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Sailing Chandlery 2024 LEADERBOARD

Firefly South Western Championship 2024 at Restronguet Sailing Club

by Alex Baxter 30 May 05:39 BST 25-27 May 2024

Yet another changing of the guard

Despite the unexpected 'liquid sunshine' that Cornwall greeted us with, our 38 Fireflys showed remarkable resilience. The showers came thick and fast, but this only added to the thrill of the three days of racing.

The wind, ranging from 8mph-17mph, and the challenging direction provided a snakes-and-ladders course, with huge shifts and even bigger pressure lulls. These conditions kept everyone entertained and in need of a hard-earned tribute at the end of the day.

This also marked the second 'championship' out of three (Nationals, Inlands and South Westerns) to have been won by someone born in the wrong 21st century within the last calendar year. If you'd asked someone a year ago which Pank or Hudson would be winning Firefly events, I'm sure they'd have given you a very different response (sorry, Roger, I think Finn may have been the exception here!). Such is the depth of the up-and-coming talent that one nine-time national championship winner was heard saying on Monday evening after a dark stormy that his days of winning are behind him. Indeed, it is remarkable that 31% of helms were under 30 and 60% of crews. The Nationals line-up is looking even younger, and it goes to show that Fireflys are a cheap and accessible boat that provides young people the opportunity to race their mates at a manageable cost, racing against teams of all ages, many of whom fell in love with these small, remarkable boat, team racing in a previous generation.

Saturday

Saturday began with a very kind 13:00 start for many. Unfortunately, this proved rather challenging for one contingent coming from Oxfordshire, with Ben and James Nicholl only arriving once many boats had already launched. Ben made it to the start line very impressively. After the first pasty of many, the fleet set out on a relatively sunny and windy day.

Race 1:

The fleet was greeted on the race course by beautiful conditions with a strong breeze and somehow not too many Restronguet mega shifts. Off the start, the boats at the pin end took an early lead. Many of the fleets had given 'land on the left, go left' some thought, with convergence at the top quarter of the beat coming into play.

In 'Horror', Finn Morris and Robbie Hudson led at the windward mark and were closely followed by Ben Lumby and Liz Evans in 'Kong'. The two leaders extended down the reach, leaving a trail of carnage behind. There was some particularly epic incompetence on show from the fleet after many boats had been tucked away all winter. Alex Baxter and Ella Vincent complained of a soft shackle coming undone with 1 minute to go, and Steve Greaves and Jane Hudson had the ignominy of a toe-strap failure, coupled with nearly capsizing when sailing around on their own half a leg behind the rest of the fleet at the gybe mark.

After some brutal hiking, Finn/Robbie just held on to take the win from Ben/Liz. Stuart and Lizzie Hudson in 'Fursty Ferret' emerged from the pack to third.

Race 2:

After a much-needed break between races, race 2 was started. Up the first beat, the fleet raced towards the left-hand side, and at the windward mark, Finn and Robbie held a slight lead from Dom and Sophia Johnston in 'Gemini Too' and Jono and Freddie Pank in 'Pogie'.

Finn and Robbie sailed off, having a relatively relaxed race. However, behind them was a nip-and-tuck affair between Jono/Freddie, Dom/Sophia, Nigel and Emily Saunderson in 'Tip Top Too' and Alex and Ella Vincent in 'Scruffy'. The second beat proved taxing. Alex/Ella, having sat out the first race, had fresh legs and went from 5th to third, rounding just behind Dom/Sophia. However, Jono/Freddie and Nigel/Emily sailed back past them downwind on the run. The final beat was a similarly challenging affair. Nigel/Emily ran the left-hand-bell and, unfortunately, fell flat. Jono/Freddie and Alex/Ella challenged Dom/Sophia, but they played the shifts by going up the middle while protecting the dangerous left-hand side. Alex/Ella got stuck out right and faded relatively. Meanwhile, Jono/Freddie consolidated third and was comfortably ahead of 4th and 5th. Down the reach, the only place to change was Nigel/Emily, once again storming past Alex/Ella.

Therefore, Finn and Robbie won their first and second championship races with a perfect picket fence of a day. Mum Amy and dad Roger had, with incredible for-sight, organised Finn an 18th birthday celebration that evening before the traditional Saturday night Restronguet Curry was kindly put on by the club's volunteers. Ben Lumby kindly presented Finn with a Restronguet club tie for the evening to mark his remarkable sailing and new-found legal certification for getting a tattoo, voting rights and buying pints. I know which one will slow him down in the future!

Sunday

With a few sore heads after the curry, not least for overnight leader Finn Morris and class legend Jim Bramley, who was last seen entering an overnight lock-in in Castaways, the fleet was rearing for another day of beautiful Restronguet sailing.

The wind had swung around, now providing a challenging shift on-shore South Westerly for the fleet to get to grips with.

Race 3:

Sunday morning's race was the lightest and sunniest. The fleet was started off St Just with a beat back towards the club. The wind was in a "left phase" at the start. Nigel/Emily started well and got their tack in, as did Angus Cooke and Dom Bowden in 'Officer Dibble'. These two made good progress back to the middle before the wind swung back to the right. By the end of the race, Nigel/Emily had extended to a healthy lead, proving that the 'oldies' still have some life left in them. Despite Angus/Dom's valiant endeavours, they were passed by the omnipresent Stuart and Lizzie Hudson, Alex, and Stella Davey in 'Mustard'. (Both crews are reaping the benefits of copious amounts of Oppie squad training).

Race 4:

The second race of Sunday began with some classic Restronguet, on-shore-wind shifts, leading to the fleet being very keen for the first two races. After two misfires, the race finally got under way with a black flag.

Most of the fleet had opted to continue trying to get away at the pin end of the line. However, those who fared best started at the Committee boat and tacked off into increased pressure and a hefty righty. At the top end of the beat, it was Alex/Ella closely followed by Guy Davison and Sally Wakefield in 'Lynestra' with Ben/Liz, Jono/Freddie and Lucy and Rachel in 'Willow' in hot pursuit. Alex comically hit the windward mark when leading, but thankfully, after a year of team racing terribly, is well practised in spinning quickly and went from first to third—this left Guy/Sally in the lead.

Two long reaches continued, with the second being where places changed. Over the top went Jono/Freddie, Nigel/Emily and Alex/Ella, leaving Guy/Sally and Ben/Liz buried underneath. Guy/Sally just managed to hold on, but Ben/Liz were the big losers. At the bottom were Guy/Sally, Jono/Freddie and Alex/Ella, with Nigel/Emily close behind. Up-wind, it became clear that Alex/Ella, with some 30-year younger legs, had the best upwind speed and managed to power through to the lead by some distance by the next windward. Nigel/Emily were in second, with Ben/Liz and Jono/Freddie in hot pursuit. A long and now quite windy run followed, with Nigel/Emily Jono/Freddie catching Alex/Ella.

Fortunately, Alex/Ella managed to cling on, covering his opponents, who got dragged out left just as a vast, 20-degree right shift came in. This allowed many of the 'next row' boats, Guy/Sally, Ben/Liz and a newly appearing Jamie and Ben McEwen in 'Skirmish', to shoot forward. At the finish line, Alex and Ella won their first-ever championship race, followed by Ben and Liz, Guy and Sally. Nigel/Emily and Jono/Freddie had been big losers on the final beat, only to find out once ashore that they had both fallen victim to the black flag.

Monday

Race 5:

Race 5 began bright and early. This caused some confusion on the shore, with many crews forgetting that the start time was earlier. Angus had spent too long showing off his abs during his morning swim and not enough time rigging his boat or putting on sailing clothes, as poor Dom was left standing waiting. An old Carley Simon song from 1972 comes to mind.

Most of the fleet made it out eventually and were ready for the start. All of the rushing had rubbed off on the fleet's starting skills, and after many general recalls, the fleet got away under a black flag. The leaders came out of a tight bunch at the pin. The race course was littered with snakes and ladders, causing havoc as the fleet went upwind. A huge left shift at the top of the beat allowed the boats on the left to crack off and plane into the mark to take the lead. Finn and Robbie, clearly in better nick due to the lack of birthday parties, led from Jono/Freddie, with Stuart and new crew Huw Beverley-Jones (Lizzie deserted her dad for Oppie Camp), fighting through the pack into third. The wind died through the race, causing many stressful moments, but Finn and Robbie held on, closely followed by Jono and Freddie. Stuart and Huw finished in third.

Race 6:

The final race started in similar conditions at the second attempt under a U Flag. The fleet was well spread, and an early left shift saw most of the fleet heading up the course on port. With the windward mark set just off Mylor, the beat transitioned into a fairly shifty game of snakes and ladders; Stuart/Huw were looking very strong, leading the right-hand side of the course. Finn/Robbie looked the strongest on the left, with the wind oscillating and some big pressure changes towards the top of the beat. The boats from the middle were well positioned to play the very shifty final part of the beat, and pressure from the left saw the right siders struggling to find a decent lane back to the mark; the left-handers overstood, popping out first at the top of the beat was Jono/Freddie followed closely by Dom/Sophia and Angus/ Dom finished the top three.

Angus/Dom got inside Dom/Sophia after the reach, coming into second; then Ben/Liz motored through on the second reach to take second. Next top mark Finn/Robbie played the shifts well to take 3rd, downwind Jono/Freddie clear ahead saw a big bunch behind battling it out in high mode; Angus had a slight moment but managed to stay upright. By the bottom, things were very tight, with the 'bunch' proving nip-and-tuck, with Jamie/Ben having zoomed downwind to get into the mix, along with Alex/Ella.

Jono/Freddie consolidated his lead upwind, playing the shifts masterfully to extend into a very comfortable lead. Finn/Robbie and Angus/Dom managed to squeeze ahead further. At one point, it looked like Alex/Ella might have caught up from the 'pack' behind, having gone left, but a big righty led to Ben/Liz, Jamie/Ben and Angus/Dom getting away, with Dom/Sophia and Alex/Ella falling behind.

On the final downwind, Ben/Liz pushed Finn/Robbie hard, whilst Angus/Dom managed to hold on in front of the down-wind machine of Jamie/Ben. Slightly further behind, a resurgent Cornish Pirate-pairing of Dave and Betty Sincock in 'Spiderling' had managed to surf straight past Dom/Sophia and Alex/Ella, only for the three to be re-jumbled entirely on the final beat, with Dom/Sophia finishing off the top six.

Well done to Jono/Freddie for ensuring that at least 50% of the races were won by helms born before 2000. However, it was nowhere near enough to stop Finn and Robbie from claiming a well-deserved championship win, finishing eight points ahead of Ben and Stuart, who were tied on points. Indeed, this was a running theme with only 7 points separating 2-6th.

The fleet went ashore to hastily pack up the now increasing number of dynastic double-stackers, with parents and children alike loading their Freddies up for the long drive home. After a fantastic prize-giving, with a hearty local roar for Ben and Liz and an even bigger one for first-time winners Finn and Robbie, the fleet divulged in the amazing Restronguet cream tea. Many thanks must be given to team Restronguet for what, for many, the best three days of sailing the year has to offer.

Many headed home, but those who stayed on Monday evening enjoyed celebrating Nigel Wakefield's 50th birthday party. Massive congratulations to Nigel for getting this far! Some say rum was being consumed well into the wee hours of the morning, and one member of the fleet was reported lost by his wife at 4 am only to be found passed out on the sofa.

The fleet will return to Restronguet for the National Championship from the 27th July until the 2nd of August. We already have an incredible entry of 63 boats, and after discussions this weekend, it will be capped at 80. Therefore, if you don't want to miss out on actual Cornish sunshine, competitive racing, and the chance to be spanked by some teenagers, get your entry in ASAP.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1F 3119HorrorFinian MorrisRobbie HudsonRLYC and HISC117(9)1212
2F 2659KongBen LumbyLiz EvansRSC2852(9)320
3F 3850Fursty FerretStuart HudsonLizzie HudsonRLymYC37253(11)20
4F 1954PogieJono PankFreddie PankImperial Poona YC839(BFD)2123
5F 3615SkirmishJamie McEwenBen McEwenRoyal Lymington YC6(13)644525
6F 3007Tip Top TooNigel WakefieldEmily SaundersonNetley Sailing Club541(BFD)8927
7F 3695Officer DibbleAngus CookDominic BowdenCastaways/RHYC12646(17)432
8F 2246ScruffyAlex BaxterElla VincentOCSS(DNS)510116739
9F 3154Gemini TooDom JohnsonSophia JohnsonDowns SC72(28)1712644
10F 3318LynestraGuy DavisonGuy DavisonLlangorse SC101683(20)1451
11F 973SpiderlingDavid sincockBetty SincockRestronguet sailing club1391410(15)854
12F 3023Fourwood ThinkingBarney SmithKatherine Wolfe‑BarryHamble River Sailing Club414137(27)1957
13F 2649MustardAlex DaveyStella DaveyRoyal Harwich YC111832013(RET)65
14F 1867CumulusSteven GreavesJane HudsonRoyal Lymington SC(34)12201951066
15F 1384PoohAmy MorrisGilly PhillipsRLYC and HISC19(24)161862180
16F 3556HushSarah JarmanElla AshworthNetley SC & Lymington Town SC1521(25)11102481
17F 2065BonkersJason AldousJosephine MasonPapercourt Sailing Club2411(26)13231283
18F 3874TarantellaAngus McEwenEriskay MaclellanRoyal Lymington YC23191116(30)1786
19F 3133ThermopylaeRoger MorrisGeorgie SutcliffeRoyal Lymington YC1623211414(25)88
20F 2502CycloneSophia HulbertAlan HulbertRestronguet925(RET)12222290
21F 4125ThreshdarJames NicollFreya HalsallWOSC(DNS)101715252390
22F 2294NerapiMilo Gill‑TaylorHugh TomkinsOCSS142612(BFD)281393
23F 4000WalrusWill MasonAmy BowdenHayling Island SC172024(28)181695
24F 3690MutsyThomas DaveyCameron BowdenRoyal Harwich YC/Royal Hospital Sch2017(29)24211597
25F 3741Ma HonArthur GreavesWilliam McEwenRoyal Lymington SC2915(31)26728105
26F 498DidoMark TaitBeatrice TaitDell Quay25(DNC)15BFD1118108
27F 3739WillowLucy BorehamRachel CrebbinChichester Yatch Club2228238(32)29110
28F 4234VaderIzzy JohnsonFreya PhillipsDowns SC27(29)18272620118
29F 4400SwaggleErin PankMatthew MasonCastle Cove SC2127(32)212427120
30F 3550Water SpiderJo McEwenJonquil HackenbergRoyal Lymington YC2630272219(32)124
31F 3009Ross's BoatBen NicollNuala SellwoodWest Oxfordshire SC/RLYC/LLSC/RSC1831192534(RET)127
32F 3554StrigaJames BallEsme HemmingwayWest Oxfordshire Sailing Club2822(30)232926128
33F 2925DignitySebastian SchmidtElea HackenbergPenzance Sailing Club30322231(RET)RET154
34F 2525HookeyGideon SherwoodArthur Sherwood 32333429(37)33161
35F 8FateGuy EnglishBecca ScouseRSC31343330(36)35163
36F 3288TinkerbellMaddie GreavesPolly MasonRoyal Lymington YC33(35)35323331164
37F 3095MensongeChristian GuyIona Sherwood (DNC)DNCDNCDNC3130178
38F 2380 James OborneBella OborneSpinnaker Sailing Club(RET)DNCRETDNC3534186
Series notes: none            

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