Fireball World Championship Pwllheli - Final Report

Post date: Aug 29, 2015 10:48:5 AM

The 107 boat Fireball World championships concluded in Pwllheli Wales today with the final two races taking place in winds of c22 knots with big seas and impressive waves adding spice to the finale.After 10 races the world champions are Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton of the UK. The pair overtook the leaders Christian Birrell and Sam Breary (UK) were leading the series by scoring second in each of today's races and judging by prestart manoeuvres their on the water activity may have contributed to the latter's two 4th places today knocking them back to third place overall. James Peters and Flynn Sterritt (UK) were second.Earlier races on Sunday; Monday Tuesday and Thursday in the Fireball Worlds series in Pwllheli Wales also took place in stunning if challenging conditions..With a brace of World and National Champions participating the competition was red hot and in the prevailing conditions even some top sailors were been wiped out by an errant wave or a momentary lapse of concentration. The 8 Irish boats here have been fighting for positions throughout the 107 boat fleet. Best in class are undoubtedly Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella who ended 11th on equal points with Ben Schultz (Aus) who snatched the 10th on tiebreaker. A broken main halyard in race one today cost the Irish pair dearly. Kenny Rumball and Teddy (Brian Byrne) scored 20th overall and Noel Butler/Stephen Oram were 26th. The Clancy Brothers Conor and James were a bit further back in 43rd overall . Jon Evans and Aidan Caulfield sailed solidly in the washing machine seas and lead the rest of the bunch at 75th one place ahead of Frank Miller and Ed Butler who crept ahead of Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer lying 77th. In racing today Friday the gybe mark at times resembled a graveyard as crews tossed a coin to work out on which huge wave they would toss the mainsail across. Behind Miller/Butler were Louise McKenna and Hermine O'Keeffe. This lightweight woman pairing have been sailing fantasticaly well not to say heroically over the two weeks and have headed out in conditions when a significant number of bigger crews have opted to keep their dinghy boots dry. There have been a number of minor injuries : Niall McGrotty retired from one race after a cut above the eye, Cormac Bradleys UK helm Chris Thorne injured his hand and was out of action with Cormac taking up position on a mark boat. Everyone is nursing bruises, stiff backs, shoulders, arms and legs.

Sailing this week was not for the faint hearted : the conditions resembled Dunmore East in terms of massive waves but the wave pattern was frequently disturbed making steering tricky. The waves built steadily throughout the week as 2 depressions delivered South/South West winds sometimes peaking overnight and delivering even bigger waves by the following day. The decision to hoist or two sail a reach has sometimes been dictated by race officer or a change in wind direction but the knowledge of the huge waves further down the reach has tempered many hoisting instincts. Race coach Adam Bowers has been videoing the action giving nightly debriefings and advice which has proved very helpful. Notably Adam has advised easing kicker in the really strong stuff and allowing jib cars out and up so that the slot can breathe throughout its length. This combined with a raised centreboard (up to half up in extreme conditions ) bar tight outhaul and cunningham has allowed us to keep the boats in balance and to plane over the waves rather than stagger through them. One of the key challenges has been keeping the crew attached to the boat and not lost to a rogue wave. For everyone at this 107 boat event sailing a boat as exciting as Fireball has delivered dinghy racing at its most. challenging best. The event will be remembered for many years.

Frank