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Beginners guide to Fireballing

What is a Fireball?

The Fireball is probably the highest performance dinghy that just about anyone can sail in almost any wind strength, on any style of race course, on virtually any stretch of water. A genuinely international sailing dinghy with a single trapeze and spinnaker. An adjustable rig rules out the need for complex racks or weight equalisation systems; and class rules allow flexibility to fit the boat out to suit you, making it ideal for smaller helms or crews to sail the boat that they want.

What is great about the Fireball?

The Fireball is known as being a friendly class with competitive racing combining close tactical boat on boat racing with exhilerating performance in planing conditions.

Ideal for mixed crews, inland club waters or the sea, with entry level boats from just a few hundred pounds and with an active owners association protecting your interests, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the only dinghy you'll ever need.

With an excellent UK open meeting circuit, a classic boat fleet, World, European and National Championships, you'll never be short of good competition, boat on boat, crew on crew. With a social side to match you'll have just as much fun off the water. Perhaps this is why over 15000 Fireballs have been sold world wide. If you're looking to get more out of your sailing then the Fireball could be the boat for you

She is good for inland water or the sea. Her performance has proved intriguing for expert helmsmen, yet she is stable enough to be kind to the clumsy novice. Fireball planes at the drop of a hat. Peter Milne of Norris brothers in designing the prototype threw aside the old tradition that a boat sails upright. Fireball was intended to sail best at an angle of about three degrees.This exciting 16 foot scow was intended to be FAST. Described by one enthusiast as a sailing surfboard frightened by an American Scow, Fireball really goes.

With the highest Nationals turnout of any 2 man trapeze dinghy in 2008 and with over 30 boats attending events like Abersoch Dinghy Week, do you really want to sail anything less? The Fireball offers you the chance to expand your sailing, large established circuits, great social scene, classic boat circuit, freedom to choose sails and fittings from a variety of manufacturers. 

It is sailed successfully by numerous people of both sexes from teenagers up to pensioners and for competitive sailing there is a wide range of all-up crew weights at the front of the fleet from 20-26 stones (120-170 kgs)

What events does the class organise?

National Championships

Each year the class organises a week long National Championships. This is normally held in the school holidays during August.  A ten race series with racing from Sunday to Friday. There is a layday normally on Wednesday. Two races are held each day. For further information on the next National Championships please see the Events Section.  Results from previous events may be found in the Results Section.

Inland Championships

This is the next most popular event after the National Championship as is held annually at one of the larger inland venues such as Grafham Water or Draycote Water.

Open Meetings

A Circuit of open meetings is organised across the UK. this is a mixture of inland and sea venues. A weekend event will generally have 5 or 6 races of between 45mins and 75mins. Courses vary between round the cans at the smaller venues and more conventional triangle sausage or trapeziod courses at larger venue and championships. 

International 

In addition to the UK events Fireball International organises annual European Championships and World Championships. In addition there are many opportunities to sail across at events throughout Europe. All international events are open. You just need to be a member of a national class association, like the UKFA, or a member of Fireball International itself if no association exists for your country.

Regattas

For those more hardy soles who enjoy sailing in winter. Fireballs are often scene at the key winter sailing events.  Fireballs can also be found racing at many of the key summer regattas like Abersoch dinghy week.

Where can I sail the Fireball

The Fireball is sailed at clubs around the country. The Fireball is capable of being sailed on small lakes or rivers or the open sea. The lightweight planning hull design and gust responsive rig mean it can be sailed at just about any sailing venue. There are some 200 clubs in the United Kingdom where International Fireballs are actively sailed. Ask the UK Class Secretary for a list of clubs in the UK where you can sail. If you are looking further afield contact the Fireball International secretary.

I'm interested in buying a Fireball - where are they advertised & what do I look for?

New fireballs are available from a number of Fireball Builders worldwide. For further information go to the 'Buying a new Fireball page'.

Second Hand boats

A comprehensive buying guide to second hand fireballs has been written by the Draycote Water Fireball Fleet. The UK Fireball Association maintains a comprehensive classifieds list. Other possible sources include Apollo Duck and ebay, The Fireball International website also has a 'for sale' section. Other possible places are the for sale section of yachts and yachting and The Fireball Dinghy Centre Facebook page.

How much will sailing an International Fireball dinghy cost me?

As with many sports the answer is really as much as you want to spend. For sailing at local club level a complete second-hand boat with trolley and trailer can be obtained from around £600. At the other end of the scale a brand new fully fitted boat capable of winning the World Championships complete with road trailer and covers could cost from £9,000 (excl VAT). Annual sailing club membership costs are typically around £125.00 with annual insurance premiums about the same. 

Who will insure my Fireball?

The are many insurers who will companies offering inurance for Fireballs.  The Association has an agreement with UK Global that offers market-leading rates.

Are there recognised suppliers of boats/spars/sails/foils ?

The Fireball International Class Association has licensed a number of Boat builders around the world, a full list of registered suppliers can be obtained from International Fireball Secretary Jackie Barkeror telephone 01929 439165. Unlike some other classes no restriction is placed upon where you can obtain your sails/spars or foils from. As long as they comply with class rules you may purchase them from a supplier of your choice and there are a lot of quality manufacturers to choose from.

What training does the class offer, I can sail competently but would like to learn how to improve my standards ?

Training sessions are run periodically by local club Fireball fleets or on a regional basis.  Those sessions subsidised by the UK Fireball Association are 'open' events and are run by World Class International Fireball sailors who are keen to pass on their knowledge and experience to you. In order to find your nearest training sesion contact your club fleet captain or contact a member of the UKFA Committee who will be happy to assist you.

How do I get my boat on the pace?

The Fireball does require some time to set up to get it right. Comprehensive information is available from the Technical Section including Tuning guides from the main Fireball sailmakers. The Fireball class is well supported by many sailmakers and they are often on hand to help with sail set up. Jibs can ordered with different clew positions to suit differing deck layouts.

Can I build my own Fireball?

Yes. Plans can be obtained from Fireball International Secretary Jackie Barker to build a Fireball. Unfortunately plans cannot be down loaded but they are availble by post. Check the Fireball International website for contact details.

What is the UK Fireball Class Association and how do I join?

It is a voluntary run association of Fireball sailors throughout Britain which controls the Class Rules and organises a wide range of benefits and events for its members. Benefits for members include a Discount Scheme valid at many leading chandlers and sailmakers, a quarterly magazine packed with interesting articles, subsidised training events, an extensive open meeting circuit, discounted rates with a leading Dinghy Insurance company and technical support for Fireball sailors.

How can I join the UK Fireball Association and benefit from membership?

Nothing could be simpler ! Follow guidance provided in the Membership Section , fill in the appropriate on-line form and pay vs the direct debit option and you will be a member within minutes.  You will then gain all the benefits of membership, join a new circle of friends and be able to begin sailing your International Fireball.  

What is the difference between the UK Fireball Association and the International Fireball Class Association ?

The UK Class Association is the UK governing body for the International Fireball dinghy and the International Fireball Class Association is made up of Fireball class associations from around the globe and represents the interests of Fireball Sailors worldwide. 

I already have an International Fireball Dinghy, where can I obtain a certificate for it?

Replacement measurement certificates are only available to UKFA members and can be obtained from the UK Class Association membership secretary. Remember that a measurement certificate is your International Sailing Federation licence to race, and in order to sail in club racing you must possess a valid measurement certificate.

If you don't possess a valid certificate you will be unable to protest other sailors if they infringe the rules, you will also be disqualified if any sailor should protest you !

You may apply to the Membership Secretary by e-mail and pay the certification fee using the form found in the Membership Section.

Can I trail an International Fireball behind my car?

The all-up weight of an International Fireball together with launching trolley and road trailer is probably still less than 300 kgs. Most cars will tow an International Fireball with ease.

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