British win pre-worlds

The Safaricom World Fireball Sailing Championship at Kilifi started with International Week last Tuesday to Friday with a brisk breeze blowing over a sparkling sea, and a school of dolphins playing around the Committee boat. British boats established a firm lead, with Howarth/Townend taking first place twice and Wade/Wagstaff taking second place twice.

The second day produced equally fine sailing conditions, with slightly lighter wind in the third race increasing for the fourth. Two boats (skippered by Vincent Horey and Alex Bale) were over the line at the start of the third and were disqualified for not returning to recross the start line. Malcolm Davies and crew Fiona Jump established a commanding lead and never looked back, winning the third race easily. Horey and Bale made no mistakes in the fourth race and came in the winner, followed in by Howarth and Townend.

The Kenya boats were led by John Trundell and Peter Hime who secured 13th and 10th places in the first two races and then on the Wednesday an excellent fifth in the third race. A fine performance was given by young Kenyans Omar Mbithi and Steve Ogada who improved from 26th in the first race to 18th in the.

At Kilifi, Kenya the last two races of International Week took place on Saturday in light and light/medium winds and bright sunshine. In race five much of the fleet was over the line at the start and so after a general recall the black flag went up. This still did not stop the rush to the start and there were still six boats across ahead of the gun.

The UK boats confirmed their hold on the event with Wade and Wagstaff winning both races five and six and Horey and Turner with a fifth and a third. Howarth and Townend’s second place in race five was sufficient to win them the series, so they headed for the beach ahead of the fleet. Second place in the series were Wade and Wagstaff, with Horey and Turner in third.

The first Kenyan boat was Trundell and Hime who gained 8th and 7th places, and ended International Week in overall 10th position. The first Irish boat was McCarthy and McCusker with two excellent finishes at third and second, ending fifth overall. Young Kenyans Mbithi and Ogada had their best result of the series at 16th in the fifth race.

International Week ended with a prizegiving ceremony at the Mnarani Club beach bar, with prizes for each race, top series places, the top series team, the boat with the first lady on board, and the special prize awarded for the boat which visited the Measurer more often than any other boat (to Cullen and Tillson, with applause). The team element of the event is just an additional fun feature of the event – team racing rules do not apply but racing points are accumulated to give a team score. Each team has a sponsor and most of the teams have received polo shirts from their sponsors to wear. Team Going Places took the Team prize for International Week.