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Firebirds at Falmouth Week 2018

by Peter Stephens 20 Aug 2018 17:14 BST 10-19 August 2018
Cornish Meadow in the Firebird class at Falmouth Week 2018 © Cafe Mylor

Recent years has seen a building fleet of Firebird Catamarans enjoy some of the best one design racing that Falmouth Week can offer. These eight metre cats, with two or three crew and an asymmetric kite, enjoy incredibly close racing in fleets of between 8 to 10 boats.

The Port of Falmouth Race team managed a well planned and executed range of courses over the week offering everyone an opportunity to excel. With races between one and two hours and perfect conditions all week, it meant that often five or six boats were finishing within minutes, if not seconds allowing little margin for boat handling or tactical errors if crews want to be in the prizes.

2018 proved to be no exception with a new format of two races per day and the infamous Champagne Race allowing all the crews to enjoy 13 varied races around Falmouth Bay and the Helford River.

After the first day with three boats lying on equal points at the top of the leader board, it was clear that the racing this year was going to be exceptionally close.

On Day one David Healey, in Flying Circus, and James Parker, in Firefly, both won races with Peter Stephens in Ultraviolet consistently being placed to equal their overall scores.

Day two, hosted by Mylor Yacht Club, saw Peter Stephens consistently lead the fleet home in these two races with Mike Webb in Crackerjack, Steve Hutt in Cornish Meadow and James Parker filling the remaining podium positions.

Day Three started with Cornish Meadow taking line honours in the morning race and Ultraviolet in the afternoon.

Tuesday evening had one of the highlights of the week's entertainment of the water was the RAF Red Arrows performing in front of a packed audience on and off the water with the scenic backdrop of Pendennis Castle at the entrance to the harbour.

Wednesday dawned with a consistent 20 knots breeze from the south west and the ensuing Champagne Race proved to be a fast and furious marathon affair with a memorable course. A solid three mile beat, a short fetch and a tactical downwind leg allowed Ultraviolet to ease away from Cornish Meadow and Crackerjack to take the top spot although all the teams on the podium enjoyed their well earned bubbly supplied by Ancaster Yacht Brokers.

The remaining three days saw a late charge on Thursday from James Parker taking two bullets, bringing him right back into contention with Ultraviolet for the overall series championship. Friday dawned with the perfect riposte from Ultraviolet's crew to take both first places and an unassailable lead overall allowing them to watch the event Fireworks display in Flamouth Harbour with a more relaxed attitude.

The final days racing hosted by Flushing Sailing Club reinforced the podium positions with Peter Stephens crewed by Tom Laity in Ultraviolet taking the overall series win followed by James Parker and Danny Shenton, Firefly sailing to a clear second place. The Third place went to a deserving Steve Hutt in Cornish Meadow who also managed to take conciliatory line honours on the final race of the Week.

Falmouth Week Firebirders always finishes with the crews, partners and friends enjoying the obligatory wash up party with plenty of banter and reflection. With the weather being almost perfect, we can say that the Race Team for Falmouth Week certainly delivered their best week of racing to date and everyone felt that the week had delivered hugely enjoyable courses and racing in abundance. Clearly there are the 'ones that got away' and the memorable finishes literally seconds apart after those two hour races.

The screaming 20+ knot reaches and its performance in light and heavy airs on all points of the course are a true testament to the Firebird Catamaran, which were all built locally in Cornwall. The design by Martyn Smith still offers today the performance in a catamaran of its size that still stands the 30 plus years they have been around and with an active fleet it is certainly one that will be going strong form many more years.