Report by Emilie Hood - Fireball Gul Golden Dolphin Open Blackwater SC
The weekend of the 14th-15th May saw the Blackwater Sailing Club host the 2022 Fireball open. Our fleet of seven Blackwater boats were lucky enough to be joined by a very strong group of six visiting boats, so straight from the off it was set to be a very interesting weekend!
The forecast for day one predicted what I would describe as “pina colada” sailing conditions (lovely sunshine, but very little wind) and to our disappointment, it was accurate. After some bacon rolls, a little fighting talk in the boat yard and a gruelling hour-long trip to the start line, we were ready to start. The first race was a very sedentary round, with minor decisions making or breaking the race. After 45minutes the committee boat called the final circuit, resulting in the win for Dave Hall and Paul Constable, followed closely by Charlie Stewart and Sue Gibson.
Due to the lack of wind, the decision was made to run only two races on Saturday. The second race resulted in an equally frustrating set of events for many of our pairings. On calling the final circuit, many of the boats ended up in a complete dead zone which completely changed the placings on the finish line. Among said boats were Dave and Paul, and Charlie and Sue, both of whom were looking like strong contenders for the win. After this cruel twist, the win was taken by Brightlingsea’s Peter and Tom Kyne, followed by Steve and Tom Jarred with Maria Richards and Graham Hoy in third.
Day two promised to be a higher octane set of conditions, with gusts of 18mph. With a newfound sense of excitement and possibility, the contenders for the second day's racing set out. Having shaved 50 minutes off the time taken to get to the committee boat, the first race commenced. A new set of conditions proved to be a surprise for some of our fleet, with Charlie and Sue succumbing to a capsize caused by a large, barge-shaped wind shadow early on, opening the competition at the top of the fleet. The routes across the tide, spinnaker decisions and a few penalties turned separated the group, and led to another win for Dave and Paul, followed by Peter and Tom and Kevin Hope and Russell Thorne. Race two followed in a similar fashion, with the third-place position being nabbed by Mark Maskell and Nigel Shepard. Before we knew it, it was the final race of the Fireball open. Coming into the final race, it was still all to play for with several boats vying for the second and third place positions. The first half of the race went smoothly for a lot of the fleet, with the top 5 boats busting for podium positions. However, in the second half of the race in a turn of events that even the meteorological professionals couldn’t (and didn’t) predict, the wind completely dropped. In a scene reminiscent of day one, boats were cast all over the river trying to get in prime position for the home stretch. In a radical move (which I was later informed was a result of attempting to bail out) Derian and Andy Scott gybed, leaving them in the prime position earning them the win. They were followed by Dave and Paul and Peter and Tom, following their average positions for the other races.
After eventually reaching the shore again (some of us requiring towing), we all celebrated the great weekend and the results at the prize giving. In first place was Dave Hall and Paul Constable of Blackwater SC, in second was Peter and Tom Kyne of Brightlingsea SC and in third Derian and Andy Scott of Chew Valley SC. It was a pleasure to see such a strong fleet on the water at BSC, and we look forward to being able to host you all again very soon!
A big thanks goes to Gul once again for their support and prize vouchers through the fleet.
1st Charlie Stewart & Sue Gibson
2nd Maria & Graham
1st Peter & Richard Bettles
2nd Tony Godwin & Charlie Plows
Merit: Hatty & Emilie