Please select your home edition
Edition
Typhoon 2022 LEADERBOARD

Fireball Ulster Championship at Sutton Dinghy Club

by Frank Miller 21 Jun 16:05 BST 18-19 June 2022

Chris Bateman and Conor Flynn are the new Fireball Ulster Champions after six hard fought races in lively conditions at Sutton Dinghy Club last weekend. The young team, who also took the youth prize, counted two wins, a second and two thirds to win the trophy by five points over Ed Óg Butler and Fionn Conway. Third overall were Niall McGrotty and Neil Cramer.

The event was one of the most exhilarating and competitive Fireball regional event for several years. Several new teams were afloat testing their skills and their boats against more experienced opposition in conditions which ranged from medium to very strong North-Northwest winds. Saturday saw good medium breezes, mostly from the northwest, with testing shifts and light patches. Every race saw multiple place changes over the various legs with no one team dominating. Frank Miller and Grattan Donnelly pulled off a win in race one by going slightly further inshore on a beat and finding better wind and a lift to the weather mark to take them from fifth to first and holding on to the finish.

Race two saw Bateman/Flynn take the bullet from the highly experienced team of McGrotty/Cramer in second. Race three saw Butler/Conway prevail. Race four saw McGrotty/Cramer squeeze inside Louise McKenna/Hermine O'Keeffe at the final leeward mark to take the win, and the overnight lead on points over Bateman/Flynn. Courses were the of the preferred triangle-sausage variety leading to some great reaches thanks to the skill of race officer Scorie Walls and her team. What was really remarkable about the weekend's racing was the level of competition. New sailors quickly found their feet in the Fireball and gave plenty of challenge to the more experienced, often emerging on top. Whoops of delight were heard on some of the windier reaches.

Day two dawned with a slightly ominous forecast. Slightly different forecasts were on offer from Wind Guru, Windy and Met Eireann. The bottom line suggested possible breezes of up to thirty knots. After consulting the thirteen-boat fleet and taking in to consideration the flat sea conditions and the ability of the Fireball to be tuned to sail comfortably in very strong winds racing went ahead in a building breeze which ultimately saw some gusts reach 27 knots.

Special mention here for Paul Ter Horst, who with his son Maurice were probably the only true "silver" fleet sailors afloat. The pair took to the conditions and finished every race but the last when the wind was very clearly on a steep upward trajectory. On the course there were some very strong veins on wind, most coming over the hill from due north, with some great lifts, and also some great headers.

Racing was a game of making the most of these patches and lifts while staying upright and flat. This is probably where Bateman/ Flynn really excelled, sailing "bow down" for maximum speed and crossing ahead on the big shifts. The pair won race five and were second in the final race to Butler/Conway. Their victory in the event is all the more remarkable because this was Bateman's first competitive outing in his Fireball.

The silver fleet prize was won by Conor Twohig and Matthew Cotter. The very fast team of Josh Porter and Cara McDowell had been leading the final race and heading for their best result when a strong gust wiped them out at the final gybe mark. Equally McGrotty/Cramer went down to a strong gust in race six but their overall solid scoring saw them take third overall by a point from Miller/Donnelly. Special mention too for Fionn Conway who crewed for Ed Óg - the highly skilled Laser and Moth sailor was trapezing and flying a spinnaker for the first time.

This was a tremendous weekend at Sutton, who led by event organisers Andy Johnson and Jim Lambkin, stepped up as an unlikely but terrific venue to host the Ulsters, just North of the Liffey when other venues and dates fell through. The club, which has just finished a major renovation, provided exemplary race management and extremely warm and open-hearted hospitality to the class to mark it's return to the spiritual home of the Fireball in Ireland. It was from Sutton in 1962 that the first Irish Fireball was launched by Roy Dickson.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the class, a landmark being celebrated at a special event at Hayling Island in the UK and at the World Championships at Lough Derg YC in Dromineer this August. Appropriately enough numbers for the Worlds at 58 are now close to that 60 mark. The event in Sutton last weekend showed clearly that there is new Irish talent entering the fleet ready to take on the best the world has to offer.

Related Articles

Still time to maximise your performance
Hyde Sails have stock for various class There is still time to place your orders with Hyde Sails with delivery in time for your key regatta this year. While much of our 2022 stock has been sold we still have limited stock quantities in the UK for those needing to make last minute purchases. Posted on 26 Jul
Fireballs at the Weymouth Dinghy Regatta 2022
Sunshine and the promise of a lovely sea breeze Three Fireballs arrived at CCSC to be greeted by sunshine and the promise of a lovely sea breeze. PRO Bill Barker explained that the sea breeze would lend itself to racing in Portland harbour, rather than in the bay. Posted on 13 Jul
Fireball Leinster Campionship at Blessington
Barry McCartin and Teddy Byrne win every race Barry McCartin and Teddy Byrne were crowned the new Fireball Leinster champions at Blessington Sailing Club at the weekend. The pair won every race in the 19 boat fleet with top class boatspeed and brilliant picks of wind zones. Posted on 12 Jul
Sponsors come aboard as entries surge
For Gul Fireball Worlds 2022 at Lough Derg YC A surge in entries before the main closing date for the Gul Fireball Worlds at LDYC on Thursday saw entries reach 75 boats. Earlier in the week additional sponsors GUL and Failte Ireland came on board, joining Carrickcraft and Tipperary Co Council. Posted on 9 Jul
Seldén Fireball 60th Celebration at HISC
Warm sunny weather and fantastic breeze As the venue of both the first UK Nationals and Worlds in 1963 and 1966 respectively, Hayling Island SC was the obvious choice for the Fireball 60th Anniversary Celebration, and it did not disappoint with warm sunny weather and fantastic breeze. Posted on 8 Jul
Chichester Harbour Race Week preview
Last year saw 383 boats crewed by almost 600 sailors from 65 clubs The UK's pre-eminent sailing harbour will again be the setting for the country's most well-attended open regatta when Chichester Harbour Race Week takes to the water this August. Posted on 28 Jun
Seldén sponsor Fireball 60th Celebration at HISC
Providing prizes and vouchers for their new performance dinghy block range The UK Fireball Association is delighted that Seldén Mast is supporting our 60th Anniversary Celebration weekend. Seldén Mast will be providing prizes and vouchers for their new performance dinghy block range. Posted on 23 Jun
Gul Fireball Nationals at Brightlingsea overall
Squeezing the last races into the final day After a day off racing because of strong winds and a "horrible" sea state, Brightlingsea SC hosted a fantastic Championship dinner. Pudding was a specially made 60th Anniversary Celebration cake. Posted on 6 Jun
Gul Fireball Nationals at Brightlingsea days 2 & 3
An 'interesting' sea state on day 2 becomes 'horrible' on day 3 Day 2 saw much hustle and bustle in the dinghy park as sailors prepared for what looked like another glorious day's sailing. The fleet launched on time and headed downwind to the sailing area in 18 knots from the east. Posted on 4 Jun
Gul Fireball Nationals at Brightlingsea day 1
A warm welcome as the fleet returns to the River Blackwater It has been a few years since the class held their championship at Brightlingsea SC. The fleet had a warm welcome to the long weekend which is shared with the Contender class. Posted on 4 Jun