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British crew wins Fireball world title

Ian Pinnell and David Scott of Britain won another Fireball class world championship.

Sixty boats from four continents sailed on upper Hillsborough Bay Sunday through Friday, completing nine races.

Only once every 10 years does this event come to the United States. Davis Island Yacht Club has held the Midwinters of the class for 37 years, so it was a natural to sail the major event there.

"It started as sort of joke two years ago," said Patrick Crump of North Carolina. "Staging a worlds is difficult."

Attending the Midwinters for 22 years earned him the responsibility of chairman for the event, with the local club supplying the venue and experienced race committee.

Many competitors stayed in tents on the grounds, which is common in Europe. Visits to Ybor City and St. Petersburg's Dali Museum were arranged between sailing heats. Richard Estaugh and Simon Potts, also of Britain, were second.

Few complained about the sailing conditions, which ranged from very light air in the first days to gear-breaking winds and short, steep seas on the last days.

Erich and Reudi Moser of Switzerland won the first two races in light air and were a solid second until the last day, when the shifty northeast breeze helped drop them to third.

The Fireball was designed by Pete Milnes of Britain in 1962.

The 16-foot boat has a shape conducive to home building, even being a shop project of some high schools.

While there were some bright varnish decks on the course, most competitive Fireballs are fashioned of sophisticated cored fiberglass with sail controls befiting a higher performance sailing dinghy. With a trapeze device that enables the crew to lean well out on the windward side with only feet contacting the boat and with a large spinnaker, the Fireballs are a handful to sail in a breeze. More than one wet competitor had Hillsborough Bay mud at the top of the sail after a capsize.

Four boats rode in a container from Australia and three from Japan. Other competitors came from Canada, Ireland, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Only 10 boats hailed from the United States, with the top placing by Patrick Crump in mid fleet.

The next Fireball worlds are in Kenya, followed by Australia in 2004.

FINAL RESULTS

1. Ian Pinnell, David Scott, England; 2. Richard Estaugh, Simon Potts, England; 3. Erich and Reudi Moser, Switzerland; 4. David Wade, Richard Wagstaff, England; 5. Vince Horey, Jon Mildred, England; 6. Kevin Hope, Robert Gardner, England; 7. Paul Cullen, Gavin Tilson, England; 8. Robin Inns, Mark Ingerson, Australia; 9. Tim Rush, Simon Hextall, England; 10. Venhoda Kurt, Sonja Zaugg, Switzerland. Top Americans: 30. Patrick Crump, Ned Goss, Kernersville, N.C.

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