With a forecast of average winds in the high teens and gusts in excess of 25 knots it would have been very tempting for Tim Rush of North Sails to pick up the phone and cancel his proposed training weekend with the Irish Fireball fleet in Sligo this weekend just past, 21/22 May. However, he didn’t and after an early flight to Dublin on the Friday morning he was soon in the company of Neil Colin traversing Ireland to the west coast location for next month’s Fireball Worlds.

The original plan, to have the training session in Dublin in March, was dropped in favour of a reconnaissance of the Worlds venue, with the added attraction of a pre-regatta workout on the probable area of the racing. However, the wind gods were not prepared to play ball and what evolved was a weekend-long land-based session of classroom and laboratory.  Saturday was spend discussing sail shapes, sail development, particularly in the context of North’s own development plans, recently evidenced by the first Fireball 3DL mainsail from North baptized in the competitive environment by Martyn Lewis at Castle Cove the previous weekend.

As rigging a boat outside to translate the theory into practice wasn’t practical due to a howling SE we brought the laboratory inside, rigging up a Fireball on its side so that Tim could show everyone the influences of kicker, strut, cunningham, rake and rig tension on sail shapes, with the implications for performance in flat and choppy waters and light and breezier conditions.

This also provided an opportunity to impress on everyone the importance of checking out the condition of the boat in advance of a major event, i.e. the Worlds. Attention to the condition of all running rigging, standing rigging, screwed in fittings, rudder fittings and hull condition.

Sunday saw the group joined by SYC’s Brendan Brogan, a winning GP14 National Championships crew, who gave a briefing on the tide patterns with respect to the likely race areas for the Worlds. This included indications of where the mass movement of water could be expected, relevant navigational and landmark references, the impact of local shipping movements relative to the race course (infrequent) and the scenario of a sea-breeze.

Thanks must go to Sligo Yacht Club for the use of their premises for the weekend, in particular, Peter Armstrong who was able to let us in and out and secure the premises when we left. Peter is also the proprietor of the Rosses Point Guesthouse which is one of the accommodation options for the Fireball Worlds.

As this was the author’s first visit to Sligo Yacht Club since their clubhouse was replaced (for the 2006 GP14 Worlds), I can assure you that they have a fabulous facility in a spectacular location. The dry areas of the building are very impressive while the changing facilities are roomy, clean and tidy. Looks like a superb venue for the Worlds regatta in three weeks time!

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