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GJW Direct Nationals Final Day

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In a light wind clincher, today’s racing decided the final rankings in the GJW Direct Firefly National Championships.

After racing was postponed yesterday due to yet another gale, two races were scheduled today. Race 8 in the series and race 3. Races 6 and 7 (the Avon Bailer and the Stern Light trophies) were not completed. (On the results below the races are shown consecutively rather than the order in which they were sailed!)
The first race got underway in the lightest wind of the week, around 5-8 knots from the North. Blowing off the shore meant that shifts were coming thick and fast with patches of breeze filling in off either side. Stu and Jane Hudson went into the day with a huge lead, counting only firsts and seconds and they were determined to win the week in style. They started the first race by completing a 720 degree penalty and after playing the shifts nicely managed to salvage a reasonable position at the windward mark, but still in the early teens. Series runner-up at this point Rob and Mel Sherrington in ‘Iris’ led the race with Andy Pinkham and Emma Best close behind. Andy Shaw and Pippa Horne were also experiencing a return to form after a strong start to the week. Both Andys were sailing boats belonging to team racing fleets. Andy Shaw’s biggest win to date has been in the X Boat fleet where he won last year’s 100th Cowes week, and he won the BUSA team racing champs earlier in the year, proving both that fleet racing prowess is crucial on the team racing circuit, and that you can turn up and do well sailing a team racing boat!
Closing in fast from behind was both Hudson, tearing through the fleet with customary pace, and Paul and Laura Kameen. Both these boats overhauled the leaders with Stuart and Jane winning the race and the series, and PK and Laura bagging a second ahead of Rob and Mel to make the final race crucial in determining second overall.
Three boats were now within 2 points for second overall, the Kameens, the Sherringtons, and Andy Cornah and Katie Fairclough. Andy and Katie are famous for their team racing achievements with numerous Wilson Trophies under their belts. Although they finished 8th in the penultimate race, their series average had been spectacular with nothing else worse than 6th. If they did well in the last race they could potentially leapfrog both the other boats in the series.
So after a delay while the wind shifted round to the west, and 3 agonising general recalls the fleet finally got underway cleanly under a black flag. After a great start and a tidy race Ben Lumby and Liz Evans from Restronguet won the final race. Ben and Liz are often tipped as potential Champions, and they will surely remember the last race which they won with one of the biggest leads of the week. The rest of the fleet had been mixed up with some shifts and holes up the first beat and both ends of the line being fairly crowded. 
National Champions the Hudsons found themselves buried mid-fleet leaving several boats to fight it out for second. Andy Cornah managed a great second place, but Paul and Laura were probably aware that they needed to stay within two points of the pair to keep their position. They chased them round finishing third overall in the last race to give them second in the series. The biggest disappointment of the day went to Rob and Mel Sherrington, who had been in second overall since they were able to discard a 14th place on day three. They were not able to get any closer to the front than 11th and without the ability to discard the result found themselves in fourth overall behind Cornah and Fairclough. Rob and Mel will hopefully be back at Torquay next year chasing their elusive first Firefly Nationals win.
Further down the fleet the International Paints Trophy for the silver fleet was decided after Jamie Marston and Alex Colquit got a 19th and a 24th. They win the silver fleet in the same style as Stu Hudson won the overall series, with a 720 penalty on the last beat. Firefly racing is as close as it can be with boat on boat action throughout the fleet even after hours of racing!
A full summary will follow after the dust has settled but for now the class would like to say a massive thank you to Pwllheli sailing club for a great week, and to our sponsors GJW Direct, Ronstan, Sailtek and Marlow Ropes for making the journey worthwhile.


(the races described above were r8 and r3)