2023 Fireball Australian Championships

It was great to have the Fireball Australian Championships sailed back in Adelaide at a “country club” in the “city”: Somerton Yacht Club. The very friendly Somerton volunteers turned on the hospitality and organisation to make it a fun event for all involved. We were also very grateful for the Fireball volunteers led by Race Officer Peter Littledike supplemented the Somerton crew to provide a great race management team.

Luke Stephens / Ryan Kelly cruising upwind - Photo Rick Stockley
Luke Stephens / Ryan Kelly cruising upwind – Photo Rick Stockley

Day 1 racing started in light to moderate breezes of 10-14 knots with Luke Stephens / Ryan Kelly stamping their mark on the regatta with two wins. John Heyward / Daniel George teamed up at the last minute for the regatta but showed early form with a second and a third to sit close behind.

Day 2 saw a classic Adelaide sea breeze develop during the afternoon with great waves. Luke / Ryan had great speed but were pressed by young 470 hopefuls Sophie Jackson / Angus Higgins who won the first race of the day. An OCS for Sophie / Angus in the second race made it a little harder for them and let Luke / Ryan win heat 4 and heat 5. Current Australian Champion Jalina Thompson / Nathan Stockley showed some of their form with a close 3, 2, 3 to keep the pressure on, closely followed by Ben Schultz / Carter Baker. With the club seeing gusts to 20 knots and three solid races, the competitors were very grateful to see the tractor drivers arrive to tow the boats up the beach back to the club.

Jalina Thompson / Nathan Stockley enjoying the reaches - Photo Rick Stockley
Jalina Thompson / Nathan Stockley enjoying the reaches – Photo Rick Stockley

Day 3 was a rinse repeat and Luke/Ryan looked like they were going to do it easily, but in the first heat of the day they couldn’t find the wing mark and led the fleet astray. This allowed John / Daniel to overtake the lead bunch and go on to win. Agan it was a big day and Jalina / Nathan broke their outhaul in the final race of the day. Luke / Ryan finished off with two wins which meant they could not be caught in the final two races scheduled for day 4.

Day 4 started off with a postponement onshore as the wind was “light and variable”. As soon as the breeze appeared the RO Peter got the fleet on the water and did a superb job to get in two light races within minutes of the cutoff time. Luke / Ryan didn’t need to sail, but showed they had good speed across the range and finished with a 3rd and a 2nd. Sophie / Angus won the day with a 2nd and a 1st, while Heather Macfarlane / Chris Payne moved up the points table with a 1st and a 3rd.

Congratulations to all the fleet for some great sailing but especially to Luke / Ryan who dominated the racing and were always in control. Also great to see Sophie / Angus and Jalina / Nathan fast and sailing well.

It was great to see the standard of sailing which will hopefully enable the Australians to compete successfully against the overseas teams heading to Geelong for the World Championships in February 2024. Check out all the details at http://2024.fireballworlds.com.

The fireball class owns a couple of boats available for trying and or charter, plus there are some great boats available for sale. Check out the Fireball webs site for more details at https://www.fireball-international.com

Full results are at – https://www.clubops.com.au/DisplayResults/DisplayPublicSeriesResults?Id=1976&Id2=Fireball%20Nationals

Chris Payne

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