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South Western Area Championships

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Firefly SW Championships 2010

full results at RSC’s website

Restronguet SC at Mylor once again hosted the SW Area Championships for the Firefly dinghy fleet over the Bank Holiday weekend, 29-31 May 2010. Fittingly, warm Spring sunshine enjoyed at the start of the Fal River Festival was replaced by a more chilly and blustery south-westerly wind for the start of the event. Notwithstanding the change in the weather, the Club welcomed a large number of visitors for the 53rd running of this annual event in the Firefly calendar and 28 boats were registered.

Racing got under way on time under the excellent direction of the Race Officer Martin English. The first windward leg proved fairly even with the tide dead slack at low water but with large wind shifts making things interesting. At times the wind was gusting about force 6, making for an extremely lively running leg on lap 2 for those leading the fleet. By the finish, the top 3 boats from last years Nationals found their way to the front with Stuart and Jane Hudson (Weston SC) ahead of Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunderson (Wessex Exiles) in 2nd place and Steven Greaves and Caroline Edwards (Rickmansworth SC) in 3rd.

Conditions for the 2nd race moderated slightly, but with the tide running more strongly, those finding the flatter water fared better. The top 3 continued to prove masters of the conditions with Wakefield/Saunderson taking line honours this time, but the local sailors from Restronguet SC began to make their mark with last year’s champions Ben Lumby and Liz Evans taking 4th. They were hotly pursued by 2 other local boats, sailed by Dave Sincock and Betty Wheeler (6th) and Peter Knight and Claire Wood (7th).

As is traditional at this Championship, the afternoon racing was concluded by staging the National Singlehanded Race, for which 10 boats entered the fray. This part of the proceedings marks the Firefly’s role as the Olympic Singlehanded Class in 1948, when that event was held at Torbay. Roger Morris (Wessex Exiles) took the win with last year’s champion Dan Vincent (Stokes) 2nd and Chris Guy (Castaways) 3rd.

Sunday morning provided a moderate WNW wind. Boats that hit the far sides of the beat did best and arrived at the windward mark ahead of those that tacked up the middle. Visiting helm Steven Greaves took a winning flyer right up the St Just shore and took a lead that was to stretch to a whole leg by the finish. Wakefield and Hudson again completed the top 3, while Lumby/Evans managed a lucky escape from behind the pack in the last round to finish 5th.

After lunch, the fleet took to the water again for another 2 back-to-back races. With the intensity of the competition warming to boiling point, the Race Officer resorted to the Black Flag after 2 false starts by the majority of the boats. Once under way, finally, it was Jamie McEwen who led the field home, Nigel Wakefield coming through to take another 2nd place, and Ben Lumby in 3rd place. With a lighter wind, the conditions suited the winning Lady Helm, Amy Morris and her crew, Susanna Bickford, who recorded the first of their two 6th places.

The overnight standings following the 5th race, which was won by Wakefield/Saunderson ahead of Lumby/Evans clearly favoured the trio of early leaders with the Hudsons and Greaves pairings 2nd and 3rd with 10 points apiece, but Lumby/Evans just 4 points adrift.

So the scene was set for really close racing on Day 3; Monday dawned with little wind, but as if by magic, the Race Officer set things going on time again with a brisker south-easterly and the need for the reappearance of his Black Flag to curb the fleet’s enthusiasm. The Hudsons once again showed the way clear to the finish line with Sincock/Wheeler (RSC) now brandishing the local flag of interest in 2nd, with Guy Davison and local crew Jo Ireland 3rd. Now so clearly in the lead Wakefield/Saunderson were eventually able to discard their 4th place having worked their way up through the fleet.

The intensity of the competition never let up in the final race. A really interesting course was set for Race 7 with a longer windward leg as the ebb tide’s full strength took hold. Restronguet sailors Watson/Darbyshire, Knight/Woods and Sincock/Wheeler lead the fleet round the first windward mark in a local 1,2,3 but couldn’t keep a rampant Wakefield/Saunderson from rounding off their campaign with yet another bullet. Morris/Bickford rounded off their campaign for the top Lady Helm in style too, finishing the final race in 4th place. Lumby/Evans finished well enough to retain their overall 4th position while their club rivals Sincock/Wheeler found excellent form in the last day with a 2nd and 3rd improving their position to 5th overall.

The final standings of the prize winners were:

1st – Nigel Wakefield & Emily Saunderson

2nd – Stuart & Jane Hudson

3rd – Steven Greaves & Caroline Edwards

4th – Ben Lumby & Liz Evans

5th – Dave Sincock & Betty Wheeler

Best Lady Helm – Amy Morris

Best Under-18 Helm – Jamie Bland (RSC)

Singlehanded Champion – Roger Morris