Monday, April 20, 2015
Fireball Inland Championship. (Dave Hall personal comments at the bottom of article)
Grafham Water SC 18/19th April.
With the Class World Championship taking place later this year in the UK the first major Fireball event of the year was always going to attract the front runners from the home country. The level of competition was high as one can see in the results
Grafham Water delivered an excellent weekends racing and even arranged for the wind and sun to appear. The wind whilst good in strength on Saturday produced some very entertaining shifts creating a game of snakes and ladders not experienced for some time. There were some big scores so consistency was the name of the game.
Even with the shifts it was still the usual suspects at the front of the fleet. Christian Birrall & Sam Breary lead all the way round the first race until a sneaky pass to leeward by Tom Gillard & Andy Thompson on the last reach gave them line honors. Tom and Andy also took the second race of the day with Christian and Sam again in second place. With the wind becoming stronger and even more unstable the third race saw Dave Hall & Paul Constable take the lead and open up a big gap. However with the gusts, holes and shifts Ian Dobson & Tom Heywood took advantage and closed right up behind them down the run. A close battle up the last beat gave Ian & Tom the lead which they held to the finish.
At the end of day one it was Tom & Andy in first place followed by Ian & Tom in second and the ever consistent Dave and Paul in third.
Sunday dawned a little colder and a lighter wind. However, it was still very patchy and shifty. Ian & Tom continued where they left off winning the first race of the day with Tom and Andy in second. With the fleet getting a little tense PRO Peter Saxton went for the black flag after a recall. There were a number of casualties including Christian & Sam who already counting a DNS put themselves out of the running.
It was down to the last race for the overall winner. The fleet had learned that it paid to go left up the beat and with everyone charging that way it became very congested at the windward mark. Dave Wade & Simon Herbert got clear around the mark and left the rest of the fleet standing never to be caught. Tom & Andy and Ian & Tom were mid fleet but battled their way to 4th and 5th giving the championship to Tom & Andy with Ian & Tom as runners up. Dave and Paul did just enough to hang in there to claim 3rd spot.
A big thank you to Grafham Water SC and especially to Peter Saxton and his team who went out of their way to make sure we had a successful 2 days of sailing. Peter and his team will be the PRO at the World Championship later this year so it was good practice for both competitors and officials.
By team Hall/Constable.
We were really pleased at the weekend. After weeks of sail development it was the first time we had lined up against the top sailors in the fleet. Straight away we knew we were fast, all we had to do was keep our heads out of the boat and the brain in gear.
Grafham Water is renowned for shifts and guts and it did not disappoint! With speed and steady decisions we ended 3rd at the end of the first day narrowly missing out on a first place in race three with some typical Grafham bad luck!
The second day was very hard with pressure and shifts from all over the lake. However, consistency paid and resulted in third place overall - our best result ever at this championship.