27th December 2011 - 7th January 2012
Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club
Mandurah, Western Australia
The Fireball class enjoys its 50th anniversary this year and 65 boats from 7 countries took to the waters of Comet Bay in Mandurah, Western Australia for the opening day of the 2012 International Fireball Worlds. Two races were held under partly cloudy skies but ideal 10 - 16 knot breezes, building later in the afternoon with gusts to 18 knots.
The PRO set two races using the now familiar Triangle/Sausage/Triangle courses, enjoyed by the class as it provides some exhilarating reaches. As the kiwis say, The sheep were almost out of the paddock a few white tops and a small swell gave competitors plenty to test them.
Race 1 begun on time at 1300 hrs local with a clean start in around 12 knots from the S/SE. Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey (GBR) led round the windward mark ahead of two Adelaide boats, Greg Allison and Richard Watson (AUS) and new Australian National Champions, John Heywood and Brett Littledike.
The Brits managed to hold off the challenge of the chasing Australians flying down the tight reaches but the battle for second and third remained all the way to the final reach to the turning mark for the finish.
Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey took the gun from Tom Gordon and Jack Fletcher (AUS) who sailed through the top half of the fleet with good boat speed. Third on the podium was Dave Wade and Tim Saxton of Great Britain, who also gained places on the reaches.
There was a short wait between races to reset the course due to a slight shift and increase in wind pressure. The breeze had notched up a few knots with some gusts making the downwind gybes quite taxing for the lower half of the fleet, resulting in a number of retirements from race two of the day.
Another clean start saw John Heywood and Brett Littledike leading the chasing Adelaide gaggle of Greg Allison and Richard Watson, and fellow club members, Nathan Stockley and Dave Kemp. The Australian champions gained on every leg showing superior boat speed to open up at least a 200m lead by the last wing mark. The chase for second however was all on for the two Aussie boats, neck and neck all the way down the final reach.
John Heywood and Brett Littledike showed a clean pair of heals scoring their first bullet of the 2012 Worlds and on the final hitch to the finish, Greg Allison and Richard Watson prevailed from club chums, Robert Inns and Joel Coultas. The British pair of Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey climbed to fourth to finish day one with a three point lead in the championship.
Once we were clear ahead we were able to comfortably extend remarked Heywood in the boat park. We had good boat speed in those wind strengths. The first race was a bit shifty but in the second we managed to find the marks well and just extended. he added.
Heywood/Littledike and Inns/Coultas share 8pts with Britain's Dave Wade and Tim Saxton on 9pts. British and Australian boats make up the top 9 places overall, Martin Korbovy and Pavel Winkler from the Czech Republic lie in 10th. Meanwhile the new International Fireball Week champions, Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend of Great Britain had a mediocre start to their Worlds, (by their standards!) scoring a sixth and ninth to sit in 8th place overall.
The fleet were welcomed ashore to a superb smorgasbord of local seafood provided by Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club, (oh and free beer!!). Racing resumes at 1300 hrs local time tomorrow (Tuesday) with an advanced forecast of good south easterly breezes of 15 â€" 20 knots.
A stunning day's racing on day two of the International Fireball Worlds sailed in Comet Bay, Mandurah under clear blue skies with just a hint of wispy alto cirrus and gusty south-easterly offshore winds. Some tired sailors came ashore with big smiles on their faces after ideal Fireball sailing conditions including some exhilarating reaches. A number of competitors remarked that this was the fastest speeds they had achieved in their boats.
With a bullet and a second, South Australians, Robin Inns and Joel Coultas take a two point lead in the regatta over Brits, Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey with two more Adelaide teams just five points adrift.
The opening race of the day was delayed a short time whilst the breeze settled. The average wind speed was not too strong but it was shifting by up to 30 degrees, making the PRO's job quite demanding. One false start as the majority of the pack ganged up on the pin end of the line which was a shame for current 470 Olympic Gold medallist local, Tessa Parkinson as she flew out of the starting blocks on port tack.
The second start was clean under black flag and the fleet of 65 Fireballs headed upwind deep into Comet Bay towards the beach. First round the windward mark was Western Australian, Americas Cup and past Fireball master, Gordon Lucas and his crew Jake Flintoff, closely followed by the Brit pack including regatta leader Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey. But after the wing mark gybe, two South Australian boats, Robin Inns and Joel Coultas and Greg Allison and Richard Watson, absolutely flew downwind to power into the lead.
Inns/Coultas and Allison/Watson got engaged in a dogfight up the next beat but it was Inns/Coultas who rounded clear ahead with the British pair, Gillard and Brearey in close pursuit. John Heywood and Brett Littledike had also worked up through the fleet to get in sight of a podium finish. The final reach got quite fresh, providing a few spills but Inns steered 'Dreadlock Holiday' to take the gun ahead of Gillard/Brearey in 'North Meets South' and 'Renegade' of Heywood/Littledike third.
Robin Inns said modestly in the bar later, "We got a bit lucky, we read the shifts well but they were big! The guys in front of us got caught by a big gust which backed their jib and dropped them in the drink!"
There was a short delay to adjust the course but the conditions remained similar apart from the gusts just got stronger! The second race of the day was a clean start with a new leader at the top mark. British boat 'Southpaws' sailed by Derian and Andy Scott sailed a solid first beat to round just ahead of fellow Brits, Martin Lewis and Richard Byrne.
Two ultra fast reaches later and the flying Brits Lewis/Byrne has stormed into a good lead followed by the consistent Aussies, Inns and Coultas. By the last windward mark rounding Lewis and Byrne sailing 'Mutleys Revenge' were lapping back markers and opening up a 100m lead. Good boat handling downwind secured them a deserved victory over the new regatta leaders Inns and Coultas. Multiple Fireball World champions Chips Howard and Vyv Townend finished their day with the final step on the podium for race four.
The Fireball class awards handicap prizes each day and today's winners were: Race 3, Jim Hughes and James Belton from South Australia, and Race 4, Derian and Andy Scott of Great Britain.
Surprisingly more of the fleet finished both races today proving that lessons are learnt at all levels which is a great sign for a healthy class like the Fireball. The fleet came ashore to more free beer and 'snags in buns' supplied by the host club Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club.
Forecast for tomorrow: Slightly less breeze, 12 - 15 knots from the East and a chance of a thunderstorm.
International Fireball World Championship, hosted by Mandurah
Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club, is underway on Comet Bay in
Mandurah. After a night of thunderstorms the skies cleared and it
was another warm day on the waters for the third day of
Two more races were completed in very shifty 10-15 knot E/SE offshore breezes. However when the wind gets into this Easterly sector the West Australian locals advise there will be big shifts! This was definitely the case resulting in some very tactical racing.
With six races completed, competitors are able to discard their worst score, resulting in two leaders making a breakaway going into the business end of the championship. The British pair, Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey drop a sixth to lead on 10 points, two in front of Australians Robin Inns and Joel Coultas. There are then three boats chasing on 24 points.
Race five of the championship begun in a gentle 10-12 knots but the majority of the 63 boat fleet were over eager crowding the pin end and forcing a general recall. The following restart was far more civilised with the British pair Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey sailing 'North Meets South' (probably named as Tom sails from Sheffield Vikings and Sam from Fishers Green in the UK), surging away at the committee boat end. Several big shifts later and it was a Brit pack rounding the windward mark first time around. Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend from Gillard/Brearey and yesterdays race winners, Martyn Lewis and Richard Byne.
The now familiar 'whisky' course involving a
'triangle/sausage/triangle' provided some difficult reaches for the
fleet. The wind was in between 'crouching trapezing' and 'full
trapezing' and the bullets blowing across the course area created a
'snakes and ladders' situation. The outstanding performer of the
day, Martin Korbovy and Pavel Winkler from the Czech Republic read
the shifts as good as any top crew starting the second lap with a
few boat lengths lead.
By the downwind leg on the sausage however, the young British crew of Gillard/Brearey were back in front. Howarth and Townend got caught by a big gust, capsizing on the gybe allowing Lewis/Byne and the Czechs to squeeze in at the bottom mark. Also making a move up the fleet was the other member of the British contingent, Dave Wade and Tim Saxton of the Zhik/PB Race Team.
Gillard and Brearey sped away opening up a sizeable lead whilst Howarth and Townend made up the lost ground to challenge Korbovy and Winkler for second place. The final reach was a bit of a luffing match but once the former world champions had gassed the Czechs there was no way back.
The breeze dropped off a little to the low teens, (in knots) but the shifts continued to play a part. There were also some awkward bullets of breeze causing the odd capsize. Race six was also started under a black flag after one mass general recall. The second start was very conservative but a big knock down at the committee boat end forced a number of the fleet to tack off to the unfavoured side of the course.
Around the top mark it was the Czechs again, Korbovy and Winkler
showing their pace. Wade and Saxton (GBR) and a gaggle of the
Australian armada followed. Two large packs ganged up on the wing
mark resulting in a lot of shouting and bumper car action. Lewis
and Byne got a march on current regatta leaders Robin Inns and Joel
Coultas (AUS) sailing 'Dreadlock Holiday' and the Czechs.
On the final leg of the triangle and the short hitch to the finish line, Inns and Coultas (AUS) sailed through to take the gun ahead of the charging Brits Gillard and Brearey who made several places on the final round. Third was Pavel and Winkler and fourth, a slightly disappointed Lewis and Byne sailing 'Mutleys Revenge'.
One competitor punching above his weight today was the Canadian
team of Joe Jospe and Tom Egli scoring two twelfths in difficult
conditions. Joe and Tom were awarded the handicap prize win for
race five and Peter Allison and Ian Nadebaum from South Australia
the handicap win for race six.
The now familiar routine of free beer when you sign off coming ashore, was followed by a dinner and presentation by hosts of the 2013 Fireball Worlds, Slovenia. Tomorrow (Thursday) is a layday before racing resumes with races seven and eight on Friday.
After a well earned rest to lick wounds and patch up boats, the fleet of 63 teams headed out into Comet Bay for the penultimate day of racing to decide the title winner of the 2012 International Fireball World Championship.
Again Mandurah delivered, this time with 15 - 20 knots from the S/SW but accompanied by some big rolling waves creating ideal conditions for fast Fireball racing. Some competitors were recording their personal best boat speeds and most came ashore with big grins.
The race for the title couldn't be closer; the two leaders have broken clear of the pack with two races remaining and one discard still to be counted once 9 races are sailed. Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey from Great Britain have their noses in front after two bullets today but it didn't come easy. They battled all the way round the race track with the lead changing hands several times as they duelled with their Australian rivals, Robin Inns and Joel Coultas. Both race finishes were settled by around one boat length on the finish line.
Back on shore Tom Gillard explained, "Last year we came second
in the worlds on count back so we are determined to go one better
"We have never sailed in Australia before but these are some of the biggest conditions we have sailed the Fireball in."
Tom's crew Sam Brearey added, "We have spent a lot of time in the gym training for this regatta and the fitness levels are starting to tell."
The race committee set the now familiar 'Whisky' course, (triangle/sausage/triangle), meaning several legs included super quick reaching but this time in rolling seas of around 2-3m at the top mark. The first reach was a two sail job but right before the bottom mark the leaders started to hoist kites before a tricky gybe mark. On the turn race leader Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend (GBR) caught a nasty gust, sending them wide and allowing the young guns Gillard and Brearey and the ever steady Inns and Coultas to tuck inside.
Some full-on three sail reaching followed, and these two broke away from the chasing pack including Greg Allison and Richard Watson (AUS) and 'The Big Bang Theory' sailed by class secretary Ben Schultz and crew Phil Bowley from Adelaide. The sausage leg didn't take the lead pack long so before the blink of an eye the Brit/Aussie dogfight ensued on the triangle again. It was a close finish but the Brits edged it with Howarth/Townend taking third and Allison/Watson fourth.
Considering the conditions the retirement rate was not too high, there was an assortment of broken masts, rudders and some gear failures but the fleet coped well.
The second race of the day (Race 8) was started after one general recall and conditions were similar, however the waves were noticeably bigger at the windward mark than the wing mark. Surprise surprise, Gillard and Brearey took a narrow lead around the top mark followed by Tom Gordon and Jack Fletcher of Australia and Britain's Martyn Lewis and Richard Byne. An impressive face plant by the French crew, Eric Moser and Jean Francsois Nouel was well worth an award, as were some of the other airborne roundings. Then the usual reaching battle between the top two boats played out all the way round the race course.
Ben Schulz and Phil Bowley were having a much better day, surfing down the waves into third spot. There were many place changes in the top ten according to who could fly their spinnaker and hold it on the tight reaches. As before, by the second lap, the two boats showing the superior boat handling were Gillard/Brearey and Inns/Coultas. The final triangle was a joy to watch as the two boats ducked and dived playing a game of cat and mouse.
As they turned for home at the final hitch mark it was the young British pair who again nosed in front to win by a boat length. Claiming third was the ever improving Schultz/Bowley partnership. Previous world champions, Howarth and Townend suffered a broken forestay and after a rapid repair, clawed their way back to 16th but effectively ended their chance of the title.
Outstanding performance of the day and handicap prizes went to Greg and Jeff Schultz from Adelaide, and in race 8; Phil and Glenn Peverell from Victoria in Australia.
Going into the final day's racing Gillard/Brearey lead Inns/Coultas by four points with a big gap to third on the podium. Races 9 & 10 to complete the series will be sailed tomorrow (Saturday), with a first start scheduled for 1100 hrs local time. A second discard comes into play after 9 races are sailed.
The usual free beer was handed out on returning ashore supplemented by a sausage sizzle at the MOFSC Weather for Saturday looks likely to be more of the same, big winds and big waves resulting in big smiles.
International Fireball World Championship, hosted by Mandurah
Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club, final day of racing could not
have been scripted to be more tense or exciting.
Tom Gillard and Sam Brearey of Great Britain went into the final day with a four point lead over arch rivals, Robin Inns and Joel Coultas of Australia. But there was another element to the equation in the form of a second discard after race nine was completed.
The PRO, Robin Olsen had an agonising task to set a course for the first race of the day with the breeze regularly shifting between 185 - 240 degrees. As the sea breeze tried to fill the pressure also varied from 10 - 18 knots. However Robin and his team stuck to the task and after two attempts the fleet got away to let the drama unfold.
The first lap was very shifty but true to form Robin Inns and Joel Coultas rounded the wing mark of the triangle in the lead with Gillard and Brearey buried in the top ten. The British boats following were now looking at the battle for third on the podium. Dave Wade and Tim Saxton were in close pursuit from Martyn Lewis and Richard Byne and Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend.
Inns and Coultas just extended their lead on each leg leaving the Brit pack and chasing South Australians to battle for second. Gillard and Brearey were still clawing their way back but it was looking like their second discard of the championship.
Once the discard was counted, this result left the two leaders on 12 points apiece and a nail biting last race prospect. The tension was obviously felt on the second race start line as Gillard and Brearey looked to nail the start but alas it was recalled. The black flag came out and added more anxiety. Then Inns and Coultas got the jump off the line and the first beat became a tactical battle of some magnitude.
The now familiar triangle reaching leg became very broad and
first round the top mark got a bit of breathing space on the fleet.
This turned into around 200m for Gillard and Brearey as they surged
down to the wing mark with a big chasing pack dicing for the inside
overlap. At this point the title looked to be won but as the
proverbial saying goes 'It's never over until it's over'. The
comeback kings, Inns and Coultas were gaining on every leg, going
high on the reach whilst others tried to sail fast and low and lay
the bottom mark with kites.
On the windward leg of the sausage, the pair tacked in unison but another mistake by the British pair at the windward mark when they touched the mark, resulted in them having to do a turn of shame. This reduced the distance between them but more was to come. On the downwind leg of the sausage, Gillard and Brearey sailed fast and low but a bit too low, gybing late and having to fast reach to the bottom mark. The Australians gybed early and flew down inside the Brits to drop their kite at the wing mark and regain the lead by a boat length.
Around the top for the last time and it was Gillard and Brearey who had regained the lead surfing down the reach to the wing mark for the last time. However, just over their shoulder was the red spinnaker of Inns and Coultas gaining rapidly. It was the Aussies turn for a small error in judgement at the wing mark having to drop and harden up to round. This nearly lost them second spot but in a 'never say die attitude' they got their kite up and gave chase.
The final reach to the final mark had spectators and supporters
with their hearts in their mouths as any mistake could be costly.
However this time, the young British pair held it together to cross
the finish line a matter of boat lengths in front of the South
For Gillard and Brearey it was almost relief to not be bridesmaids two years in a row, but on the way back to the shore Sam shouted exuberantly, 'We like to make it close'
Robin and Joel were very gracious in defeat on the way in. 'We are really happy with second' said Joel from the trapeze wire.
The battle for third on the podium also went down to the last
hitch to the finish. With South Australians Greg Allison and
Richard Watson beating past champions Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend
on the finish line in race nine and Dave Wade and Tim Saxton (GBR)
finishing fourth the result would be decided in the final race.
Again places changed all the way round the track but this time it
was the Adelaide based crew who prevailed with a fifth in race ten
to beat Wade and Saxton by three points overall. Only one point
behind Wade and Saxton with a flurry on the final day, Howarth and
Townend seal fifth overall.
And so it was, Mandurah certainly delivered the sailing conditions, the sailors made the regatta one of the closest on the water and everybody watching lost most of their fingernails!.
There is now a long break before the next International Fireball World Championship, to be held in Slovenia in September 2013. See you all there.