UK Fireball Nationals

Four and a half Portishead teams travelled to Royal Torbay Yacht Club for the Fireball National Championships in May - Andy and Andrea Willcocks; Anthony and James Willcocks; Graham and Christine Slater; Ben Altman and Robin Simpson; and Derek Jarvis sailing with Derian Scott from Chew Valley Lake SC.

A great week was had by all with RTYC putting on some great food and entertainment, and the waters of Torbay providing good conditions for the duration. The wind was neither too light nor too strong although it was a bit unpredictable and shifty most of the time. This did give some teams the opportunity to make some last minute gains and pick up some places although this was rather frustrating for everyone else. All I can say as a former local, is that it’s not normally like this!


There was some unwanted excitement during the week - probably the most impressive of which was James coming in off the trapeze for a tack at the windward mark and trapping his foot in the centreboard rope. This caused a near capsize in which Anthony rescued him from the impending drowning by not only keeping the boat upright, but also nearly completing their penalty turn (for hitting the windward mark) single-handedly with James still untangling himself!


While on the subject of knots, it’s worth mentioning Graham managing to tie a clove hitch around his ankle with the jib sheet during a tack - preventing him from going out on the trapeze on the new side and causing him to release the jib again amidst all his flapping about!


On the last day, the big drama was both Team Slater and Team Willcocks Senior arriving at the leeward mark on starboard with the spinnaker up, with most of the rest of the fleet arriving in the usual direction on port. Andy and Andrea were nearest the mark and so had the right of way, but both had rights over the incoming port tack boats. Despite amicable and sportsmanly behaviours between the two Portishead teams, the other boats were somewhat unresponsive to all Christine’s shouts of Starboard (which were probably heard in the centre of Portishead)! Eventually the Slaters managed to lever some space out of the other Fireballs and the Willcocks’ produced a slightly frantic but well executed gybe and all involved emerged dent free!


© Tanya Hutchings




(Updated on 09/06/2019)

© 2021 PYSC