Saturday 21st - Friday 27th August
From early in the morning on Saturday, Fireball after Fireball, poured down Porthpean hill to
the club. An official entry list of 63 grew to an actual entry of 74,
which gave us a slight headache as we had actually allocated berths for
only 69. However we did manage to squeeze them all in, with 50 on the green and the rest in the field.
A warm & pleasant sunny day
with a light offshore wind gave them all ample opportunity to register with Kay & Garry and then
have their official weigh in. Approximately half the fleet set off for the
practice race, which gave Peter Pope and the race team a good idea of gate start procedure &
course size etc.
The racing for the Championship started on Sunday and along came the wind in the shape of
a strong south westerly, blowing between 19 & 25 knots. The Fireballs had their 2003 Nationals at
Paignton and had a virtually windless week, so this year they wanted some
wind and in that they were not disappointed. Fortunately the beach was
sheltered enough to allow all who wanted to venture out, easy launching.
The racing area was out close to the SW water outfall mark, with the
windward leg stretching way off the headland. The strong winds combined
with steep waves provided some very taxing and daunting conditions. There
were capsizes galore with several retiring due to failed gear or battered
limbs. Ken & Nigel's teams of recue craft were kept fully occupied.
Those that mastered the conditions found some of the most exciting
racing that they had ever experienced. Their speed downwind with
spinnakers flying was really blistering, calling for excellent boat
Monday produced similar conditions, with only 2/3 of the
fleet venturing out. Again the racing was fast & furious, none the less 2 races were held and a
definite pattern was emerging. A certain former Champion DJ Edwards was revelling in the conditions
and had now won 3 out of the 4 races.
On Tuesday the wind conditions were even stronger, with the Committee boat recording gusts in excess of 30knots
and the decision was made to cancel the racing for the day, much to the reief of the majority of the sailors.
The Wednesday lay day dawned lighter and was thus used to catch up the lost
races. Conditions were again breezy though the wind
was now veering more to the west, giving a flatter sea and less gusty. Again DJ Edwards dominated with 2 more wins.
Thursday produced slightly less wind strength,
from the north west which gave a flat sea and plenty of windshifts, which
did cause the race team quite a few problems in laying the course. Despite the shifty conditions, DJ Edwards carried on
in his usual form and won 2 more races which gave him and his crew Vyv Townend the Championship with a day to spare.
By Thursday evening we had completed 8 races and the Championship was decided but there were still competitions to be raced for. Results of all the various categories were produced, keenly
studied by the majority to see where they lying and knowing what they had
to do for the Friday racing. The forecast for Friday was for gales and rain. Fortunately the gales did not
materialise, but the day dawned wet and drizzly, however the sailors donned their wet gear and rigged up for the
last time. Both races were sailed, completing the 10 race schedule.
Socially the week went very well, with a Civic reception held on the Sunday
evening when the Club was visited by the Mayor who welcomed the
Competitors. Monday was the BBQ night and although the day had been wet &
windy the evening proved dry and mild with the wind dropping to nothing.
The Coello team of Chefs cooked dozens dozens of hot dogs and beefburgers
which were supplemented by an enormous salad. The galley was well staffed
throughout the week and Jenny's cream teas did extremely well, nobody went
Tuesday was billed as a games & quiz night but the majority of the sailors were so battered and tired that after their
AGM many of them disappeared to their beds. Thursday night was the Brewery trip and bowling night and both events
were very well attended. The final night was the prizegiving in the Rugby Club House.
Overall this was a very big event for what is quite a small Club, but
almost the entire Membership & some close friends pulled together to
produce one of the most efficient & enjoyable Nationals that we have
produced. This was emphasised time and again by many compliments paid to
the Club from lots of the competitors. I don't think that it will be too long before the Fireballs will be visiting Porthpean again.
Below are some photographs taken during the week, the majority by Chris Nel.