Hayling Island UK Open Meeting

14 June 2017

The Fireball Open meeting at Hayling Island brought 25 boats to the south coast to enjoy two days of great racing and glorious sunshine. The weekend was shared with both the Merlin and Contender fleets who also had Hayling Open meetings.

The race committee elected to combine all three classes onto one course in Bracklesham Bay with two committee boats – one manning a finishing line at the leeward mark, and the other a starting line halfway up the beat. This was very successful with the committee able to keep the racing flowing, with little or no hanging around between races – particularly because if a class had a general recall they went to the back of the queue. The first start was a Merlin one and their general recall was enough to persuade the rest of us to stay under control.

 The first day started with 15 knot breezes from the south that gradually subsided and clocked left slightly during the day. There were three races in a range of conditions, the first being consistently 15 knots, and the last ending with boats struggling to get to the finish in 6 knots of breeze and a strong tide. The sail-in was the longest part of the day, with boat-builder David Winder trying to emulate some of the locals by taking a short-cut across the breaking waves, and finding that 6 inches of water was not enough.

 All three races were won by long time Fireball sailor and 2014 world champion, Christian Birrell, with 5 time world champion Vyv Townend crewing. However, not far behind was Kevin Hope and Russell Thorne with 2-4-2, and current world champion Tom Gillard, with new crew Geoff Edward with 3-2-3 (Tom's crew for the past few years, Richard Anderton, being side-lined with a knee injury). Another favourite, Matt Burge was doing well until the second last leg of the first race when his rudder parted company from the boat, and then refused to go back on its pintles, leading to an early shower.

 The second day started with a long fetch out against the tide, with a dose of the waves that were going to become a feature of the day, with long rolling breakers coming across Hayling bar. This wind started at 15 knots, the same as the previous day, but was more from the south-west, and it built through the day, until in the second race the boats were sailing in "full-on" conditions of 20-25 knots with large seas. Tom and Geoff found the conditions more to their liking recording two good wins, despite being pushed by Christian and Vyv for most of the time. By the end of end of the second race, many competitors had switched to survival mode, with a number of competitors checking the condition of their centreboard gasket - at one point the gybe mark resembled a Merlin graveyard.

Ultimately, only two races were sailed on Sunday, because the tide was going to change by the time a third race had finished and the race committee has long memories of large fleets battling in over Hayling bar in wind against tide conditions – the 1979 Fireball Nationals is still part of club folklore where nearly 20 masts were broken in one afternoon. Even without an adverse tide the conditions were challenging enough, with one mast being broken on the way in, so all competitors were happy to get ashore and head to the bar to add a few more Hayling Island bay stories to their repertoires.

Overall Results:


PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st 15144 Christian Birrell Vyv Townsend Bough Beech SC 1 1 1 ‑2 2 5
2nd 15127 Tom Gillard Geoff Edwards Sheffield Viking SC ‑3 2 3 1 1 7
3rd 15133 Kevin Hope Russell Thorne Lyme Regis SC 2 4 2 6 ‑9 14
4th 15112 David Sayce Nick Rees HISC 5 3 4 5 ‑7 17
5th 15124 Pete Kyne Tom Kyne Brightlingsea 6 7 5 ‑8 5 23
6th 15120 Vince Horey Simon Forbes KGSC 4 5 8 7 (DNC) 24
7th 15130 David Winder Ben Rayner Hollingworth Lake 8 6 7 ‑13 4 25
8th 15143 Isaac Marsh Oliver Davenport   9 14 ‑18 4 6 33
9th 14928 Anthony Willcocks James Willcocks Portishead Yacht & SC 11 10 6 (OCS) 12 39
10th 15103 Keith Walker John Piatt HISC 7 12 ‑13 12 8 39
11th 15045 Christine Slater Graham Slater Portishead 10 9 11 9 (DNC) 39
12th 14791 Steve Goacher Steve Chesney HISC 13 8 10 ‑18 18 49
13th 14889 Barry Smith Jo Line Thornbury SC 15 ‑17 12 11 11 49
14th 15099 Simon Kings C Stockman HISC 18 11 9 19 (DNC) 57
15th 15123 Matt Burge Dan Schieber Poole YC (DNC) DNC DNC 3 3 58
16th 14821 Nick Hurst Jake Elsbury HISC 14 ‑19 16 15 14 59
17th 15036 Fiona Gray Jez White Waldringfield 17 20 (DNC) 10 13 60
18th 15111 Chris Turner Jono Loe HISC 12 13 20 17 (DNC) 62
19th 14804 Tobias Hamer Torie Morley Port Dinorwic 16 15 14 14 (DNC) 62
20th 14950 Chris Thorne Andy Stewart   ‑19 18 17 16 15 66
21st 15097 B Clegg David Pannell Brightlingsea (DNF) 16 15 DNC 10 67
22nd 14388 James Cuxon James Arnott Newhave & Seaford SC 20 ‑21 19 20 16 75
23rd 15121 Bryan Thompson Hugo Knight HISC 21 22 21 ‑23 17 81
24th 13656 Tony Godwin Charlie Plows Rutland Water 22 ‑23 22 21 19 84
25th 14656 Simon Benson Colin Parke HISC (DNC) DNC DNC 22 DNC 100