A total of 31 Fireballs descended on Hayling Island last weekend

A total of 31 Fireballs descended on Hayling Island for the open meeting over the weekend of 21-22 May.

A stiff southerly breeze on the Saturday meant that conditions over the notorious Hayling Bar were decidedly unfriendly and a worsening forecast left little option but to hold racing inside the harbour. To make life more difficult for race officer Adrian Murphy, the tide was ebbing fast and his only realistic option was to set a windward/leeward course in the Emsworth Channel.

In Race 1, world champion Andy Smith and crew Jonny Mildred got a good jump on the fleet but a navigational error meant that they headed to the wrong mark, gifting the lead to Vince Horey and Gavin Tilson. Unfortunately, the 505s who had started five minutes earlier, were running aground at the leeward mark which as a consequence was hurriedly towed into deeper water.

Murph prudently shortened course before the fleet were left high and dry with the result that, at seven minutes, this was possibly the shortest race in open meeting history. Horey held onto the lead, with Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff second and Adam Whitehouse and Mike Woodland third.

In order to get more depth for the second race, the course was moved down towards the Itchenor Channel for the second race of the day. This time Smith had his directional radar switched on and led from start to finish to win by a comfortable margin. Behind him there was a tough fight for the remaining places. Eventually, Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend recovered from a poor start to take second with Richard Estaugh and Rob Gardner and Kevin Hope and Russell Thorne fourth.

Conditions were much friendlier on the Sunday allowing a great day’s sailing out in the bay round an Olympic-type course in sunshine and 12-15 knot breeze.

In the first race of the day Howarth led from start to finish, with Wade taking second and Paul Cullen and Jon Ching in their new boat third.

Howarth again took an early lead in the second race of the day but was passed by both Wade and Smith on the second beat. However, a good run saw him take back Smith and the finish order was Wade, Howarth, Smith and then Hope.

Going into the last race, effectively Smith, Wade or Howarth could take the meeting. Wade again won the race, but Howarth’s second place was sufficient to win the meeting overall.

Overall Results

1st 14830 Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend (Hayling Island SC) 7 pts

2nd 14880 Dave Wade and Richard G Wagstaff (Northampton SC) 9 pts

3rd 14895 Andy Smith and Jonny Mildred (Notts County SC) 9 pts

4th 14898 Paul Cullen and Jon Ching (Weirwood SC) 18 pts

5th 14839 Kevin Hope and Russell Thorne (Notts County SC) 19 pts

6th 14870 Vince Horey and Gavin Tilson (Fishers Green SC) 24 pts