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HandWiki. Fireball (Dinghy). Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 20 June 2024).
HandWiki. Fireball (Dinghy). Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 20, 2024.
HandWiki. "Fireball (Dinghy)" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 20, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, October 25). Fireball (Dinghy). In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Fireball (Dinghy)." Encyclopedia. Web. 25 October, 2022.
Fireball (Dinghy)

The Fireball is a British sailing dinghy that was designed by Peter Milne as a one-design racer and first built in 1962.

fireball dinghy sailing

1. Production

In the past the design has been built by Rondar Raceboats of the United Kingdom, Nautivela of Italy, Chippendale Boats in the UK and Duvoisin Nautique in France. Today it is built by Weathermark Sailboats and also by Winder Boats, both in the UK. Over 125,000 boats have been completed.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

2. Design

The Fireball is a recreational racing sailboat, originally designed to be built of wood for the amateur builder. Today most new Fireballs are made predominantly of fibreglass.[1][2]

It has a fractional sloop rig with aluminum spars. The hull is a single hard chine scow design, with a retractable centreboard, a vertical transom, a transom-hung, kick-up rudder controlled by a tiller, with a tiller extension for hiking out. The boat displaces 170 lb (77 kg) and can be equipped with a spinnaker and trapeze.[1][2]

The boat has a draft of 4.00 ft (1.22 m) with the centreboard extended. With it retracted the boat can be beached or transported on a trailer or car roof rack.[1]

The design has adopted changes over time. In 1966 construction of fibreglass was permitted. The use of a single crew trapeze was added in 1965. The sails and hull are controlled, but changes to the rigging are permitted and mast chocks and struts have been used in the past.[2]

The design has a North American Portsmouth Yardstick racing average handicap of 85.6, with an RYA Portsmouth of 956. It is normally raced with a crew of two sailors.[2][9][10]

3. Operational History

Fireball flying a spinnaker

The Fireball was granted International Yacht Racing Union international status in 1970.[2]

The design is supported by a class club, the International Fireball Class.[11]

The Fireball is raced worldwide, with the largest fleets in Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.[2]

A review in Yachts and Yachting magazine in March 1962 concluded, "she is good for inland water or the sea. Her performance has proved intriguing for expert helmsmen, yet she is stable enough to be kind to the clumsy novice."[8]

In a 1994 review Richard Sherwood wrote, the "Fireball is a high-performance dinghy, not as fast as an International 505 or Flying Dutchman, but allowing a great deal of latitude in the positioning and adoption of all gear except sails and hull ... The (usually) high-cut jibs and the small spinnaker require less strength to control, so that many successful racing crews have had women members."[2]

In a 2012 review in Yachts and Yachting magazine, Toby Heppell wrote, "The Fireball might look sticky in light winds, but can skate along quite nicely if the water is flat – predictably, that uncompromising bow will not cope so well with insufficient wind and chop. Best of all, Fireballs love to plane which is the root reason why many people love to sail dinghies. On a smooth surface you should get lift-off from around Force 3 on both downwind and upwind legs. Further up the wind scale, Fireball sailors reckon they are still racing when everyone else has gone home ... That’s what sailing a Fireball is about. A boat for everyday sailors that can provide enjoyable racing from about age 16 to 60 plus. Forty years on our verdict is that the Fireball is still a load of fun to sail."[8]

Writer Paula Irish included the design as one of her 2018 list of "25 Best Beginner Sailing Dinghies". She wrote, "if you want the added excitement of a trapeze boat, with an acceptance that you may find it trickier, the Fireball is a good option with entry-level boats from just a few hundred pounds and flexibility to fit the boat out to suit you, making it good for smaller helms or crews. The class association describes the Fireball as "probably the highest performance dinghy that just about anyone can sail in almost any wind strength.""[12]

4. Events

4.1. IYRU Youth Sailing World Championships

The fireball was used at the 6th Youth Sailing World Championships held in Toronto, Canada.[13]

4.2. Continental Championships


Year Continent Venue Boat Helm and Crew Country
1969 European Belgium 4161 Peter Bateman & Julian Brooke-Houghton United Kingdom
1970 European Event Not Held
1971 European Sweden 6396 A Batzill & R Batzill West Germany
1972 European West Germany 7175 Jean-Claude Vuithier & Pierre Walt Switzerland
1973 European Italy Fireball 8091 Phillippe Durr & Yves Pochon Switzerland
1974 European Switzerland 9238 Alistair Locke & N Robinson United Kingdom
1975 European United Kingdom 7429 Philippe Gault & Patrice Gault France
1976 European Sweden 9961 Lawrie Smith & Paul Withers United Kingdom
1977 European West Germany 11059 Roger Tushingham & Alistair Locke United Kingdom
1978 European France 11609 Kim Slater & Nick Read-Wilson United Kingdom
1979 European Sweden 12063 David Bain & Stuart Angus United Kingdom
1980 European United Kingdom 12812 Eddie Warden-Owen & Ossie Stewart United Kingdom
1981 European Italy 12895 Nigel Buckley & Steve Birbeck United Kingdom
1982 European Ireland 12923 Tony Wetherell & Steve Goacher United Kingdom
1983 European France 12718 Colin McKinnon & Doug Peniston United Kingdom
1984 European United Kingdom 13317 Tim Rush & Angus Hemmings United Kingdom
1985 European Guernsey 13460 Ian Fryett & Giles Fryett United Kingdom
1986 European Sweden 13668 Andy Rowland & Mark Hazelwood United Kingdom
1987 European France 13845 "Boy Racer" Ian Pinnell & Daniel Cripps United Kingdom
1988 European Italy 14016 Ian Pinnell & Daniel Cripps United Kingdom
1989 European Belgium 14016 Ian Pinnell & Jarrod Simpson United Kingdom
1990 European Switzerland 14169 Jeremy Hartley & Chris Miles United Kingdom
1991 European Czechoslovakia 14267 Ian Pinnell & Daniel Cripps United Kingdom
1992 European Italy 14334 Jean-Charles Scale & Bertrand Loyal France
1993 European Belgium 14376 Erich Moser & Ruedi Moser Switzerland
1994 European France 14376 Erich Moser & Ruedi Moser Switzerland
1995 European Ireland 14378 John Lavery & David O'Brien Ireland
1996 European Switzerland Fireball 14540 Erich Moser & Ruedi Moser Switzerland
1997 European United Kingdom 14579 "Kojak's Roll-Neck" Colin Goodman & Jim Turner United Kingdom
1998 European Czech Republic 14552 Thomas Musil & Roman Racek Czech Republic
1999 European France 14701 Ian Pinnell & M Flint United Kingdom
2000 European Ireland 14685 "Last Man's Batter" Steve Morrison & Richard Wagstaff United Kingdom
2001 European Italy 14685 "Last Man's Batter" Steve Morrison & Liam Murray United Kingdom
2002 European Italy 14799 Erich Moser & Ruedi Moser Switzerland
2003 European United Kingdom 14801 Andy Smith & James Meldrum United Kingdom
2004 European Slovenia 14879 "Aloha Malina" Thomas Musil & Jan Stantejsky Czech Republic
2005 European United Kingdom 14908 "4 walls 4 sail" David Edwards & Dan Newman United Kingdom
2006 European France 14895 "Gul" Andy Smith & Jonny Mildred United Kingdom
2007 European Event Not Held
2008 European Belgium 14948 Tom Jeffcoate & David Hynes United Kingdom
2009 European France 15020 Vince Horey & Rob Gardner United Kingdom
2010 European Czech Republic 15041 Tom Gillard & Sam Brearey United Kingdom
2011 European Event Not Held
2012 European Italy Fireball 15084 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff United Kingdom
2013 European Slovenia 15093 Matt Burge & Richard Wagstaff United Kingdom
2014 European Shetland Islands 15081 Tom Gillard & Richard Anderton United Kingdom
2015 European Event Not Held
2016 European taly 14799 Claude Mermod & Ruedi Moser Switzerland
2017 European United Kingdom 15123 Matt Burge & Dan Schieber United Kingdom
2018 European Event Not Held
2019 European Czech Republic 14973 Alois Verkest & Ludovic Collin France


  1. McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Fireball sailboat". 
  2. Sherwood, Richard M.: A Field Guide to Sailboats of North America, Second Edition, pages 74-75. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. ISBN:0-395-65239-1
  3. McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Chippendale Boats (UK)". 
  4. McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Nautivela (ITA)". 
  5. McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Rondar Raceboats". 
  6. Weathermark Sailboats (2020). "New Boats". 
  7. McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Weathermark Sailboats". 
  8. Heppell, Toby (12 September 2012). "Fireball Review". Yachts and Yachting. 
  9. US Sailing (2018). "North American Portsmouth Yardstick Table of Pre-Calculated Classes". 
  10. Royal Yachting Association (2020). "Portsmouth Number List 2020". 
  11. McArthur, Bruce (2020). "Fireball Class - International". 
  12. Irish, Paula (1 February 2018). "25 Best Beginner Sailing Dinghies". 
  13. Template:World Sailing regatta
  14. "European Championships - Fireball International".,++Switzerland++31+more+rows+. 
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