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Loughborough's Ben Tylecoate and Alice Lucy win free entry to the Firefly Nationals

by Fi Edwards 15 Nov 2023 19:23 GMT 11-12 November 2023
BUSA Fleet Championships at Helensburgh © Dougie Bell

The National Firefly Class have awarded Ben Tylecoate and Alice Lucy representing Loughborough University Sailing and Windsurfing Club free entry to the 2024 Firefly Nationals due to take place at Restronguet SC between the 27th of July and the 2nd August 2024.

The pair claimed victory in the 35-strong Firefly class at this year's BUSA Fleet Championships, which took place this weekend in Helensburgh with a near perfect scoreline earning themselves the coveted "golden ticket", awarded by the class to the winning Firefly at the Fleets. Ben's brother Jamie and crew Jamie Elder from Exeter University Sailing Club were second on countback from defending Firefly National Champion Steve Carver and crew Chloe Harding from University of East Anglia Sailing Club. The top four boats included a wooden boat, two Rondars and the new Ovington demo boat; a really encouraging sign for the class which continues to go from strength to strength.

Ben said "We went from no wind on Saturday to 25 knots on Sunday which tested our skills, but great boat speed thanks to Alice's hiking and skills in the front allowed us to stay in clean air and keep it simple... Until the final race where I had to beat my brother and Steve to win. It was tight racing with close covering from start to finish and a few lead changes but on the final upwind we led round and carried the lead to the finish. Very excited for our Nationals entry and sailing in sunny Cornwall!"

Alice said "We had a great weekend in Helensburgh. With the race abandoned on Saturday we were ready for a big day on Sunday, which delivered with four close races - time in the boat definitely paid off for the top boats. Although, the best part of the weekend had to be the Ceilidh and live band, which gave everyone the opportunity to show off their best dance moves - maybe some people should just stick to sailing!"

Home of many of the greats of Firefly sailing, this year's Nationals venue, Restronguet SC, is the unofficial spiritual home of the Firefly class. With easy launching, handy camping, wall to wall sunshine and (most importantly for a class that parties as hard as it sails) a cheap bar the club forms a perfect backdrop for the Firefly Championships. Entry is due to open in the next few weeks and early indications are strong that this will be the biggest Nationals in a decade. Initial onsite camping sold out in 48 seconds and the class are working with Restronguet SC and Coastland to accommodate up to an additional sixty boats to cope with demand.

Despite approaching 80 the Firefly continues to attract a young and vibrant crowd. Over half the entrants to 2023's sold out Championships at Felixstowe Ferry were students and around two thirds were 16-35. Teams from more than ten UK universities have already committed to this year's Championships with more expected to join them.

Students and recent graduates looking for logistics support or charter boats should get in touch with the Association via its social media channels.

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