The Firefly Nationals has kicked off in Felixstowe’s Ferry. More than 60 boats including a large student contingent squeezed onto the Ferry’s Millennium Green for the biggest party / best Nationals of the year.
After an aborted practise race on Saturday due to the venomous conditions where the big seas and onshore breeze saw a few casualties (thankfully we have an awesome insurance partner, thanks Craftinsure!) – and a lively Commodore’s reception the fleet were eager to get started.
Jenny Smallwood and Phil Aldhous in F3625 ‘Squabbling Phoenix’ were the pathfinder for the first race. After a few aborted starts and a drifting committee boat the first race got off cleanly.
Will Pank and Steve Carver in F999 ‘Alarm’ came out of the gate early and lead into windward mark. Tide caused challenges with lay lines and the chop. We got away cleanly, leaving chaos behind them. Jamie Tylecoate and his crew in F3674 TicTack powered up the beat to round in second. They were so surprised that they promptly took a swim. Jamie’s dad Steve and Alice Lucy in F564 ‘eBay Flyer’ were in third but in their smugness mounted the mark. Fourth place Jono Pank and Emily Batterton in F1954 ‘Pogie’ came round next to find one boat upside down and one pointing towards him.
Steve and Alice managed to stay ahead of Jono and Emily. Despite a few wobbles, the front three held positions to the finish. Finn Morris and Robbie Hudson in F3119 ‘Horror’ tried to sail over Jono and were denied. They eventually managed to slip underneath and sped through into fourth.
Drunk on glory, Alarm went on a ramming spree between races with at least three confirmed victims.
Race 2 followed a similar pattern. Paul and Ludo Kameen in F2018 ‘Biscuit Buffalo’ were the pathfinder. A lot of the fleet held back to stay right for the positive tide.
Will and Steve again led around the first mark chased hard by the leading pack.
Stuart Hudson and Amy Bowden in the new Ovington were one of many to capsize on the first reach – doing the class proud by not doing his normal horizon job!
James Nicoll and Fi Edwards in F1522 survived the reach, picking up places from the casualties at the front but capsized on the gybe mark and – due to the shininess of the boat preventing them from righting it – provided an obstacle and entertainment for most of the rest of the fleet.
Will and Steve kept clear while the rest of the fleet enjoyed much closer racing. At the bottom mark Steve and Alice were in second and Pathfinder Paul and Ludo were in third. On the second beat most of the fleet, went right which suited the leaders. It was a bit of an escalator – a long time on Port a little time on Starboard. Jono and Emily were pulling a weird high and fast mode upwind and gained a few places after losing them on the reaches to lighter teams. The run was uneventful but the beat provided a few nervous moments but Will and Steve held on to the win.
One boat – who shall remain nameless – in the mid-fleet caused a bit of chaos by capsizing on the finish line.
The tired fleet headed in in good spirits. There were a few capsizes and near misses in the towering waves over the bar. Paul and Ludo survived the bar but capsized off the slipway.
Tonight sees live music at the club and the second Duckhams of 2023 with lots of nominations from last night and today’s racing.