Clear skies and a Force 5 greeted the 34 Fireball sailors at Datchet Water open meeting on 31 March-1 April.

Clear skies and a Force 5 greeted the 34 Fireball sailors at Datchet Water open meeting on 31 March-1 April.

The first race got away after just one recall, and it was the boats that blasted off to the right-hand side of the course, that reached the windward mark first. Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff led from Vince Horey and Jon Mildred, who where closely followed by Angus Hemmings and Steve Chesney. By the time these boats reached the leeward mark it was clear by their lead that the winner would come from this trio. Horey passed Wade up the next beat and then pulled away to win. Wade and Hemmings swapped places a few times but it was Wade who took second with Hemmings third.

The wind increased for the start of race two causing much wind spilling upwind. Horey and Wade rounded the first mark in that order. However, at the leeward mark Horey managed to sail over his spinnaker sheet and thus had to let his crew helm from the wire while he climbed on the foredeck to retrieve the sheet. Wade took this opportunity and went on to win the race with Horey second and Hemmings again third. This left Horey and Wade on equal points at the halfway stage.

Sunday morning was a different story with the wind dropping to a Force 2, which was a comfort to most of the competitors who where still suffering from the strong winds of the day before. Again the fleet got away after one recall and it was Ian Fryett and John Bale who where leading up the first beat, until the wind shifted 30 degrees under a big black cloud. This left the boats on the left-hand side of the course to round the windward mark first. Penny and Ian Gibbs led from Martin Scarth and Nigel Shepphard with Russ Woodley and Adrian Swainstow in third. There where many place changes over the next two roudns but by the windward mark Horey led Scarth with Mark and Simon Maskell in third. On the last beat Horey and Maskell got caught out by a 60 degree shift to port leaving Scarth and Gibbs to take full advantage finishing in that order with Maskell and Horey third and fourth.

Going into the last race four people could still win, but Horey and Wade seemed to be in the best position. Wade went hard right on the first beat followed by Horey. Hemmings got to the windward mark first followed by Maskell and these two sailed away from the fleet, Horey overtook Wade and was halting his progress through the fleet. Maskell went on to win from Hemmings and Fryett. Horey had kept Wade out of the top four and thus won the meeting.

Overall Results

1st GBR 14620, Vince Horey and Jon Mildred (King George Sailing Club)

2nd GBR 14629, Angus Hemmings and Steve Chesney (Hayling Island Sailing Club)

3rd GBR 14750, Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff (Northampton Sailing Club)

4th GBR 14655, Mark and Simon Maskell (Fishers Green Sailing Club)

5th GBR 14662, Martin Scarth and Nigel Sheppard (Blackwater Sailing Club)

6th GBR 14705, Penny Giggs and Ian Gibbs (Brightlingsea Sailing Club)

7th GBR 14636, Ian Fryett and John Bale (Stokes Bay Sailing Club)

8th GBR 13944, Ian Braham and Chris Sommer (Parkstone Yacht Club)