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2024 Fireball Worlds is Wide Open After Mixed Second Day in Geelong

12th February 2024
Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson (from East Antrim Boat Club) number 15122 in 20 knots of breeze in the second race of the Fireball World Championships in Geelong, Australia
Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson (from East Antrim Boat Club) number 15122 in 20 knots of breeze in the second race of the Fireball World Championships in Geelong, Austrlalia Credit: Down Under Sail

The 2024 Fireball Worlds is shaping up to be one for the ages, with a mix of light and heavy conditions on the second day, and the results so far offer no clear premonitions at this early stage.

Even after four races you can throw a blanket over the top 10, with a number of top contenders all getting moments at the very front of the fleet.

Day 1 leaders Brendan Garner and Ben O'Brien on Black Pearl, who began their regatta with two bullets yesterday, managed a second in Race 4 when the breeze was up, however the light winds in Race 3 may have shown a kink in their armour, finishing with a 16th they will hope to discard.

British hopefuls DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend on Mondo, and Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson (from East Antrim Boat Club) on North Sails Allen Bros Robline, have started to flex their muscle and show they belong at the front of the fleet.

With many overseas teams sailing borrowed boats due to logistics challenges in the lead up to the event, some teething issues have created mixed results at times.

“We've done a lot of boat work because the boat that we're sailing has never been on the water before,” Gillard said.

“(The association has) done an amazing job to all get us hire boats because our container's not here, it’s absolutely brilliant for them to sort everything out.

“(Geelong is) absolutely amazing sailing, it’s glamour, I mean the water temperature, the air temperature, it's all perfect.”

Among the top bunch are two more top South Australian teams, with Ben Schulz and Angus Higgins on Riptide sitting second overall with a consistent scorecard, and Tom Gordon and Jack Fletcher on Cletus also sailing very fast after what has been quite some time out of the boat.

While Gillard and Thompson won the second race today, it was light weather specialists Jalina Thompson-Kambas and Nathan Stockley in Stay Tuned that clinched an important race win in the lighter conditions.

The former Australian Champions haven’t had the start they would have liked in the heavier winds, however with more moderate winds forecast for the next few days they could slingshot themselves right back into the mix.

Australian class veteran John Heywood, sailing at this regatta with Daniel George on Renegade, also showed his experience with an 8,2 score for the day keeping him in the hunt.

With the Australian Championships preceding the Worlds, many of the international teams have been able to use some of the days off to enjoy what Geelong and the surf coast has to offer.

“We did actually manage to have a day out in Torquay down the coastline where the surfing is, it was beautiful down there, absolutely stunning,” Gillard said.

There are two more races scheduled for tomorrow, which will be followed by a lay day where sailors can experience some more of the excellent tourism offerings available in the Greater Geelong area.

Race Results

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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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