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Fireball Gul Golden Dolphin Series Round 1 at Staunton Harold Sailing Club

by Simon Forbes 2 Apr 11:25 BST 23-24 March 2019
Fireballs at Staunton Harold © Tony B

A weekend of two halves tested the sailor's ability in all wind conditions ranging from 2 knots to gusting in excess of 25 knots.

A lovely sunny Saturday morning dawned at SHSC for the first round or the 2019 Fireball Golden Dolphin Series sponsored by GUL, and with is some changes in the class with Paul and Simon trailing the new P&B sails, Dave Winder with his new mainsheet puller and various other tweaks by members of the fleet everyone was keen to see what the new season was going to bring. With the light breeze forecast to drop the pressure was on to get the races away quickly. The format for the weekend was 10 short (30min) races which worked in the race officers favour with a dying breeze on Saturday.

With the light fickle wind shifting the race office did a good job with setting the course and getting the fleets off cleanly. In the first race it was Paul Cullen and Simon Forbes who won the start and rounded the windward mark first. With the light breeze every little gust and lull made a big difference and the fleet spread and compressed constantly. Paul and Simon at one point were 400 yards ahead going into the last 2 legs but the light gusty wind saw Home boat Andy and Lesley Foskett storm through on the last 100yards of the race to take the win, with John Hayes and Joel James in second and Paul and Simon in 3rd.

Race 2 again saw same very tight battles throughout the fleet and some excellent racing. Paul and Simon managed to get away to take the win, with John and Joel again 2nd and Sam Mettam and Tim Saunders 3rd. Race 3 saw a new leader at the 1st windward mark of Barry Smith and Rick Spring. With the wind almost none existent, getting clean wind was key. On the first reach Paul and Simon decided to gybe off away from the fleet to get some clean air and went for a late spinnaker hoist. This tactic seemed to eventually pay off as the rounded the leeward mark first and sailed away to take their second win with a bit of a gap to Sam and Tim in second and closely followed by another local boat of Darren Fazey and Colin Davis.

After a good lunch break the race officer tried to get one more race in before the wind completely shut off and he just managed it. Again Paul and Simon lead from the start, only to have a déjà vu moment in the last 150 yards with home boat of Grahame Newton and Mark Stevens getting a gust and flying past to take the win, with Paul and Simon having to do some last minute defending to take second away from Vince Horey and Andy Thompson.

And with the wind completely shutting off that was it for the Saturday. The fleet retired to the bar and sat down to a lovely home cooked curry put on by the club and a couple of beers and bar games.

Sunday morning dawned with a few sore heads, fresh breeze and a completely different sailing style needed. The day was gusty, shift and kept everyone on their toes, testing the whole fleet's boat handling skills to the max. Unfortunately some were not quick enough to react to the gust and several people were seen capsizing to windward throughout the day.

Race 5 saw Grahame and Mark pick up where they left off on Saturday by taking their second win of the weekend, with Vince and Shandy in 2nd and Dan Johnson and Ben Latham in 3rd. Race 6 saw Dan and Ben take a good lead from the start and managed to pull away to get a good race win. The battle for 2nd 6th was very tight but in the end it was Dave Winder and Ben Rayner who managed to clinch second from Darren and Colin. Race 7 saw one of the rest tactical races of the weekend yet with lots of place changing throughout the fleet. Vince and Andy rounded the windward mark first followed by Paul and Simon. These two were no exception to the rest of the fleet and changed places several times throughout the race. It was Paul and Simon who finished out on top, with Vince and Andy second and Kev Hope and Russell Thorne in 3rd.

After a quick lunch break it was back out onto the water for the final set of 3 races. BY now the breeze had built to a solid 15kts gusting low 20s and the fleet were getting ready for some almost perfect fireball sailing. Race 8 kicked off at the 2nd time of asking and finished in the same style and the race before with Paul and Simon taking yet another win, Vince and Any 2nd, and Kev and Russell 3rd. Race 9 and the fleet are starting to feel the pain of the days battle with several people looking a bit worse for wear. Again it was the same top 3 but this time in reverse order with Kev and Russell taking the win (the 5th different race winner of the weekend), Vince and Any 2nd and Paul and Simon 3rd. With that Paul and Simon had won the event with a race to spare. This didn't stop them from staying out and winning the final race of the day on a windward leeward course by an impressive distance, followed by Darren and Colin and Dave and Ben.

What a superb weekend - with 10 races held over the two days! Great competition, fantastic racing and a really fun event for sailors, family and friends.

Paul Cullen/ Simon Forbes (Weirwood/ SHSC) dominated the event with five bullets, a second and a third over the 10 races. The second spot went to Vincent Horey/Andy Thompson (KGSC/ East Antrim) and third to Grahame Newton/Mark Stevens (SHSC).

A huge thank you to Gul for providing prizes of the whole of the Golden Dolphin Series including prizes for first, second and third in the Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets.

Overall Results:

PosDivisionSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10Pts
1stGold15147Paul CullenSimon ForbesWeirwood / SHSC3112‑4‑6113113
2ndGold15120Vince HoreyAndy ThompsonKGSC / East Antrim‑10‑75325222526
3rdGold15118Grahame NewtonMark StevensSHSC46611(OCS)1045(DNF)37
4thGold15073Sam MettamTim SaundersPapercourt SC / SHSC‑1132774474(DNF)38
5thGold15133Kevin HopeRussell ThorneNotts County / Lyme Regis5875‑97331(DNC)39
6thSilver14370Daren FaseyColin DavisSHSC(DNF)53453910‑11241
7thSilver13944Dan JohnsonBen LathamBlithfield79‑1311315(DNC)6446
8thGold15130David WinderBen RaynerHollingworth Lake9‑129652‑1167347
9thSilver15114John HayesJoel JamesSouthport / RYA22‑129‑1110758649
10thSilver14935Andy FoskettLesley FoskettSHSC1441089‑129‑12954
11thGold15070Isaac MarshOlly DavenportBrixworth61088‑128689(DNC)63
12thSilver14940Georgia BoothSam PlattsScailing Dam811‑141210(DNF)81110777
13thBronze14889Barry SmithRick SpringThornbury SC12‑14101413(DNF)141213896
14thBronze14950Chris ThorneLawrence CreaserCRSC13131113141113(DNC)(DNC)DNC104
15thBronze14628Peter NugentEthan LowingSHSC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC151215DNFDNCDNC120

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