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A Varied Challenge for Fireballs and 420s on Galway Bay

A Competitive Start Line

It's been a busy week for dinghy sailors at the club with the arrival of a large number of visiting Fireballs and 420s. The Fireballs came to Rinville in 1980 when the GBSC's clubhouse first opened. It is fitting that they return as we celebrate a new chapter for the clubhouse and the facilities at Rinville. It's also a tribute to the many club members who have committed to volunteer over the course of the week and weekend that GBSC can continue to welcome visiting fleets 44 years later and provide wonderful opportunities for our young sailors to experience international quality training and championship racing locally. All the participants are extremely grateful to the club and its volunteers for making these events possible.

National Training

National 420 Training at Rinville.

First to arrive were the 420 fleet in preparation for the National mid-summer training from Wednesday to Friday. This session, led by Graeme Grant, a seasoned double-hander Olympic campaigner and coach, now based in Germany and active in land yacht racing, attracted significant interest with a large fleet from as far afield as Waterford and Blessington participating. Galway Bay has become a 420 heartland in recent years, boasting a resilient fleet from GBSC, Galway City Sailing Club, Cumann Seoltóireacht Spidéal, and more recently Clifden Boat Club. Graeme led a team of local coaches, including  past 420 champion Aly O'Sullivan, Rob Talbot, and Daniel Thompson from Wexford Boat and Tennis Club.

Regatta Weekend

There was little rest for the 420 sailors at the end of the training with the Connacht Championships kicking off on Saturday. The 420s were joined on the water by a fleet of Fireballs who were competing in the Fireball Open Championship. Race Officers David Vinnell and Aoife Lyons set a trapezoidal course for the opening races in relatively light northerly conditions. As the day wore on, the wind freshened and shifted as light rain arrived, with the fleet moving to a more traditional Olympic triangle course for Race 3.

Fireballs Leading the Charge Downwind on Saturday

Conditions were brighter and sunnier with lighter westerly winds on Sunday. For Race 4 and 5, David and Aoife stuck with the Olympic Triangle course, changing to a windward-leeward configuration for Race 6.

About the Boats

The International 420 was designed by Christian Maury in France in the year 1959. The class developed rapidly, and remains internationally popular as a youth trainer for the larger Olympic class International 470. With its trapeze and spinnaker it provides the capability for advanced sailing techniques for international standard sailors, while still remaining affordable and accessible. The International 420 maintains a large multinational class association. The combination of effective class management, the boat's inherent sailing qualities, and prudent evolution have contributed to the class's continuing success. Most of the sailors in this class over the course of the week will be 14-18 years of age.


The ancestry of the Fireball is on the other side of the Atlantic and it owes much of its heritage to North American A-Class scows. However, the class itself originated with Peter Milne in England over the Winter of 1961/62. The unusual design attracted immediate interest but it was Fireball's sailing performance that quickly turned heads. Fireball produced a sparkling performance once the wind increased and was clearly faster boat-for-boat than established dinghies of a similar size. Through the enthusiasm of her many fans, Fireball has reached her 50th birthday in great shape with over 15,000 examples built. For the club sailor, she remains the most popular of all traditional single trapeze, symmetric spinnaker classes and yet she continues to attract the attention of the established stars of the dinghy sailing world.

Race Results

Full results are available at the following links:

At the top of the Fireball Fleet, it was a very close Cork v. Dublin battle throughout Saturday. However, Chris Bateman and Lisa Flynn of Monkstown Bay Sailing Club sealed first place with wins in the final two races to hold off Josh Porter and Cora McDowell. David Evans and William Draper from Sligo Yacht Club came in third, The Cork boats didn't have it all their own way, with Cariosa Power and Marie Barry from the National Yacht Club taking the honours in the silver fleet. They were followed by a closely packed group where Olin Bateman and Conor Kelly from Monkstown Bay managed to squeeze in for second place, pipping Jack McNaughton and Riaghan Boardman from Dún Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club who finished third.

Winners of the Fireball Gold Fleet from Monkstown Bay Sailing Club

In the 420 fleet, despite a poor finish in Race 1, Cora McNaughton and Seán Cronin from Blessington were clear winners in the gold fleet. Isha Duggan and Tommy Hiras from the Royal Cork came in second with Max Sweetman and Fionn Lynch from Waterford Harbour in third. In the silver fleet, Daniel Copthorne and Matt Mappleback from the Royal Cork took the honours and a very impressive 4th overall. Second in silver were Isabelle Passberger and Sarah Clooney from Waterford Harbour with Yanis and Axel Heurtevent from Wexford Harbour in third.


Winners of the 420 Gold Fleet with Martina Whyte, President of the Irish 420 Association

The event was also a wonderful opportunity for the 420 fleet to give the boats travelling to the European Championships in Slovenia staring next Monday a send off and to wish them well. Next up for the domestic 420s will be the Leinsters in Lough Ree while the attention of the Fireballs will turn to Skerries for the Fireball Leinsters.


The organisers and competitors would like to express their appreciation to all the volunteers from GBSC who contributed to a wonderful event.


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