17 Fireballs at Blackwater Club Week

Fireballs during Blackwater Sailing Club Week

Fireballs during Blackwater Sailing Club Week
Photos © Chris Nichols

After last year's Club week which was a light winds week, someone said I hope we have a windier week next year! They got that and more as Blackwater SC's annual club week started on Sunday with the inshore forecast Force 6 – 8.

Most fleets were deterred by the forecast but the Force 4 before the scheduled start time on Sunday tempted 9 Fireballs to start their first race. Having seen the Fireballs out on the water plus a fleet of support RIBs the keener Optimist & Topper fleets decided to get one race in. The Fireballs then decided to chance their luck with a 2nd race and soon after the start the weather deteriorated and most of the fleet tested the water temperature at least once as the wind gusted to 35 knots. No real damage so all were ready to again on Monday. Monday again saw 28 knot gusts and Tuesday also proved challenging with the wind still gusting 25 knots - enjoyable for some, relief at finishing the course for others but always plenty of post race tales to relay!

As the weather moderated during the week more boats appeared on the water with 100 boats putting in an appearance over the 11 different classes. The forecast for Thursday promised the best sailing weather of the week but even that failed to deliver as a huge thunderstorm came through at the start with the winds gusting to 33knts, ironically several of the 2nd races that day were abandoned in the dead calm that followed the storm as the ebbing spring tide made progress up river impossible.

Again the 17 Fireballs were the largest and most competitive of the one-design fleets where a win in the last race was enough for Mark Maskell to win on count back from Steve Jarred in his brand new boat which only arrived on the previous Friday. In the Laser fleet the Radial rig was the preferred option for even the more experienced sailors given the forecast and James Crook won the week with a 4.7 rig. The medium handicap was the largest handicap fleet, in the stronger winds Terry Crook's Blaze was hard to catch winning from Nigel Butler is his Solo. Billy Dyer emerged victorious in the 14 strong Topper fleet.

All competitors felt a bit fitter and somewhat bruised & battered and the end of a highly enjoyable week.

Main trophies winners in each class:

Fast Handicap: – Phil Newman & Kate Harmer (K6)
Fireball – Mark Maskell & Nigel Sheppard
Laser - James Crook
Medium Handicap – Terry Crook (Blaze)
Wayfarer – Nikki & Chris Segura
Sprite – Bevis & Tessa Wright
Topper – Billy Dyer
Mirror – Lucy Bettley & Nick Evans
Optimists – Sophie Johnson
Fast Cruisers – Triton (Peter Copsey)
Club Cruisers – Sophie (Guy Hawkins)

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