2024 Fireball Worlds Day 4 Report

14 February 2024

Front of the fleet takes shape as 2024 Fireball Worlds pass halfway mark

On what was supposed to be the lay day of the 2024 Fireball Worlds, the fifth and sixth championship races were held in switchy and gusty southerly winds to bring the event past the halfway mark.

The British team of Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson on North Sails Allen Bros Robline had another tidy day with a 2,1 scorecard putting them four points clear with one discard in play.

Second place overall is currently tied between local Royal Geelong Yacht Club sailors Brendan Garner and Ben O’Brien on Black Pearl and the British team of DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend on Mondo.

Garner and O’Brien’s 5,4 scorecard was enough to keep them in the mix, however Edwards and Townend’s 1,2 made it a top day for the British teams and further reinforced their consistency and experience in the class.

Townend, a five-time Fireball World Champion in his own right, said the conditions were extremely challenging and reminded him of some of his sailing back home in the United Kingdom.

“Yeah it was interesting, I would say a bit like sailing on a pond in England at times, really big shifts, big gusts, some of the headers were 40 degrees at one point,” he said.

“I believe some people capsized on them actually, but yeah, pretty difficult conditions.”

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Mondo team, rounding the windward mark in about 15th in one race, which Townend said was lucky to be salvaged into a good result.

“We were about 15th at the top mark and everyone went high, so we thought we've only got one option, which is to go low,” he said.

“Everybody else above us went through a bit of a hole and we just got the most beautiful gust all the way down and luckily it was enough to get buoy room and convert a 15th into a second by the gybe mark.”

Current Australian Champions Ben Schulz and Angus Higgins on Riptide had another consistent day to put them in fourth overall heading into the final four races of the regatta.

Higgins said there were a lot of shifts on the race course and that sailors “had to keep an open mind and just try to think ahead”.

“I guess there was always shifts going around, so we always just try to do the shortest lane possible and just keep an eye out for the pressure, so just being able to deal with losing a bit to gain a bit was kind of the go,” he said.

“If you keep doing what works, it can't be bad and I'm sure tomorrow and the next couple of days looks like it's gonna be a little bit of a different forecast as well, so I think we'll just keep trying to do our best and see what comes our way.”

With lighter and more challenging winds forecast for the next two days, consistency from here out will be key for the top two teams of Gillard/Thompson and Garner/O’Brien, who are currently discarding an 18th and 16th respectively.

Meanwhile Mondo and Riptide are yet to fall outside the top six, which could play into their hands late in the regatta.

The second discard is applied after the completion of Race 9.

DJ Edwards And Vyv Townend On Mondo Are In The Mix After Six Races