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News - Latest News
31 Mar 2012

2012 Fireball Open Meeting Report

2012-03-24 - Fireball Open

The 'delayed' annual SHSC Fireball open took place over the weekend of the 24th & 25th March and competitors could not have wished for a better weekend. A very wise decision by Tim Saunders to delay the event from October due to low water levels, saw 9 visitors join the 8 home boats to form a very competitive fleet of 17 boats all of whom welcomed the site of a nearly 'full pond'.

 

Water levels last year dropped to about just "50%" quoted Tim "so we had no choice but to re-schedule" and what a good move it proved to be as levels are now at over 90% providing plenty of room on the 140 acre reservoir for some close and excellent racing. The weekend forecast of light winds but warm sunshine combined with a 10 race programme would have been quite daunting for many a P.R.O but SHSC had delegated the job to member and Olympic race official Howard Jones who, along with a very competent team pulled off an impressive feat of 9 very closely fought races over the weekend.

 

Competitors were greeted with some mist and a light breeze early Saturday morning but by the time the sweet smell of bacon & egg cobs had drifted off, so out came the sun and a gentle 5 knot breeze.

The format was 10 short races with a mix of traditional 'round the cans' and alternating with windward leeward's just to test everyone's patience and nerves as rarely did the lead boat round the windward mark finish ahead by the time of rounding the leeward mark.

 

Race 1 saw Derian & Andy set the pace to take the win proving the drive from Chew was worth it, they were closely followed by Ian Priest with local SHSC crew Rich Pepperdine in 2nd, and sister Becky Priest & current FB chairperson Tim Saunders in 3rd.

 

Race 2 was a windward leeward in a shifting breeze causing many place changes during the race, Ian Priest took the bullet with local hot married 'lightweights' Andy & Lesley Foskett close in 2nd and Chelmarsh visitors Carter & Wilkinson 3rd having finished 7th in race 1 !! It was clear by now consistency was the order of the day as beats and runs where like a game of watery 'snakes and ladders'!

 

Race 3 'back round the cans' suited Derian who scored another bullet and established that they were the pair to beat. John 'Mad dog' Curzon & Pete Elver who lead for most of the race were just pipped on the line to finish 2nd, and the Chelmarsh duo posted another 3rd.

 

Race 4 saw yet another race winner with Alex Taylor & Geoff Edwards taking the gun after 'Mad Dog' got a blinding start just a boat length over but failed to spot the infamous 'black flag' so they retried to the bar whilst local pair Grahame Newton & Mark Stevens battled all the way round with Derian who just got the better of them on the line and giving her a 2nd and Grahame 3rd.

 

Race 5 saw a repeat with Alex taking the win from Grahame 2nd and Ian Priest 3rd.

 

Race 6, the last on Saturday, saw yet another new race winner with locals Andy & Lesley winning convincingly from Alex 2nd and Grahame 3rd, making it all very very close as the crews headed to the shore for the evening meal.

After much head scratching and calculations to include just one discard at this stage it meant Derian & Andy had secured the overnight lead, with just a single point lead over Ian Priest & Grahame Newton. The competitors retired to the bar for the normal 'what happened' and 'that shift' discussion and all stayed for a 'Tex Mex' treat put on by the club with 'spicy chilli' and some red hot peppers not to be tried by the fainthearted...for those who did we are told it was a 'very wet and windy night' !! Enough said !! At least it helped boost bar sales.

 

Sunday morning woke us with bright blue skies and a building breeze...clocks went forward so little sleep for some including the resident P.R.O who sacrificed his warm luxury home for a camper van in the club car park to ensure 'the team' were up early and ready for the challenge ahead.

More bacon and eggs scent drifted over the dinghy park and the scheduled 10:30am start for race 7 always looked doubtful. However the P.R.O Howard managed to conjure up all his powers and arrange for a nice settled 8 knots breeze to accompany the now warm sunny skies as the fleet started a little later than planned.

 

Race 7 saw Andy & Lesley take another win pushing them ever closer to the title, with Alex continuing from where he left off late Saturday in 2nd and 'Mad Dog', now very aware of the Black flag, coming in 3rd.

 

Race 8 saw 'Mad Dog' Curzon & Pete battle all race with Grahame & Mark as the fleet behind 'parked up' as Terry Forbes decided the 'last minute port tack at the windward mark was not as good an idea as he first thought' and promptly 'parked the fleet' allowing John & Grahame to sail away. Grahame & Mark just took the win, closely followed by John & Pete, with Andy & Les 3rd.

 

Race 9 became the last race of the day, a 1 lap beat / run sprint to the line and it could have gone any way as at one stage 7 boats lay level on the run down to the finish. This produced yet another new race winner as J Carter & G Wilkinson took line honours, very closely followed by 'well the whole fleet' with 2 local boats new to the 'sharp end' of Rob Watson & Simon Forbes 2nd, and Simon Kelsall & Buzz 3rd.

 

Grahame & Mark sneaked in a 4th just giving them the Open title by a single point from Andy & Lesley 2nd, with Derian & Andy 3rd.

So we had 9 races over two days in glorious sunshine with a full reservoir, producing an amazing roster of 6 different race winners, run by Olympic standard race management and current Fireball chairperson, and everyone agreed a great time was had by all. As we are celebrating 50years of the Fireball many '50' related prizes were given out causing many a helm or crew to contemplate the truth about their actual age !!

 

Watch out for this event next year - you'd be mad to miss it !!

 

Grahame Newton.