Fireballs at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall



Allèz, a Fireball trapeze dinghy built by Jack Chippendale will feature at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth for the next two months.

Designed by Peter Milne in 1962, the International Fireball is a high performance one-design sailing dinghy. Milne’s intention was to create a boat that was cheap, simple to build and maintain, but with exciting performance – the single-chine hull is designed for planing at low speeds (it is said to plane at just 8 knots) and is scow-shaped. Usually sailed by a crew of two, it has a trapeze and a symmetric spinnaker.

First reviewed by Yachts & Yachting in March 1962, the Fireball was an immediate success. By May of that year, 73 sets of plans had been sold for self- build, and at least one company was selling complete boats for £188.

Allèz is K24, and was built in 1963. From 1978 she was owned by Alistair Tatton until he donated her to the Museum in 2005. Its trapeze was probably supplied when the boat was new, as the rules were changed to allow them in 1963.

The name she bears today is the result of a mistake – when he realised the accent was the wrong way round on the letter ‘e’ of the boat’s name, Alistair decided to leave it unchanged because it was distinctive: thus she became Allèz.

Alistair kept a comprehensive log, charting his sailing experiences and boat modifications to Allèz, from 1978 until September 1991. The boat, extracts from Alistair’s log, and further information on the class, can be seen in the Museum’s Study Boat Zone from 1 May to 30 June.

Andy Wyke, boat collection manager, commented: “Very few successful, long-lasting dinghy designs happen by accident. The Fireball is no exception and was designed by Peter Milne to meet a need: to bridge the gap between small family-type centre boarders and the larger, more expensive classes. The fact that 15,000 or so of these boats have been built is a testament to their popularity and competitiveness”.

Chippendale Craft

UK Fireball Association

Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association

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