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Felixstowe Ferry SC Nationals day Gore and Marlow

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The Sir Ralph Gore Challenge Cup and Marlow ropes cup

One Race, three trophies, 12 nautical miles, 15 knots, 106 exhilarated competitors (the shortest race report yet!)

The Sir Ralph Gore challenge cup, originally the Firefly national championship race, is one of the hardest races to qualify for in British dinghy racing (excluding perhaps the Endeavour trophy!). First you have to turn up to the Firefly national championships, then you have to bag a better result in any of the preceding points races than half of the other competitors. Given that the Firefly champs are among the toughest out there, that in itself is no mean feat

Then you have to complete the course. The Gore Trophy has lately been combined with points race 5 in the championship series (also the Mike Nye Memorial and the Marlow Cup for non-qualifying boats) and the cup rules state that a line start to windward is used and 4 triangles only with 1 mile legs must be completed for the cup to be awarded.

The good news is that the race team at Felixstowe were up to the job and managed to set a course in the steady offshore breeze with a moderate cross tide that caused much excitement at the mark roundings. 2010 Gore winner Start Hudson, this year sailing with Amy Bowden, would have been a hot tip for the cup. The odds gots longer after he rounded the windward mark somewhere in the mid-fleet, in fact only third in the Marlow fleet who were sailing in the same race. However a spectacular display of downwind sailing saw the Hudson team gain 20 places in the first reach by sailing a super-low course at the top of the reach and hitting the afterburners into the gybe mark.

Locals Alex Davy and Penny Hooper (sporting the duckhams costume) had the lead at this point and did well to hang in, very nearly becoming the first Firefly sailors to win the Gore while wearing the fleet’s special version of the Tour’s yellow jersey.On lap 2 Hudson catapaulted into the lead only to capsize on a reach allowing Ben and Jenny Vines to overtake the pair of them to extend their championship lead yet further. A first-time Gore win for the first-time champions who are doing a fantastic job of defending their title.

Meanwhile in the Marlow ropes trophy, the competition was just as tight – that is the best thing about this class. The initial shocker was when ex-chairman Richard Thompson (who had organised special streamers for the Marlow boats so you could easily see where you were in the rankings) was caught out by the black flag. However the Thompson family as a whole was doing better, with his son and daugher-in-law Luke and Natasha leading the marlow from start to finish. Another husband and wife team and long time Firefly sailors Chris and Sue Johnson did a fantastic job of sailing through the fleet to take second from Richard Eagleton and Angela Wallis, who had themselves only just sailed round more-recently-ex-chairman Chris Guy and Lorna Dixon. Chris was so disappointed at missing out on winning a new mainsheet courtesty of Marlow Ropes that he was witnessed attacking his crew with the jibstick.

The day was generously sponsored by Marlow Ropes and Wave clothing, who have proved an amazing line-up of prizes for the winners of both races to enjoy