailed to date. Tom has also "dabbled" recently in the Scorpion scene in UK with success. Also on the podium in Pavlov was Jaroslav Verner of the Czech Republic who has entered for Sligo with a different crew. From further afield and the sole Aussie thus far, is Ben Schulz, sailing with Phillip Bowley, who finished 5th in the 2010 Worlds in Barbados. Ben is the current Secretary of Fireball Australia.
As the largest Fireball fleet internationally, the UK fleet always brings quality to these events and the entry list for Sligo reflects that continuing trend. Defending champions Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend are not entered, but the British contingent is like a "Who's who" of the class there.
Vince Horey, 11th in Barbados races with Andy Thompson, Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff, 2nd in Barbados sail together again in Sligo, Simon Potts, 3rd placed crew in Barbados teams up with David Wade, 6th placed helm in Barbados and 6th placed crew in Barbados, Tim Saunders, current UKFA Chairman, teams up with Alan Krailing. For those who follow the Fireball scene in the UK and internationally, these are almost household names!
Messrs Jospe & Egli are perennial competitors at international regattas and they are joined by Messrs Tipton & King. Both combinations contested the Barbados event.
European Commodore Maja Suter is part of a 3-boat Swiss representation which also includes another Fireball stalwart in Ruedi Moser. The French contingent has a similar profile with 3 boats and Jean-Pierre Nouel (Monsieur Cantona) their most travelled competitor.
Of the Irish contingent, the names that will be vying for first home boat will include, on current form, Graeme Grant & Hugh Butler, Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella and Kenny Rumball & Seamus Moore. Much will depend on the weather, but a 28 boat contingent is great news for the host fleet and bodes well for an interesting session of racing.
Sligo here we come!