With 102 boats from 10 different countries, including 10 previous Fireball World Champions, the 2015 Gul Fireball Worlds at Pwllheli SC is set to be the most competitive non-olympic event of the year.
Gul Fireball World Championships 2015 – Pwllheli SC has been getting in some paractice with the Oppie and 29er championships over the last few weeks for this event. So who will win this battle royale? Lets take a look at some of the British hopefuls . . .
DJ Edwards & Vyv Townend
With 7 Fireball World Championships between them this is a formidable team. Despite being fairly ancient now and riddled with arthritis, DJ & Vyvo have proved they are still the boat to beat by winning many of the opens this year and demonstrating impressive boatspeed. The bookies favourite!
STRENGTHS: Centuries of experience, ability to eat ridiculously hot curries.
Tom Gillard & Richard Anderton
By far the most practiced boat in the fleet and no strangers to winning championships in any dinghy class. Been a bit off form recently compared to their high standards but will no doubt find their magic touch when it matters.
STRENGTHS: Boathandling & Big breeze, especially when the pumping flag is up. An awsome tatoo.
WEAKNESSES: With Tom used to sailing constantly, there are concerns that he may not cope on land when forced to stay ashore by the launching flag.
Christian Birrell & Sam Breary
Our current world champions have put a lot of effort in this year and have shared most of the open event wins with DJ & Vyvo. Rumours are that their boatspeed has been decreasing with practice but perhaps they are just sandbagging?!
STRENGTHS: Fitter (athletically, not aesthetically) than the rest of the fleet and able to keep off the booze despite intense peer pressure.
WEAKNESSES: Will undoubtedly create a rules situation with every boat in the fleet at some point during the championship, so with 102 protests to get through finding time to sleep could prove difficult. Capsizing also an issue but extremely entertaining when it happens!
Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff
Having contested just a single open meeting this year they will be relying on their 9 year Fireball partnership to bring them through the week. Anticipating a rusty start to proceedings!
STRENGTHS: Light airs, boat repairs & veterinary medicine.
WEAKNESSES: Onboard communication due to a massive north-south language barrier. Booze.
James Peters & Fynn Sterritt
By far the most talented sailors blessing the event. Seemingly able to dominate any class they turn their hand to (most recently the RS200’s), however the Fireball has been a sticking point for many Olympic hopefuls in the past – so will these boys succeed where others have failed?
WEAKNESSES: To be confirmed, possibly none.
Dave Wade & Simon Hibbert
Dave is long overdue a World Championship victory, and with the P&B boats showing great pace this year maybe destiny awaits?
STRENGTHS: Ability to kite the reaches when others can’t.
WEAKNESSES: Dave’s spaghetti arms and legs cause no end of woes. Simon will have to be good at solving mensa puzzles if he is to untangle Dave in time for racing each morning.
Ian Dobson & TBC
The current GP14 World Champion has been creeping up the Fireball standings over the past few years and is looking for his first major win. A lot could depend on who TBC is???
STRENGTHS: Starting races strongly. Northern confidence.
WEAKNESSES: Finishing races strongly. Booze.
Christine Slater & The Wallet (Graham Slater)
The peoples champions have been putting in some strong performances this year. If they could just eliminate the one massive cock-up that seems to haunt every race they could just be in with a chance!
STRENGTHS: Christine’s uncompromising control over The Wallet. A fearsome yard drinker.
WEAKNESSES: I’m too scared to mention any, the comeback could prove fatal.
Vince Horey & Bob Gardiner
The class idiots will undoubtedly enrich everybody’s championship in some way, but at 67 years old does Vince still have it in him to deliver the goods? If anybody can steer this decrepit old man around the course though its Bob, who the class would like to sincerely thank for minding our Grandad at this event.
STRENGTHS: Vince has seen it all before.
WEAKNESSES: He still hasn’t learnt from those experiences.
Angus Hemmings & Steve Chesney
To be brutally honest this team has absolutely no chance of victory on the water, however they are national treasures and must be mentioned. Angus will be hoping that Chesney can avoid one of his gentleman’s accidents this year, although if they target being World Champions of the bar this unfortunate side-effect may become another reality.
STRENGTHS: Starting well and often leading up the beat, until Chesney has to tack.
WEAKNESSES: Appalling boat handling. Pelvic floor tone.
I’m afraid I have run out of space to mention the foreign contenders, perhaps they would like to post their runners & riders at some point?
If you are still debating whether to enter this event then you absolutely must, Fireballing does not get better than this (except for when the Worlds are held in Barbados). See you at Pwllheli!