The 2004 Fireball World Championships are to be hosted by Adelaide Sailing Club, Australia. Today was the deadline for pre-entry and there are eighty-nine boats now entered.
It looks set to be one of the most open championships for many years, with none of the recent World Champions attending. European Champions Andy SMITH and James MELDRUM and GBR National Champions Kevin HOPE & Rob GARDNER head a strong British team. Representing Ireland will be the Irish National Champion and GBR Open Champion Shane MCCARTHY.
From the Czech Republic there will be Tomas MUSIL, who is currently doing a 470 Olympic campaign. France have a very strong team this year with Franc JUIN who finished fifth in the 2003 Worlds and the always popular pairing of Frederic MOUCHES and Jean-Francois NOUEL (a.k.a. Cantona). The brothers of Eric and Ruedi MOSER will be heading up the Swiss challenge along with Kurt VENHODA and Sonja ZAUGG who finished seventh in the 2003 World Championship. There are also entries from Germany, Canada and Japan.
The big unknown are the Australians. Having not been at the last couple of World Championships the question is who's going fast from down under? Rumours have been heard that Brett YOUNG and Alan BLENKLE are aiming to win on home territory and then there's the challenge from the ever-consistent Chris and Heather PAYNE. Ben SCHULZ and his Australian crew, Adam PARKER are aiming for a place in the top ten and Robin INNS and Philip BOWEY are setting their sights on the top five. They've got some real unknowns too, fast crews from other fleets who've joined the Fireballs for a crack at the title - Gregg ALLISON and his crew from Australian Sharpies and juniors, Shane and Andrew HUGHES from the 470 Development Squad.
So, it sounds like there could be a real battle on for the title, but they couldn't have a better location to fight it out! The club is located on the seafront at the recently developed boat harbour at West Beach, only 3 miles from Adelaide Airport and 6 miles from the city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Adelaide is situated on the shores of Gulf St Vincent, which is renowned for its long sandy beaches, safe waters and ideal sailing conditions.
The pre worlds incorporating the Australian Championships will be held from the 29th to the 31st December 2003. The 2004 International Fireball World Championships will be run from the Sat 3rd January to Friday 9th January 2004. The lay day on the 6th January is reserved for sightseeing, winery visits or just relaxing.