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Upper Thames Open Report

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  • 3 min read

Sunshine and wind converged on Upper Thames Sailing Club for an idyllic weekend of river racing for 15 Fireflies on September 13/14.

In the beautiful setting of Upper Thames, one of the fleet’s most popular clubs, things got off to a slow start — for the singlehanded race, sailors battled a strong current and almost no wind (some were seen to go backwards at times!) for the Bourne End Challenge Cup.

With the wind showing no signs of making its presence felt, racing was postponed until Sunday and the fleet took the executive decision of having a stroll along the river to the pub, where Pimms O’clock camed round early.

Luckily, the fleet woke up on Sunday to more wind (the beastly current was still in full force though, along with a few soar heads from the exertion of celebrating NFA chairman Chris Guy’s 30th birthday the night before) and the race officer organised three races.

The racing was close — downwind legs were spent either cursing or celebrating, depending on whether you had picked the right side of the river, buoy rounding with the strong current was particularly fruity while upwind was fastpaced with the gusty wind.

It was a weekend of family victories, with the Bickford family of UTSC and the Tait brothers winning silver- and glassware.

Mark Tait won the singlehanded race, followed by Jonathan Bickford and Chris Guy, who all persevered in really tough conditions.

The Measurer’s Cup was supposed to have been sailed on Saturday but became the first race on Sunday and counted towards the overall series result. Pete Tait and Claire Hunter pipped UT club member Richard Bickford sailing with his daughter Susanna to the post, wth Chris Guy and Annie Goss not far behind.

Overall winners of the Upper Thames Firefly Challenge Cup were Mark Tait and Sally Wakefield, in his beautifully restored Olympic 1948 boat. Chris Guy and Annie Goss were second and Pete Tait and Claire Hunter third.

Once again, Upper Thames provided great hospitality to the Firefly fleet, challenging racing conditions and wonderful weather — a perfect combination for a great weekend.

The next Firefly event is at the one-day Wembly Open at the Welsh Harp on September 21 and the Cartoon Trophy on October 4/5.

Keep an eye out for details of the NFA Christmas party which will take place in December. A venue and date will be announced in the next few weeks.

Overall Results:

Bourne End Challenge Cup (single handed)
1st Mark Tait, Dido (Burghfield SC)
2nd Jonathan Bickford, Top Dolly (Upper Thames SC)
3rd Chris Guy, Mensonge (Castaways SC)

Measurer’s Cup
1st Pete Tait & Claire Hunter, Chi Chi (Burgfield SC)
2nd Richard Bickford & Susanna Bickford (Upper Thames SC)
3rd Chris Guy & Annie Goss, Mesonge (Castaways SC)

Upper Thames Firefly Challenge Cup (3 race series, no discard)
1st Mark Tait & Sally Wakefield, Dido (Burghfield SC)
2nd Chris Guy & Annie Goss, Mensonge (Castaways SC)
3rd Pete Tait & Claire Hunter, Chi Chi (Burghfield SC)
4th Alex Davey and Sam Harty, Mustard (Royal Harwich SC)
5th Richard Bickford & Susanna Bickford (Upper Thames SC)