Papercourt Sailing Club held its inaugural Firefly Open meeting on Sunday 9th October. The lake was mirror like on arrival but by the time the free bacon rolls had been handed out and competitors been allocated their ‘Platinum Pam’ Firefly raffle tickets a perfect 2-3 was blowing down the lake accompanied by glorious autumnal sunshine. With fleets of boats from Surrey University and Royal Grammar School Guildford being sailed regularly at Papercourt their combination with the usual open meeting travellers swelled the fleet to a fantastic 24 boats for the start.
The fleet got away cleanly for the first of four scheduled short races. It remained tight all the way up the lake but at the top mark Alex Davey crewed by son Thomas had a small margin that they eeked out to the finish. Whilst the Daveys had the pick of the shifts, a battle royale was going on behind with the teams of Stuart and Robbie Hudson, Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunderson, Ed and Sophie Smith and Steve and Arthur Greaves fighting for the best space. By the finish gun the Greaveses followed the Daveys, with the Smiths hot on their heels.
By the second start the fleet had its spurs out and after two general recalls race officer Andrew Boyce declared that ‘black is the new blue peter’. That did the trick and once again the usual suspects muscled their way forwards. Dave Chisholm and Hayley Goacher were enjoying the conditions towards the sharp end in their recently restored Mk 1, with Joe Simmons and Bea Sibley from Surrey University also having a good race finishing 7th and just ahead of the University pairing of Joe Stansfield and Evie Metcalf. It was a reverse at the top though with Steve and Arthur Greaves sailing their way through to win, with the Daveys also taking a number of places on the last two legs to finish second from the consistent Smiths.
Lunch was included in the entry for all competitors with seventy baked potatoes and enough chilli to sink the fleet being consumed on the lunch break by the grateful crews (and hungry looking students). Fed and fired up for the afternoon’s show down the fleet got away cleanly with the PRO’s liberal use of black cloth. Only James Skulozati and Helen Scivier fell foul of the BFD, but decided to finish the race for the pure pleasure of it! The consistent Daveys got another bullet from the equally consistent Smiths, with Jamie and Angus McEwen and Will and Polly Mason also joining the fray.
By the last race and with three to count, the only team capable of beating the Daveys were the Greaveses, with Steve crewed by daughter Madeleine for the afternoon. With the Greaveses needing nothing but a win, and with so many team racers in the fleet, Alex and Thomas decided to try and sail Steve and Madeleine out before the start. It worked insomuch as both teams were mid fleet half way up the beat, with the Daveys ahead. With the focus being on each other the McEwens took the initiative rounding from Nigel and Emily. In the last few tacks of the beat the Greavesse snuck out from the Daveys shadow and managed to round third. The run allowed the Greavesse to slip into first and miraculously it looked as if the win could be on. It wasn’t going to be so easy though and Wakefield and Saunderson stole back the lead and resisted everything Steve and Madeleine could throw at them, They won the final race by a few lengths from the Greaves who cemented their second overall with second place.
So the final results was Daveys first, Greaveses second and Smiths third. The prize giving and yet more free food (in the form of cakes this time) highlighted some other great results throughout the fleet with Charlie Fernandez and Charlie Dorking winning the prize for first school boat and a great display from Joe and Bea finishing 8th overall and winning first student boat. A big thank you to Papercourt Sailing Club for running the event so well, and the Graduate class for sharing the open so graciously with us – all agreed it was a great new addition to the calendar and we’ll be back for more next year.
Words: Steven Greaves
Pictures: Jane Hudson & Abigail Greaves