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Firefly Open at the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club

by Jono Pank 13 Jun 18:48 BST

The Norfolk Broads Yacht Club was the proud host of a unique Firefly Class Open Meeting on the picturesque Wroxham Broad. This two-day event was a perfect blend of intense racing and breathtaking scenery, creating an unforgettable experience for the 26 competitors.

Our esteemed RO Paul Wren crafted a diverse range of courses, encompassing the entire broad and even incorporating a bit of orienteering around the club marks. The fleet commenced from the club line, with strategically placed distance markers to maintain fleet cohesion. The final lap was marked by an 'F' mark, leading to a thrilling grandstand finish just off the clubhouse, and an 'X' in the course, introducing a unique twist to the race. All part of the glory of racing at Wroxham!

Race 1 started with an incredibly 'tight' line (tight to the shore), with the fleet being general recalled. The trick of the day - learned from the Optimists in the previous start - was to attempt to get as close to the shore as possible, hiding amongst the moored boats, and then creep along the shoreline waiting for a lift. Or at least, that is what the Optimists did. After the first recall, this didn't pay at all. This very much signified what would occur throughout the weekend, with no beat or run remaining the same twice. This race eventually became a 'Pank-off' with Will Pank & Chloe Harding in F4379 'Drunken Sailor' and Jono Pank & Elle Thwaites in F1954 'Pogie' having a nip-and-tuck race all around the race course. Eventually, the younger Pank prevailed.

It was in this spirit that the racing continued. The racing throughout the weekend was varied and ridiculously tight; no positions seemed secure; most of the fleet validly claimed to have led most of the races & most experienced moments of utter helplessness, watching a flotilla sail by in utterly different wind to find themselves at the back.

Alex & Stella Davey in F2649 'Mustard' made the best of the 4 races on day 1, claiming two wins, a 2nd & a 3rd to lead overnight from, aided in part by Alex Baxter and Erin Pank in F3288 'Tinkerbell' completely misunderstanding the finish in race four, having led the entire way round, only to have to sail back down the lake, and finish 6th... This is the effect that Wroxham had on many members of the fleet's brains. Jono and Elle were in second overnight, having picked up 1 win and three 2nds. Having taken the day's first win, Will and Chloe followed that up with a 7,3,5 to edge a tightly packed group overnight.

The fleet enjoyed a river trip up to Wroxham village to stock up on supplies at the marvel of Roy's of Wroxham, known as the world's largest village store. For those interested, it sells everything from Norfolk's finest sausages to Panama hats, something a certain quiz master looked at eagerly.

The barbeques were then fired up, and the whole fleet got stuck into an evening of entertainment, including some traditional nighttime sailing & hopefully, one day, we'll find out who "the people" were that Dr. Phil went off to meet at 3 am! (He later returned to his tent at 6.30, 'freezing' according to Dr. Jenny).

Sunday dawned a little too soon for some, and the racing proved even more exciting with the arrival of enough wind to require some tentative hiking and the occasional downwind section of planning.

A starboard rounding for the first mark made for some exciting moments. Will Pank & Chloe Harding took full advantage in race 1, memorably parking the approaching port hand 'leaders' of Alex Baxter & Erin Pank and F2587, Chi Chi. Richard & Lizzie Whitefoot, to tack around ahead in team race style before 'having a moment' shortly after where most of the fleet held their breath as the next gust caught them unaware, rolling them to windward... mast within 6 inches of the tide... hilariously well saved & the race rolled on, maybe with boards a little less secure 'in the box'. Jono and Elle grabbed another win in this race, sealing the title after Alex and Stella unfortunately couldn't stay for the second day of racing.

Race 2 of Sunday was after an hour and a half break, allowing the tankers Norfolk racing boats to fly around the broad. This was quite a spectacle, with many onlookers in disbelief that very large boats sailed exactly the same course as the Firefly's and came just as close to the shore! Many of the fleet had been so amazed that they missed the start of this race, with Alex and Erin, along with JASON and JOSEPHINE (F2065, Bonkers), falling victim to good timekeeping (some say Jason was having a nap in the Meth lab whilst recovering from the night before). Jenny Smallwood & Phil Aldhous, in F3625, 'Squabbling Phoenix', took this last race of the day convincingly. This was much deserved, having been 'becalmed' when leading race 3 only to finish 7th...

After this, the whole fleet retired to the veranda for tea and cake, again soaking in the frankly breath-taking views of Wroxham and witnessing the UK's largest Star fleet zoom around the broad.

The Firefly Open Meeting at Norfolk Broads Yacht Club was a resounding success, featuring competitive racing and memorable moments. Congratulations to all the sailors for their outstanding performances, and we eagerly anticipate future events at the club.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1Pogie1954Jono Pank‑2212128
2Drunken Sailor4379Chloe Harding1‑7352314
3Squabbling Pheonix3625Jenny Smallwood43‑736117
4Mustard2649Alex Davey3121(DNC)DNC21
5Ship Happens4378Thommie Grit‑95543522
6Swaggle3288Alex Baxter664‑75425
7Chi Chi2587Elizabeth Whitefoot5(OCS)864629
8Bonkers2065Jason Aldous74988(RET)36
9Fourwood Thinking3023Barney Smith8(OCS)6107DNC45
10Owl City4377Bethany Hood‑10910910745
11 4338Alex Banks‑128121211851
12 4336Wilum Johnston111011119(DNC)52
13 4337Rhys Evans13(DNF)131312960

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