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Tom Gillard and East Antrim's Andy Thompson Win Fireball Worlds on Lough Derg

27th August 2022
New World Champions Tom Gillard (Sheffield Vikings) and Andy Thompson (East Antrim Boat Club) GBR 15122
New World Champions Tom Gillard (Sheffield Vikings) and Andy Thompson (East Antrim Boat Club) GBR 15122 Credit: Frank Miller

Lough Derg Yacht Club in County Tipperary, Ireland is quiet this morning! The yacht club, which played host to the 2022 GUL Fireball World Championships over the past seven days, is a scene of tents being dismantled and trailers being prepped for road trips.

In the past few days, the regatta’s WhatsApp site has seen multiple instances of sails and spars and even boats being offered for sale. Teams that came with two boats are going home with three.

And for the fifth time, Tom Gillard is a World Champion Fireball Helm, this time crewed by Andy Thompson. But before all that, a commentary on yesterday’s proceedings.

As predicted, the wing had swung to a more NNW direction and initially, there was some strength to it, of the order of 8 knots and occasionally creeping up to ten knots. However, there was some movement in the wind direction and Race Officer Con Murphy took his time before getting the fleet away.

An initial start under a “U flag” was canned and after an approximate fifteen-minute General Recall he got the fleet away at 11:19. The beat was shortened slightly to make sure the course was out of the wind shadow of the windward shore.

Even so there were modest boat speeds up the beat.

A white spinnaker was the first to show. Who was it? Mermod & Moser, Gillard & Thompson or MacFarlane & Payne. It turned out to be Mermod & Moser, SUI 14799, with Gillard & Thompson, GBR 15122, back in fourth. According to Tom’s pre-race assessment, this wasn’t a crisis. The leaders gybed as per the mark location, but Gillard sailed on by quite some distance before he gybed. Others would follow suit. Asked afterwards why this was happening the answer was a) slightly more wind and b) a better reaching angle. It didn’t cost them anything as they rounded the leeward mark in the same position, fourth.

Mermod & Moser led, followed by Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport (GBR 15162), Christina Haerdi & Cedric Landerer (SUI 14859), Gillard & Thompson (GBR 15122), Josh Porter & Cara McDowell (IRL 14695), Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093), Chris Owen & Andy Service (HKG 14754), Martyn & Daniel Lewis (GBR 15151), Charles La Calvez & Eloise Maussion (FRA 14950) and Patrice Olivier & Jean Francois Nouel (FRA 14959).
Of the initial bunch, Marsh & Davenport took an initial tack to the left-hand side of the course before coming back right which is what the others had done. The wind was easing again as the race progressed, but then more breeze would fill in and the fleet would accelerate accordingly.

At the finish, Mermod & Moser took their second race win, followed by Gillard & Thompson, Haerdi & Landerer, Marsh & Davenport, Porter & McDowell, McCartin & Kinsella, Lewis & Lewis, Owen & Service, La Calvez & Maussion and Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek (CZE 15019).

Gillard’s pre-launch assessment was that even if Mermod & Moser won two races, he only needed a “better than 5th “finish in one race to secure the Worlds. On that basis, he and Thompson were World Champions. However, they showed no inclination to sail home for an early de-rig and shower.

With a fading wind that moved around continuously, Race Officer Con Murphy did his best to get the fleet away for a tenth race. When “stronger” wind came in it came from the north but as it passed through, the direction clocked westwards before flicking back again to the right-hand side. 14:00 came and went with no sign of a stable breeze. 14:30 passed with no improvement and at 14:41 “N over A” was signalled, we had new Fireball World Champions.

It was a fully warranted win, Tom and Andy won five of the nine races, counted two-second places and dropped a sixth and an eighth. They won by a margin of eight points. Second-placed Claude and Ruedi won two races, counted a fourth as their worst score and dropped an eighteenth and a sixteenth. Heather and Chris scored races results in the range 2nd to 8th and dropped a 12th and a 13th to finish third, thirteen points adrift of Claude & Ruedi.

Fireball Worlds, Lough Derg

At last night’s prize-giving, other additional prizes were awarded;

  • Perseverance Trophy: Barbara & Guy Newsome; GBR 14872, (77th)
  • Classic Trophy: David Evans & William Draper; IRL 14213 (54th)
  • Modern Classic: Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister; IRL 14637 (45th)
  • Youth Prize: Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister; IRL 14637 (45th)
  • First All-Female Prize: Katie Byne & Lia Horne; GBR 14883
  • Veteran Prize: Heather MacFarlane & Chris Payne.

As to be expected, thanks were recorded to all those who had contributed to the success of these World Championships – sponsors, LDYC and its members, Fireball International and the Irish Fireball Class Association, whose Chairman, Neil Cramer, was unable to join in “in-person” but did join us via a Zoom link.

From this correspondent, my thanks to all those who listened to me through all the “discretionary daily prize-givings” and the final prize-giving ceremony last night.

Cormac Bradley

About The Author

Cormac Bradley

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Dublin Bay Fireballer Cormac Bradley was appointed Rear Commodore of the International Fireball Class in 2017. He is a regular dinghy and one design correspondent on Afloat.ie

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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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