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Irish Fireball Open Championship at Galway Bay Sailing Club

by Frank Miller 24 Jun 19:13 BST 22-23 June 2024

Chris Bateman and Lisa Flynn are the new Fireball Open Champions after six close-fought races on Galway Bay over the weekend.

The event was shared with the 420 class who had several days of coaching at Galway Bay Sailing Club in advance of their own Connaught Championship. Bateman and Flynn didn't have things all their own way with Josh Porter and Cara McDowell pressing them hard on occasion in the sixteen-boat fleet. After three races on the Saturday Bateman & Flynn led by a narrow margin with Porter & McDowell close behind and along with Niall McGrotty & Neil Cramer all scored race wins. Conditions on Saturday varied between medium and light winds and courses were Trapezoid and Olympic Triangle.

While the forecast for Sunday didn't look promising in fact a decent breeze built throughout the morning and three very good races were achieved. Porter & McDowell won race four keeping the competition very much alive. And snapping at their heels in second were the young David Evans and crew William Draper. The latter youth team continue to improve on every outing whether in Fireballs or GP14s and are a pair to watch for the future. Bateman & Flynn won race five race and with Porter & McDowell in fourth that pretty much consolidated their overall lead. In second were Franco Cassidy helming for Stephen Oram. The youth team of Evans & Draper took third. Always in the mix were Adrian Lee and Ossian Geraghty but they were unable to break through to the front at this event. Also up there were the Thompson brothers whose overall result was marred by a DSQ and a tricky incident where a tied swept them on the windward mark. The final race was won by Bateman & Flynn with the youth team again taking second. When the scores were counted Porter & McDowell were second overall and the super results on day two propelled Evans and Draper into third overall. McGrotty & Cramer ended up fourth overall despite sailing a really impressive event.

Silver fleet winners were Cariosa Power & Marie Barry, second silver were Olin Bateman & Conor Kelly while in third were Jack McNaughton & Riaghan Boardman. Overall, this was a weekend of fantastic close racing in a beautiful location with great sailing conditions. The club played a blinder in providing a very good meal on the Saturday evening and with almost all the fleet camping there was a fantastic atmosphere. Once again it was shown that sharing with the 420 class is a perfect recipe for both classes and for host clubs. Huge thanks must go to GBSC for the massive voluntary effort they put into hosting this joint event. The club suffered with a serious storm over the winter but is very much back on the map and fighting fit. Special thanks to main organiser John Barry who seemed to be everywhere all at once, and to race officer David Vinnell who managed to get six races in with a full variety of courses from Trapezoid through to Windward-Leeward.

Next event for the Fireballs is the Leinster Championship at Skerries Sailing Club as part of their annual sailfest on July 6th & 7th and a great turn-out is anticipated for this very popular venue. For anyone interested in giving Fireballs a try the class are organising an outing next Sunday 30th June at the DMYC in tandem with IDRA 14's. Booking (asap) with class secretary Frank Miller - .

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