Staunton Harold SC Open
Staunton Harold SC

21/03/2020 - 22/03/2020


Hayling Island SC Open
Hayling Island SC

02/05/2020 - 03/05/2020


Brightlingsea SC Open (Golden Dolphin)
Brightlingsea SC

06/06/2020 - 07/06/2020


Blackwater SC Open Meeting
Blackwater SC

20/06/2020 - 21/06/2020


UK National Championship
Weymouth & Portland NSA

25/07/2020 - 28/07/2020


Irish Open Championship at Dun Laoghaire

This year’s Irish Fireball Association Open Championship was held last weekend in conjunction with the biennial Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. The regatta had an overall entry of 450 boats, 24 of which were Fireballs. Over half of the fleet raced on Thursday and Friday as part of the regatta series, while the remaining boats arrived on Saturday for the Open event. Four top class Fireball teams travelled over from the UK to compete, raising the bar for the top Irish boats. The Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club did a great job hosting all of the dinghy fleets for the duration of the regatta. After racing each day, good food and music were on offer in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in a lovely seated area on the waterside deck.

Saturday started out with a thick sea fog hampering visibility and forcing a one hour postponement for all fleets. Conditions improved during that time and a 10 knot breeze steadied from the South East. Race officer Harry Gallagher used a modified Olympic course configuration to accommodate the five fleets that would be racing in his area.

The Fireballs led the order of starting. In race one, Noel Butler sailing with Seamus Moore got away cleanly and managed to retain their lead from start to finish. UK team Andrew Pearce sailing with Adam Broughton crossed the line in second, ahead of compatriots Derian Scott and Andy Scott. In the Silver fleet, Northern Ireland’s Brian O’Neill and Ruaidhri O’Neill claimed first place ahead of new Dun Laoghaire team, Marie Barry and Paul Flannery.

Quick turn arounds were to be the order of the day, and race two was soon underway. The tide was now starting to ebb and the fleet were carried forward on the line. A black flag had to be flown in order to get a clean start. First finishers were Andrew Pearce and Adam Broughton, ahead of Tim Rush and Richard Pepperdine. Derian Scott and Andy Scott followed in third place. Brian O’Neill took his second silver fleet gun of the day.

Race three got underway in a freshening breeze. Again the line honours went to a UK team. Peter Grey sailing with Simon Forbes took the top spot, followed by Tim Rush and Richard Pepperdine. Noel Butler and Seamus Moore finished in third. Marie Barry and Paul Flannery took silver fleet line honours to finish their day of racing. Andrew Pearce and Adam Broughton were now leading the Open event and the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta overall.

With the scheduled races for the day completed, the fleet sailed home as the breeze kicked up. The fleet were sailing in 23 knots by the time we reached the harbour. The forecast had indicated that windspeeds of 30 knots and rain squalls could be expected later in the evening. Boats were tied down well and the fleet went for an enjoyable dinner. The party continued in the yacht clubs, a mix of bands and DJ’s providing the sounds, and packed bars doing a brisk trade well into the small hours.

Sunday dawned and two races were required to complete the event. Sailing conditions were not kind to those who were feeling delicate. A gusty westerly wind blowing between 12 and 22 knots meant that rigs were well raked and teams had to work hard to keep their boats performing well in the turbulent wind and sea conditions.

The first race of the day had casualties right from the start. Five boats were scored OCS by being carried over by the flooding tide. Capsizing also became increasingly fashionable during the day as the race progressed - the windward mark and the gybe mark were particular hotspots. By the end of the race, Andrew Pearce and Adam Broughton had taken some pressure off their event lead by taking another winning gun. Derian Scott and Andy Scott finished in second, with Noel Butler and Seamus Moore in third place.

The fifth and final race of the championship included a brief moment of experimental Fireball sailing. Damien Bracken and Brian O’Hara had their rudder come off the back of the boat during a breezy kite reach – a bath was on its way. Elsewhere Noel Butler & Seamus Moore were working their way up the fleet after a poor start. Getting past the leading Skerrries boats, they chose the correct side of the final beat to take line honours ahead of Phil Lawton and Francis Rowan, with Peter Grey and Simon Forbes finishing in third. Andrew Pearce and Adam Broughton came home fourth, and ended up tied on points for first place with Noel and Seamus. Pearce / Broughton were declared the winners of the Open event on countback, also winning the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Fireball trophy (raced over four days).

Dave Coleman sailing with Cormac Bradley took the Silver fleet first place in both of the day’s races to win the Silver fleet overall from the new combination of Jennifer Toettcher and Suzie Mulligan. Brian O’Neill and Ruaidhri O’Neill, sailing the very smart looking Severn hull 14595, were in third place.

Overall Results:

Gold Fleet
1st Andrew Pearce & Adam Broughton (1st Fireball, Volvo Regatta)
2nd Noel Butler & Seamus Moore
3rd Derian Scott & Andy Scott (2nd Fireball, Volvo Regatta)

Silver Fleet
1st Dave Coleman & Grattan Donnelly / Cormac Bradley
2nd Jennifer Toettcher & Suzie Mulligan
3rd Brian O’Neill & Ruaidhri O’Neill

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