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Displaying items by tag: Fireball

Andy Thompson (50), originally of Larne and East Antrim Boat Club, is one of the most successful international dinghy crews in the world. Yet he is equally successful at keeping himself under the radar, as he never has to spread the word about his exceptional abilities. A significant cohort of top skippers are well aware of the remarkable ability he has to bring out the best in boat and helmsman, for as multiple champion Shane McCarthy of Greystones puts it, “the boat leaps to life when Thompo steps aboard”. And though Andy is as demanding of himself as he is of his helms – and he is definitely demanding of the highest standards – the result at the end is another Gold in a world championship.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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The GUL Fireball World Championship 2022 took place last month at Lough Derg Yacht Club. The event was a huge success, with 79 boats from eleven countries competing.

While the Irish Nationals pre-event was distinctly windy, with gusts of over thirty knots at times, the Worlds were mainly sailed in winds between eight and twelve knots.

The sailing on the large lake was tricky and technical, with shifts and bends, gusts and light patches, with a premium on boat speed and clean starts. But what were the actual experiences of sailors at the event, and in particular what were the winning techniques and priorities which saw the top teams make it to the podium?

Irish Fireballer Frank Miller conducted a Q&A with the top ten boats

10th Place Derian and Andy Scott GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. In the run-up – attended open meetings and Nationals and paid attention to how we were doing on speed & height. Worked to improve on things from that. Boat: Checked all the fittings were secure & working (replaced worn pulleys); replaced worn mainsheet & strut rope; replaced one side of the slot gasket (half came off 2 weeks before the event); replaced the Astro-turf on the trolley; cleaned and polished the hull; checked the mast settings; checked the spare mast settings; used pro-lube on pulleys & cleats; made sure we had a good spares tool kit. Us: Did a lot of work overcoming shoulder injuries (both of us!); made sure we had basic snacks and electrolyte drinks at the event to ensure we kept fed & hydrated while on the water; did less fitness training that we’d have liked!

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making?

A. Mainsail: Hyde, Jib: North (Hyde was too tired!) Spinny: North We knew our boat speed was ok. The conditions were very variable, so we made sure we were regularly questioning if they’d changed and upwind were making a lot of use of changes to jib tension & kicker. I don’t remember raking once during the Worlds! We sailed on 22’6” – that’s our upright.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A.53Kg & 80 Kg

Q. What boat make did you use?

A. 2006 Winder

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air, and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Hard!!! We generally started up the committee boat end as often going right paid, and the line was mostly square. When there was pin bias, we moved towards the pin, but not all the way down.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. We did off and on! Definite bends up the right when the wind was WSW … when it went further right, this didn’t work! We noticed Tom Gillard quite often came in from the left. There were differences in pressure too – Right, but not too far right seemed to have good pressure as did coming in on port at the top of the beat.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. Loved it!

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. A good start with clear air, play the shifts and keep an eye out for pressure changes.

9th Place Christina Haerdi and Cederic Landerer - SUI

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Preparation was minimal. I cleaned the hull and checked for damages. Same for the foils. I missed the problem with the slot gasket, therefore, Ruedi and Cedric did the job of repair during the meetings Monday evening :-(

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making?

A. From the Swiss Nationals, I knew the settings pretty well: Cumulus mast, Spreader length 38cm (according crew weight of 118kg) prebend 2.5 cm (ideally 3cm) therefore with strut position 0.5cm above neutral (e.g., slight pull). Sails North T10 main, North jib, North Spinnaker. Most importantly, I found the constant check of the mainsail leech tension: less wind = less kicker tension = open sail. Opposite in gusts. Less adjustment of jib, but in parallel.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Helm: 53kg, Crew: 65kg

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Duvoisin 2004

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. The line was most often perfectly perpendicular to the wind, and the length adequate to find a nice space. I mostly preferred to stay in the middle; thanks to the opportunity to estimate the transit, the line sagging was minimal. By doing so, we normally had the option of choosing the better side even after the starts. However, whenever we missed getting a clear start, we had to sail to the extremes until getting into clear wind. The chance to be on the correct side was still ok, so even the extreme could pay!

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. Except for the last day, we could not find a pattern. Even within one race, the preferred side could change. The middle normally did not pay. On the last day however, it was very obvious, that the gusts came from the right side. We, therefore, chose to start at the windward side and tack as soon as possible.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. We were positively surprised about our starts and the general boats-peed, which allowed us to get and mostly stay at the front. Anything but frustration :-)

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Self-confidence in us and our boat! If we failed, we could clearly nail the reason. And go on. There were usually good chances to get through to the top flight.

8th Place Isaac Marsh and Ollie Davenport - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Unfortunately, this year we had not been able to find the time to prepare as well as we would have liked, so other than the British nationals, we had not really been in the boat. We took the tactical decision to not touch anything after the nationals as we felt our setup felt fast :)!

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed? Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. We used a full suit of P&B sails (cross cut main) & M7+ mast and stuck to our normal setup of as per the P&B tuning guide. We have always used these and just crossed checked our measurements once in Ireland to check the fairies had not been in the boat and changed anything!

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Olly was 82kg, and Isaac hasn't dared stand on the scales for serval months! at a guess, we would have been around 150-55kg, possibly.

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Winder hull and foils with a P&B fitout

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Starts were crowded and at times it was tricky to hold a clean lane, the important bit was to always have a bail-out plan - the main thing to take off the start was being able to get back over to the side of the course where the boats were getting lifted inside you (which ever one that was)

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. The wind pattern could only be described as shifty! Knowing that there were huge shifts of about 60 degrees at times helped us to stay focused when down the pan as there was always a chance you could convert the race back into a counter!

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. The club did a great job of hosting and the race committee did well to get the number of races in they did. Having everything so compact such as camping and the dinghy park made everything quite relaxing. A wavy sea venue with 20 knots each day would always go down well with us however, I know other teams may have different views!

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. More hours on the water training and racing in various conditions at various venues will always pay off!

7th Place Dave Hall and Paul Constable - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. We knew it could possibly be a light wind week and tried to get a mindset so we were prepared mentally. The problem we have is that we love a good breeze and are very fast in it! So, this was a tough one. At our club we made an effort to race and sail when it was light (and not always fun) to focus our thoughts. We know our boat is fast – it was going to be a mind game.

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed? Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. We use an M7 with P&B sails – a recent change that some may have noticed. We were on our upright setting all week, and only once before a race went to change it before putting it back again. Rake- 6920 we are metric. 25mm prebend.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. I am 68 kg, and Paul is 78kg

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark of course! In case people are not aware, seven of the nine races were won by teams in a Weathermark. Tom & Shandy, Steve & Tom Goacher, Martin & Dan Lewis. The other 2 were won by Claude and Ruedi in a Duvoisin, which is actually the same as the Weathermark

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. We tended to go for the middle of the line, it was hard to choose an out and out end because the direction was often different along the line’s length. It was hard to get off the line – never being able to see the ends, difficult to get a transit and not able to hear the sound signals! We got it right sometimes but also very wrong a few times which shows in the results. One had to get clear to get the first bend or shift – if not it meant a lot of tacking often to the wrong side of the course and the inevitable mid-fleet mess followed by a slow climb back to a respectable position (for us, you understand!). Otherwise, it was standard stuff, trying to ensure there is a gap to leeward and not getting rolled while not being over.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. It reminded me of Chew Valley. Rolling shifts coming over or around the headland just to the right of the windward mark. One knew a shift would come and it wasn’t always the one you would want. I’m not sure there was a pattern, sometimes the clouds gave a hint but sometimes they would just approach, and we would have no idea until they hit. We had one shift that was so abrupt that it tacked us into a capsize (we weren’t the only ones from the top 10 I understand). The last day was interesting. After a mediocre start, we found ourselves on the wrong end of the massive bend up the first beat. After a good reach, we found ourselves in a better position at the leeward mark and got into a rhythm with the wind to claw back some places.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue or frustrated?

A. It was what we expected. I did hope we might get a couple of days like the Nationals with an Atlantic low sweeping across the country just to have a sort out! The club as a venue was great, all together meant there was good chat and lots of chances to meet new people and get reacquainted with people we had not seen since 2018.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Better ask Tom (Gillard); while we struggled a lot of the time, he was on top the game and rarely seemed to put a foot wrong. When he did his attention to what was going on brought him back.

6th Place Martin and Daniel Lewis - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. What with Covid and my university/work commitments, my father and I hadn’t sailed together since the French Worlds in Carnac about four years ago! So, when we agreed to do the worlds in Ireland, we decided we should probably get some practice in to see if we remember how to sail. So, in preparation, we sailed the 60th-anniversary regatta at Hayling Island and the Irish Nationals / pre-worlds at (of course) Lough Derg. Neither of these were particularly helpful for the wind conditions we saw at the worlds; both were very heavy wind events. However, they were certainly a good reminder of what it felt like to be on the water again.

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. We sailed a Cumulus mast, a North Sails t-10 mainsail, North Sails jib and North Sails spinnaker. Our rig setting was anywhere between 22”4 and 22”8 depending on wind, though the settings we tweaked during the pre-worlds (22”4) were mostly useless during the worlds as we tended to be bolt upright for the majority of the Worlds. Saying that, there were a few times we would adjust the rig for more bend (22”6) when a squall would come through before a race or let the rig off slightly during a race as a temporary fix. We have seen an intriguing contraption which allows you to fully adjust the rig during racing though, which seemed to work on the off-wind legs of the particularly light days.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. We sail a somewhat untraditional weighting where the majority of the weight is in the back (Helm: 83kg), but we still have the height on the wire (Crew: 70kg). Note: only useful when putting the kite up and down in big breeze and waves...

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. I come from fleets which tend to sail flights in big events, but I must confess, I much prefer a single start line; it makes for far more exciting and close racing and seem like much less fuss to organise for the race committee, even if we do push the line a bit! One thing a long line does provide though is a massive line-sag, so we found it fairly easy to trigger early and find a clear lane in the middle to take us up the first beat. On those occasions where we didn’t have the greatest of starts, our strategy had to be finding the earliest opportunity to tack off into a lane and go out right into the clear air (especially important in a light breeze).

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. Though we do not profess to be experts in meteorology and topography, we had some theories that we relied on in those days where the wind was blowing a south-westerly. The first thing we noted was that the shifts were big and usually lasted a good enough amount of time to tack on each one as they arrived so you could benefit from every lift up the beat. It is true that there were some races where banging the favoured corner would put you on top but as a rule, we tended to read the compass and take the shifts up the middle, and it seemed to work! Secondly, we saw an island right at the top of the beat and concluded that the breeze seemed to funnel either side of said island, so (again only as a rule of thumb) mid right seemed to be favoured on the beats. On the off-wind legs, it was important to keep your head out the boat and stay in the gusts of breeze that were coming down the course, usually either side of that island. The gusts were quite easy to see on the water, but missing one was usually the decider on who made it to the bottom mark first.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. Though we are lake sailors so this may be slightly biased, we were extremely satisfied with the venue. It had an abundance of sailing area and the wind was good for the majority of the event. It is also hard to be frustrated when you knew you had free beer tokens waiting for you onshore!

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. In our experience, the most important thing for a good result was a good start where you can take the first big shift and cross the fleet so you weren’t dragged out to one side. It was also important to check for weed, it’s hard to go fast when you’re dragging!

Fireballs converge on a leeward mark on Lough derg Photo: Oisín HigginsFireballs converge on a leeward mark on Lough derg Photo: Oisín Higgins

5th Place Jiri Paruzek and Jakub Kosvica - CZE

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. No special preparation. We just visited as many Fireball events in our homeland as we could to get as many hours on the water under our belt as possible. So mainly much smaller lakes than Lough Derg!

Q. What was your rig and sail combination? What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making

A. Super Spars M7 and North Sails. We use the figures from general NS tuning guide, no fine-tuning on our side - we don't have conditions to do so and we like just to sail more. It worked to an expected level - what we're used to. (Btw. North Sails have a nice all-round tuning guide for Fireballs.)

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. 68 / 90 kgs

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark Sailboats.

Q. How difficult were the starts? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. I would say it was not that important to start close to an end, which was clearly helpful, probably because of the length of the beat, as you still had a lot of room to make up for that slight advantage - and you could find a less congested spot down the line. We had like four good, two OK and three not so good starts - don't know if you can draw some conclusion from that.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. We found approaching the windward mark from left wing helpful more often than not, though it definitely wasn't always the case (ask Heather and Chris!). It was better to ignore shifts of 10 or less degrees if the wind direction was more or less from the windward mark - which we sometimes didn't and ended up overstanding.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. It was nice. The shifts were nowhere near as brutal and frequent as they can be in Czechia. We also got lucky with the wind direction being mostly the same and possibly best there can be, I guess. We would have liked a bit more wind, though. Not sure if we could get a better result, as there were more crews who do better in stronger winds, but we would have definitely enjoyed it more.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. No surprise there: boat speed at/right after start. It didn't always guarantee a good result and you could still do well with a bad start, as we had few (e.g., in our first race), but it is the best way to get top results consistently - and that's the absolute key.

4th Place Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella - IRL

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Myself and Conor bought a boat again at the end of 2021 after a few years out of class from Carnac Worlds 2018. We did UK Inlands to learn where the fleet was at then did some winter Frostbite dinghy racing (when it was on) in Dun Laoghaire until March 2022. Barry was away with work in the US for 4 months then until July when resumed some sailing once more. We both lost some lockdown weight pre-empting a lighter regatta and practiced mostly on lakes in Ireland - Blessington then Lough Derg approx. 4 weekends with a few other Irish teams when there was wind. This was before the Irish Nationals/Worlds were scheduled mid-August. We both kept fit outside of sailing by some cycling and running, plenty of walking the Tullamore show and at times practising pints of Guinness too! :P

Q. What was your rig and sail combination?

A. M7 Superspar rig with chocks and puller. P&B sails crosscut ODL06 mainsail, full jib and standard P&B spinnaker (in brilliant green!). No issues, all worked well and was quite happy with setup.

Q. What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well?

A. Standard Fireball tuning guide, light week <12knots so was in 22'8" full rake all week, tension 400lbs, prebend 27-30mm, chocks neutral mostly. Settings were fine, boat felt balanced, setup for max power while still able to hold lanes if needed. A bit more wind would have suited us a bit more compared to some of lighter teams but we were okay.

Q. What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making?

A. On the water sometimes played the jib cars in/out from centreline and used the jib up/down depending on slot shape, focus on keeping the jib tell-tale flying/edge of stall. Centreboard down mostly or up a little when full trapeze wishing to go lower & faster e.g., to a side of course if thought it may be favoured.

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Helm 68-69kg, Crew 80-82kg so around 150kg combined weight so a good in-between weight for various wind ranges. As it turned out, it was a lighter event so a spread of conditions may have suited us more.

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Winder Hull built 2013 in the UK, standard fitout by Allen with chocks & puller, winder foils, boat no. 15093.

Q. How difficult were the starts?

A. Start-lines had 80 boats on a line start. There was generally enough room but certainly got crowded on the ends when one was favoured. The key was to ensure to have the correct timing, be in front row, accelerating before the go to ensure you were not spat out the back. On the starts due to the long line, (1.5 boat lengths x80 Fireballs) there were large fluctuations in bias due to the wind moving 10-30 degs and often more made it hard to pick which end would definitely be favoured at gun-go. Getting away from the start clear, with options to get to better pressure one side, or getting onto lifted tack early was vital.

Q. How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. If we had a good start, it was easier to maintain clear air but even still boats 10 lengths to weather could pick up better breeze than you. We often went towards a middle side on starts so as not to be too affected by a large shift and prioritised where we wanted to be 100-200m up the first beat in terms of wind pressure, ensure we were sailing in clear air and sailing the lifted tack. Don't be afraid to duck a few boats if it means getting on the lifted tack/into a better breeze. As helm I could focus on speed & Conor as crew was great at boat balance & making calls. The couple times we didn't do that i.e., sail towards a side that looked like it was working early on for boats-we ended up sailing a header in and header back out in reality which meant we got eaten up by the fleet. Instead, one had to trust instincts sailing in pressure, and on the favoured tack and trust that eventually the oscillation would come back (80% of time it did)

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. Wind was oscillating typically back and forth, first day 5-20degs, other days 20-40degs and last day close to 80degs. It typically did follow the forecast predicted direction throughout the day but maybe the timing could never quite be predicted. A few times the wind did hold certain direction or stayed one side was maybe when close to an island. It was hard to follow and important to keep eyes out of boat, further up the course for any breeze/clouds coming (which certainly Gilly did better than anyone else since he was always fast)

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. Overall we really enjoyed the event. It was great to sail in a big fleet of 80 boats in an international, competitive, rewarding boat to sail such as the Fireball and especially in our case since we were in Ireland, our home nation so was extra special. The Irish hospitality was second to none and even I was amazed at the effort put in by LDYC and the Irish Fireball Association so job well done. Sailing wise, the Pre-worlds were on the upper wind of sailing 20kts+ but lots of fun even though capsized too many times! The main week of worlds was much lighter <12kts all week and suited lighter teams but meant more tactical & probably closer racing. Due to the big shifts, it meant a lot of boats made their way to the front at different points so kept it interesting compared to a pure boat speed, little tactical decision-making racing (even though we would have enjoyed that too as we normally sail on the sea and waves!) :)

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Enjoying ourselves, not taking it too seriously and remembering even if the racing wasn't going so well, we were choosing to be there and could not pick many better places than Lough Derg. No matter what place we were in, we were sailing a terrific boat against other great sailors, getting to know many more people on the water and had great craic! Easily beats 1-1.5 weeks of work, that's for sure and after looking forward to it for so long, just have fun! However, the most important thing was of course the love and support of our wives and girlfriends! (Well just 1 each in reality but they kept us honest and our egos in check throughout the last few months!) :P

3rd Place Heather MacFarlane and Chris Payne - AUS

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. We prepared by sailing by ourselves in Melbourne and tried to get out on the water 3-4 days a week but we often had issues with conditions. We worked mainly on boat handling on each leg type: upwind, run, wiring run, reach; mark roundings and lots of slow boat speed manoeuvres.

Q. Weights, Rig and Sails

A. Simple answers are Heather is 52 kg and I am 74kg. We used winder hull super spar M7. P&B cross cut main and Irwin (Australian) jib and spinnaker. We were on upright rake for almost all races (should have been all). Had a lot of rig tension to induce bend and had strut all the way forward. We measure that as 22’8” rake. Pre-bend is 45mm at neutral and strut forward making it bigger.

Q. How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. We discovered right seemed to pay with bigger lifts so we often started at the starboard end and tacked as soon as possible. This sometimes worked against us when the shifts came in from the left. We felt like the edges of the fleet were easier to get clear wind, so close to port end or close to starboard end.

2nd Place Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser - SUI (based on a phone conversation)

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. Claude acknowledges that their lake sailing experience was a big advantage at Dromineer, though they actually prefer strong winds. He feels comfortable making judgements about shifts and felt that primarily the wind pattern on Lough Derg was oscillating winds. However, they were conservative during the much windier pre-event/Irish Nationals at LDYC where gusts reached 30 knots – this was due to a back injury suffered by Ruedi earlier in the year, and to protect the boat, mast and themselves from injury or damage just before the worlds. During one very windy race at the Pre-worlds they discovered they had rigged the spinnaker sheets the wrong way through the ratchet blocks, making spinnaker adjustment somewhat difficult.

Q. Weight and rig, sails.

A. Crew weight 64kg/80kg Rig - Mast upright, Pre-bend 2.5 Interestingly they used a P&B sail from 2018 stored since Carnac Worlds and not used since. Sails cross-cut main and standard jib. They use older sails for local and regional Swiss events and still get top results with those (!).

Q. How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Found starts difficult enough, they opted to stay away from crowded areas for a clean start. In the event of a messy start, they had enough boat speed and good handling to get into clearer air in a few tacks. Asked how they managed to hold height in their lane with good speed after the start Claude put it down to experience and careful steering through any waves, mainsheet in hand all the time being played and avoid being stopped by a wave at all costs. Claude puts a big part of their success down to teamwork, moving together to make the boat work – “like ballet!”

Q. Choice of boat

A. Their Duvoisin boat, one of the first wide-bowed boats, is nearly 20 years old.

*Glitch - They had an interaction with the jury during one race. While playing the small waves during a race, moving their weights to help balance and steer the boat down the waves, they were aware that the jury was watching but confident that their movements were legal. However, they were penalised by the jury and had to drop their spinnaker and do a 720. Claude is still perplexed by this and feels the jury were wrong in this case. Happily, their lead on the nearest boats meant that they didn’t actually lose a place.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. The single most important thing for Claude was self-confidence and being settled in the boat. On the penultimate evening of the worlds, with everything to play for, he received a motivational call from his son Yves Mermod, a top 470 sailor, which helped spur them to their second race win in the final race of the Worlds.

Fireball Championship winners Tom Gillard and Andy ThompsonFireball Championship winners Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson

1st Place Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson - GBR

Q. How did you prepare for the event?

A. We only prepared with boat work. Making the boat as close as possible to what we used to use many years ago.

Q. What was your rig and sail combination?

A. North sails full standard suit. Selden Cumulus mast

Q. What kind of settings/tuning did you use to get up to speed. Did that work, and if so, how well? What kinds of adjustments did you find yourself making.

A. We were confident that old numbers would work in this class

Q. What was your approx. helm/ crew weight?

A. Helm 75kg approx., Shandy 79kg

Q. What boat maker did you use?

A. Weathermark

Q. How difficult were the starts>? How hard was it to get into clear air and what kind of strategy did you use to ensure clear air and maximum speed?

A. Wind shifts were everything. We had a poor start in almost all the starts.

Q. Did you identify a wind pattern and were you able to make the most of that knowledge?

A. wind patterns were very readable.

Q. Were you satisfied overall with the venue, or frustrated?

A. Venue and hospitality were absolutely on point with what is expected of a world championship.

Q. What was the most important thing in your experience for a good result at LDYC?

A. Head out of the boat at all times. Judging angles of other boats can assist you greatly in picking the correct side of the course to head to. We normally prefer the windier conditions so pretty happy with our result.

Published in Fireball
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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.

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Tom Gillard of Sheffield Vikings and Shandy from East Antrim Boat Club in N. Ireland dominated today’s racing at the GUL Fireball Worlds in Lough Derg in County Tipperary.

Another two races were sailed today and Gillard and Shandy won both comfortably, to give themselves a 17pt cushion going into the last day. Race Officer, Con Murphy, had his hands full today with a wind that fluctuated left and right but was reasonably steady in strength. In both races he had to move the weather mark in order to keep the race a fair contest. In Race 1 he set the fleet a 1.1mile beat on a bearing of 230° but was being constantly fed information on wind strength and direction from his weather mark layer and the pin end boat some 450m away. In Race 2 he stretched the beat by another 0.1 of a mile and with a weather mark that was slightly left of the mark used for the first race.

Jane Butler & Jenny Andreasson (IRL 14990) and Derian & Andy Scott (GBR 14941) make their way to the finish from Mark 3Jane Butler & Jenny Andreasson (IRL 14990) and Derian & Andy Scott (GBR 14941) make their way to the finish from Mark 3

Even from a distance, we could see that a Dacron-sail Fireball was first around the mark in Race 1 This was IRL 14378. The significance of this achievement is that the boat in question is a wooden boat and in 1995 this won the Fireball Worlds in the hands of John Lavery & David O’Brien, sailed out of the National Yacht Club. For this regatta, it is being sailed by Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell out of Lough Ree Sailing Club.

As for the business end of the race, Gillard and Shandy took the lead on the first reach and never really looked back. In this race they were chased by the Aussies, Heather & Chris and by the Swiss, Claude and Ruedi.

At the leeward mark of the triangle, the chasing group, behind Gillard & Shandy was Claude & Ruedi, Ben & Alexander, Xavier Broise & Trystan Robin (FRA 14779), Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141) Brenda & Oscar Hoult (GBR 14977), David Hall & Paul Constable (GBR 15155), Heather & Chris (AUS 15152), the Italians, Fabio & Adriana (ITA 15054) and Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix (IRL 14750)

The fleet adjusted to the changing wind but the winners led the fleet home for their fourth win of the series. Behind them, the finishing order was Heather & Chris, Mermod & Moser, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093), who staged a magnificent recovery because they were well back at the leeward mark, Bateman & Chaix, Broise & Robin, Hall & Constable, Daniel & Harry Thompson (IRL 15156), Derian & Andy Scott (GBR 14941) with David Sayce & Gareth Edwards (GBR 15112) closing out the top ten.

Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix on their way to the finishChris Bateman & Thomas Chaix on their way to the finish

Mermod & Moser’s result is particularly commendable as they were pinged by the Jury on the approach to the first leeward mark and apparently capsized later in the race as well.

After another adjustment for the breeze, which was creeping up above the 10knot mark, the fleet got away to another clean start, although there was some bunching at the committee boat end. One or two boats pushed the envelope, one with an Irish number, but even these corrected themselves.

For Race 2 of the day, a 1.2mile beat was set on a bearing of 235° and the fleet reached the weather mark in eighteen and a half minutes. Again, the white spinnaker of Gillard & Shandy was the first to show and again, they pulled away from the fleet. Sixteen and a half minutes later, they were leading the fleet around the leeward mark with the chasing pack in the following order; Mermod & Moser, Anthony & James Wilcocks (GBR 14928), McCartin & Kinsella, Martyn Lewis & Daniel Lewis (GBR 15151), Sayce & Edwards, Kevin Hope & Russell Thorne (GBR 15133), MacFarlane & Payne, Katie Byne & Lia Horne (GBR 14833), Josh Porter & Cara McDowell (IRL 14695) and Chris Owen & Andy Service (HKG 14754).

The majority of the fleet initially took a hitch to the right-hand side of the beat and then took a long starboard tack to work their way up the middle and left of the course. At 14:36 the leaders went around the weather mark for the second and last time with a lead that was insurmountable, thus recording a fifth win of the series and the third in a row.

Behind them came Mermod & Moser, Lewis & Lewis, Sayce & Edwards, McCartin & Kinsella, Hope & Thorne, Wilcocks & Wilcocks, MacFarlane & Payne, Broise & Robin and Bateman & Chaix.

Thus, the situation tonight (Thursday) is that Gillard & Shandy are sitting on 13pts with a 17pt cushion to second place which is occupied by MacFarlane & Payne (30pts), with Mermod & Moser a further 2pts astern. McCartin & Kinsella are the leading Irish in 4th place overall (36pts), with the first of the Czechs, Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141) 5th with 47pts.

Three points separate the Lewis father and son combination and David Hall & Paul Constable in 6th and 7th respectively, with Derian & Andy Scott (GBR 14941) in 8th, (73pts), Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport (GBR 15162) (82pts), 9th and Christina Haerdi & Cedric Landerer (SUI 14859) closing out the top ten on 89pts.

Other places;
11. Steve & Tom Goacher, GBR 15145, 93pts
12. Josh Porter & Cara McDowell, IRL 14695, 95pts
13. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix, IRL 14750, 98pts
14. Kevin Hope & Russell Thorne, GBR 15133, 99pts
15. Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek, CZE 15019, 108pts
19. Xavier Broise & Trystan Robin, FRA 14799, 121pts
26. Mianne Erne & Clay Poulson, SUI 15063, 189pts
30. Chris Owen & Andy Service, HKG 14754, 209pts
33. Fabio Palermi & Adriana Curcio, ITA 15054, 215pts
46. Richard & Liam Quinlan, CAN 14547, 299pts
70. David Laing & Clarissa Dee, RSA 14877, 448pts
79. Andres Gonzalez & Ana Maria Grande Martin, ESP 14244, 550pts.

Tomorrow’s forecast is suggesting a new wind direction altogether, a NNW going NW. Will that trigger a change in the running order. It doesn’t seem likely, but we wish fair winds to all those sailing tomorrow.

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The dinghy park at Lough Derg Yacht Club, hosts to the GUL Fireball World Championship, is quiet this morning! Is that down to Irish hospitality on Crews’ Night? Or is it rather that the sixth race of the World Championship programme was completed on Tuesday afternoon. For those seasoned international competitors, you know it has to be the latter!

A further three races were completed yesterday, again is light to slightly stronger winds that presented challenges to both the race management team and, of course, the competitors.

When the committee boat took up station in the start area, the wind strength was measured at above 6 knots, not by huge numbers but enough to justify the start of racing. During the first two races this grew and on occasion got into double figures, but more at the 10, 11, 12 range. An occasional reading of 14/15 knots was noted but these were very short sharp blasts.

The other issue for IRO Con Murphy was that the breeze was flicking right and left and that made for a difficult decision as to what number to set his weather mark at. There was continuous chatter between the committee boat, the pin end boat and the weather mark to monitor wind strength and direction.

Race 4, the first of the day got away to the most perfect start under a U Flag that any race officer would wish for. A row of Fireball bows stretched the length of the line, with absolutely no sag in the middle. It is a rare sight and regrettably not one we were able to get a justified photograph of. Within a short distance off the line the fleet was spread across the width of the course from left to right, east to west. The beat was around the one-mile mark and post-race I was advised that the first boat around was Niall McGrotty & Joris Rooney (IRL 14938).

This is not a combination that has featured in any of the reports from this regatta. Why? Because they are a brand-new, out of the box combination. Niall’s crew was forced out of the regatta due to illness and Joris was recruited overnight. A Mirror sailor, the first time he stepped in a Fireball was Tuesday morning. Niall advised me that they took their time getting set up for the spinnaker which is why he doesn’t feature in my first leeward mark rounding report.

The lighter winds seem to have suited our antipodean visitors, Heather MacFarlane & Chris Payne (AUS 15152), because at the leeward mark they had a healthy lead. I am unable to tell you which way they went up the beat because of the length of that leg, but by the leeward mark they had a 150m lead on the fleet. Behind them the chasing park consisted of a multi-national pack including FI Commodore Christina Haerdi & Cedric Landerer (SUI 14859), Tom Gillard and Shandy (GBR 15122), Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093), Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141), the Willcocks brothers Anthony & James (GBR 14928), Kevin Hope & Russell Thorne (GBR 15133) and Katie Byne & Lia Horne (GBR 14883).

Up the next beat the favoured side seemed to be the left initially but some of the boats took a hitch across before a long port tack. At the finish, the order was as follows, Gillard & Shandy, MacFarlane & Payne, Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek (CZE 15019), Ed Butler (Jr) & Fionn Conway (IRL 14969), and Paruzek & Kosvica (CZE 15141).

Race 5 required a postponement and a General Recall before it got away. The symmetry of the first race start was absent as there was a bunching towards the pin end of the start line. The wind was getting closer to the 8/9 knots mark at this stage but was still moving around. Again, this led to a wide spread of boats across the width of the course.

In the Pre-Worlds, rec spinnakers had dominated the opening stretch of the top reach. For the Worlds, some of these were sporting new downwind colours, but the dominant colour at the front was white – a la MacFarlane & Payne and Gillard & Shandy. However, in this race a silver/grey spinnaker was making a huge difference to its owners, father and son combination, Martyn & Daniel Lewis (GBR 15151) as they powered over boats in front of them en route to the gybe mark. By the leeward mark, the running order and spinnaker colour was MacFarlane & Payne, (white) Lewis & Lewis, (silver/grey) Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799), (white), McGrotty & Rooney (IRL 14938) (blue), Mianne Erne & Clay Poulson (SUI 15063) (light blue/red) and Alistair Court & Gordon Syme (IRL 15167) (blue).

The approach to the second beat saw more boats working a middle and right aspect of the course and the boat to benefit most appears to have been David Hall & Paul Constable (GBR 15155), whom I didn’t pick up through binoculars at the gybe mark but on the downwind leg of the sausage their yellow and black spinnaker was rather conspicuous. Indeed, they looked to be putting in a strong challenge to Lewis & Lewis approaching the leeward mark from different directions. Race 5’s finishing order saw the fleet led home by Lewis and Lewis, holding off Hall & Constable, followed by MacFarlane & Payne, Mermod & Moser and Katie Byne & Lia Horne (GBR 14883).

Race 6 was set at three laps partly due to the running time of the first two races, marginally short of target time and partly due to stronger wind. This time the log jam was at the committee boat end and one of the combinations to suffer most from that was a high-profile Irish combination. Yet again, the fleet spread very quickly across the course. At the weather mark, white, blue and green spinnakers were to the fore and the first three boats looked to have broken away from the rest of the fleet. By the leeward mark, the running order was as follows: Gillard (GBR 15122/white), Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix (IRL 14750/blue), MacFarlane (AUS 15152/white), McCartin & Kinsella (IRL 15093/green), Mermod (SUI 14799/white), Haerdi (SUI 14859/can’t remember), Lewis (GBR 15151/silver grey) and Josh Porter & Cara McDowell (IRL 14695/blue).

As the fleet approached the leeward mark for the second time, the conspicuous absence of the committee boat would have alerted them to the fact that things were not as they should be. The dropping wind strength necessitated a change of plan and the Race Officer settled on a shortened course at the gybe mark. From that vantage point, the tactic for the last beat was to go right and then sail a long starboard tack leg to the weather mark.

The finishing order therefore was; Gillard, MacFarlane, Mermod, McCartin, Bateman.

With six races complete, we were back on programme and all those loosely made plans for lay-day could be fulfilled. Tuesday night also saw the hearing of two protests and another protest was withdrawn due to “an out of court settlement” with the knowledge of the Jury Panel.

Following racing, the SUP Games took place in the inner harbour in front of the club. Organised and refereed by Jane Butler and Barry McCartin, they featured individual races, backward racing and an international relay race. The RRS wouldn’t have covered some of the on the water transgressions, but they attracted a lot of spectators with much cheering on for the competitors.

The “discretionary daily prize-giving” by the Irish hosts, supported by GUL was delayed pending the outcome of the protests, but was completed before supper – pig on a spit. That was followed by a live jazz band with a special trumpet appearance by French helm Charles La Calvez (FRA 14950).

GUL FIREBALL WORLDS, LOUGH DERG YACHT CLUB, IRELAND. 6 RACES COMPLETE, SINGLE DISCARD.
Helm & Crew Sail No R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Nett
1 Tom Gillard & Shandy GBR 15122 2 8 1 1 6 1 11pts
2 Heather MacFarlane & Chris Payne AUS 15152 12 6 6 2 3 2 19pts
3 Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella IRL 15093 3 4 5 6 9 4 22pts
4 Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser SUI 14799 1 18 4 16 4 3 28pts
5 Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica CZE 15141 7 2 8 5 24 9 31pts
6 David Hall & Paul Constable GBR 15155 8 5 2 17 2 17 34pts
7 Martyn Lewis & Daniel Lewis GBR 15151 9 13 9 13 1 7 39pts
8 Derian & Andy Scott GBR 14941 5 11 7 18 15 10 48pts
9 Christina Haerdi & Cedric Landerer SUI 14859 11 15 32 9 8 6 49pts
10 Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport GBR 15162 10 20 3 7 12 24 52pts

Other placings;
15. Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek, CZE 15019, 75pts
16. Kevin Hope & Russel Thorne, GBR 15133, 75pts
20. Charles La Calvez & Eloise Maussion, FRA 14950 92pts (1st French)
26. Patrice Olivier & Jean-Francois Nouel, FRA 14959, 122pts
34. Fabio Palermi & Adriana Curcio, ITA 15054, 156pts
36. Chris Owen & Andy Service, HKG 14754, 169pts
46. Richard & Liam Quinlan, CAN 14547, 216pts
70. David Laing & Clarissa Dee, RSA 14877, 317pts
79. Andres Gonzalez & Ana Maria Grande Martin, ESP 14244, 391pts

Irish placings, top ten.
3. Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella, 22pts
13. Ed Butler (Jr) & Fionn Conway, 72pts
14. Josh Porter & Cara McDowell, 73pts
18. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix, 83pts
23. Jane Butler & Jenny Andreasson, 110pts
25. Daniel & Harry Thompson, 118pts
27. Niall McGrotty & Joris Rooney, 129pts
29. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, 132pts
30. Adrian Lee & Ossian Geraghty, 146pts
39. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe, 185pts.

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After the loss of two races yesterday, Sunday, to insufficient wind, IRO Con Murphy advised the fleet at the GUL Fireball Worlds that three races would be on the agenda for Monday with an earlier start time of 11:00. He was true to his word as he departed the shore shortly after 10:00 and got the fleet away to a punctual start for Race 1, a two-lap triangle and sausage course. Wind at this stage was of the order of 8knots with occasional fluctuations above and below this number.

The procession of red spinnakers on Thursday and Friday’s racing last week was broken when a white spinnaker was seen to take the lead at the weather mark, just less than a mile away from this correspondent on the committee boat. It turned out to be the spinnaker of Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799) and they held the lead throughout the race. Behind them we found another white spinnaker but with a mainsail that had a distinctive sailmaker’s label – that of Tom Gillard & Shandy (GBR 15122) and North Sails.

However, the hosts of this regatta, were also well to the fore with the green spinnaker of Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093) in third. Hayling Island’s David Sayce and Gareth Edwards (GBR 15112) would be next in line with Derian and Andy Scott (GBR 14941). The top reach of the triangle looked exciting from our perspective and the second reach was also of a high standard. These ended up being the final positions.

Race 2 was also a two-lap course but with more wind – the knots creeping up to 10 – 12. We also found ourselves with a new running order with Steve & Tom Goacher (GBR 15145) leading the fleet around the course – again quite comfortably. The Czech Republic pairing of Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141) made their way to second place with Mike Deane & Paul Disney (GBR 14778) getting into third. McCartin & Kinsella sailed into fourth with David Hall & Paul Constable (GBR 15155) getting into fifth. The religious conviction that left was the way to go started getting diluted in this race as more boats set off for the second weather mark by taking a hitch to the right. Also, on the downwind leg of the sausage, the fleet was more inclined to split left and right.

Having completed the two races slightly ahead of schedule, the Race Officer decided to give the fleet a three-lap third race – triangle-sausage-triangle. After another clean start in winds that were consistently above ten knots, the North jockeys, Gillard & Shandy had a very substantial lead. Indeed, the first three or four boats had pulled away from the body of the fleet and all looked comfortable. The balance of the podium places on the water were filled by Hall & Constable and Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport (GBR 15162), the P&B jockeys, but McCartin & Kinsella were in the chase as well as Mermod & Moser and Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne (AUS 15152). During the latter stages of the race the wind started to fade but never got below the 5knot threshold.

Hall & Constable chased down the leaders and by the last leeward mark there were only boat-lengths between them. Marsh & Davenport took third, followed by Mermod & Moser. McCartin & Kinsella were the best of the Irish again in 5th, with Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (IRL 15061) coming home in 17th.

GUL Fireball Worlds – Top Ten (after three races)

GUL Fireball Worlds, Lough Derg Yacht Club.

 

Pos.

Sail No.

Crew

R1

R2

R3

Nett

1

GBR 15122

Tom Gillard & Shandy

2

8

1

11pts

2

IRL 15093

Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella

3

4

5

12pts

3

GBR 15155

David Hall & Paul Constable

8

5

2

15pts

4

CZE 15141

Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica

7

2

8

17pts

5

GBR 15145

Steve & Tom Goacher

6

1

11

18pts

6

SUI 14799

Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser

1

18

4

23pts

7

GBR 14941

Derian & Andy Scott

5

11

7

23pts

8

AUS 15152

Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne

13

6

6

25pts

9

GBR 15151

Martyn & Daniel Lewis

10

13

9

32pts

10

GBR 15162

Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport

11

20

3

34pts

               


Full results below

Another three races are scheduled for tomorrow with another 11:00 start. 

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There was no sailing today at the GUL Fireball World Championships on Lough Derg in County Tipperary.

The Race Officer held the fleet ashore as there was no wind in the proposed race area. He went afloat in a rib to assess the wind and recorded speeds of less than two knots.

When the Race Committee went afloat, the wind strength did not reach the minimum requirement set by the Race Officer.

It flickered above the 5-knot minimum briefly but never developed across the course. N over A was signalled at 16:15.

Fireball World Championships on Lough Derg

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The Pre-Worlds phase of the GUL sponsored Fireball World Championships started off yesterday morning in much the same way as it had concluded the day before – with lots of breeze, from a broadly similar direction - 240°. However, early on in the morning it brought in rain as well but by race time the rain had disappeared leaving us with the odd short sharp shower.

A reduced fleet came out to the race area and maybe by way of being a smaller fleet, the starts got off that much smoother though they were all under a “U-flag”. The majority of the fleet decided that left was the way to go on the beats, though conventional wisdom in these parts apparently suggests that “when it comes from Hare, go to Clare”, Hare being an island in the racing area and Clare being the right-hand shore of the Lough. Certainly, in one of the latter races of the day there was a noticeable difference in angle of sailing between the solitary boat that worked the Clare side of the course and the rest of the fleet.

In the first race of the day (Race 4) wind speeds in excess of 20knots were being regularly recorded on the committee boat’s anemometer, getting as high as 26knots is some of the more severe gusts that came through. That would explain some of the two-sail reaching across the top reach of the course after a 1-mile beat. However, the same three red spinnakers of Messrs Marsh & Davenport (15162), Paruzek & Kosvica (15141) and Bateman & Chaix (14750) dominated the occupancy of the leading bunch. Further back we could see the green spinnakers of another Czech boat and Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (15093). At the leeward mark for the first time the sequence of rounding was, 15162 (Marsh & Davenport), 14750, (Bateman & Chaix), 15141 (Paruzek & Kosvica), 14941 (Derian & Andy Scott), 15061 (Noel Butler & Stephen Oram), 15152 (Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne), 15093 (McCartin & Kinsella) and in eighth, 15091 (Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek). The approach to the second beat was mixed, some when right for a short period before heading left, others tacked immediately at the mark.

Kinsella & McCartinKinsella & McCartin

Gilmartin, Bateman & ChaixGilmartin, Bateman & Chaix

Gilmartin, Butler & OramGilmartin, Butler & Oram

Paruzek & KosvicaParuzek & Kosvica

The downwind leg of the sausage was high speed stuff, some flew bags, others didn’t, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour.

The finishing order for the race was 14750, 15162, 15141, 15019, CZE 15163 (Milan & Matej Snajdr), GBR 15112 (David Sayce & Gareth Edwards), 15093, AUS 15152 (Heather McFarlane & Chris Payne), 15061, GBR 15145 (Steve & Tom Goacher).

Race 5 saw a slight abatement in the wind with less of the 20+ knots being registered though still in the high teens. Again, the favoured approach to the beat was to go left and the same three red spinnakers were broken out after the weather mark – Marsh, Paruzek and Bateman. Again, the action was fast and furious, even under two sails on the off-wind legs. The latter half of the race saw a further drop in wind strength but it had little impact on the placings on the water. The same three boats occupied the podium places with the finishing order being Paruzek & Kosvica (15141), Bateman & Chaix (14750) and Marsh & Davenport (15162). McCartin & Kinsella took 4th, ahead of Snajdr & Snajdr (15163), Butler & Oram, Kubovy & Rocek, Frank Miller & Conor Flynn (IRL 14915), GBR 15096 (Michael & Adam Whitehouse) and tenth, GBR14753 (John Cowper & Martin Mills).

 Maussio & LaCalves Maussio & LaCalves

Marsh & DavenportMarsh & Davenport

Gilmartin Ben Graaf & Alexander Farrell

Gilmartin Ben Graaf & Alexander Farrell

By Race Six, the pace of the race started to become positively pedestrian compared to what had got beforehand. Wind readings on the committee boat were getting down to the mid-teens by mid-race but the high-octane and physicality of the preceding two races had taken its toll on the fleet and the start line length was halved for an 18-boat fleet. Yet again the fleet favoured going left and Marsh & Davenport revelled in the conditions building an insurmountable lead by the weather mark. Instead of three red spinnakers at the head of the fleet we could only see two followed by two green spinnakers and again some boats two-sailing the top reach. At the first rounding of the leeward mark the sequence was; 15162, 15141, 15093, 14750, 15061, 15163, 15019, 15145, 15096, IRL 14637 (Tiarnan Brown & Oisin McAllister), FRA 14950 (Charles LaCalves & Eloise Maussio), 14915 and IRL 14213 (David Evans & William Draper). For the downwind leg of the sausage the fleet favoured middle and (their) right and the pace of execution of this leg dropped with the reducing wind strength. It had a minimal impact on the occupancy of the podium places on the water which had been dominated by Marsh, Paruzek and Bateman, with Bateman & Chaix dropping out and McCartin & Kinsella getting into third place.

David Hall & Paul ConstableDavid Hall & Paul Constable

Imogen Hauer & Hugo MickaImogen Hauer & Hugo Micka

Evans and Draper with Joe GilmartinEvans and Draper with Joe Gilmartin

And thus, the Pre-Worlds and Irish Nationals were concluded, finished under a substantially blue sky and moderating winds, though they came back before the afternoon was out.

GUL FIREBALL WORLDS PRE-WORLDS & IRISH NATIONALS FINAL RESULTS

The prize-giving opened with a welcome from Irish Fireball Class Association Chairman, Neil Cramer (IRL 14938) and the prizes were handed out by Lough Derg Yacht Club Commodore Joe Gilmartin. Neil thanked all the volunteers who had worked to get the event to this point but especially mentioned (International) Race Officer Con Murphy for running the two-day event. Con commended the fleet for their efforts and said that it had made for very exciting viewing. Special mention and thanks were also made to recently appointed Class Measurer, Chris Henderson who had been on site from early in the week. As Chris will be en route to Canada for another major regatta from Ireland he won’t be in attendance for the Worlds themselves. Irish Class Measurers Owen Sinnott and Eddie Ferris were thanked for managing the local input to the measuring process.

The presentations for the Pre-Worlds and Irish Nationals were made as follows;

Perseverance Award (Discretionary)
David Evans & William Draper, IRL 14213, for their attempts to finish all six races. David had stepped into a Fireball for the first time the day before racing commences.
Classic Trophy (Irish Class Trophy)
David Evans & William Draper, IRL 14213.
Youth Trophy (Discretionary)
Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister, IRL 14637.
Veteran Trophy (Discretionary)
David Hall & Paul Constable, GBR 15155.
First Lady Helm
Imogen Hauer & Hugo Micka, IRL 14740.
“Silver Fleet” prizes
1. Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister, IRL 14637 (12th Overall)
2. Charles LaCalves & Eloise Maussio, FRA 14950 (13th Overall)
3. Ben Graff & Alexander Farrell, IRL 14378. (17th Overall)

“Gold Fleet” prizes

1. Isaac Marsh & Oliver Davenport, GBR 15162
2. Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica, CZE 15141
3. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix, IRL 14750.
Irish Nationals (Perpetual Prizes – which don’t leave the island of Ireland).
1st Place – Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix, IRL 14750
2nd Place – Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella, IRL 15093
3rd Place – Noel Butler & Stephen Oram.

Silver Fleet

1st Tiarnan Browne & Oisin McAllister, IRL 14637 (12th Overall)
2nd Ben Graff & Alexander Farrell, IRL 14378 (17th Overall)

Published in Fireball
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So where are they? The hurricanes, we mean. Or more accurately, the “decaying tropical storms” which occasionally make their ominous and often unpredictable way towards Ireland as the Summer progresses and morphs into Autumn. For as it happens, back in May the more pessimistic among us were led to believe we could expect quite a raft of them this summer.

Certainly it’s some time now since news-room reports appeared suggesting that the “acknowledged international agencies” were agreed that all the signs indicated that the approaching summer of 2022 had the makings of a particularly busy year for hurricanes in the western sub-tropical Atlantic, with some of the usual subsequent fall-out adversely affecting Europe’s weather, of which Ireland is the frontier outpost.

But thus far, on the cusp of the final full week of August, we’ve had a decidedly odd summer, with the European weather machine grinding itself into sufficient high pressure action to keep the temperate Atlantic westerlies at bay. While most of us found the virtually windless heatwave weather from North Africa far too much of a good thing – if it was a good thing at any stage – we dreamt of those typical classic Irish days of perfect-sailing temperate westerlies, which in truth are so rare that we remember each one individually.

A decent breeze with some west in it, a generous portion of sunshine, and you’ve Irish sailing perfection – Squibs in action at Kinsale. Photo: Robert BatemanA decent breeze with some west in it, a generous portion of sunshine, and you’ve Irish sailing perfection – Squibs in action at Kinsale. Photo: Robert Bateman

Thus our header photo is there because it is the beau ideal of our sailing weather. When we try to sell Ireland as a sailing venue of the best international standard – indeed, as a sailing venue of better than international standard - then that scene aboard the race-winning J/99 Snapshot is exactly the kind of image that speaks volumes in support of our case.

PERFECTION IS RARE

Yet such perfect days in 2022 have been conspicuous by their rarity. Tedious flat calms have never been far away. And when we do get a breeze, the wind likely as not comes from the nor’east, which is good for neither man nor beast. Recently, it has been sending in lumpy grey seas which meant that at this week’s GP 14 Worlds at Skerries, photographer Bob Givens found himself recording images of disembodied heads and sails in which we’ve to assume that people and boats are attached.

Disembodied experience…..GP14s racing in this week’s Worlds at SkerriesDisembodied experience…..GP14s racing in this week’s Worlds at Skerries Photo: Bob Givens

But whatever has caused it, it certainly hasn’t been any follow-on effect from the very few minor hurricanes which have so far reached the Caribbean this year. For it seems that instead of curving north and then northeast, they simply continued heading on west and have gone clean across Central America to make nuisances of themselves in the Pacific.

Hurricane Katrina on August 23rd 2005, through the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico, and headed for New Orleans. As Katrina made landfall west of Florida, the chances of a later effect on Irish weather were greatly reduced.Hurricane Katrina on August 23rd 2005, through the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico, and headed for New Orleans. As Katrina made landfall west of Florida, the chances of a later effect on Irish weather were greatly reduced.

However, it would be a big mistake to start to feel complacent. The old Caribbean hands are always ready to give out their bit of hurricane-period passage-making warning doggerel, which goes:

July: Stand By;
August: Only If You Must;
September: Remember;
October: All Over.

It used to be preceded by “June: Too Soon”, but there has been a marked tendency in recent years for the season to start earlier, which means that June is no longer too soon to expect tropical storms. Either way, there’s still quite a bit of potential poke left in 2022’s slow-to-start Caribbean hurricane programme, which affects us directly in Ireland in 2022 as the latter part of our season has us hosting an unprecedented number of international and world championships, all of which – when the weather is volatile - place an extra burden on that mysterious group, the International Race Officers.

They are mysterious simply because they are not as other people. If they are worried by the fact that their decisions on any particular day will directly affect the quality of the sport of sometimes hundreds of people, then somehow they don’t show it, whereas ordinary mortals would worry themselves into dithering incompetence.

Broad shoulders. Bill O’Hara of Ballyholme – currently running the GP14 Worlds at Skerries – has an impressive CV which includes being the Main Man in running the Volvo Ocean RaceBroad shoulders. Bill O’Hara of Ballyholme – currently running the GP14 Worlds at Skerries – has an impressive CV which includes being the Main Man in running the Volvo Ocean Race

But the top Race Officers, they have extremely broad shoulders. And it’s quite something to see the effect their arrival has at the venue for some major event. There, the Organising Committee will have been working at an accelerating pace for months or even years, and nerves are becoming frayed. There will have been increasing contact with the Race Officer. But then he or she arrives in person, on time and cool as a cucumber, and the atmosphere changes or the better. The Main Man or the Top Woman is here. The show will go on.

IRELAND’S MANY RACE OFFICERS

It may well be something to do with the fact that, from 1870 onwards, Irish sailing played a disproportionately important role is the development and codification of the International Races of Yacht Racing. But the reality is that we have an elite group of star Irish race officers who can put on a plethora of majors at much the same time without drawing on talent from outside the island. For although the demanding final weekend of the Shannon One Design Centenary at Lough Ree did bring in the services of Suffolk-based Owen Delany for a weekend of difficult decisions, he is of course of Shannon and Dublin Bay origins.

Assessing the situation. David Lovegrove at Race Officer duties. Photo: Judith Malcolm

Thus in a season which has already seen Scorie Walls put in an exemplary performance in her administration of the Mermaid Championship at Foynes while David Lovegrove had to make some difficult but ultimately right decisions in Wave Regatta at Howth, we’re now into a new phase which sees Con Murphy of Dun Laoghaire in charge of the Fireball Worlds on Lough Derg, while back on the east coast, Derek Bothwell will soon be facing up to the J/24 Europeans at Howth after a masterful management of the Squib Easterns there.

Across the bay in Dun Laoghaire, they’ll be looking for the calming presence of David Lovegrove for the SB20 Worlds at the RIYC in September, while the highly-experienced Harry Gallagher of Sutton and Neil Murphy of Howth are no strangers to the hot seat on the Dublin Bay SC Committee Boats.

Con Murphy – currently running the Fireball Worlds on Lough Derg, earlier in the year he called the shots at Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough. Meanwhile, his sailing experience includes holding the Round Ireland Open Sailing Record from 1993 to 2016.Con Murphy – currently running the Fireball Worlds on Lough Derg, earlier in the year he called the shots at Bangor Town Regatta on Belfast Lough. Meanwhile, his sailing experience includes holding the Round Ireland Open Sailing Record from 1993 to 2016.

All the top racing administrators are keen sailors themselves in addition to their multi-tasking abilities as Race Officers. In fact so keen are they in their general enthusiasm to help our sport in a voluntary capacity that they’ll use their unique locations to take the occasional well-judged photograph. Having opened with a photo of the Fastnet Rock being raced round on a glorious day, we’ll close with one taken this week by Con Murphy on Lough Derg as Chris Bateman of Cork Harbour and Thomas Chaix of Tralee Bay win the third race in the preliminaries of the Fireball Worlds, an image which perfectly captures the vision of the absurdly beautiful Lough Derg at its sailing best.

 Lough Derg at its sailing best, with Fireball winners Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix getting into their stride. Photo: Con Murphy Lough Derg at its sailing best, with Fireball winners Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix getting into their stride. Photo: Con Murphy

Published in W M Nixon
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If Mother Nature was considered stingy with her allocation of wind to the 5o5 Worlds recently sailed in Cork and the start of the GP14 Worlds currently being hosted by Skerries, she lavished her bounty on the Fireball Pre-Worlds and Irish Nationals which are the curtain raisers to the Worlds which start on Sunday next.

We woke to grey and slightly overcast conditions and in his briefing to the competitors, International Race Officer, Con Murphy (Dun Laoghaire), indicated that a) we could also expect drizzle and b) the forecast was for the wind to go westwards.

Forty-six boats completed the first race, which was sailed in winds in the high teens and got away reasonably cleanly. The fleet had a three-race agenda for the day so races were restricted to a triangle and a sausage with an offset finish mark, administered from the committee boat which didn’t (voluntarily) move during the first race.

Chris Bateman and Thomas Chaix IRL blast reaching on Lough DergChris Bateman and Thomas Chaix IRL blast reaching on Lough Derg

The P&B liveried boat, sail number GBR 15162 led the race for its entirety, I think as they flew a red spinnaker and there were three of those at the head of the fleet for the off-wind legs of the triangle. As has become the custom, the fleet spilt downwind high-wiring it on both sides of the course. It made for exciting racing as the fleet converged on the leeward mark from opposite sides of the course. If they weren’t always in the lead, they were at the most critical part of the race – on the finish line. Thus, Isaac Marsh & Ollie Davenport opened the regatta with a race win.

Second place went to David Hall & Paul Constable sailing GBR 15155, an experienced duo who relish the stronger winds. The first Irish boat also occupied third place at the finish. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix IRL 14750 were at the head of the fleet for the majority of the race. Bateman has just sailed the 5o5 Worlds in Cork and rumour has it that he thinks the Fireball is a nicer boat to sail in these conditions.

Fourth went to the father/son combination of Martyn and Daniel Lewis (GBR 15151) while the Swiss combination of Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799) took fifth and first of the continental visitors.

For Race 2 the breeze ramped up and became more variable in direction and that signalled problems for the pin end boat which was having difficulty staying on station and eventually had to be replaced with a rib flying the pin end flag. It was a wet station in life! The rising wind took its toll on the fleet with only 24 boats finishing the race and that in part may have been due to the difficulties in getting the second start away. A swinging breeze, a pin end that was moving, multiple attempts at a start under P, U and eventually black flag resulted in three boats being sent home for an early shower. For those who persevered, they were rewarded with another exciting race. We could see the boats scudding across the top reach but negotiating the gybe mark seemed to a bit more challenging. By now the wind speed was routinely going above the 20knot mark on the anemometer on the committee boat. Many chose to two-sail the reach, having seen the difficulties the leaders had.

Race 2 went to the Czech combination, Jiri Paruzek & Jakub Kosvica (CZE 15141), with Davis Hall & Paul Constable second and Bateman & Chaix 3rd and the first Irish boat again. Fourth went to another Irish combination, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 15093), while another Czech combination, Marin Kubovy & Roman Rocek (CZE15019) rounded out the top five. Special mention must be made of Ben Graff & Alexander Farrell (IRL 14378) who were the only boat to fly spinnaker between the leeward mark and the finish line.

By Race 3 the rib on the pin end had been replaced by a Dory and the start that got away was the most conservative of the day. The fleet had almost halved again! Bateman and Chaix arrived at the leeward mark with a considerable lead, that was obvious across the top reach except, we in the committee boat didn’t know that it was them – it was simply another red spinnaker. The P&B boys, Marsh & Davenport were chasing hard and by the time they reached the leeward mark for the second time the Irish lead had been shortened considerably. However, a home win was secured by Bateman & Chaix to end the day on a high for the hosts. Behind Team P&B were the Czechs, Paruzek & Kosvica, ahead of their compatriots Kubovy & Rocek with another Czech boat Milan Snajdr & Matej Snajdr (CZE 15163) fifth.

Thus, with three races complete, the overall situation is as follows;

1. Chris Bateman & Thomas Chaix, IRL 14750: 3, 3, 1, 7pts
2. Isaac Marsh & Ollie Davenport, GBR 15162: 1, 7, 2, 10pts
3. Martin & Daniel Lewis, GBR 15151: 4, 6, 7, 17pts
4. Martin Kubovy & Roman Rocek, CZE 15019: 13, 5, 4, 22pts
5. Milan & Matej Snajdr, CZE 15163: 6, 11, 5, 22pts
6. Steve & Tom Goacher, GBR 15145: 12, 8, 6, 26pts
7. Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, IRL15061: 10, 9, 8, 27pts
8. Michael & Adam Whitehouse, GBR 15096: 16, 13, 9, 38pts
9. Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer, IRL 14938: 20, 20, 11, 51pts
10. Frank Miller & Conor Flynn, IRL 14915: 24, 15, 13, 52pts.

Another three races are scheduled for tomorrow.

Published in Fireball
Page 1 of 41

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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