The Winder Fireball on display at Sailboat is one of the first boats to be built incorporating the new rules.

Because Winder Boats are known for building quality products I wasn’t surprised to find the gleaming new Winder Fireball attracting more than a bit of attention on the class association stand in the Great Hall.

This new boat owned by Andy Wilcocks is one of the first built to the new rules to allow larger drain tubes through the aft tank. According to Dave Winder, the new rule change has made all the difference. “It now makes the boat almost self-draining without a double bottom. Because the boat planes so well, the hull lifts and the water just drains out aft.” The other class rule change also adopted last year was to allow more correctors from four and a half to seven and a half kilos.

Interestingly the Fireball class tends to favour spinnaker bags as opposed to chutes but the good thing about this innovative class is that if you want a chute you can have one. “Some people still opt for the chute and we’re quite happy to put one in,” said Winder, ” but one of the main disadvantage is the weight distribution. You get the extra weight of the wet spinnaker in the bow and the water does tend to flood the chute particularly at sea.”

The layout on this new boat has been well thought-out. Wilcocks, the owner, who sails the boat with his seven and a half stone wife as crew, has used his previous Fireball experience to fit the boat out to his own racing spec and basically made life as simple as possible. All the control lines including the twinners are led aft with the kicking strap situated under the swivel mainsheet horse. Even the jib leech control line is led back to the helmsman. “The most critical controls on the Fireball in my opinion,” says Winder, “is the jib leech control which you tend to drop out when it’s really windy.”

Surpisingly the Fireball hasn’t gone down the carbonfibre-rig path yet but according to Winder: “It’s something we, as builders, would really like to look in because you’d automatically loose a hugh lump of weight from the boat.” But according to Rachel Keeling: “until the costs of carbonfibre come down to a more realistic level the class probably wouldn’t consider it.”