AC ace to compete in Fireball Worlds

UK Fireball Association Chairman Phil Popple reports

Sunday February 16th 2003, Author: Phil Popple, Location: United Kingdom
Following his time in Auckland with the GBR Challenge, Jim 'Lardy' Turner is now setting his sights on securing his third Fireball World Championship, having teamed up with 2001 National Champion Vince Horey.

The Fireball World Championships have been won by some famous names including Phil Morrison, Lawrie Smith, Ian Pinnell, 470 silver medallist Steve Benjamin and, in 1999, 470 World Champion Benoit Petit. Two helmsman have won three Fireball World titles, Pinnell and Australian John Dransfield, but Turner is hoping to be the first crew to pull off the treble.

Kilifi in Kenya, 50 miles North of Mombasa, is the venue for this year’s event. Racing starts on 18 February with the three day Pre-Worlds Regatta. The 10 race World Championship runs on 22-28 February.

The 4 star Mnarani Beach Club is the base for the Championship. This where the majority of the competitors are staying with the fleet launching from the resort’s beach facilities. Sailing is out on the Indian Ocean and with conditions predicted to be 30 degrees+ and 20 knot breezes, this promises to be a memorable event both on and off the water.

Although reigning champions Pinnell and crew David Scott are not defending the title they won in Florida last March, a number of the 19 boat UK team are expected to do well. As well as the Horey/Turner partnership other key British crews to watch are Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff, runners-up in the 2002 Nationals, and current UK National Champions Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend.

The main foreign competition comes from Frenchman Freddie Mouche and Australian Ben Schulz.

The Class has recently voted in a number of rule changes, the most significant of which is the legalisation of Mylar sailcloths. This is the first major event at which these sails will be used and it will be interesting to see how boats sporting the new sails do against the boats still sporting Dacron.

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