Zhik 50th Anniversary Nationals - Final Report

Sponsored by: Zhik, Harken, Pinnel & Bax, Winder, North Sails, Creation Covers, Polgoon Winery, Cornish Mead Company, Scarlett Wines

Penzance sailing club warmly welcomed the Fireball fleet for the 4th time for their 50th anniversary National Championships. The 57 entries were excited at the prospect of 5 days racing in the fabulous Mounts Bay.

In race 1, the Ellis Brothers, James & Dan, sailing the brand new fleet boat, stormed the gate early and tramped the 1st beat to lead at the windward mark, closely followed by Tim Rush & Sam Pascoe with Vince Horey & Vyv Townend in 3rd. Place changes were difficult in the constant and steady 10 knot breeze, and the 3 boats held position throughout, to cross the finish line with the Ellis brothers taking the 1st bullet.

In race 2, Andy & Lesley Foskett used the pathfinders ticket to the favoured right hand side of the course. They led at the windward mark with Sam Mettam & Richard Anderton breathing down their necks. Half way down the 1st reach it started to blow, leaving the lightweight Fosketts unable to hold their lane and Mettam & Anderton romped past to take the lead, a position they went on to win from. Rush & Pascoe also came through, taking second, with the Ellis brothers taking 3rd, cementing them as overnight leaders.

The evening was celebrated at the club with the commodore's reception, the prize giving for the race winners, and some quality prizes courtesy of the sponsors, distributed randomly throughout the fleet.

On day 2 the SW wind freshened to around 15 knots and brought a rolling swell in with it. Alan Krailing - 3 times Lark national champion - and his crew Tim Linsell, led to the windward mark, followed by the consistent Ellis brothers, with Horey & Townend rounding 3rd. Krailing & Linsell held the lead until the final reach, when the on form Ellis's were able to drive over the top to take their second bullet of the week, and consolidate their leading position.

In race 4, the pathfinders, Derian & Andy Scott, used their ticket to the right side of the course to lead round the 1st mark, closely followed by current world champion Tom Gillard & Bernie Gammon. With the winds dying away but big seas remaining, Derian & Andy managed to hold off the charging Gillard & Gammon for half the race, but were eventually overcome. The leading Ellis's had their worst result so far, finishing 6th, but it was enough for them to hold their overnight lead from Rush & Pascoe and Horey & Townend, both tied for second.

That evening everyone gathered for the lively class AGM and the Chairman of the past 2 years, Tim Saunders, resigned his post and handed over to newly elected Chairman Jez White. The class was pleased to announce that Fireball International has chosen the UK to host the world championships in 2015.

On day 3 the sun finally made an appearance and race 5 got underway in choppy seas and 8-10 knots. The consistent Ellis's led at the 1st mark and went on to take their 3rd win of the series, followed by Rush & Pascoe and Mettam & Anderton.

For race 6 a last minute 15-degree wind shift made a late start out of the gate favourable. The pathfinders, Becky Priest & Tim Saunders, led at the windward mark and held their position throughout to take the gun. The ever-present Ellis Bros came in second with Rush & Pascoe 3rd.

Despite the pessimistic forecast, the fleet got out for 2 more races on day 4 after a welcome lay day. The previous day's storm had left a big swell running, accompanied by 20 knots from the south. Gillard & Gammon led round the 1st mark, with Mettam & Anderton right behind. The challenging conditions led to plenty of place changes but Mettam & Anderton battled through the big seas to take the gun from Gillard & Gammon, with Rush & Pascoe coming in 3rd.

Race 8 got underway in freshening winds and massive waves. Rush & Pascoe reveled in the extreme conditions and were 1st round the windward mark. They went on to take their 1st race win of the week with Gillard & Gammon taking second, and the Ellis Brothers coming in 3rd.

On the final day, strong winds accompanied with driving rain, poor visibility and another large swell, led to the Race Officer making an early decision to not release the fleet on grounds of safety, and the championship was brought to an unfortunately premature end. The prize giving ceremony was brought forward and the new National Champions, James & Dan Ellis were proudly presented with their trophy. They had sailed a superbly consistent series, and in the six races that counted, delivered 3 bullets and 3 podium finishes, with a championship total of 11 points (net). An astonishing score by any standards.

The UK Fireball Association's dedicated investment in the talent of young British sailors has paid off handsomely. The Ellis brothers are recognized as outstanding prospects for the future. They were given the opportunity to sail the brand new fleet boat for the season, and were delighted to capitalize on the fantastic opportunity. Thanks go to the boats sponsors: Winder Boats, Harken, Pinnel & Bax and the UKFA.

The fireball class celebrates and recognises all levels of sailing and whilst everyone races together, the fleet is split into Gold, Silver, Bronze and Classic Boat.

Penzance SC hosted fantastic championships, with well-organized racing in brilliantly testing conditions, and a warm and welcoming team at the clubhouse. The pasties hit the spot, the Cornish ale flowed freely, and tales of nautical derring-do abound. It was a fitting celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the class. Roll on 51, the Fireball and its fleet still feels less than half their age.

The winners were;

Perseverance trophy:

Peter Verner & Bruno Valeri - 14388 - " Beyond Belief" - Parkstone YC

Classic Fireball Trophy:

3rd Geoff & Sophie Holden - 14229 -"Pink Panther" - Northampton SC

2nd Colin Stephens & Tom Klisky - 13779 - Penzance SC

1st Rupert Smith & Chris Turner -14242- "Comfortably Numb" - Newhaven & Seaford YC


1st Novice:

Crew - Amy Giles -13697 - "Albert" - Paignton SC

Helm - Dale Giles - 14514 - "Ultraviolet" - Paignton



3rd Andy Robinson & Tim Morgan - 14991- "Two Fat Laddies" - Datchet SC

2nd Sarah Everitt & James Wallace - 14685 - "White Flag" - Portishead Y & SC

1st Stewart Scarff & David Warner - 15038 - "Rock n Rolla" - Shoreham SC



3rd Christine & Graham Slater - 15045 - "Norbert" - Paignton SC

2nd Pete Badham & John Rhode - 14994 - "Licken on Both Sides" - Draycote Water SC

1st Frederic Mouches & J_Francois Nouel - FR14793 - "Desmond" - SNO/APCC


1st Lady:

Helm: Derian Scott - 14941 - "Southpaws" - Chew Valley Lake SC

Crew: Lesley Foskett - 14935 - "On the Edge" - Staunton Harold SC


1st under 21:

Helm - Matt Foskett - 1493 - Staunton Harold

Crew - Nick Hydon - 14976 - "Tonka Too" - Shustoke SC


1st over 50:

Helm "wheelchair Trophy"- Tim Rush  - 15065 - "Allez Wiggo" - Nottingham SC

Crew - Russell Thorne - 15050 - Notts County SC





Brixham Trophy:

Anthony & James Wilcox (awarded for the 1st boat that has never finished in the top 10 of any nationals)


10th - Kevin Hope & Russel Thorn - 15050 - Notts County SC

9th - Becky Priest & Tim Saunders -15073 - "Bossy three" - Staunton Harold SC

8th - Derian & Andy Scott - 14941 - "Southpaws" - Chew Valley Lake SC

7th - David Hall & Paul Constable - 15085 - " Simples II" - Thorpe Bay SC

6th - Alan Krailing & Tim Linsell - 15036 - Waldringfield SC

5th - Vince Horey & Vyv Townend - 15013 - Bewl Valley SC

4th - Tom Gillard & Bernie Gammon - 15083 - Zhik/P&B Race Team - Sheffield Viking SC


3rd - Sam Mettam & Richard Anderton - 15081 - Rotherham SC -20 points

2nd - Tim Rush & SamPascoe -15065 - "Allez Wiggo" - Nottingham/Castle Cove SC - 13 points

1st - James & Dan Ellis -15080 - "Klass Fireball" - Royal Plymouth YC - 11 points








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