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Young Teams Triumphant at the Fireball Leinster Championships at Skerries Sailing Club

5th July 2021
Winners of the Fireball Leinsters Daniel Thompson and crew Ronan Wallace
Winners of the Fireball Leinsters Daniel Thompson (right) and crew Ronan Wallace

Thirteen Fireballs rocked up to the start line for the Fireball Leinster Championships at Skerries SC at the weekend. Daniel Thompson (Wexford SC) sailing with Barry McCartin (Sat) and Ronan Wallace (Sun) won the event after 6 races over two days in thrilling conditions.

On Saturday the wind was a solid 10-14 knots and the race team of PRO Liam Dinneen assisted by Helen Ryan and Micheline Shiels managed to get four Olympic Triangle type races under the belt by the day’s end. While team McCartin/Thompson were pre-eminent they did not have things all their own way and had to fight for every inch on the course. Unusually Daniel Thompson took on the crew role and that unusual mix caused a couple of hiccups including a capsize. While they won three of the races Frank Miller and Ed Butler were always close behind and managed to win one of the races placing them in second place overnight Saturday. Just behind them by one point were Ed Butler Jnr sailing very fast with his old 420 shipmate Sean Collins in a Fireball borrowed from Miller. There were plenty of other contenders around the course – Alistair Court and Gordon Syme were sailing Court’s brand-new Fireball on its maiden voyage and were extremely fast, though held back by a couple of minor rigging problems. Also up there in every race were locals Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer. The pair were extremely consistent and never far from the front though perhaps surprisingly didn’t seem to gain any advantage from local knowledge of tides and wind bends.

Second overall Ed Butler Jnr (left) and Sean CollinsSecond overall Ed Butler Jnr (left) and Sean Collins

Third overall - Frank Miller and Ed Butler SnrThird overall - Frank Miller and Ed Butler Snr

On Saturday the start time was close to low water and the tide in the early races didn’t appear to play a huge part. While the better wind was frequently offshore this wasn’t always the case and some careful playing of shifts while staying in the best breeze is probably what kept McCartin/Thompson at the top. Also hot were Sligo duo Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield. That team showed good speed and coordination to remain contenders throughout the event. Veteran Kieran Harkin, sailing with Ismail Inan, appeared after a long absence in the borrowed rocket called Let’s Get Messy. After a slightly rocky first day, they found their full speed by the Sunday. A very welcome feature of the event was the number of newer younger sailors who have bought modern Fireballs over the last 18 months.

Silver Fleet winners Paul Ter Horst and his son MorrisSilver Fleet winners Paul Ter Horst and his son Morris

Sailing in the Silver Fleet Paul Ter Horst and his son Morris revelled in the conditions and ultimately took the top Silver Prize. Second Silver were Brenda Nash and Glen Fischer (with Dave Coleman guesting on Sunday) and third Silver were another father-son combination of Colm and Rory Breen. Special mention should be made of team SID. The Sailing in Dublin organisation has a Fireball in its armoury and were ably represented by Pat McGoldrick and Pavlo Tishkin. One of the reasons the race officer opted to punch in a 4th race was that Sunday’s forecast was relatively light. When this writer checked the Windy forecast at 8 am Sunday some 8-10 knots were promised. However, another competitor checked at 9am and everything had changed. The strong south easterlies which were to remain offshore were now set to move in. And thus, it turned out.

Second in the Silver fleet Brenda Nash and Glen Fischer Second in the Silver fleet Brenda Nash and Glen Fischer

Before the start of the first race on Sunday teams scrambled to change their rig settings from light to medium and in the case of the lighter crews to heavy. Two cracking races in 12-16 knots with 20-knot gusts ensued both Olympic Triangle, which tested teams to the limit. The reaches were spectacular as crews flew downwind on impressive waves. There was a change in the pecking order in these conditions as Ed Butler Jnr and Sean Collins really found their pace.

The pair started well in both races and sailed quite free with plenty of board up to achieve maximum speed and led both races by a very respectable margin. Daniel Thompson helming with another 420 ace Ronan Wallace punched in two seconds while Miller/Butler snr scored a 3rd and a 5th which was to be their discard.

When the spray cleared and the sums were done team Thompson/McCartin/Wallace were the clear overall winners with Butler Jnr/Collins second and Miller/Butler Snr third.

All in all, this was one of the best Fireball events in some time, made all the sweeter after the long interregnum of the pandemic. The fleet gathers at the DMYC in three weeks’ time for the National Championships which is expected to see a return of Noel Butler/Stephen Oram to defend their title against some increasingly youthful and talented competition. With a World Championships in Lough Derg YC next year the fleet is in resurgent mode and all around the country, the search is on to free dormant boats from captivity for the current season but also for the forthcoming Worlds. The class is keen to encourage young teams to take up the Fireball challenge and will assist them in any way they can to take up the Fireball challenge.

For further information contact the class secretary at [email protected]

Published in Fireball
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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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