Vyv Townend with a look back on the Fireball class over the last year
Last year started with a bang with Fireballs dominating the winter handicap events throughout January. First up it was a breezy Grafham Grand Prix where Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff led a Fireball 1,2,3 whitewash. This was followed a week later with Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend winning a storm ravaged Bloody Mary, with another Fireball, Paul Cullen and Jonathan Ching, second. Proving that the Class is a handicap all rounder Tim Rush and Pete Elver won a light winds Steve Nicholson Memorial Race at Northampton at the end of the month.
The successes of January continued into February with victory in the Hoo Freezer in sub-zero conditions by 2001 National Champion Vince Horey, crewed by Townend. It was only at the last of the major winter classics, the Tiger Trophy, that the dreams of a Fireball Grand Slam of the winter handicap events came to an end.
Fastforwarding to the summer, the highlight of the year was of course the middle fortnight in August when Teign Corinthian Yacht Club in Devon hosted the 2005 National, European and World Championships.
For the first week 119 boats competed for the UK and European Championships. DJ Edwards, with 470 super crew Dan Newman, added to his 3 National titles by running away with the week, with Howarth and Townend trailing a distant second and last years European Champions Tomas Musil and Jan Stantejsky from the Czech Republic third.
If competitors thought 119 boats on a startline was daunting, they were in for shock for the Worlds the following week when the fleet swelled to an unprecedented 176 boats. With entries from 14 different countries and 16 National, European and World Champions from other classes amongst the UK Team alone, the Class can claim to be one of the most truly International and competitive classes outside the Olympics.
The championship went to a tense final race with Howarth and Townend taking the World crown from defending Champion Andy Smith and new crew Jonny Mildred, with class newcomers Guy Tipton Chris Tatersall third and Richard Estaugh and Rob Gardner fourth.
So what does the future hold for the Fireball in the UK? Although a nationals venue is yet to be confirmed for 2007, in Abersoch and Mount’s Bay the class is already booked in for two of the UK’s premier sailing venues for their nationals in 2006 and 2008. 2005 was a great year for Fireball sailing. It’s going to get even better from here.
Further details on the Fireball can be found at: www.fireball-dinghy.org.uk