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Fireballs revel in conditions of Camperdown Mitre 10 Bullen Merri Easter Weekend

by Chris Payne 10 Apr 06:10 BST 2-5 April 2021
Fireballs during the Camperdown Mitre 10 Bullen Merri Easter Weekend © Glen Donovan

Wow - what a weekend! With warm weather and wind predicted the entrants to the 2021 Bullen Merri Easter regatta all arrived early and the camp ground was almost full for Thursday night.

This year there were over 70 boats with the biggest fleet being the Fireballs.

Day 1 - Friday

There was only one race scheduled for Friday, which was just as well as the wind was very light. The Race Officer postponed the start waiting for the wind, but eventually started as a zephyr came in. Unfortunately a number of the Fireballs hadn't noticed the start boat sneak out to the start area, so only three made the start. Myles Gavin & Ben O'Brien did a horizon job on the other two Fireballs and won easily. The rest had fun sailing the course but started too late to count.

Day 2 - Saturday

The breeze came in nicely from a north to north westerly direction and the scheduled three races were able to be run in a building breeze and temperatures in the low 30's. Phil Peverell & Bruce Shand hooked up "The Grey Ghost" and easily led from start to finish in the first race of the day.

Brendan Garner & Peter Durran took advantage of some starting confusion in the second race and were never headed. By this stage the wind was easily gusting over 20 knots with some savage bullets that severely tested the crews with a number having swims.

The last race of the day was a quick single triangle lap, again Brendan & Peter made the best of the first beat and kept a clear lead over a fast charging Nick Gunner & Simon Gunner. Unfortunately Anthony Ducat & Nicola Bacon between the strong winds and their youthful strength damaged their "vintage" Fireball and weren't able to compete in any more races.

The evening was spent sitting around the campfires discussing near capsizes and wild rides.

Day 3 - Sunday

The wind swung to the South and moderated to a lively 15 knots and was slightly cooler. The racing became increasingly tight. Phil / Bruce took a small lead at the first mark and made it a large race winning margin in the first race. Behind them groups of boats played yo-yo, with place swaps happening on every leg as shifts were leveraged to advantage or not.

Phil & Bruce tried to repeat the performance in the second race, only to find the fleet sail up to them. Nick & Simon picked the shifts around the shore the best and won closely from Glenn Peverell & Bruno Lanati.

In the third race of the day Myles and Ben grabbed the lead on the tight reach and stayed in phase for the long beat back to the finish to win relatively easily. This won them the series with a small lead over Brendan & Peter and Nick & Simon.

The fleet then headed off to the local pub for a great meal and drinks and a warm fire back at camp later. The range and intricacy of campfires might make for a new competitive element next year. Gunners returned with their "pot belly" stove made from old drums to warm the fireballers. The Frankston team had a massive shell like structure that protected the ground and provided warmth for the 20 - 30 people sharing that fire. More traditional 40 gallon drums and pits lined the shore.

Day 4 - Monday

Bullen Merri's answer to the Stawell Gift is the Jack Lane stern chaser, based on handicaps devised by Don Allen's magic formulas. Jack's son Ian is a life member of the Victorian Fireball fleet and was also sailing the event in his trailer sailor. This was the lightest race of the regatta and while some of the fleet were more than halfway around the one lap course before the Fireballs started, the class showed their skills. Heather Macfarlane & Chris Payne were no match for some of the smaller boats but were the first Fireball home followed closely by Don Allen & Darrell Ralph and fast improving Andrew Kean & Mabel Kean.

A big thank you to the Yachting Western Victoria Sailing Association for another fantastic event, and all the volunteers from other clubs that came along to help make it happen. Also a big thank you to regatta sponsor Camperdown Mitre 10, with support from Camperdown Quality Meats and the Corangamite Shire Council.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
114608Hot WireMyles GavinBen O'Brien13333[4]114
214572Return of the JediBrendan & Ben GarnerPeter Durran & Garner / Durran family24113[7]516
315049ScattergunNick GunnerSimon Gunner[11]24251317
4T15027The Grey GhostPhil PeverellBruce Shand & Anthony Ducat[11]12716421
5T15048Not Your Average Rock StarsHeather MacfarlaneChris Payne[11]55423221
614414Outback DingoesGlenn PeverellBruno Lanati[11]66662632
714650Mrs PalmerDon AllenDarrell Ralph667565[11]35
8T12778UXBPeter RussellJasmine Shears37[11]1179946
9T14943Rock StarsAndrew KeanMabel Kean[11]78888746
1013217R SupAnthony DucatNicola Bacon[11]8[11]1111111152

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