Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Fireball Reunion at RStGYC Celebrates Fifty Years of Irish Dinghy Sailing

8th February 2016
Gareth Craig/Fotosail

A unique gathering of Irish Fireballers drawn from five decades brought back memories of a golden age for dinghies when over 200 sailors met at a refurbished Royal St. George Yacht Club last Saturday night in Dun Laoghaire. The evening drew together Fireball interests from all four coasts with plenty of old teams making the trip to Dun Laoghaire for the special event to mark fifty years since the plywood dinghy first arrived in Ireland. 

A Pimms reception kicked off proceedings before a number of speakers recounted stories through five decades of Irish Fireballing that included Fireball world champion John Lavery who took the title in 1995.

Irish Sailing Association President and past Fireball national champion David Lovegrove from Howth gave his take on the two man dinghy class and there was also a big cheer for class pioneer Roy Dickson of Howth Yacht Club.

A trawl of the class archives produced an array of early class photographs dating back to the exciting days of the 1977 World Championships in Kinsale. Early photographs, magazines, memorabilia and cine reel footage depicted the Irish class when fleet numbers touched 70 boats went on display throughout the club documenting one of the biggest ever Irish dinghy classes.

In order that crews could circulate over the course of the evening the team of former Fireballers who organised the evening decided against a sit down dinner and instead planned a stand up buffet evening with pod tables using the entire top level of the clubhouse. 

As well as past sailors there was a healthy representation of current crews including Irish champions Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella also from the host club. Class Chair Marie Barry spoke about current class plans. 

A Royal Cork Yacht Club contingent included Anthony and Sally O'Leary and Clayton Love minor. Munster representation inlcuded a presentation from Baltimore's Stuart Musgrave.

From the north, Adrian and Maeve Bell from Lough Neagh, who dominated the class in the 1980s also made the trip.

The reunion organisers were Derek Jago, Paul Maguire, Brian Craig and Ciara Dowling who can be contacted by email: [email protected] 


Published in Fireball Team

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At A Glance – Fireball Dinghy Specs

Crew 2 (single trapeze)
LOA 16 ft 2 in (4.93 m)
Beam 4 ft 6 in (1.37 m)
Hull weight 175 lb (79 kg)
Mast height 22.3 ft (6.8 m)
Mainsail area 108 sq ft (10.0 m2).
Jib / Genoa area 35 sq ft (3.3 m2).
Spinnaker area 140 sq ft (13 m2).

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