Fireballs at Northampton

Alan Walker reports on this weekend's racing

Tuesday November 5th 2002, Author: Alan Walker, Location: United Kingdom
On the weekend of November 2/3 the Fireball fleet held their final open meeting of the year at Northampton Sailing Club.

The forecast of gale force winds did not put anybody off and a good fleet arrived to compete on Saturday morning including a team from Greystones in Ireland.

The First race started in a force 1 – 2 and it was Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff who lead at the first mark, followed by John Curzon and Pete Elver, with the Maskell brothers in third, Wade had pulled a large lead until the last run when in sat in a big hole and the whole fleet closed in Wade just managed to get round the leeward mark and through the gate to take the gun from the Maskells who had sailed low on the run and passed Curson for second.

Race two started straight after the last boat had finished. The Maskell brothers lead at the first Mark followed by Curson and Andy Foskett with crew Howard Jones. The Maskell Brothers pulled away and won with ease, Wade had passed Foskett and was after Curson on the last run taking him high and then just getting on the inside at the last mark to claim second Curson again was third, The wind had now dropped and the light was fading and thus the race officer set the fleet home for the day.

Saturday night was a quite affair in Dave Wades local , Which is probably banned from now after the behaviour of Cullen, Shutz, Scot and a female member of the fleet and a pint glass, enough said.

Sunday dawned with bright sunshine and a fresh force 4. Everybody was a bit keen on the first start and after a recall the black flag appeared. The start got away second time and it was the boats that played the left hand side of the course that arrived at the windward mark first, Vince Horey and Jon Mildred just managed to get into the mark on port, and sailed away from the fleet downwind and went on to win by a large margin, Foskett held off a strong challenge from Wade to take second.

Race Four was sailed back to back and got away first time, G Baslow and B Mobbs lead Horey at the windward mark with Wade on his transom, these two boats rolled Baslow downwind and pulled away from the fleet, but Horey could not shake Wade off and the boats where never more than four boat lengths apart, until on the run when Wade gybed away from Horey and dropped out of the pressure. Horey took the opportunity to escape from Wade and went on to win, with Wade second. Paul Cullen and Gavin Tilloson just managed to pip Foskett for third.

This now meant that the open meeting and the whole Fireball traveller series was to be settled on one race, Wade had a one point lead over Horey who had blown his discard being over the line in the first race and having to restart last, the Maskells where a further point behind Horey.

So with the America's Cup being on TV at present and Wade having four good results it did not take much working out what was going to happen at the start, Horey had managed to stay away from Wade until the last 30 seconds when Horey tried to stop Wade getting between himself and a boat to leeward, Wade just managed to get in and luffed to full affect, there was a lot of shouting at the start gun, and Horey was forced to tack away to right.

Andy Foskett lead at the windward mark from Shane Macarthy and Phil McCusker, Horey just managed to get round the mark in front of Wade in 9th and 10th respectively. As the wind increased Cullen pulled through to lead on the second lap, closely followed by Fowsett and Curzon. Wade was still halting Horeys progress through the fleet, until the penultimate beat when Horey took Wade to the left hand side of the beat and managed to get lifted on the inside passing all the fleet except Cullen and Curson.

Horey just managed to get round the Windward mark with Curson between himself and Wade. Wade was now unable to get to Horey who now pulled away and was after Cullen being helped by a massive gust from behind. At the last leeward mark Horey was on Cullens transom and as they went round Cullens Spinnaker halyard jammed on the drop and thus Horey slipped in to the lead and went on to win his third race of the day.

This Race win gave Horey and Mildred the open meeting and the Golden Dolphin circuit trophy.

Special thanks has to go to the race team at Northampton who set good courses both days and where excellent at turning races and recalls around on Sunday.

1/ Team BT Vince. Horey / Jon Mildred King George S. C. 7pts.
2/ Pinnell & Bax Race team Dave wade / richard Wagstaff Northampton S.C. 8pts.
3/GBR 14805 Mark Maskell / Simon Maskell King George S.C. 13pts.
4/GBR 14803 Andy Foskett / Howard Jones Stauton S.C. 14pts.
5/ Mad Dog Clothing Jon Curson / Pete Elver Stauton S.C. 15pts.
6/ Team Alverbank Paul Cullen / Gavin Tillison Stokes Bay S.C. 16pts.

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