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Fireball World Champions Crowned as Howth Prepares for 2020 Event

1st September 2019
World Fireball Champions - Ian Dobson and Richard Wagstaff World Fireball Champions - Ian Dobson and Richard Wagstaff

Ian Dobson and Richard Wagstaff of the UK are the new Fireball World Champions after 10 races in Pointe Claire YC Montreal.

Racing took place on Lac St-Louis over 5 days with a wide variety of conditions ranging from 4 knots to 27. The early days of the event were especially tricky and shifty favouring Swiss team of Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser who led for the first part of the event. Right up there at the top all the time were Aussie husband and wife team of Heather MacFarlane and Chris Payne. The pair sailed extremely consistently over the 5 days in all conditions. They led the event for 2 days and were ultimately were rewarded with a well deserved 2nd place.

Third overall were French team Ludovic Collin and Remy Thuillier who were extremely fast in their composite boat built using the Duvoisin mould. Dobson/Wagstaff were probably favourites from the start of the event but it was only in the final windier 2 days of sailing that they really dominated, ultimately leading the Aussies by 4 points. In the penultimate race the UK pair lost part of their rudder but still managed a 2nd place. They sailed ashore and returned in time for the final race with a new rudder. In the last race the wind got up to about 27/28 knots and the duo admitted considering tacking around the gybe mark such were the conditions. Ultimately dignity dictated a gybe which they managed perfectly to go on to win the race.

Interestingly three of the top seven helms in the Worlds 2019 were women and there is now talk of scrapping the "Ladies" prizes as the myth of the class being a male preserve has been well and truly put to rest.

Fireball Frank MillerIrish representatives Frank Miller (right) and Ed Butler

Irish representatives at the event Frank Miller and Ed Butler (DMYC/RSTGYC) finished 26th overall in the 42 boat fleet.  Struggling somewhat on the light and choppy days the pair lifted their game when the breeze was up, scoring an 11th in the final race and scoring a 2nd in a breezy race during the prequel North American Championships. Overall the event was a massive success with solid race management in tricky conditions and superb facilities and hospitality ashore. The apres-sail atmosphere was such that the fleet partied together ashore in the club for the entire 10 days. Next August the festivities move the Howth Yacht Club and a presentation to promote #Howth2020 was made in Montreal supported by Irish IRO David Lovegrove and HYC organisers Judith and Ian Malcolm.

Suffice to say there is huge International interest in coming to Howth for what promises to be a highlight of next year's racing calendar. With the local class growing again and new blood entering the fray there is demand at home and abroad for competitive boats to buy, borrow or charter. This winter's DMYC Frostbites promises to be a lively and busy testing ground for competitors getting regular racing practice and maintaining match fitness for Howth2020. Before that Fireballs gather in Killaloe SC for their final regional event on September 28th/29th. To use the #Howth2020 motto - See You There...

Published in Fireball, Howth YC
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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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