Nationals 2014 Race Report - Day 1

Event Sponsored by Noble, Performance Penguin, fbm Holidays

Fireball Nationals 2014 - Tenby Sailing Club

Day 1

Tenby SC welcomed the Fireball fleet to their picturesque seaside town for the 52nd National Championships.  45 boats made the long journey down the M4 and beyond to be greeted with one of the best sailing venues in the UK. The clubs welcome and the 1st days racing did not disappoint.

In a lovely expanse of water a couple of miles off Sandersfoot the fleet completed a practice race and 2 competitive races in stunning yet testing conditions. With 20 knots of wind coming off the land the stage was set for some epic racing in great fireball weather.

Using a gate start, race 1 got off 1st time, with the majority of the fleet choosing to start early. Neither side of the beat seemed to pay consistently but with some big 20 degree shifts and varying pressure across the course, the fleet were soon spread out as some took advantage of the shifty conditions. The recently crowned European Champion team of Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton got off to a flyer and by the wing mark they had established a good minute lead over 2nd place, the new GP14 world champion, Ian Dobson, sailing here with Tim Linsell. 4 gruelling laps of a big course later, the leaders crossed the line in the same positions and with a significant gap over the remainder of the fleet. 3rd place on the podium went to Dave Winder and Simon Potts. There were plenty of incidents and great racing throughout the fleet and with classic boats racing alongside shiny new boats and testing conditions, there were lots of capsizes, a couple of breakages and more than a few retirements.

With a bit of a wait between the races, the conditions felt more autumnal than summery and the chilly teams were delighted to get race 2 underway. The gate start again ensured the fleet got away 1st time and this time the positions at the front got mixed up a little. With the majority again starting early, it was the boats who went straight onto port who popped out at the windward mark leading the fleet. The reach that followed is best described as fruity! A major squall came down off the cliffs, leaving some of the perhaps more sensible teams 2 sailing the leg, while those that had the weight to carry a spinnaker held on and rode out the thrill ride. The squall claimed a number of casualties and there were further retirements in race 2, but for those that stayed on, another great, albeit slightly shorter race was enjoyed. At the finish line it was Matt Burge and Simon Walker who showed the form to win it, with usual suspects Gillard/Anderton claiming second and Dobson/Linsell in 3rd.

As the tired fleet hit the sandy shore of Tenby Harbour Beach, the sun was shining and suddenly it felt as if summer had returned. The crews enjoyed Tenbys summer spectacular on the quayside and met up at the club at 9pm for the evening prize giving, including the awarding of the famous yellow jersey, which is given daily for gross underachievement and must be worn for the next 24 hours. There were even fireworks!

Today there are 2 more races planned then pasties, the AGM, prize giving and a quiz tonight at the club. With conditions vastly similar to yesterday it will be a case of survival of the fittest.

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