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2020 Fireball World Championships For Howth Yacht Club's 125th Anniversary Year

14th June 2018
The 2020 Fireball World Championships will be staged at Howth Yacht Club. The last time the event sailed here was in 2011 in Sligo (above). The 2020 Fireball World Championships will be staged at Howth Yacht Club. The last time the event sailed here was in 2011 in Sligo (above). Photo: Joe St. Leger

The 2020 Fireball World Championships have been awarded to Howth Yacht Club in Dublin.

As David O'Brien in the Irish Times Sailing Column reveals here, the top-flight dinghy event will bring competitors from as far as Africa and Australia to North Dublin waters in two years time. 

The club, established in 1895, is one of the largest yacht clubs in both Ireland and the UK offering exceptional facilities for dinghy and keelboat sailors. Howth Yacht Club has the depth of experience required to provide consistently high standards of race management at club, national and international level. The club has a resident national and international race management team along with dedicated committee boats and a professionally maintained racing infrastructure. The race area is exceptional with a large expanse of open water, free from tidal anomalies and with flat water from the prevailing westerly winds crossing a low flat plain to the west. For the Fireball Worlds a highly experienced regatta team has been assembled led by event chairperson Judith Malcolm and Principal Race Officer David Lovegrove, one of Ireland’s most experienced International Race Officers and a former Fireball sailor himself.

"A highly experienced regatta team has been assembled"

Barry McCartin FireballIrish Fireball champions Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella from the Royal St. George Yacht club are leading contenders for the 2020 title on home waters Photo: Afloat.ie

The venue is located on a peninsula some 18km from Dublin city centre in a high amenity area of exceptional natural beauty and is the second most popular tourist location in the Dublin area. The clubhouse is only 20mins drive from Dublin’s international airport, adjacent to the coastal DART suburban train line to Dublin City and 30 mins from the ferry terminals at Dublin Port. The main event takes place from 9th-14th August 2020 with a short warm-up event expected in advance.

Howth yacht club dublinDublin's Howth Yacht Club is the venue for the 2020 Fireball World Championships

Howth Yacht Club has previously hosted the Etchells, J24, Optimist and Mirror world championships, many national and regional Laser Regattas and IRC championships and is delighted to have been chosen for the Fireball Worlds in 2020.  Read WM Nixon's review of the 2013 HYC J24 Worlds.

The Fireball class is very popular in the UK and Ireland across all ages and has a large international following. The event is expected to attract teams from the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Canada, the US and Australia.

A traditional Irish welcome

Speaking at the announcement HYC Commodore Joe McPeake said he was ‘looking forward to providing a traditional Irish welcome to the Fireball crews and their families and providing them with an unforgettable experience afloat and ashore’.

Speaking from Switzerland Fireball International commodore Christina Haerdi-Landerer said ““Fireball International welcomes this great opportunity to deepen our friendship with the Irish fleet, and to experience a great championship at the prestigious Club of Howth and in the beautiful surroundings of Dublin. I am personally excited at the opportunity to visit Ireland for the first time and meet my longtime Irish Fireball friends in their home country! We feel honoured to being part of such an exceptional event. We will thoroughly enjoy combining the treasures of the Fireball tradition with the excitement of young sailors for our lively and challenging sailing activity. I am certain that many Fireball sailors around the world will be attracted to this superb venue.”

Neil Cramer Irish Fireball Association chairman commented “For several years Ireland’s Fireball fleet has seized upon every opportunity to compete out of Howth Yacht Club in the waters around spectacular Ireland’s Eye. When the class was approached by the club seeking a major international event to coincide with their 125th anniversary we were delighted to approach Fireball International about bringing a major Fireball International event to Howth.”

"Competitive race-ready Fireballs can be bought at the moment in Ireland and the UK from €2,500 – 6,000"

The event will be the first International Fireball event in Ireland since 2011 which saw some 60 boats compete in exciting conditions in Sligo. Ireland has previously hosted several Fireball World and European championships including a Europeans in Skerries in 2000 and a Worlds at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in 1995 which saw local sailors John Lavery and David O’Brien carry away the trophy. The Irish Fireball Association hopes that the forthcoming worlds event will attract a new generation of sailors into one of the most exciting yet stable racing dinghies in the country. The local association is keen to see as many Irish boats as possible participate in the 2020 worlds and is embarking on a campaign to encourage young teams to take on the Fireball challenge. In recent weeks at least two competitive Winder Fireballs changed hands in advance of the formal announcement for relatively modest sums. The good news for any sailors interested in campaigning towards to 2020 worlds is that competitive race-ready “white” Winder fireballs can be bought at the moment in Ireland and the UK from €2,500 – 6,000 euros.

Howth Yacht Club (HYC) is based at The Middle Pier, Howth Harbour, Howth, Co. Dublin.

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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