Fireballs at the 34th Grafham Grand Prix

Grafham Grand Prix 2015
Grafham Grand Prix 2015
Photo © Nick Champion /

A mouth-watering forecast for Fireball sailors attracted a few big-hitters for the re-scheduled Grafham Grand Prix, the final event of the Sailjuice Winter Series. And it didn't fail to deliver. After a teasing start to the first race the breeze built like clockwork and allowed the front-end Fireballs to slide away from the usual chasing Merlin Rockets.

A tussle between the reigning World Champions, Birrell/Brearey, and Dobson/Schieber lasted for the duration of the race until a spinnaker handling mistake allowed Dobson/Schieber to claim victory in race 1.

As the breeze built, other Fireball protagonists powered to the front of the handicap fleet, including Kevin Hope and Russell Thorne. Another mistake from Birrell/Brearey led to a mid—race hull inspection and allowed Dobson/Schieber to take a second victory.

Race 3, sailed in a gusty 20-25knts, producing some exciting downwind legs and fruity reaches. With fatigue starting to play a part in getting round the race course, the race was a real test of stamina. Worthy of significant credit was the Fireball of Gorgia Booth and Rheanna Pavey who enjoyed their first day in a Fireball, completing all three races and earning their stripes ahead of a [hopefully] warmer race season. The event concluded with Dobson/Schieber holding of a skilfully sailed contender to win the largest category ahead of Birrell/Brearey and Hope/Thorne.

The final event in the SailJuice Winter Series added another Fireball victory to the tally of the Tiger Trophy, The Steve Nicholson Trophy and The Bloody Mary. Disappointingly, perhaps, no individual Fireball sailor managed to string together a winter to take the overall series victory from a very commendable performance by Nick Craig, with the Fireball sailors from time to time choosing to keep their booze tolerance high over the winter (another KPI within the fleet), ahead of the forthcoming competitive season.

All eyes on the build-up to the 2015 Fireball World Championships in Pwllheli.

Full Grafham Grand Prix Course Bravo results can be found here.

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