National Firefly Class Association
  • Firefly Inland Nationals 2017

    Boom! What a regatta! Firefly Inland Nationals at Rutland – a close run affair Over the weekend of 4th 5th November, Rutland Sailing Club and the NFA ran the Firefly Inland Nationals Championships. Pulled together by Fiona Tylecote and Ben Green, the organisation was amazing and the quality of racing was as good as I […]

  • Travellers series update

    With just one event left, Steve and Arthur/Madeline Greaves lead the M25. The last event is at Papercourt on Sunday 8th July RESULTS: M25 2017 after Chipstead  -best 2 out of 4 to count In the Vines Series, Ben Green and Fi Edwards lead but it’s tight at  the top with 2 events still to go. Next […]

  • Chipstead Open Meeting Report

    Lovely weather greeted the competitors for the Chipstead SC Firefly Open Meeting which was shared with the Enterprise open meeting. Lots of sunshine and warm weather combined with a light south easterly breeze and some puffy shifts made for ideal sailing weather and, being Chipstead, there were many opportunities for overtaking, losing places and general […]

  • NFA Team at the Southport 24hr Race

    NFA Southport Race 2017 Race Report   Following a highly successful and somewhat hazy 2017 National Championships it was decided by the more foolhardy wing of the National Firefly Association that it was about time for the NFA to once again try it’s hand at the Southport 24hr Race. For those readers unfamiliar with the […]

  • 24hr Race at WLYC/Southport

    The NFA are entering a Firefly Association Team with the help of a loaned Rondar this weekend 9-10 Sept at Southport.  If you want to get involved in the team or just drop by to cheer us on, let us know via facebook or contact Guy/Alex Ogilvie etc . Last year we had 10 teams of […]

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Upcoming Events

  1. RYA Dinghy Show March 3 @ 9:00 am - March 4 @ 5:00 pm

    Hi Hibernating Firefly Sailors – We need your help at the fast approaching Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace in Muswell Hill on the 3/4th March weekend.  Guy and Fran are co-ordinating.  Ben and Fi, and Alex Ogilvie and Chris Kameen all helping, as is Neil Banks as ever!  But we’d love more voices from the […]

  2. 3/4th March RYA Dinghy Show March 3 @ 9:00 am - March 4 @ 5:00 pm

  3. Tamesis Junior Cup April 21

    Fun filled racing for children, crewed by adults on the Thames.

  4. Tamesis Elizabeth Cup April 22

    First Event of the 2018 Vines and M25 Series. More Details to follow here:

  5. Southwestern Championships May 26 - May 28

    The annual trip to paradise for the 2018 Southwestern Championships. Top racing, glorious sunshine, fantastic socials and pasties! More details to follow.  

  6. more events »

Firefly Sailing With GJW Direct

We had a bit of fun sorting these out a while back ... See MoreSee Less

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Firefly for sale

F932 “Free As Air”

On trailer, which also serves a launching trolley

2 sets of sails

Automatic bailers


Please ring Simon 01582 757026 for details

The boat is kept at a friend’s house, near Cambridge, not far from Grafham Water.
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FLY72, seems like yesterday to the survivors!

FLY72 was a week that followed an amazing Firefly Champs at the Ferry in 1966 and was an event that firmly etched itself on the memories of all who attended. It is rumoured that 45 years on there are some competitors still undergoing therapy and for some just the number ‘72’ produces an involuntary shudder. The results sheet for the first race vividly bear witness to the carnage of the Sunday race.

As background, there had been southerly gales for the 2 weeks before the nationals resulting in a big swell coming into the shallow bay, with a strong spring ebb tide standing the waves up and the ‘fresh’ wind just topping it all off!. Many of the waves on the Sunday, and to a lesser extent on the Monday, stood up like vertical walls of water and on several occasions I found that I was sitting level with the flag of the boat next to me.

Peter Slimming has unearthed his notes of the week and kindly passed them on to Peter Lanham with permission that they could be published and I have managed to transcribe them from some rather faded photocopies as well as another reminiscence from the mysterious T.A.M. He/she mentions the conditions on the Sunday and I vividly recall managing to pitch pole the boat when we fell off the top of one wave on the way to the start but I had a brave crew by the name of Beryl who was happy to go on after that and another capsize! We got 11th and I was terrified that the gate boat for the next race would pull out and leave me in the limelight, but Pam White (now Evans) wasn’t going to give that away so I was saved.

I took the results sheets that Peter Slimming gave Peter Lanham and then cross checked them against an FFSC safety tally that I have just unearthed and I was able to check any discrepancies against the wonderful Firefly boat register that Peter Lanham has produced. There was 1 late entry that I was unable to fully verify, but it was a valid competitor. The tally list also allowed me to add clubs and boat names to the results.

You will note from the results that crew’s names were not recorded anywhere, an omission that in recent years would have provoked strong industrial action from the Crews Union, quite rightly!

Just a quick note for the students, the word ‘stones’ doesn’t in this context relate to the FFSC launching area but is a measure of weight and 1 stone = 6.350293kg.

You really should read these, reports, they’re very evocative and highlight the making of the legend of the Firefly at the Ferry.
Neil Banks

FLY72 or How I Didn’t Win Firefly Week For The Ninth Time By Peter Slimming

FLY72, our second championship at Felixstowe, promised to be one of our most exciting, and so it turned out. With Mike Arnold, three times past winner, coming back to the fold and all champions back to 1967 in attendance, it looked wide open. Peter Langdon, winner in Dun Laoghaire, Roger Harris and Mime Currey were all there along with local men Dave White and Richard Hopkins, both forces to be reckoned with. Add to these Nick Martin, known to be sailing fast in a brand new boat and sundry other Pundits, plenty of hot competition seemed assured.
This is how it went from the inside.

Practice Race – wind Force 4 NE
Roger Harris led at the first mark and was never threatened from then on. With the start at slack water some of us stood out to sea but when the flood started to run we lost out to the inshore group. Vincent Delaney, one of the few Irish competitors, took second place with Dubliner turned Castaway Martin Hare third.

With the wind over tide the sea was slight and we had no idea what the following day would bring.

1st Points Race – wind Force 5+ NE
With wind against tide the seas were diabolical and there were many casualties before the start

The windward mark was way off the true windward line and most of the fleet over-stood badly. Those who got there first without over-standing didn’t believe it and sailed on, so chaos ensued. We were actually filled by a single wave whilst beating (we weren’t the only one) after which baling out was virtually impossible.

In the nasty condition the Race Committee shortened to one lap. Richard Hopkins was the fastest survivor with Bill Goodacre second and Mike Arnold third. After filling twice and capsizing, we finally retired when a diamond wire broke – a fairly typical story that day. Only 21 boats finished out of 115 entries. A protest against the Race Committee over the first beat was not upheld.

2nd Points Race – wind Force 4-5 NE
A bit kinder than the first race but still enough to cause trouble! This time the first beat was truer but with the tide assisting there was still a tendency to over-stand. The Race Committee had wisely postponed the start to shortly after low water.

Dave White sailed a magnificent race (crewed by Sheena Perry – all up weight no more than 20 stone) (NB’s note: knowing a very trim Sheena at the time that all up weight would be more like ‘much less than 20 stone’) to win from Mike Arnold and Roger Harris. Phil Meakins (United Hospitals) also featured well after a good showing on Sunday as well. Nick Martin, one of Sunday’s casualties, hustled his way up to 5th after a middling start carrying a bare 18 stone.

The light crews did well to hold their own on the last beat after the tide turned making it a long beat to the finish. Why didn’t I win? Broken tiller on the second gybe! (Note from Peter Lanham: about a dozen boat boats were timed out only a few hundred yards from the line).

3rd Points Race – wind Force 4 – moderating
The gradual moderation continued. Ricky Walters, seasoned campaigner, started early, sailed fast and (perhaps) found a lee-bowing tide out of the Deben estuary and led at the first mark. Again a lot of boats over-stood, but this time because they’d gone far too far along the gate line. The Gate launch ‘steamed’ for 12 minutes to collect them all (he shouldn’t have in my view).

Ricky and Ginnie (24 stone up) couldn’t hold the downwind skimming brigade and Dave White took the lead again, only to lose it to Mike Arnold with Nick Martin also in contention. At the line Nick just made it, Mike second, Dave third and Vincent Delany fourth. We actually finished this race (in spite of my falling overboard) in fifth place with Richard Gunn-Robinson (W. Kirby) closing fast in sixth.
The Committee correctly moved the windward mark after the second beat became a fetch.

Gore and Marlow Day – wind Force 1-2 SE
Yes, it happened again – a slow Gore

The Marlow was held in the morning (start 10.00 a good idea).Ted Fort (Burwain) led for most of the way and well deserved his win. Expatriate Ferry man Damien Reilly was second (brother Ted Reilly was around during the week, on leave from Canada) and D Flanagan (Trinity Dublin) third. The wind was pretty shifty at this stage of the day.

The Gore started on time (14.00) with the light onshore wind just holding up. A strong cross tide must have caused headaches for the mark layer, but the first mark gave a good beat, provided you went the right way (yes, lee-bow it first to get up tide of the mark). It wasn’t really that simple, there were shifts as well and holes with no wind in them.

The race became a reverse of the Falmouth Gore with Eric Twiname leading all the way from Peter Langdon. Eric, who has become well known in recent years as a journalist and author, well deserved his win. In fact anyone who can ‘keep it up’ in those conditions for over 4 hours has my deep admiration. No doubt being in front provides a stimulus, but it’s quite an achievement to keep in front for so long. It helps to prove that you can put an old Firefly (pre-1960) in the water with tatty old sails (you should have seen them!!) and still win a major race.

Phil Slater (Restronguet) was moving up all the time after an average start and was a good third, with Mike Arnold fourth. Mimie Currey was another ‘mover-up’ in fifth place, taking the Ladies Cup from Pam White (Dave’s sister) who was ninth.
No we didn’t win the Gore either. After an abysmal first beat we worked up to about tenth then back to thirteenth at the finish (note my earlier remarks on concentration!)

4th Points Race – wind Force 3-4 SW (eventually)
Start postponed in the absence of wind but a steady SW started to fill in and freshened throughout the race.

Pam White was pathfinder and with the start at slack water (high tide) this looked a fair beat. Even so some boats sailed for the gybe mark, though I personally couldn’t see why.
I thought we started well but suddenly Phil Slater was way ahead of us and gaining all the time. At the windward mark Phil led from Nick Martin (Phil started early, Nick late) and we scraped round ahead of Phil Crebbin (Cambridge U. and Enterprise fame) and Richard Gunn-Robinson. These positions were held to the finish except that we lost out to Crebbin on the third beat. Phil Slater sailed magnificently in a freshening wind, especially in the later laps when the tide set against us on the beat. Crewed by his wife Jill, they were another 18 stone pair.

Mike Arnold staked a strong claim for the Points Championship finishing ninth, however Dave White, Richard Hopkins and Nick Martin could all beat him in spite of Dave and Nick each having a retirement. So it was all on the last race.

5th Points Race – wind Force 2 SE (eventually)
The start was again delayed but the race got underway in a steady offshore breeze; again with the cross tide you had to go the right way. Denis Radcliffe (Hollingworth) appeared with a big lead followed by Peter Langdon, very fast in these conditions. The principal contenders were ‘down the pan’ and worked up during the race, though never threatening the leaders. Mimie Currey was going very fast and followed Peter Langdon past Denis on the second lap. At the finish Peter won, Mimie second, with a ding-dong battle for third being won by Chas. Ingham, myself fourth, Vincent Delany fifth and Denis unlucky to drop to sixth.

Dave White’s ninth and Richard Hopkins’ tenth weren’t good enough to beat Mike Arnold’s total, so Mike could thankfully discard his fifteenth in this race. Nick Martin was well back and had to count it owing to his retirement in Sunday’s race.

Final positions were:-
1st Mike Arnold
2nd Dave White
3rd Richard Hopkins
4th Vincent Delany
5th Richard Gunn-Robinson
6th Peter Langdon

General impressions
This was a first class championships, marred only by some slightly doubtful mark laying on the first 2 days. With a strong assisting tide there’s very little room for error, but let’s face it, one should take the trouble to find out where the marks are before the start.

Off the water we had the sort of week everyone now expects at the Ferry – perambulator races, beer races, even a raconteur of dirty jokes who must have been good – he survived! The prizes were excellent, a total of £225 was allocated, which made even the lowest prize worth having. Seamark Nunn must have had a good week!

Considering the ‘total purchase’ it’s hard to imagine a better championship than a Ferry one. If only they could stop the tide! There were so many occasions when there were limited opportunities for making up from a bad start. Still, at least the tide all goes the same way at the same time, so they say!
In spite of pessimism in some quarters this was a first class meeting in terms of the number of boats and the racing standard. We had the largest entry since 1969 and the mid-fleet standard was as high as it’s ever been. All those in the first six got there by consistent sailing rather than virtuoso performances (remember John Pattisson in 1966?).

It was interesting that those capable of sailing fastest were carrying less weight than was fashionable, or successful, a few years ago. This, to my mind, indicates one of our arguments for having the Cunningham Eye, namely that light crews are able to hold their own better to windward in a blow.
All in all we had a whale of a time and I came home greatly encouraged that there’s plenty of life in the class and plenty of new blood. If only we could persuade our builders to sell more boats!

Another Look At FLY72 by T.A.M. (anyone know who that is?)

You would think that by 2nd September the world and his wife, kids, dogs and enough ancillary equipment to fill all the container ships at Felixstowe would have left the road clear for the 300 or so people that had urgent business on the high seas at Felixstowe Ferry at 1pm. But no, they were gently chugging two abreast along the Colchester by-pass baffled by acres of white lines, notices and general clutter that littered the roundabouts. Those anxious sailors that followed the advice to use the Ipswich by-pass found themselves in an even bigger jam. A few souls who had been to the Sherren had learned and took the route through the town, hotly pursued by others who hadn’t a clue where they were going but just travelled hopefully.

Some of those who just about made it in time decided that perhaps with the sun shining and the bar open they could gently stroll round, inspect the Giles cartoons in the clubhouse and chat to other late arrivals whilst noting how one coped with getting the boats up and down that twenty-odd feet high shingle cliff. Going down is easy provided you don’t actually let go of the boat and you remain roughly upright, gravity does the rest. Going up ---- well!!

The clubhouse is not large or luxurious (no window seats to break, anyway) but when the Ferry team get to work they cater for all needs. An enormous marquee with a floor provided eating space that was manned by an army of volunteer helpers producing a different meal each day: soup, roast chicken, potatoes and peas for 24p was the sort of value provided (editor’s note - well it was 46 years ago!)
Roger Harris won the practice race and the rest came nowhere. The beats were against the tide and in a Force 4 the first one took 50 minutes – some tide!

The first points race was filmed by Anglia Television and the catamaran was supposed to come back later in the week. The sea, with wind against tide was rather lumpy and Anglia made do with only one set of pictures whilst the cameraman recovered from ‘mal de mer’.

At least half the fleet capsized getting to the start although most bailed out and arrived in time to race. It was generally agreed that when in one trough you were lucky if you could see anything below the hounds of the next boat.

Finer points of sailing went by the board and one bunch, deceived by the speed of the tide, arrived at the windward mark, assumed it to be the leeward one, and saw a ‘dayglo’ object further to windward. Unfortunately it wasn’t a mark, it was the wonderful George Hockley, a very tall local fisherman notable for his shock of frizzy blond hair and good humour, doing rescue boat duty in club supplied heavy weather gear.
Slightly worse conditions prevailed the next morning and after a few quick words and an inspection, racing was postponed until the tide turned, allowing all to race in ideal conditions.

The postponement produced a sense of wanderlust in one caravan which appeared at various times of the day and night in Felixstowe car parks and streets without its attendant car and was last seen haring across the golf course in the direction of the Ferry followed by a pale blue and white car (editor’s note – for the under fifties, that was the livery of police panda cars in those days).

The Gore looked like being a repeat of Falmouth with Eric Twiname being pursued by Peter Langdon. This time Eric showed that he had read his own book and covered Peter all the way to take the trophy after four and a bit hours.
The pram race was accomplished without actually destroying any people or buildings. The Irish were first across the line but were disqualified for omitting one stage (and drinks!) and later Itchenor defended their title in a series of schooner races. This produced a new found talent in the fleet, one Penny downed a yard of ale faster than all except one hardened Ferry drinker.

A pillar of the rescue fleet in his floral bonnet and ripped wet suit was observed having a quiet drink at the Ferry Boat Inn along with his colleagues at the invitation of the Firefly Committee. Much later, and many schooner races later, he was gently steered to bed but was out at 9am next morning collecting the larges tow in the business, charging each boat 1 pint per tow and loudly proclaiming what state he was going to get into that evening! (anyone from the Ferry remember who that was?)

Mike Arnold, despite his cartilage problem, won the week ably crewed by Graham ‘Henders’. Jamie Birkett from Itchenor won the raffled Firefly and Pam White won the new Deben Ladies Trophy. Does it fit Pam? It is strongly rumoured that next year the key to that padlock is going to be raffled. (NB’s note – the trophy was a mounted metal chastity belt. A few years later it was felt that some potential winners of the trophy might be offended or even inconvenienced by this, take your pick, and it was replaced by a more conventional prize).
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....and now the FLY72 results (over 5 pages) ... See MoreSee Less

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I saw this postcard from 1973 for sale, so had to buy it! Where is F1672 now? ... See MoreSee Less

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