From  a wet and windy Sligo where another four races were sailed in a building SE wind, it became a case of the fittest having the most fun on the water. Granted there was a World title to be won but the weather took its toll on the fleet with many retrials before the day was done.

The role call of leaders at the first mark of each race was expanded today when Simon McGrotty & Tony Fitzgerald (IRL 14981), and Joerg Nolle  & Roger Leeman (GER 14508)  took the honours in Races 1 & 2 respectively.

The other races were lead around the weather mark by the “usual suspects”. 

The Provisional Results for the regatta have just been posted and the 1-2-3 reads as follows;

1. Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff 16pts
2. Tom Gillard & Sam Brearey 16pts
3. David Wade & Simon Potts 19pts.

Burge/Wagstaff thus take the title on countback. Regrettably, due to my own problems on the water I can’t provide readers with  a blow by blow account of the day’s proceedings but suffice to say everyone will sleep well tonight after their physical exertions.

Burge/Wagstaff scored a 6,2,1,4 to Gillard/Brearey’s  1,3,2,3 with Wade/Potts scoring a  2,1,1,2.

Best of the Irish, in 10th overall is Noel Butler & Stephen Oram, followed by Kenny Rumball & Seamus Moore in 12th and  Simon McGrotty & Tony Fitzgerald in 13th.

Leading lady is Derian Scott in 14th overall.

*** *** ***

The fleet assembled early in Sligo this morning, ready to embrace a day that offered the prospect of 4 races. Yesterday’s layday, in a true application of Murphy’s Law - this is Ireland we don’t use Sod’s Law - the wind blew and some of our British friends and both the Czech boats took advantage to have a session of their own.
As usual the speculation was on what the wind Gods would give us, Ireland’s Sea Area forecast had promised F4 – 5 moderating to F3 – 4, XC Weather were talking of 15 – 20 knots moderating to 10 – 15 knots. That brought varying degrees of pleasure to the fleet!

In the end the wind ranged from 16 – 21 knots during the races with gusts of around 23/24 knots in-between, direction moved during the day.

Conditions were excellent for Fireball sailing with moderate seas and a steady breeze which was its strongest during the first race. 

Three races were sailed today even though the programme was for four. As you can appreciate the reporting of three races in one day can’t allow for the detail that everyone might want so I will instead try and provide a flavour of the day!

The charge to the first weather mark was tight in every race but in the last race in particular, the lead enjoyed by the first three or four boats was very comfortable indeed, not only over each other but relative to the bulk of the fleet. Included in this bunch were Messrs Burge & Wagstaff, Wade & Potts, Horey & Thompson, Gillard & Brearey, Taylor & Anderton, Rush & Pepperdine and Krailing & Saunders. However, black flags were to dictate who were legal finishers and from this bunch came Taylor/Anderton (1st), Gillard/Brearey (2nd) and Schulz/Bowley (3rd).

Schulz & Bowley scored a win in the middle race and were relieved to see the breeze back on the course and were never outside the top 2, losing a place on a gybe mark but recovering to take the gun. Behind them came Gillard/Brearey, Wade/Potts, Horey/Thompson and Krailing/Saunders.

Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff opened the day’s proceedings with the first race win, leading from start to finish. It was to be their only race finish as they are currently sitting with an OCS and a BFD for races 2 and 3. Wade/Potts took second and Gillard/Brearey 3rd.

For some of the other visitors, the day’s breeze saw a change of fortunes. French pair Martin Peculier & Jean-Francois Nouel, who had scored a fifth on Sunday, put together a 21, 15, 24 today to see them into 18th place overall. Canadians Joe Jospe & Tom Egli had a similar day (16, 24, 11) to lie 20th overall.

Among the Irish, Butler/Oram scored a 9, 11, 14 to see them into the top ten with 5 races completed. Immediately behind them are Kenny Rumball & Seamus Moore who had a 12, 9, 10. Third Irish boat is Simon McGrotty & Tony Fitzgerald  in 13th overall. 

5 black flags in race 3 have skewed the overall results, as the combinations who have added these to their points collection include Wade/Potts, Burge/Wagstaff and Horey/Thompson. The International Jury has some work on their hands this evening!  

Thus with five races completed and a single discard kicking in, the status of the Championship is as follows, (provisional pending protests prompted by black flags);

1st. Tom Gillard & Sam Brearey 10pts
2nd. Jonny McGovern & Max Capener 15pts
3rd Alan Krailing & Tim Saunders 21pts
4th Tim Rush & Richard Pepperdine 27pts
5th Alex Taylor & Richard Anderton 29pts
6th David Wade & Simon Potts 29pts
7th Ben Schulz & Phillip Bowley 31pts
8th Noel Butler & Stephen Oram 37pts
9th Kenneth Rumball & Seamus Moore 43pts
10th Martyn Lewis & Richard Byrne 44pts

The conversation ashore this afternoon is flavoured by the disappointment that a fourth race wasn’t sailed. Conditions appeared to be ideal for Fireballs but a fourth race wasn’t sailed as the Race Management Team sent the fleet ashore – arriving at 14:30. The sun was out, the seas were great for surfing and the wind appeared to be steady – challenging Yes, but this is an event that people have trained for and under what appeared to be ideal sailing conditions, the fleet was ashore by 14:30. 

*** *** ***

Today’s racing in Sligo has not taken the regatta any further forward in terms of determining who will be the 2011 Fireball World Champion! Yes, for the second day in a row, no races were completed, but in contrast to yesterday, none were started either.

Sligo was grey and drizzly this morning and combined with a forecast of 1 – 6 knots from a variety of directions on XC Weather, the omens for racing were not good. For some there was an earlier start as the Council Meeting for the Fireball Executive and NCA reps took place this morning and while this might normally cause an anxious eye to be cast the way of the weather outside for those in the meeting, this was not the case today. There was rain and very little wind.

As the morning wore on the prospects for racing were put into limbo! Indeed the Council Meeting was asked to consider the implications of the weather in terms of determining a plan of action for the day. A suggestion was offered but almost immediately Numeral 0 and D flags were flown – go afloat…… the outer race area, i.e. beyond the lighthouse.

The fleet launched under a postponement flag at 12:30 and was greeted almost immediately with a rain shower en route to the racing area. That brought some breeze but that died and what was left, in varying degrees of pressure went from SE to almost due N. The difficulty was that during this entire period the strength never stayed above the requisite 5 knots for long enough to consider a start. The consequence for the fleet was a 3.5hr sojourn on the water that ended when the N flag was flown under the postponement flag – abandoned – to be sailed at a later date.

Thus with three days gone, the regatta has two races completed! The plan how is to try and recover races on Thursday with a scheduled start of 10:00 and the prospect of four races on the day.

The perennial debate of using the lay-day to recover races has aired again here in Sligo – understandably – but the difficulty is that for the host club the volunteers may also have made plans for that day.

This evening Sligo is bright again. The Australians will be doing their bit to persuade us all to go to their Worlds in Mandurah, Western Australia, at the end of this year. Also here are Robin Olsen, Race Officer for the Mandurah Worlds and his wife Sue.

Tomorrow is a lay-day which may convince the competitors to rid themselves of the lack of racing frustrations this evening!

Photos attached below courtesy of Gareth Craig of Fotosail. A gallery of photographs is also available at 

*** *** ***

Day 2 of the Fireball Worlds dawned sunny! However, the discussions of Sunday evening and this morning were of the forecast for the next few days. XCW was predicting 5 – 8 knots ESE, in stark contrast to a forecast that had been obtained by others that suggested as little as 1 knot the previous evening. However, as the morning progressed the wind there was disappeared prompting the flying of the postponement flag.

The Race Management Team went afloat but permission for the fleet to do the same was withheld. They positioned themselves outside the lighthouse, probably in deference to the concerns expressed by many about the random shallow spots in yesterday’s race area.

Permission to go afloat was given at around 12 noon, but the postponement was continued on the water. The day got greyer before a start was initiated at around 14:20 and aborted under General Recall. The Black Flag came out for the second start.

The Jury, on the water, also identified people transgressing Rule 42 on the start.

The left hand side of the beat appeared to be the preferred side, but a substantial queue of boats was coming in the starboard layline for the first mark. Out of the chaos came the usual suspects – Gillard/Brearey, McGovern/Capener and Wade/Potts who opened a gap on the balance of the fleet, who then provided a continuous stream of boats down the first reach. As the fleet worked their way round the course the wind initially dropped and then filled in from the left leaving a lopsided beat for round two. Of greater concern though must have been the fact that after the initial burst of energy the wind petered out. The downwind leg of the sausage was reduced to a crawl before three guns and blue and white coloured flags signalled a close to proceedings. Just as the call was made a slight breeze filled in from the East to provide everyone with an easy two-sail trip home!

For four combinations though, there was a final throw of the dice when they came ashore – as there had been a Black Flag start, there were transgressors; Ben Scallan & Dave Fitzgerald (IRL 14754), Diane Kissane & Finnbarr Bradley (IRL 14790), Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799) and Martyn Lewis & Richard Byrne (GBR 15056). They miss the start of the next race.

With two races lost today, the provisional programme is to race three tomorrow with a 12 noon start – an hour ahead of the original programme.

Tonight’s entertainment includes a presentation by Marine Archaeologist Auriel Robinson on the wrecks of the Spanish Armada in this part of Ireland’s west coast. Who says sailing can’t be cultural?

Results attached below.

Photos attached below courtesy of Gareth Craig of Fotosail. A gallery of photographs is also available at 

*** *** ***

The saying goes that a difficult day on the race course still beats a great day at the office and on a day when the sun shone and the wind provided everyone with a challenge, it was infinitely easier to be racing Fireballs than contemplating work in the morning.

57 boats launched from Sligo Yacht Club’s slipway this morning en route to a 13:00 start. It was a great sight to see and must have provided the organisers of this event a hugh sense of relief. The sleepless nights, the speculation as to how many entries there would be evaporated in the sunshine of Ireland’s west coast.

Round 1 went to the Race Officer who, after two aborted starts, signalled by General Recall, brought out the Black Flag. 4 boats went over the finish line to silence and for Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (GBR 15041) it must have been particular disappointing as they led for most, if not all, of the race. The front three of Gillard/Brearey, Jonny McGovern & Max Capener (GBR 14801) and Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff (GBR 15036) seemed to have their own race such was their lead on the rest of the fleet. Behind them the chasing pack consisted of Tim Rush and Richard Pepperdine (GBR 15065), Noel Butler & Stephen Oram (IRL 15061) and Andy Boyle & Brian Flahive (IRL 14934) among others. An ebbing tide made course selection very important and right side of the beat seemed to pay in that respect.

Others to fall foul of the Black Flag were Martin Peculier & Jean-Francois Nouel (FRA 15015), Alex Taylor & Richard Anderton (GBR 15031) and Vince Horey & Andy Thompson. Winners from last week, Ben Schulz & Phillip Bowley had a horror first race eventually retiring to reset their rigging and sails. 

Race 1 was thus claimed by Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff, followed by McGovern/Capener, Butler/Oram, Boyle/Flahive, Rush/Pepperdine, Hannah Showell & Barry Smith (GBR14430), Remy Thuillier/Loic Berthelot (FRA14917), David Wade & Simon Potts (GBR15045), Guy Tipton & Matt King (CAN 14907) and Jaroslav Werner & Jakob Napravnik (CZE14809).

Race 2 saw the committee boat relocated to a more westerly location for two reasons – a wind switch and too much shallow water in the vicinity of the race track. The wind was also in decline, from an early morning high of 9 knots, it would eventually drop to 5 knots – in accordance it must be said with the website forecast that this scribe looked at this morning!

There was a 60/40 split between the right and left hand sides of the beat with those on the left being lifted around the outside of the course to their detriment and the advantage of those who had gone right. The leading bunch were the same as Race 1 – Gillard, McGovern and Burge – but others who were well up included the French (FRA15015), Taylor/Anderton, the Scotts, Andy and Derian, the No.1 Czech Team, Tipton & King, Rush & Pepperdine, Phil Popple & Doug Shore (GBR15070). The right side continued to be the favoured side of the beat. Due to the dying breeze, the significant switch in its direction and probably the lateness of the proceedings saw the Race Management Team shorten course to the 3rd weather mark. 

Burge/Wagstaff took line honours, followed by McGovern/Capener and Gillard/Brearey. Alan Krailing & Tim Saunders (GBR14954) claimed fourth, the French 5th, and Rush/Pepperdine 6th. First of the Irish boats was Kenny Rumball and Seamus Moore in 12th place, followed by Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella & Boyle/Flahive.

Thus with two races down, the top ten reads as follows;


Sail No.




Race 1

Race 2





M. Burge

R. Wagstaff







J. McGovern

M. Capener







T. Rush

R. Pepperdine







G. Tipton

M. King







A. Krailing

T. Saunders







J. Verner

J. Napravnik







A. Boyle

B. Flahive







R. Thuillier

L. Berthelot







D. Scott

A. Scott







P. Popple

D. Shore




For the home fleet, the pecking order in Boyle/Flahive, Rumball/Moore, Butler/Oram, McCartin/KInsella and Simon McGrotty & Tony Fitzgerald (IRL 14981)

Among the ladies, Derian Scott (Helm/9th) leads, followed by Hannah Showell (Helm/16th) and Diane Kissane (Helm/26th).

A gallery of photographs will be available at courtesy of Gareth Craig of Fotosail.

*** *** ***

With hours to go until the first race of the 2011 Fireball Worlds, hosted by Sligo Yacht Club and the Irish Fireball Class Association, I suppose it would be appropriate to speculate on the riders and runners for this regatta. However, unlike most other forms of sport where there is the benefit of bookies to give some indication of what might happen, sailing doesn’t allow one to go to the form book…..or does it?

So, in an almost Who’s Who of this regatta, lets speculate on who might be on the winners podium by Friday evening.

The least difficult part of this exercise is to identify those who had form during International Week. Ben Schulz and Phillip Bowley won four of the six races sailed, scored a second in another and deliberately didn’t sail one race. In a small fleet they were able to sail low and fast to get to the front of the fleet. They have also had the benefit of three days of racing at the venue. Derian and Andy Scott won a race and were generally at the front end of the fleet, their worst score being a fourth place. Joe Jospe & Tom Egli took third last week and the last race of the regatta was won by Alex Taylor and Richard Anderton. Richard was a to finisher in Barbados last year so clearly their race win last week was no fluke. Of the Irish, Noel Butler and Stephen Oram, Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella had a good week. So there are six combinations who will have had the benefit of time on the race track.

Of the late arrivals who missed out on any racing last week, the stand-out candidates for this week have to be Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey, the 2010 (and thus reigning) European Champions. They have enjoyed success this year on the domestic Fireball circuit in the UK which in numbers at least is the most competitive circuit in the World.

The Pinnell & Bax stable will also boast candidates who can win this regatta in Dave Wade & Simon Potts and Vince Horey and Andy Thompson. Matt Burge and Richard Wagstaffe were runners up in Barbados and are therefore no strangers to podium positions.

Tim Rush, sailing with Richard Pepperdine is a past World Champion and reports from the UK show that Martyn Lewis, sailing with Richard Byrne is enjoying Open Regatta success with a new boat and a 3DL Main from North.

Jaroslav Werner was the runner-up in the 2010 Europeans and brings a different crew in Jakub Napravnik to Sligo. Granted offshore Sligo is not the same as an inland venue in the Czech Republic, but success breeds

*** *** ***

An early halt to Fireball International Week was called when Mother Nature was unable to provide enough wind power to let the fleet go afloat. In essence we had a tide of maybe four knots going one way and wind of two knots going the other. Friday morning had dawned bright and sunny with only a few wisps of cloud. At 10:00 a postponement was signaled as there was so little wind in parts of the race area it was mirror-like. The experience this past week has been that the wind in Sligo seems to declare its hand at around 11am. Yesterday at 11am there was no wind – thus in that respect it was to be consistent because by 12 noon the signal to close the regatta was given and thoughts then turned to measurement and preparation of boats for scrutiny.

The regatta measuring team were assembled and a further ten boats were measured in for the regatta in a two hour period. As this scribe was part of that team, this report was postponed! 

Thus the podium had a distinctly international appeal to it: In first place were Ben Schulz and Phillip Bowley (AUS 15062) who counted four race wins and a second place for their regatta total. In second place were Andy & Derian Scott (GBR 14941) with a 1,2,2,3,3 score line to trail the Aussies by 5pts. In third place, from Canada, were Joe Jospe and Tom Egli (CAN 15024) with a score line of 2,2,4,4,5.

Thereafter there were four Irish boats led home by Noel Butler and Stephen Oram (IRL 15061), Barry McCartin & Conor Kinsella (IRL 14820), Graeme Grant & Hugh Butler (IRL 14807) and Frank Miller and Susie Mulligan (IRL 14713).

A variety of wind conditions had been enjoyed by the fleet over the week with Thursday’s racing being the most physically challenging. 

The later arrivals in Sligo must have been disappointed at not getting out on the water yesterday but “that’s the way the cookie crumbles!”

The assembled fleet was then treated in the evening to a spit roast and a variety of traditional musical groups as part of the coincident Sea Shanty Festival, hosted by the Irish Fireball Class Association as part of the regatta social programme. Next week will see presentations by the Australians for the Mandurah Worlds in December/January and the Italians for the 2012 Europeans. The evening was a great opportunity for friends to catch up as Fireballers from the Shetland Islands, the Czech Republic, France and Germany  and the UK arrived  at this west coast location on the edge of Europe – Cead Mille Failte (Gaelic for a hundred thousand welcomes)! 

*** *** ***

Day 3 saw the race team take the International Week Fireball fleet outside Sligo’s famous lighthouse and into the Atlantic proper. The result was lumpy seas that make the upwind legs awkward and hard work for crew and helm alike. The records will show that the wind strength varied during the day from 9 to 14 knots but it felt a lot stronger than that.

The Canadians, Jospe & Egli rounded the first weather mark of the day in first place and seemed to enjoy a growing lead as the race wore on, however, at the end the rampant Aussies stole the show again with another win. It seems that on the third beat the Canadian went right, the Aussies went left and left paid. GBR’s Alex Taylor and Richard Anderton (15031) joined the fleet this morning and were rewarded with a third place in this race. Derian and Andy Scott were to sail their discard in this race  - a 4th – while behind them, another addition to the fleet Ireland’s Kenny Rumball and Seamus Moore took 5th, ahead of McCartin/Kinsella and Butler/Oram, the latter combination having spinnaker problems on the downwind leg of the sausage. Elsewhere in the fleet the rivalry between the Ryders, David & Michelle, and Frank Miller/Susie Mulligan went the way of the British couple who scored a 10th to Miller’s 18th.Tipton and King (CAN 14907) also had a better race scoring a 9th.

Fortunately the rain showers that had battered the fleet on the way out to the race area at the start of the day were not repeated and the sun decided to shine a bit of the fleet which now boasted 21 boats.

Team Scott led the fleet round the first weather mark in the company of the Aussies, Taylor & Anderton and team Canada. However, on the second reach of the first triangle, Taylor/Anderton took over the lead and proceeded to build a big distance between themselves and the rest of the fleet. Schulz/Bowley took 2nd place, followed by Derian/Andy, Jospe/Egli, Butler/Oram & McCartin/Kinsella. Miller/Mulligan beat the Ryders by a place to leave the pair tied on 45 points each after discard which kicked in on completion of the second race.

The consensus of the fleet was that it had been a very hard day at the office – hardly surprising as we were taking on the Atlantic proper. Today we had rain out on the course a first for this regatta and as per usual the wind had the final throw of the dice as it came ashore.

Today there was the additional attraction of sailing with dolphins and a member of the international jury delayed his return to shore in order to watch them frolic in the water.

Team P&B have now arrived in Sligo as have others who are racing next week – the dinghy park is growing that bit more crowded!

*** *** ***

The sun shone……initially. The wind was benign……….initially. But by the time the fleet got afloat, the breeze was rising and the sun went behind clouds. It wasn’t an unpleasant day but it wasn’t quite as nice as yesterday, unless of course you were sailing a Fireball off Sligo.

The committee boat recorded winds for most of the day around the 18/19 knot mark from the SE. However, on the way out to the start it was blowing in excess of 20 knots and during the racing gusts of around 22 knots were recorded. The SE is an offshore direction so the seas were reasonably flat. 

Another two excellent races were set by the Race Management team with screaming reaches – some two-sailed – and a more acceptable length to the windward leg. Yesterday morning’s first race had seen very long beats but the RC took the appropriate actions to restore proper order both yesterday afternoon and today.

The first start today saw a leading candidate for victory capsized to tweak his rig, some others lost a minute in the countdown which led to a rather untidy start for some. However, the same group who had enjoyed early success on the water yesterday were to the fore again – the Scotts, Butler/Oram, Jospe/Egli, Grant/Butler, joined by Miller/Mulligan. Schulz/Bowley came from behind after tweaking their rig to join the fun and games at the front of the fleet.

Results are available to download below.
Sailing fast and low, the Aussies gradually hauled in the others, who to that stage had been led around by Butler/Oram. Andy & Derian Scott sailed another stormer (excuse the pun) to show off the fact that height and weight are not the only way to sail Fireballs in a breeze.  

Behind these three came Grant/Butler, Jospe/Egli and Smyth/Bradley. 

Race 4 of the regatta was held in similar conditions with the Scotts and Smyth/Bradley going hard left to the fleet’s various degrees of right. The left paid with Scotts rounding the first weather mark in first, followed by Smyth/Bradley. The Aussies broke through halfway down the first reach to take second initially and Butler/Oram closed the gap to third at the leeward mark. Up the next beat, Butler/Oram got away and Grant/Butler, Jospe/Egli and McCartin/Kinsella closed by the 2nd weather mark. McCartin/Kinsella got through but a split between either side of the course, left versus right, kept Smyth/Bradley in 5th at the 3rd weather mark. Ahead of this group, Schulz/Bowley had gone into first, followed by the Scotts and Butler/Oram.

No sooner had the fleet got ashore than the wind started to build. Sligo this evening is wet and wild, but a great day’s racing has been had by all.

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