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Firefly Open at Dell Quay Sailing Club - Overall

by Fi Edwards 21 Sep 2023 17:53 BST 16-17 September 2023

The morning after the night before... The party had kicked off early on Saturday, this meant by the time the delicious chilli and ice cream had been eaten, the slightly unhinged DJ had got back to the Ibiza bit of his playlist(?) and the kids had left, the night turning into a wild one was a foregone conclusion.

Will Parrett's Dark and Stormies which were ominously much more dark than stormy (But you couldn't taste the lime so that was ok?) and Firefly beer were going down a treat after a great day on the water. Will, Harvey Hilary and Gideon Isherwood were the MVPs - most voracious partiers - for the home team, staying until late and whipping out some spectacular dad dancing. They were joined by the usual suspects from the visiting boats.

This meant there were one or two sore heads when the fleet arrived back to the club on an increasing overcast Sunday morning. Jason Aldous had hosted afters at his van and had not only managed to successfully take out himself, his crew Jo and Jono (who predictably hadn't made it back to Harvey's where he was staying) but Alex "I'm teetotal" Baxter and Phil Aldhous. The rum fueled "vananigans" had continued into the early hours and reportedly included and attempt by Jason to go for a sail that was thwarted but led to some cover confusion in the morning. Over restorative bacon rolls in the clubhouse the reprobates tried to establish which of their heard of scapegoats was responsible for their fragile states. Jason blamed Jono for bringing the rum, Jono blamed Harvey for not taking him home, Harvey blamed Will for suggesting the rum....

For everyone else discussion centred on an incoming lightening storm that was thrashing its way East along the South Coast. The race officer made the decision to postpone ashore to wait for the storm to pass over. Will Parrett played AC/DC Thunderstruck as the AP was hoisted which got a big laugh from the dads. During the postponement we learned that Guy identifies as a reptile, the oldest tortoise is 191 or 2.9(ish) Guys old, airports have resident falconers and Dylan Fletcher walks his cat on a lead. Armed with all this vital new knowledge the fleet got changed and launched, keen to get some more great racing in.

Race Four

As the 25 Fireflys reached the start it became obvious that the rainstorm we'd been sheltering from was just the pre-rain. The monsoon conditions returned with avengence leaving everyone but the race committee (sheltering in the start boat) drenched. Jono in F1945 'Pogie' took the initiative to bring his main down and he and his slightly bemused crew sheltered under it while things got very very wet.

The first start was a general recall due to a massive windshift. As the safety boat was relocating itself the heavens opened for a third time. Thankfully, apart from a possibily still quite inebriated Jason Aldous and Jo Mason in F2065 'Bonkers' crashing into Barney Smith and Audrey Knight in F3023 'Forewood Thinking' in the prestart, the second start was uneventful and got off without issue. The first beat and run were extremely hard to call as the rain had left behind patchy and unsettled conditions. Going wide on the run seemed to pay off with those opting for a more conservative line ultimately losing out.

In their haste to get the start off before the younger crews got too cold, the race committee had forgotten to move the gybe mark so the 25 Fireflys had an extremely long reach and run to the finish. Harvey and Sophie Hillary in F909 'Jammy Dodger' crossed the line in front of Barney and Audrey. Chris Guy and Iona Sherwood in F3095 'Mesonge' were third. Alex Baxter and Phil Aldhous in the new Ovi somehow managed to come fourth despite forgetting where the line was - clearly suffering the effects of the night before!

Race Five

The second race of the day saw a lot of place changing depending on which side of the beat you opted for as the weather settled back down after the storm. Archie and Rosie Massey in F3125 'Puree' took the lead early on, capitalising on their local knowledge to pull away from the fleet. The Masseys managed to hold off a late charge by wiley pensioner Guy Davison and Sally Wakefield in in F2539 'Dylan' to take the win. Jono and crew were third just ahead of Harvey and Sophie and Mark and Beatrice Tait in F498 'Dido' who came home fourth and fift respectively.

Race Six

The sun peeked out from behind the towering clouds and the breeze filled in for the third and final race of the day. Bouyed up from their Race Five performance, the Taits came off the line quickly and took advantage of clear air up the beat.

The weed had been stirred up by the storm and now, with the tide on the turn, presented moving obstacles all over the course. Several boats fell foul but the best reaction came from Gideon and Ben Isherwood in F2525 'Hookey' who found themselves in a particularly large patch that had been hiding behind a boat they were crossing after a particularly good beat.

It speaks to the depth and quality of the Firefly fleet that, after what had been a close and tactical race, the majority of the fleet were still all very tightly bunched coming into the finish. Mark and Beatrice Tait took the win followed by a cloud of reprobates as Jono and crew squeezed second from Jason and Harvey and Sophia - revenge for the hangover! An eighth for Guy Davison and Sally Wakefield was enough to secure them overall victory, beating locals Harvey and Sophia and Archie and Rosie (third on countback) by three points.

Racing was followed by tea and cake and prize-giving on the now sun-soaked terrace. Prizes were presented to the top junior crews and all competing juniors before the main prizes - including a spectacular wooden Firefly winners trophy - were dished out. Winning Helm Guy Davison praised all the kids crewing for their parents for their sailing in such tricky conditions and, more importantly, for putting up with their dads!

A huge thank you to Dell Quay for organising another awesome weekend, to all those Firefly sailors who travelled down to and really made it another one to remember*.

*Some recollections may be hazier than others.

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