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Fireball Dinghies Come 'Home' to Sutton Dinghy Club this Weekend

18th June 2022
Fireballs of the 1960s at Sutton Dinghy Club - Ian Baird David Lovegrove, David Dickson, Hugh Morton and Roy Dickson
ireballs of the 1960s at Sutton Dinghy Club - Ian Baird David Lovegrove, David Dickson, Hugh Morton and Roy Dickson

This weekend, Sutton Dinghy Club on Dublin Bay welcomes the Fireball fleet to Sutton Creek for the first time in quite a while. It will be an unusual situation as it will the first time we have hosted the Fireball Ulster Championships. With the Worlds in Ireland this year, the Class were very keen to ensure as many of their events were run and Sutton were more than delighted to help out writes the Club's, Andy Johnston.

The Fireball is a Class that Sutton are very familiar with from a historical perspective, as it's here 60 years ago that the first Irish Fireball was sailed by our former Commodore Roy Dickson, when in September 1962 Roy sailed hull number 38 across Dublin Bay to Dun Laoghaire.

Fireball 38 in Sutton Creek sailed by Roy DicksonFireball 38 in Sutton Creek sailed by Roy Dickson

By the following years, Roy had helped build a formidable fleet of Fireballs with the likes of Bunny Conn, Ian Baird, David Lovegrove, Hugh Morton, Ronan Henry and Brian Galton all involved. In 1963 the first Fireball Nationals were sailed from Broadmeadows in Malahide and were won by Noel 'Bunny' Conn and Ronan. Roy with Pat Gilmour crewing won the Championship in 1964. The fleet remained strong in Sutton well into the 1970s with Barry O'Neill, Jamie Wilkinson, Brian Matthews, Joe McKeever, Vincent Wallace, Freddie Harrison, Ian Baldock all campaigning out of Sutton Dinghy Club. Aside from winning multiple national championships, the Sutton fleet campaigned at World and European level with a 4 boat team travelling to Bendor in France in 1967, where Roy Dickson and Hugh Morton took 3rd with David Lovegrove and Ian Baird in 4th. The quality of that fleet is demonstrated with Barry O'Neill and Jamie Wilkinson progressing to Olympic level together in Montreal in 1976. Jamie returned to partner David Wilkins in Moscow in 1980 to a Silver medal.

1973 Fireball Nationals and the winners take their prize1973 Fireball Nationals and the winners take their prize

The fleet started to disappear from Sutton in the late 70s with intermittent campaigns by the likes of Ruan O'Tiarnaigh and Stephen Boyle in the 90s. The pair were quite successful, with podium places at a number of Fireball National Championships including 1994 and 1995, with Ruan ultimately taking the Helmsmans Championship in 1995. The most recent sighting of a Fireball in Sutton was multiple IDRA14 Champion Alan Henry and Simon Revill who attended a number of events from 2015-2017. Simon in fact won the Fireball Nationals in 2017 as a crew with Noel Butler.

Fireball Worlds 1967 - 3rd Prize Fireball Worlds 1967 - 3rd Prize 

This weekend's Ulster Championship will have a small but perfectly formed fleet that includes the ever-active Class Captain Frank Miller and will include we believe a crew from the host Club. With the GP14 Worlds also in Ireland in 2022, Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter are using the Ulster Championship to hone their skills and get more time on the water and are joined by another GP14 crew from Blessington in Richard Street and Lisa Flynn. We believe there are a few notable Fireball crews missing so hard to gauge who is the most likely winner. Maybe there will be a surprise. Irrespective it is brilliant to see the Fireballs back 'Home' in Sutton Creek and we look forward to a great weekend.

Published in Fireball
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