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the winners in action
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final standings
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Gillard & Anderton are National Champions!

The final day of the UKGlobal 2016 Fireball National Championships at Hayling Island SC was a more sedate affair. 

After an excellent social in the bar on Saturday I’m sure there were a few sailors who took one look at the forecast and thought “do we have to?” but the fleet pushed off for the final 2 races in next to no wind and rode the ebbing tide out into the bay. The drift to the racecourse took some time and with absolutely zero pressure it looked as if that might be it in terms of racing, but Hayling just seems to deliver. Right on cue a little pressure built from the south and before you could say “Beer? Anyone?” there was 5-8 knots of sea breeze blowing in.

The fleet were pushing their luck on the start line and the black flag was needed although this didn’t stop 6 boats being OCS and excluded from the 1st race, the 9th of the series. Once underway it was Birrell & Townend who made the most of the shifts and led along the top reach. They sailed well to take the race win, their 1st of the series, with returning ex Champion Ian Pinnell and Andrew Bonsey in 2nd with Jess Lavery and Flora Steward claiming an excellent 3rd and completing the podium.

The final race, the 10th of the week was also run under black flag conditions after  number of failed starts made it look as if the last race may not happen. It was a shifty tactical affair and it was Burge and Wagstaff who made the most of it, claiming their 1st win of the week. Phil Popple and Richie Bailey displayed some real class to come home 2nd and Pinnell & Bonsey showed their light air pace again with a solid 3rd. 

Gillard & Anderton’s lead was of course unassailable and their 6th in race 9 meant they were allowed an early shower. The prize giving that followed was a great advert for the generous sponsors and there were prizes galore distributed in so many categories. All the youth sailors got a prize as a recollection of their event, there were prizes for novice helm and crew, over 50, 60 and 70(!), for classic boat, perseverance, lady helm and crew, under 21 helm and crew, 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Bronze and Silver fleets, individual race wins and of course the top 10.

Special thanks to all the generous sponsors, UKGlobal, Hyde, P&B, North, Harken and Spinlock for their generous support of the event, also to the race team for making the fantastic racing happen, to Chris Turner, the new UKFA Chairman, who co-ordinated the championships, to all the competitors who attended and to Hayling Island SC for hosting such a fantastic Championships. 

In the end, despite the quality at the business end of the fleet, no-one could live with the pace of Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton and they retained their crown in style. The Fireball may be long in the tooth but the fleet is resurgent and remarkably friendly, the boat remains quick and competitive and with a European Championships being held in Lyme Regis next year there is every reason to be optimistic. Fireball. Have you tried one yet? If not then you really should. 

Day 3 of the UKGlobal Fireball Nationals was a tale of two halves. The teams launched in what felt like quite a fresh offshore breeze but arriving at the racecourse out in the bay, a rather disappointing 5-7 knots meant people only just arrived on time. 

Race 1 was a tactical affair in the light airs and it was leaders Gillard and Anderton who were left trailing as 470 Olympic squad pair Sophie Weguelin & Eilidh McIntyre showed their quality to lead the chasing pack round the 1st mark. They led pretty much all the way to take their 1st win of the series from Birrell & Townend in 2nd and Burge & Wagstaff in 3rd.

Race 2 was an incredible affair. The Wilcox twins Anthony & James rounded 2nd, hot on the heels of Wkeguelin & Mcintyre and managed to pull through to 1st on the second beat. They maintained the lead throughout and despite pressure from the Olympic Squad sailors they held on to claim the win on the longest race of the day, only to find out later when back on terra firma that they were OCS. Noooooooooooo! The Fleet were gutted for them as this was a win for the ordinary folk, or as they put it; “the best and worst race of our lives!”.  The win went to Weguelin & McIntyre to make it two bullets for them on the day, with Gillard & Anderton taking 2nd and Father/Son team Peter and Tom Kyne taking an excellent 3rd to consolidate their solid position in the overall standings. 

In race 3 the wind had freshened to 10-12 knots and there was a typical port end bias on the line. The racing was super exciting as the sun came out, the waves picked up and what has been typical Hayling conditions ensued. Gillard & Anderton won it to take their 6th bullet of the series and wrap up the Championship with a day to go. Birrell & Townend came in second, a position they’ve become quite used to throught the week and Paul Cullen & Adam Whitehouse came from nowhere to claim an excellent 3rd. 

The fleet met back up in the excellent clubhouse for prize giving, with loads of superb prizes, courtesy of sponsor Hyde Sails, distributed throughout the lower half of the fleet. The Mr Fireball Show was rightly won by James Wilcocks who took the plaudits and also a rather tasty rig tension gauge kindly donated by Spinlock. The great band that was put on by the club entertained the sailors into the early hours and there will be a few sore heads today. 

Last days racing is about to get underway and the forecast is slightly suspect. Hopefully today will cap off what has been an incredible and intense four day event.


The second day of the UKGlobal 2016 Fireball Nationals at Hayling Island SC served up more of the same champagne conditions that the fleet had enjoyed on day one. It started off gentle and warm but pretty soon there was a building westerly blowing 15 - 18 knots, some funky waves and warming sunshine just like the day before. Hayling Island is serving up a treat with their helping of sun, wind and waves. I mean, what’s not to like? 

The fleet were pushing their luck on the start line all day, with every race needing recalls and 2 races starting under black flags but the PRO, was patient and efficient in setting up the next sequence although a few boats got their marching orders. 

The racing was furious and fun and as always in the Fireball fleet, there is always someone to race against regardless of your ability, although the business end of the Championships is currently looking a bit like F1, in that there is a procession at the front with Gillard & Anderton being the team that everyone else is chasing down and most of the overtaking action happening further down the fleet. With 3 bullets yesterday (they are now discarding a race win!) it was left to the mere mortals to fight for the other places and fight they did.


In race 3 (the 1st of the day) the podium was completed by the usual suspects of Burge & Wagstaff in 2nd and Birrell & Townend in 3rd.

In race 4 the top spots went to Horey & Gardiner and Birrell and Townend and in race 5 it was the Swiss Euro Champion pairing of Mermod & Mosler who showed why they are European Champions with a solid second and Horey & Gardiner consolidating their overall standings with another 3rd.

The fleet reconvened in the evening for the AGM and a new Chairman was appointed in local Fleet Captain Chris Turner after Jez White stepped down. There were prizes galore for sailors lower down the standings, courtesy of kind sponsor North, a Dork of the Day award and a prize giving that saw Richard Anderton unable to carry all the Trophies. What a nice problem to have.

With more incredible conditions forecast for today, this is really about as good as it gets. If you didn’t enjoy the sailing here at Hayling you should probably get some tennis lessons.

Day 1 of the UKGlobal 2016 Fireball National Championships at Hayling Island was an incredible advert for sailing Fireballs on the south coast. The competitors were treated to what can only be described as champagne conditions with 15-18 knots from the west, waves and sunshine. It really doesn’t get much better than that. 
The PRO got Race 1 off 1st time and pretty much everyone went hard right to the beach for an ice cream but favourites Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton stayed left and made it pay. They rounded the windward mark with a large gap between them and 470 class Olympic Squad members, Sophie Weguelin and Eildh McIntyre in second. Anderton and Gillard never looked like being troubled, although Vince Horey and Robert Gardiner managed to battle through to 2nd and take a little out of Gillard & Andertons lead. Dave Hall and Paul Constable had a great battle with Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff and Christian Birrell & Vyv Townend but it was Hall & Constable who managed to bag the 3rd podium place.
After a general recall in the second race, the fleet got away 2nd time. After going right on the 1st beat, Claude Mermod and Ruedi Mosler, the newly crowned European champions, showed their form and rounded the windward mark 1st with returning Gold Fleet helm Sam Mettam (who flew in from Canada for the championships) and Tim Saunders rounding second, followed by Gillard and Anderton. Split gybes on the 1st run saw a handful of boats reach the leeward mark together. Kevin Hope and Russell Thorne managed to lead up the next beat before being caught by Gillard & Anderton who managed to keep the lead from Birrell & Townend. 3rd spot went to Burge & Wagstaff. 

There are lots of local boats at Hayling and the highest placed local boat is currently David Sayce & Nick Rees, although local Fleet Captain and event organiser Chris Turner and Jono Loe deserve a special mention for 2 solid results as do relatively new sailors and Father/Daughter team, Simon and Laura Benson. Laura is only 13 and was crewing a fireball on the open sea in conditions that were pretty testing for experienced teams, well done Laura! The varied fleet really shows how accessible and exciting the Fireball is for sailors of any ability. 
The fleet later reconvened in the bar for the Commodores reception with free drinks and canapés, prize giving, dork of the day award and team quiz.
With 3 races planned for today and a similar forecast, this competition is just getting started.

Fireball Magic 50!

49 Boats from as far away as Switzerland are gathering today at Hayling Island SC for the UK Global Fireball National Championships, 53 years after the inaugural National Champs were held at the club. With a couple of last minute entires the number may even swell to the magic 50 by the time racing starts today. 

The club, their scutineering team and some lovely summer sunshine welcomed the early arrivals yesterday while the bulk of the competitors will arrive this morning. Entries are swelled by a strong local fleet and some international entries, including the newly crowned European Champions of Claude Mermod and Reudi Mosler.

The on water competition will be tight with current World Champion pairing Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton looking to defend the National title they already possess. With some strong local teams plus an interesting combo of Christian Birrell and Vyv Townend, the competition at the front of the fleet will be hotly contested. 

The format for this years racing has changed sightly from the 10 race, 6 day series that is the norm, to a 10 race, 4 day series with no lay day. 2 races today, 3 tomorrow and Saturday and then 2 on Sunday is the format and if the weather forecast stays true it should be champagne sailing.

The off water activity should also be fun with a daily prize giving every night, Dork of the Day award and live bands for 2 of the nights. The generous sponsors, including the title sponsor and Class Associations preferential sponsor UK Global, along with Hyde Sails, P&B, Winder Boats, Harken and North Sails have donated plenty of prizes that will be shared throughout the fleet at the various socials. 

Check back here for daily reports and updates along with race results and pictures. 


Shoreham Open is this weekend 6th and 7th August, Last chance to get some practice in the waves before the Nationals just down the coast. Planning 3 races each day. Event held along with the Merlin Rockets and after sailing there's a well stocked bar, with BBQ Saturday evening and free camping available on site. If you are thinking of coming let us know as it will be good to have an idea of numbers.

Saturday 6th August: Race 1: 14:00 hrs - Merlins to start 1st followed by Fireballs. Races 2 & 3 to follow.

Sunday 7th August: Race 4: 11:00 hrs - Races 5 & 6 to follow.

Entry: £35 for 2 days, £25 for 1 day. 

The similarity is obvious but did the 1947-designed Dingbat provide inspiration to Peter Milne? Will we have to re-write early Fireball history?

Read about it in David Henshall's latest article 'The Fourth Wise Man' in Y&Y: http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/news/191116/The-Fourth-Wise-Man

Only 3 Weeks to go until the 2016 Uk National Championships gets underway at Hayling Island Sailing Club.

Is your boat ready? Have you bimbled sufficiently? Is it pimped up and sorted out? With an intense program of races planned and no lay day it's imperative that your gear is in tip top condition.

The off the water program is going to be fun too, with daily prize giving and Feckwit Award, an AGM on the Friday plus live bands on both the Friday and Saturday.

We have over 40 entries so far but there are still more expected. If you havent got a pass already then sort it out, take a sickie, do what you need to do but be there. It's gonna be unmissable. 

Glorious Sea Breeze Sailing at Hayling 

18 Boats race at Blackwater Report

2015 Worlds Results 

2015 Nationals Results 

We want your story! Why do you sail the boat you sail? Record yourself on video answering the question: "Why Fireball?"

It could be why you enjoy sailing or racing them, what got you into them in the 1st place, why you still sail them, what you love about 'em, it really is up to you. Just answer the question on video in landscape orientation and send it to androb001@me.com via any method you like, iMessage, dropbox, wetransfer. Your video may be selected for a project that will be shared at the GUL Fireball Worlds in August. 

Example videos here https://youtu.be/X_LcTV6Bx1Q

Fleet Update: Draycote Water Fireballs 

Students' Shoestring Sailing - A journey to the 2014 National Championship

This film has been produced by two students who after deciding they wanted to sail a Fireball dinghy in September 2013, then restored a classic Fireball picked up on ebay that had not been afloat in over 20 years. Restoration took place throughout the winter and summer, finishing just 1 day before the 2014 UK Nationals in Tenby. 
We sailed all week in the nationals and had a brilliant time and are now looking to get a second more competitive boat to train and race in the 2015 worlds in Pwllheli, Wales.


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