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National and World Fireball Sailing championship updates


British Fireball sailors Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson have been crowned World Champions at the 2024 Fireball Worlds in Geelong, Australia.

The duo sailed a near perfect regatta, rarely falling outside the top three and ending up winning with a race to spare.

Gillard said he was proud of the achievement, especially given the fact the British container didn’t arrive on time.

“In the build up to the event we knew that we weren’t going to have our boat so we had to spend a lot of time working on the boat we borrowed,” he said.

“At pre-worlds we basically did one race a day, found out what was wrong with it, came back in, mended it and made sure it was good for the World Championships.”

His crew, Andy Thompson, said the regatta win was a special one for the pair considering they had not planned to attend the event initially.

“We shouldn’t really be here to be honest because we weren’t in the container to start off with, so we’re really lucky to be here.”

Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson celebrate winning the 2024 Fireball World Championships. Photo credit: Alex Dare, Down Under Sail.

Gillard thanked the Australian Fireball Association and the committee members, who worked hard to ensure those left without a boat from overseas were able to sail borrowed Australian boats to get them through the regatta.

In second place was fellow British sailors DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend, who also sailed an extremely consistent regatta, but ended up just short of the regatta leaders in most races.

Third place, and first Australians, were local heroes Brendan Garner and Ben O’Brien who hail from the Royal Geelong Yacht Club and had a really good start to their event to set up a successful result.

The event was incredibly well run by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club with 10 races across a mix of conditions that threw up a few challenges for the race committee.


British Fireball duo Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson will take a seven-point lead into the final two races of the 2024 Fireball Worlds in Geelong tomorrow, as they look to be crowned world champions for another time.

The pair have so far sailed a near flawless regatta with an 18th in Race 3 the only result outside the top four.

Sitting in second overall with an outside chance of claiming the title on the last day is fellow Britons DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend on Mondo, who are now dropping a 13th from today.

With a pair of good results tomorrow, the Mondo team could use a sixth as their second discard, shaving some solid points off their scorecard.

In third overall after an 8,1 scorecard today is Brendan Garner and Ben O’Brien on Black Pearl, who turned a poor position into a Race 8 win in an extremely shifty final work, keeping them in the hunt.

Garner said it was a challenging day and that it had set up an exciting battle for the final day.

“In the first race we got caught out a couple of times being a little too confident with what might happen up the track, so then we decided our plan was just sail the higher number and sail towards pressure,” he said.

“We’ll have a crack, I think what’s fantastic for the regatta and for the class is that it’s wide open going into tomorrow, there’s a few boats that can still win.

Challenging conditions on the penultimate day of the Fireball Worlds. Photo credit: Alex Dare, Down Under Sail.

Challenging conditions on the penultimate day of the Fireball Worlds. Photo credit: Alex Dare, Down Under Sail.

“They’re not our conditions (tomorrow) but neither was today and we still came out with a good result so we’ll just see what happens.”

There are some great battles being set up for the final day to make up the remainder of the top 10 with a number of teams having great regattas so far and looking for a good final result.

Ben Schulz and Angus Higgins in Riptide are sitting fourth and could sneak onto the podium with a good final day, while David Hall and Paul Constable on Sunsets, Tom Gordon and Jack Fletcher on Cletus, and Ben Knoop and James Belton on Fierce Creature are all in a close fight for the last spot in the top five.

Sophie Jackson, who is sailing with Josh Galland on Zig Zag and currently sits 11th overall, said the racing in this regatta had been incredibly tight.

“I think with the lighter breeze the fleet was a lot more condensed and boats that are sometimes further back made their way up to the front, so there was a lot of congestion coming in around the marks and the fleet was a lot denser,” she said.

“Fireballs sail very similarly to the 470, so it’s a really great boat to cross-train in and get that extra racing practice.”

The final day tomorrow is expected to be tricky, which sets up massive opportunities for teams looking to move up the standings, and big risks for those that need to defend their spot.


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.

Brendan Garner and Ben O’Brien on Black Pearl currently sit second overall. Photo credit: Alex Dare, Down Under Sail.

“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.


Geelong shines as host of the National and World Fireball Sailing championships

Geelong proudly embraces its role as the host city for the prestigious National and World Fireball Championships, currently underway at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. This event not only showcases Geelong’s commitment to sailing excellence but also brings significant economic benefits to the local community while inviting visitors to experience our city on a global platform.

With competitors converging from across the globe, Geelong stands tall as the chosen destination for this pinnacle event in the sailing calendar. The Royal Geelong Yacht Club, in partnership with the City of Greater Geelong and The Victorian State Government, extends a warm welcome to sailors and spectators alike.

“It’s been over a decade since Australia last hosted a Fireball World Championship, and we are immensely proud to follow in the footsteps of Mandurah, Western Australia, as the next regional city to hold these prestigious championships,” remarked Mr Brendan Garner, Fireball National and World Championships Committee Chair “Geelong’s picturesque waterfront and world-class facilities provide the perfect backdrop for this gathering of sailing enthusiasts from around the world.”

Approximately 150 skilled competitors have descended upon Geelong to vie for top honours in both the national and world championships. Following the thrilling National Championships held over the past three days, the anticipation mounts as the World Championships commence on Sunday.

Spectators eager to witness the action firsthand are encouraged to head to Eastern Beach, where they can soak in the spectacle of Fireball sailing at its finest. With Australia boasting a formidable contingent, expectations are high for a stellar performance on the international stage.

“Sailing holds a special place in the heart of Geelong, and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club remains steadfast in its commitment to nurturing this cherished sport at all levels,” added Mr Harper “From grassroots learn-to-sail programs to hosting world-class championships, we continue to uphold the legacy of sailing excellence in our community.”


Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson Dominate Day Two of Sailing World Championships

The second day of the Fireball National Championships brought forth thrilling races amidst glorious sunshine, testing the mettle of the competitors as they navigated the waters with skill and precision. With no sign of the Oscar flag, the jury remained vigilant, ensuring fair competition throughout the day.

In Race four, the current world champions, Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson of Great Britain, showcased their prowess once again, leading from start to finish. Despite facing relentless pressure from their competitors, Gillard and Thompson maintained their position, securing another remarkable victory. Heather Macfarlane and Chris Payne from Australia delivered an impressive performance, climbing through the ranks to claim a close second, followed closely by Tom Gordon and Jack Fletcher, also representing Australia.

Race five witnessed an intense battle between Dave Hall and Paul Constable of Great Britain and the Australian duo Ben Knoop and James Belton. Although Knoop and Belton led for the majority of the race, Hall and Constable displayed exceptional determination, ultimately
overtaking their rivals to clinch the win. DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend, also from Great Britain, demonstrated their skill, securing a commendable third-place finish.

SUNSET – Dave Hall / Paul Constable (GBR)
MONDO – DJ Edwards / Vyv Townend (GBR)
RIP TIDE – Ben Schulz / Angus Higgins (AUS)
CLETUS – Tom Gordon / Jack Fletcher (AUS)
I MOUNT BOOKS – Heather Macfarlane / Chris Payne (AUS)

As the competition intensifies, sailors from around the world continue to demonstrate their expertise and determination, promising an exhilarating conclusion to the Fireball National Championships.


Incredible action unfolds at Day one of the fireball National Championships at the royal Geelong Yacht Club

Sailing enthusiasts were treated to a day of exhilarating competition at day one of the Fireball National Championships hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. The world’s top sailors showcased their skills despite challenging conditions. With breezes ranging from 12 to 18 knots, the racers were put to the test in a series of gripping contests.

Photo: Michelle Thompson

Great Britain and the Czech Republic demonstrated their prowess, leaving a mark on the results board. Notably, current world champions Tom Gillard and Andy Thompson (GBR) exemplified their dominance by triumphing in the first race, showcasing their ability to navigate through the fleet with finesse.

However, it was the remarkable consistency of Dave Hall and Paul Constable (GBR) that stole the spotlight, clinching victory in the subsequent two races. Despite an unexpected capsize on the bottom mark in race 3, former world champions DJ Edwards and Vyv Townend (GBR) still made their presence felt in the rankings.

Australian sailors also made their mark, with Ben Schulz and Angus Higgins leading the pack, securing second place overall, closely followed by Tom Gordon and Jack Fletcher, and Brendan Garner and Ben O’Brien.

The competition was fierce throughout the day, with sailors showcasing their expertise in the varying wind conditions, thrilling spectators, and enthusiasts alike.

Final Results:

1. SUNSET – Dave Hall / Paul Constable (GBR)
2. RIP TIDE – Ben Schulz / Angus Higgins (AUS)
3. CLETUS – Tom Gordon / Jack Fletcher (AUS)
4. BLACK PEARL – Brendan Garner / Ben O’Brien (AUS)
5. MONDO – DJ Edwards / Vyv Townend (GBR)

For full race results and more information, visit