Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Calling all past and present Fireball sailors, Fireball has turned 50!

by Chris Payne on 21 Jun 2012
AUS 14786 John Heywood/Brett Littledike current Australian Champion – Mandurah Western Australia. Photo by Tom Gruitt/www.fotoboat.com. Tom Gruitt
In 1959-60 Peter Milne of Norris Brothers, sketched a 16ft two man scow, that promised exciting performance, and through simple construction, would be ideal for home building. In February 1962, the first fireball was sailed by Keith Musto and Peter Milne in Chichester Harbour, UK, to show to the editor of a UK dinghy magazine.

The magazine review commented that she was 'good for inland waters or the sea', and that her performance had 'proved intriguing for expert helmsmen, yet she was stable enough to be kind to the clumsy novice'.

The class quickly caught on and in 1963 the first UK National Championship was sailed, with an amazing total of 75 entries. By 1965, 1000 sail numbers had been issued and the first worlds were held in the UK in 1966. Shortly after that (1966-67) the first Australian National championship was held and won by P. Moore and C. Grant of NSW. By this time trapezes had been allowed on the boat, but the class did not accept spinnakers until 1969.

By 1973, just over 10 years since the first boat had been sailed, the class was being sailed in 68 countries, and by 1975, an incredible 10,000 boats had been registered.


Since then the class has continued to thrive throughout the world. One of the strengths of the class has been the 'ethos' to hold championships at great sailing venues in interesting places. This has enabled our members to not only have great sailing experiences and challenging racing, but also great life experiences.

Examples of these regattas includes world championships at the following interesting places at interesting times:

1971, Beirut, Lebanon,
1978, 2000 and 2008, Pattaya, Thailand
1991, Skadergarten, Sweden (as the tanks rolled into Moscow)
1993, Durban, South Africa (2 weeks prior to South Africa's first 'open' election)
2003, Kilifi,Kenya
2010, Bridgetown, Barbados
2013, Slovenia
2014, Mauritius – tbd.

Since John Cassidy/Warwick Crisp were the first to win a World Championship in 1974, many Australians have vied for the top spot but few have made it. The winners though include sailing legends such as, Chris Tillet/Mike Rogers (1982) Stewart Hamilton/David Connor(1983),Garry Smith/Nick Connor (1984), Nigel Abbot/Craig Smith(1986), John Clifton/Paul Martin(1988), John Dransfield/Andrew Perry(1989&1990), John Dransfield/Gregor Baird(1991).

Although Australians have not won a worlds since 1991, this year Australians Robin Inns/Joel Coultas finished second and Greg Allison/Richard Watson finished third, showing Australians are still on the pace.

Numerous fireball sailors have gone onto sailing greatness in other sailing ventures, including Stevie Morrison(UK) (2001 World Champion) sailing in the 49er at this years Olympics, Ian Walker (UK) skipper of Abu Dhabi winner of the TransAtlantic leg of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, plus numerous others who have gone onto sail and win at professional levels.

To celebrate this and to once more enjoy the company of our fellow travellers through the history of the Fireball Class, a get together has been organised for 7:30pm on Saturday 1st September at Frankston Yacht Club, 30 years since the Worlds were sailed there and won by Chris Tillet and Mike Rogers.

For more information contact Leanne Maskiel on phone 0408 052610 or email jhelm1961(at)hotmail.com.

For more information on the Fireball, check out the Australian Fireball website and the Fireball International site

Newport Boat Show 2016 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht DesignNaiad

Related Articles

Freides defends leadership at Melges 20 World Championship
The one and only race that was able to take place at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship was a difficult one at best 2016 Melges 20 World Championship - The one and only race that was able to take place at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship hosted by Marina di Scarlino/Club Nautico Scarlino was a difficult one at best, however managed to present some nice new faces at the front of the fleet.
Posted today at 2:51 am
VRsport.tv International Moth UK Nationals at the WPNSA - Day 1
73 boats have signed on for the 2016 VRsport.tv International Moth UK Nationals at the WPNSA in Weymouth. Seventy-three boats have signed on for the 2016 VRsport.tv International Moth UK Nationals at the WPNSA in Weymouth. With the odd lightning strike off Chesil Beach and a huge storm over Dorchester, the fleet were released to leave the shore once it was deemed safe enough to sail in Portland Harbour, with racing getting underway just 20 minutes after the scheduled 1pm start time.
Posted on 27 Aug
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Crew catch up - Meet Dhruv Boruah
After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations After crew members have completed their global ocean adventure, some go back to their previous lives and occupations, some decide on a future in the marine industry, some take time out to assess their next move in life and others seek their next challenge.
Posted on 27 Aug
Changing of the Guard at Melges 20 Worlds, Freides takes over
The second day of racing at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship featured two races under shifty conditions 2016 Melges 20 World Championship - The second day of racing at the 2016 Melges 20 World Championship hosted by Marina di Scarlino/Club Nautico Scarlino featured two races under shifty conditions, shaking up the standings and making Drew Freides' Pacific Yankee the new leader with a one point advantage over Michael Illbruck on Pinta now seated in second place.
Posted on 27 Aug
Vendée Globe – Yann Eliès and his team relaunch 60-ft IMOCA in Lorient
Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses. Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses organised at the Finistère Ocean Racing Centre in Port-la-Forêt (Brittany). He will also take part in the Azimut Trophy. Yann Eliès tells us about the work that has been done and what lies ahead in the final part of his preparation.
Posted on 26 Aug
Vendée Globe – A long trip between France and Iceland for Heerema
After completing two solo transatlantic crossings in the spring, Pieter Heerema is currently on his third major trip. After completing two solo transatlantic crossings in the spring, Pieter Heerema is currently on his third major trip. Thanks to this voyage from France to Iceland and back, the Dutch skipper is finding out more about No Way Back, the new generation IMOCA on which he will line up on 6th November
Posted on 26 Aug
Phoenix returns and Cayard is back for the TP52 World Championships
Richard Cohen will compete at the championships in Mahón, Menorca, with Phoenix, which will be skippered by Paul Cayard. The carefully assembled team includes a core group of sailors who have many years of experience in the class, but Cayard cautions that their initial objective is to learn and improve together in line with their long term goal, to be competitive on the 2017 52 Super Series.
Posted on 26 Aug
Michael Marshall triumphs at J/22 World Championship
With a second place finish in Thursday’s only race, Mike Marshall, Todd Hiller and Luke Lawrence are the champions. Heading into the 10th and final race, Marshall and Chris Doyle were tied on points at 30. As the 41 teams arrived at CORK in the morning, the after effects of an overnight storm left breeze in the mid-20s, so the Race Committee postponed on shore.
Posted on 25 Aug
Best pictures of the first 4 Acts of the Extreme Sailing Series™
An influx of fresh talent have all added to the hype, but the greatest evolution is the replacement of the Extreme 40. An influx of fresh talent, new venues and a revised race format have all added to the hype, but the greatest evolution is the replacement of the Extreme 40 by a smaller, faster catamaran: the flying GC32.
Posted on 25 Aug
Return to Russia for the Extreme Sailing Series™
Joining the fleet as the season heads into its second half is Gazprom Team Russia, led by WMRT champion, Phil Robertson. With one week to go, the fleet returns to St Petersburg for the fifth Act of the season, presented by SAP, 35 of the world’s best sailors are getting their heads in the game and preparing for the one of the trickiest venues of the season so far.
Posted on 25 Aug