2016 Worlds South Africa

Fireball World Championships 2016 at Mossel Bay Yacht and Boat Club

4th to 16th December

 by Cormac Bradley Yachts and Yachting


see Videos and Fotos by Mark Dixon and Stuart Parker and Urs Haerdi-Landerer



A six race pre-Worlds was dominated by the Swiss pairing, to the extent that they did not need to sail the last race which went to Ben Schulz and Jack Lidgett, but this was not enough for the Aussie pair to finish behind the Swiss, that position went to the Czech pairing of Johana Koranva Napravnikova & Jakub Napravnik (CZE 15109) who counted two second places in their tally of scores.

Day 1 of the pre-Worlds was blown out but as the regatta progressed the wind got lighter and on the last day racing was shortened due to the fading breeze.


Week results.jpg



Day 1

There is a very modest Fireball fleet assembled in Mossel Bay, South Africa, for the Fireball Worlds which got underway yesterday, Sunday 11th December. While there is quality in the fleet with the current title holders, Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton (GBR15127) and the new European Champions 2016, Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799) in attendance, perennial competitors, Ben Schulz (Aus 15113), Joe Jospe & Tom Egli (CAN 15024), Derian and Andy Scott (GBR14924) and FI Commodore Steve Chesney, the depth is not what it should be for a Worlds.

After the flag-raising ceremony for the Worlds yesterday morning (Sunday 11th), the fleet launched in big winds, big seas and sunshine. A British-Swiss-Aussie 1-2-3 was recorded with Gillard & Anderton, Mermod & Moser and Schulz & Lidgett taking the podium places. There are plenty of photos from the day's racing on the Fireball Worlds 2016 Facebook site for all to enjoy.




Day 2

The big breeze of day 1 was still around for the second day of the Fireball Worlds in Mossel Bay, South Africa. The Facebook site for the regatta reports that the fleet launched into a stiff south-westerly accompanied by a swell from the east.

The Swiss combination of Mermod & Moser (SUI 14799) led at the first weather mark, followed closely by the British combination of Gillard & Anderton (GBR15127), Schulz and Lidgett (AUS 15113) and the South African combination of Yogi Divaris & Ferdinand Holm (RSA 14910).

By the next rounding of the weather mark normal order had been restored with Gillard & Anderton leading and Schulz & Lidgett up to second. After this first race the fleet were taken ashore as the wind was showing no sign of abating though there was a more favourable forecast for the afternoon.

At 16:00 the fleet was called out again for a second race in 10 – 14 knots. This time Gillard & Anderton led from start to finish, with Yogi Divaris & Ferdinand Holm second, Mermod & Moser third and Schulz & Lidgett fourth. The leading crews were able to fly spinnakers on the top reach but the chasing pack either sailed high initially and then set bag or two-sailed the reach.

Ben Schulz: "Day 2 was wilder than yesterday. Sailed the runs flat on the wire with no kite for a second place finish! 

They gave us a two-hour break then sent us out again in 20 knots to reach the start area in zero knots. Finally sailed in a building breeze in with way too upright a rake; struggling in for fourth. The programme is for three races tomorrow."


Day 3

A day of relative calm!

The day saw the competitors treated to a more genteel 10 knots southerly that built during the day to 17 to 20 knots for the third race. Sea conditions were reported as being flat initially but building to 2m swells by the end of the day.

Team GBR, Gillard & Anderton (GBR 15127), were in a class of their own winning all three races very comfortably. The Swiss pairing of Mermod and Moser (SUI 14799) made a clean sweep of the second places and Schulz & Lidgett (AUS 15113) taking two of the three third places. While the leaders were in a class of their own, the regatta Facebook site reports that there was competition in a number of groups throughout the fleet.

While the fleet was tired by the time they got ashore, at least they had three races completed without the "survival instinct" being the dominant sentiment of the day.

Today, Wednesday, see the fleet enjoy a well-deserved rest day and judging by some of the individual Facebook posts, some of them are only too glad to see a day of no sailing... and not necessarily due to on the water exhaustion.

Australian–Franco international relations have been put to the test at this regatta with the very late pairing of Jean-Francois Nouel and Scott Lidgett. Jean-Francois' crew had to pull out of the event at very short notice due to a horse-riding accident and Scott flew in from Australia to team up with the Frenchman. They have had a challenging time in the big seas with capsizes and gear failure. But in his latest comment he says "I don't know why everytime Scott K Lidgett pulls a rope it breaks down! Is he a monster man? It could not be a lack of maintenance on the French boat obviously."

British pair, Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton, sailing GBR 15127 have only just retained their Worlds title from Pwllheli, Wales... by winning all eight races sailed thus far in the 2016 World Championships in South Africa.


Day 4

In a Facebook posts around 2pm British time on Thursday afternoon, Tom was able to confirm their success with a day and two races to spare. A more manageable day was had on the water with a South-Easterly of 10 - 12 knots blowing.

In second place, the Swiss pair of Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser (SUI 14799) also continued their consistent ways with two second places but the Aussie pair of Ben Schulz and Jack Lidgett (AUS15113) while scoring a third in the first race of the day, had a gear problem in the second race and, in Ben's own words, limped across the line in seventh place.

While the Aussies may be reasonably secure in third place overall they won't be taking anything for granted because the British wife and husband pair of Andy and Derian Scott (GBR 14941) are sitting in fourth overall and despite a Facebook comment that she was "pooped" after the day's racing, another lighter session (relative to the start of the week), might just suit Derian and Andy.

The first South African combination in the overall standings is Yogi Devaris and Ferdinand Holm (RSA 14910) in fifth place.

Fireball International Commodore, Steve Chesney, crewing with Hugh Watson (GBR 14791) lies in sixth, with the Kenyans, Alastair Bush and David Carroll (KEN 14535) seventh, the Czechs, Johana Koranva Napravnikova and Jakub Napravnik (Rear Commodore Europe)(CZE 15109), eighth, the Canadians Joe Jospe and Tom Egli (CAN 15024), ninth and South African Fireball legend JJ Provoyeur and Ian MacRobert (RSA 14422) rounding out the top ten.

For Wednesday's lay-day the fleet had the choice of an organised trip to a local Game Reserve and it would appear that quite a few exercised that option.

The last race of the event commences on the water only eight hours from when this report is being written, 10:00 South African time, 08:00 British (and Irish) time.


Final day

Having reeled off eight wins in a row, it wouldn't have been an unreasonable assumption to suggest that Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton (GBR15127) were odds-on to make a clean sweep of all ten races in the Worlds that have been just concluded in Mossel Bay, South Africa. That is not to belittle the efforts of the rest of the fleet which included the current European Champions, Claude Mermod and Ruedi Moser (SUII 14799) and Ben Schulz and Jack Lidgett (AUS 15113).

However, the ninth race was lost to the aforementioned Aussie pair before the 2016 World Champions claimed the last race of the series to claim a significant points victory.

The European Champions finished second overall followed home by the Aussies. In 4th place was the leading South African combination, 16-year old Yogi Divaris and Ferdinand Holm (RSA 14910), followed by the wife and husband pairing of Derian and Andy Scott (GBR 149410).

The last race day seems to have been the most genteel of the regatta as befits the end of a regatta and the subsequent packing-up of boats.

Competitor comments:

  • Jean Francois Nouel: 20 Worlds sailed and it was "defo" the best ever. (14th overall with Scott Lidgett)
  • Steve Chesney: JF is right, best ever. (FI Commodore, 6th overall with Hugh Watson)
  • Ben Schulz: To all those who didn't come, you have missed out on the best Worlds ever.
  • Tom Gillard: Unreal sailing here!

Overall Results

Worlds results.jpg