The Firefly fleet arrived to a chilly and becalmed Papercourt Sailing Club for the 2019 Open. After a short wait catching up over tea and bacon sandwiches enough wind filled in to start racing. 13 boats made their way to the start line. The fleet was made up of a great mix of sons and daughters crewing (and helming!) for their parents together with school and university boats showing the usual versatility and appeal of the 1940s Uffa Fox designed Firefly dinghy.
A figure of eight course was set for Race One with a heavily port bias line. As the boats lined up for the starting gun, the port end became very congested. It was Nigel Wakefield sailing with his eldest daughter Pippa who got away cleanly off the pin having come in from high on starboard. Dom Johnson sailing with youngest daughter Sophia got into a tangle and struck Stuart Hudson’s transom as they tacked across the line. Stu, sailing with daughter Elizabeth, started up the beat as Dom was left behind to do his penalty turns. Nigel and Pippa led by the windward mark as the fleet became compressed in the light winds which allowed Dom and Sophia to catch up with the leaders. Oliver Perkins sailing with Jago Halliwell put together a solid first lap and was up at the front of the fleet. As the laps were chalked up it became a battle between the Wakefields, Hudsons and Johnsons. On the fourth lap, Nigel went to cover the Hudsons to protect his lead on the left side of the beat. This allowed the Johnsons to slip through underneath on the lay-line. A close mark rounding with the Wakefields on the inside resulted in Nigel tapping the mark and having to take a penalty turn. The Johnsons took the lead and held on from Stu and Elizabeth until the finish. Meanwhile, in the middle of the fleet, Finn Morris sailing with his Mum, Amy, was having a Battle Royale with his Dad, Roger, sailing with daughter Anna. Finn lead until the last gybe mark when Roger snuck through on the inside to take the family victory. After the race the fleet headed back to shore for hot chocolate and jacket potatoes.
Race Two started in the drizzle with the Hudsons and the Johnsons finding a small puff in the middle of the line to propel them to the front up the first beat with Jamie McEwen sailing with youngest son Ben close behind. A tacking duel followed testing the quick hands of the young crews. Hud edged into the lead but tacked too close to the Johnsons as they neared the first mark resulting in some penalty turns. This gave Dom and Sophia a healthy lead which they never showed signs of relinquishing. Stu and Elizabeth held off Jamie and Ben for second place. Meanwhile, in the battle of the students, Oliver kept ahead of Finn who kept Alec Shackleton and Angus Scott behind them. Nigel now sailing with youngest daughter Camilla was buried at start and worked his way through the fleet to sixth.
The cold then got the better of some of the fleet who returned to shore to pack up boats and have an early tea with cake. This left behind a hardy few to start Race Three. Finn and Roger jumped into the same boat for the final race whilst Amy and Anna retreated to the warmth of the Clubhouse. Roger had the best of the starts from Oliver who was followed closely by Dom. Roger and Finn showed great speed as they led from start to finish. Oliver and Jago held back Dom and Sophia for a couple of laps sailing some defensive downwind angles until they final got through during yet another tacking duel. They held their positions with Jason and Toby Aldous taking Fourth.
The fleet then convened for an excellent Papercourt tea to enjoy during the prize giving. The crowd of juniors were rewarded with prizes of chocolates. Dom and Sophia Johnson took the Open title with the Hudsons second and the Morris family third.
Thanks to Jamie McEwen and Race Officer Joolz for organising a great event.
Report: Dom Johnson