Agonising wait

But Fireball Worlds go to British duo Smith and Meldrum on final day

Saturday January 10th 2004, Author: Jonathan Bale, Location: Australasia
Going into the final day with a possible three races still to sail (and if enough races were sailed a second discard) then any one of a half dozen boats or more were still in with a chance of becoming World Champion.

Race Officer Mike Rogers set a trapezoid course for the first race of the day. Starting in marginal trapezing conditions the wind soon dropped, making the first beat a very long affair.

With a still dying wind the race officer decided to shorten the course at the second windward mark. Having lead from the first windward mark, Ireland's Shane MacCathy and Roger Gilbert took the gun to race seven. However significantly, the pairing that the Aussies had christened the "Heavy Air Specialists", Andy Smith and James Meldrum, were in third place in this very light air race. With all their major competitors behind them in the race, in particular the Aussie pairing of Brett Young and Allen Blenkle (who went into this race at the top of the leader board but finished this race in the twenties), Andy and James were now in pole position.

After the finish of the race the wind disappeared completely. Andy and James were now heading the leader board of the regatta, however if the wind should return to allow a second race then things could be very different as a second discard would then kick in! The two and a half hours of postponement must have been some of the longest in Andy and James life! It was not until 14:30 that the race officer conceded that the wind was not going to return in time for him to set another course within the time limit for the regatta and abandoned all further racing. Andy Smith and James Meldrum, of Great Briton and Notts County Sailing Club were now the 2004 Fireball World Champions.

At the prize giving Andy and James walked up to collect their trophy to the sounds of the other British Sailors singing "Sing Low Sweet Chariot". This is only the second time the Aussies have lost the Fireball World Title on their home waters. Overall there were five British boats in the top ten, one Czech and four Australians.

The top six positions overall are:

1st GBR 14801 Andy Smith & James Meldrum
2nd CZE 14712 Tomas Musil & Jan Danek
3rd GBR 14809 Dave Wade & Richard Wagstaff
4th GBR 13945 Malcolm Davies & Russell Thorn
5th AUS 14849 Brett Young & Allen Blenkle
6th GBR 14839 Kevin Hope and Rob Gardner

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