Wednesday, October 07, 2009

2009 Fireball North American Championships

Joe Jospe once again shows his skills on the water, then on the keyboard, with this report on their last regatta of the season. Quite a wrap-up given the Screwball Regatta this year also served as the N.A. Fireball Championship for 2009. The report in its entirety is on the Fireball International site and the results are here. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

The 2009 Canadian Fireball season ended on a high note when the Pointe Claire Yacht Club hosted the North American Championships in conjunction with the annual Screwball Regatta. We had 19 Fireballs on the course and they were accompanied by 23 Lasers, competing in their district championships. Fireballers from Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Ireland joined the usual suspects from Ontario and Quebec to battle on the water. To add to the international flavour, we were also joined by two guests from England and a sizable contingent from Barbados.

Winds were lighter than expected for this time of year. The end of September is known for cold, blustery conditions, and those of us with an avoir-du-poids advantage are usually delighted. Not this year. In fact, truth be told, there was more than a little muttering aboard our boat about the “delights” of light wind sailing. We are not big fans.

The Race Committee, headed by Madeleine Palfreeman, did an excellent job in very trying conditions. Friday witnessed shifty and spotty winds emanating from the northeast. Saturday saw light and shifty conditions from the east, while Sunday had more wind, but from the south and it dropped as the day progressed. Our prevailing winds are from the west, so conditions were not of the norm. We will just have to chalk it up to the “it’s never like this around here” syndrome that seems to be the rule for almost every major event, wherever and whenever it’s held.

On a personal note, I have to say that I really like Madeleine. She takes her RC responsibilities very seriously. She deems certain competitors’ suggestions unhelpful in her decision-making. Despite the fact that she ignored me on more than one occasion, I will be thrilled to see Madeleine on the RC boat next year, with her black flag flying and a grin on her face.

The racing was interesting throughout the event. It was encouraging to see a lot of boats mixing it up in the front end of the fleet. Rune Lausten and Jochen Mikosch, sailing in Rocket Science, led for most of the first race, and impressed everyone by earning a second place to start the regatta. Stephen Waldie teamed up with Jason Phillips and they got faster as the event unfolded. Given that they had never sailed together before and were in a borrowed and unfamiliar boat, their 4th place standing overall was quite an achievement. Kristyn Hope and Nic Mocchiutti began sailing together early this year. They’re always in the game and are improving extremely quickly. Pierre Carpentier and Tom Bird finished 5th overall, and their event was highlighted with a well-earned bullet in Race #4.  Final results for first and second overall were not settled until the 10th and final
race. Tom and I managed to sneak by Guy Tipton and Matt King on the 4th of five legs, to a one-point overall victory. It doesn’t get much tighter than that. Rob Levy and Eric Owston settled for a very close third overall. Interestingly, the results show nine boats finished within one point of another competitor. The starts were generally messy and individual recalls, OCS results, and general recalls occurred. It was rare to round a mark peacefully alone. That makes for good, if somewhat exhausting, racing...

...It was a superb event and we are looking forward to an exciting sailing season in 2010.