Fireball World Championships to blaze ahead in Howth in 2020

Top-flight dinghy competition will feature teams from across Europe and further afield

The 2020 Fireball World Championships have been awarded to Howth Yacht Club, bringing top-flight dinghy competition from as far as Africa to North Dublin waters in two years’ time.

The event will be the first International Fireball event in Ireland since 2011, which saw some 60 boats compete off Sligo. The 2020 event coincides with the 125th anniversary of Howth Yacht Club and teams are expected from across Europe but also from Kenya, South Africa and Australia.

The prospect of a World title on home waters looks already too big a lure for Royal St George’s Barry McCartin and Conor Kinsella, who are back in the boat after a one-year hiatus.

The Dún Laoghaire pair came close to the Fireball podium four years ago, finishing fourth at a European Championships in the Shetland Islands.


Last weekend marked the pair’s return with an emphatic win of the Irish national championships at Skerries Sailing Club.

McCartin/Kinsella are one of four teams heading to Carnac, France for the 2018 Worlds where Irish hopes rest mainly with them.


Ireland has previously hosted several Fireball World and European championships including a Europeans in Skerries in 2000 and a Worlds at the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire in 1995 which saw Dublin sailor John Lavery and this correspondent lift the trophy.

The main event takes place from August 9th-14th, 2020 with a short warm-up event expected in advance.

The Irish Fireball Association hopes the event will attract a new generation of sailors into one of the most exciting yet stable racing dinghies in the country. The local association is keen to see as many Irish boats as possible participate in the 2020 worlds and is embarking on a campaign to encourage young teams to take on the Fireball challenge. In recent weeks at least two competitive Winder-built Fireballs changed hands in advance of the formal announcement for relatively modest sums.

The good news for any sailors interested in campaigning towards the 2020 Worlds is that competitive race-ready Fireballs can be bought at the moment in Ireland and the UK from €2,500-€6,000.

For the Worlds, a highly experienced regatta team has been assembled, led by event chairperson Judith Malcolm and principal race officer David Lovegrove, one of Ireland’s most experienced international race officers and a former Fireball sailor himself.

Hyde and sleek

Royal Cork’s Stefan Hyde was the winner of the 25-boat J24 National Championships at Foynes Yacht Club. Hyde was eight points clear after seven races sailed on the Shannon Estuary. Harry Cronin was the winner of the new Under-25 keelboat national title.

Algeo is King of the Bay

Andrew Algeo’s unbeaten run this season in his J109 Joggerknot continued last Saturday when the Royal Irish Yacht Club (RIYC) skipper was crowned King of the Bay at the DMYC regatta, the first of Dún Laoghaire’s waterfront summer highlights. Algeo took J109 East Coast honours a month ago and was the Class One winner at Howth’s Wave Regatta a fortnight ago too. The next regatta on Dublin Bay is the National Yacht Club’s on June 23rd with the RIYC closing out June by staging a remarkable double on the 30th when it co-hosts the Round Ireland Race in Wicklow and mounts its own Club Regatta the same day.

Pwllheli leads ISORA

After a doubleheader on the Irish Sea last weekend, Pwllheli’s defending champion continues to lead the ISORA Championship series after races to and from the Isle of Man. Overall, after eight races sailed, the Welsh J109 is 4.5 points ahead of Royal St George’s J122 Aurelia, skippered by Chris Power-Smith. Third is Roger Smith’s Dublin-based J109 Wakey-Wakey in a 53-boat fleet.

Flying Fifteen at Strangford

Strangford Lough Yacht Club hosts the British Isles Flying Fifteen championships from June 27th, marking the diamond jubilee of the 20-foot keelboat on the Co Down lough. A fleet of 50 boats is expected to include former world champions Steve Goacher from Cumbria in the UK and London’s Charles Apthorp.

David O'Brien

David O'Brien

David O'Brien, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a former world Fireball sailing champion and represented Ireland in the Star keelboat at the 2000 Olympics