Fireball Open at Grafham Water Sailing Club

Grafham Water served up its usual blend of perfect weather conditions and excellent race management for the Fireball open over the weekend of 18th/19th April.

Saturday saw sun and a fresh, albeit chilly, 15-20 knot breeze but there were shifts enough to play, and those who played them well gained substantially. There was also the added fun of sharing the course with the Flying Fifteens, which made for some exciting mark roundings.

After the obligatory “practice start” and subsequent recall for Race 1, the black flag imposed some start line discipline and the fleet got away at the second attempt. It was to be an all champions affair with 2005 World Champions, Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend taking an early lead to go on and win the race from 2006 European Champions Andy Smith and Jonny Mildred in second and 2008 National Champions, Dave Wade and Ben McGrane, third.

In Race 2 Derian and Andy Scott and Matt Findlay and Richard Anderton made the early running but they were both overhauled by Howarth to take his second bullet, with Wade second and Findlay third. In Race 3, class newcomer Findlay fulfilled the potential he had shown all day by winning the race with Smith second and Howarth third.

If any of the Fireballers were hoping for the forecast 8 knot breezes and 19 degree temperatures on Sunday in order to rest their weary limbs from the exertions of the previous day, they were to be disappointed with Race 4 starting in similar conditions to Saturday. Smith slotted in a bullet with Howarth second and class veterans Martyn Lewis and Richard Byne third.

The wind dropped slightly to 12-15 knots for Race 5. Howarth led from start to finish to take the race, and with it the meeting with a race to spare, and Lewis slipped past Wade on the last run to take second. Smith led Race 6 from the beginning and was never seriously challenged with current World Champion crew Richard Wagstaff with his new helm Matt Burge second. Wade crossed the line third only to find he had picked up his second BFD of the day to pull Howarth up to third.

The next fixture in the Fireball Calendar is the Peter Milne Memorial Race on 26th April at Hayling Island SC to commemerate the life of the designer of the Fireball and former editor of Yacbts and Yachting who sadly passed away last year.

Overall Results:

1st 15013, Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend (Bewl Valley SC) 8pts
2nd 14895, Andy Smith and Jonny Mildred (Notts County SC) 11pts
3rd 14, Phil Popple and Gavin Tillson (Shoreham SC) 24pts
4th 14899, Matt Findlay and Richard Anderton (Weston SC) 27pts
5th 14226, Martyn Lewis and Richard Byne (Draycote Water SC) 27pts
6th 14994, Matt Burge and Richard Wagstaff (Poole YC) 30pts

Full Results

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