Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Fireball Class Agrees to Put Youth Development to the Fore at Lively AGM

4th December 2023
Fireball dinghy numbers in the Cork area have risen from 1 last year to 11, with nine in Monkstown Bay alone, the recent Fireball AGM heard
Fireball dinghy numbers in the Cork area have risen from 1 last year to 11, with nine in Monkstown Bay alone, the recent Fireball AGM heard Credit: Bob Bateman

The recent Irish Fireball Association agm was a lively affair as the class discussed two thorny issues and reconfirmed its commitment to younger sailors.

First, the thorny stuff - there was a lively, sometimes heated discussion around the decision not to award the class a place in the Irish Sailing Champions event (formerly known as the Helmsman's). The ultimate decision was not to award the class, which features several highly competitive sailors, a position based on a notional cutoff of having a 20 boat fleet at the National Championship.

The 2023 Nationals had an 18-boat fleet. A parallel issue was the decision to use a virtual National Judge to save the cost of having a National Judge attend in person.

This was fundamentally to save costs and to keep the entry fee for the event at WHSC affordable. Class chairman Neil Cramer explained that having a National Judge attend an event outside Dublin could add approximately 500 euros to the cost of running the event when judges' expenses are factored in.

Irish Fireball Association Chairman Neil CramerIrish Fireball Association Chairman Neil Cramer

Unfortunately, the vast majority of National Judges are based in Dublin or Cork, so travel and subsistence expenses are unavoidable for most regional clubs. Inevitably, this cost has to be passed on to competitors in the form of increased entry fees. From the perspective of the Irish Fireball Association, this is actually anti-sailing and anti-smaller clubs. A clear solution would be financial support from Irish Sailing for National Judges when smaller venues are hosting a national championship. At the AGM, the class reiterated its commitment to youth sailing and agreed to continue its strong subsidy for youth membership and youth entry fees for events.

"increased entry fees are anti-sailing and anti-smaller clubs"

The future of Fireball sailing lies with young sailors and the class will continue to invest in that future. One younger sailor at the agm argued that the class should be better at marketing itself. Chris Bateman, who is a youth development officer on the committee, said that every young sailor he introduces to the boat is amazed at its performance. As a lightweight boat (66.4kg hull) the Fireball has an impressive power to weight ratio and in terms of youth sailing it is actually lighter than a 29er. Chris pointed out that the key selling points should be that the boat is fast, fun and affordable. To prove all of these points, he is running introduction and coaching sessions at Monkstown Bay SC over the winter and into the spring. He has embarked on a mission to rescue and upgrade abandoned Fireballs around the country, building the Cork fleet from almost zero to some dozen boats.

Chris Bateman is a Cork Harbour based Fireball, skiff, catamaran and Laser sailorChris Bateman is a Cork Harbour based Fireball, skiff, catamaran and Laser sailor

The saving grace of an abandoned or neglected Fireball is the hull build quality as boats made by Winder, Duvosin and Weathermark will have a competitive lifespan of well over twenty years. Some of these boats can be picked up for a song, and with re-roping and a bit of cleaning up, they can go head to head with newer boats on any startline. The gold/silver fleet division was also debated at the agm and a draft document was agreed in principle, to be voted on and signed off after a wider poll of sailors.

The guiding principle is to ensure each division is competitive and fair while promoting the top silver sailors into the gold fleet at the end of each season. Events so far nailed down for 2024 include a Nationals at RCYC in tandem with 420s and 29ers, a Leinsters at Skerries, and a Munsters at Monkstown Bay SC. But Fireball sailing doesn't stop for winter, and competitive winter racing is ongoing in the DMYC Frostbites series and at Monkstown. 2024 promises to be another great year for the fleet, with young sailors pushing to the fore and great events at home and abroad.

Speaking of the latter, at least two Irish teams will be competing in the World Championship at Geelong in Australia in February, and there is already big interest in the European Championship on Lake Maggiore in Italy in September.

Published in Fireball, Youth Sailing
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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).

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating