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Felixstowe Ferry SC Nationals final day

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The final day of the Carbonology Firefly Nationals was eagerly anticipated by the 53 boats. Although the Championship winner had been determined on day five, there was still the rest of the rankings to finalise, as well as some impressive trophies that are awarded for the whole series including the practice race and with no discards!

So with plenty to incentivise them the fleet launched. The first excitement was exiting the river – the race committee were keen to get the fleet to the starting area despite light winds and this meant launching with a strongly flooding tide attempting to sweep the boats back up the Deben river. However the Firefly is well know for being a top boat for sniggling, and so it was up the far shore and across the bar. The wind was light but seemed steady so a gate start was set with Ben Lumby and Liz Evans from Restronguet sailing club, lying 4th overall, as the Pathfinder. After less than 2 minutes of the sequence the wind shifted through 45 degrees so the start was abandoned. After re-setting the course the fleet got away cleanly in a slowly building breeze of 5-7 knots.

The last 2 days of the racing have been made rather interesting by the tide which was today flowing strongly up the stern quarter as boats approached the mark. As Andy Cornah and Pippa Girling from West Kirby Sailing Club rounded in first place everyone else bunched up behind as the retarding effect of the tide increased as the boats bore away towards the gybe mark and took aim at a transit on the distant shore. Picking a suitable line down the reaches was the name of the game in this race, with a relatively steady breeze and the beats made short by the tide. Rounding in mid-fleet it was notable how quickly the boats around diverged in their courses – it felt more like playing ‘angry birds’ than sailing as you never quite knew what damage had been done until everyone reconvened at the gybe mark.

After a couple more ‘slingshot’ beats the top positions were traded many times, with Cornah eventually settling for third as first Alex Davy and Penny Hooper (second in the Gore on wednesday) then national champions Ben and Jenny Vines managed to sneak past. Second place overall in the series was secured by Stuart Hudson and Amy Bowden in the Fursty Ferret  after they managed to finish in fifth, two places ahead of Bloodhound, crewed by George Yeoman and Sophie Ormsby from Itchenor SC. Unlucky man of the match goes to Ben Lumby who after being pathfinder suffered by going right up the first beat. Ben and Liz finished 12th in this race and dropped a place to fifth overall in the series to Dom Johnson and Debs Steele.

Johnson, Cornah and Ben Field and their expert team racing crews were using the champs as a practice event for the tea racing world championships in which they are representing team GBR later this year. All three finished in the top ten at this event which bodes well.

The fleet retired to the shore for their last chance to enjoy a bit of Felixstowe Ferry’s legendary hospitality. After all, a stiff drink is the best way to get through the mammoth prizegiving…



Another classic week of sailing is complete, the fleet will next contest the national championships in Pwllheli during the last week of August 2012