The 70th racing season for the Firefly Class kicked off 12th/13th March in glorious sunshine at the Hamble Warming Pan. It’s fair to say that the forecast for the Saturday light, 1knot gusting 2 in fact, so it was great to see 9 boats entered.
After an hours wait it was felt that the wind had filled in enough to beat the incoming tide, although watching the first Merlins launch this looked unlikely! Off the start, the fleet split with some staying in close to the Warsash shore and another bunch beating up close to the pontoons on the Hamble side of the river. The latter option won out as Alex Davey & Sally Wilson, Paul Kameen & Clare Jones and Stuart Hudson & Karen Main rounded with a decent gap behind them. Ben Green & Fi Edwards just held off the fast gaining Nigel Wakefield & Emily Saunderson at the finish for fourth.
After a short break for lunch the fleet launched for race two, with slightly more breeze and the tide on the turn. The majority of the fleet went down the middle and Alex & Sally again took the win from PK & Clare with Stuart & Karen battling it out with Nigel & Emily for third. Locals Olly Love and Sam Flint came in close behind in their newly refurbished Frank Jr.
Sunday morning dawned sunny with slightly more wind, this allowed the race officer to set a longer course, with three windward-leward laps south of Hamble Point. The change in direction meant a reaching start down the river; this time it paid to stay out in the main channel which meant Flo and Mustard rounded first followed by PK & Clare. The wind on the outer sausages was shifty and led to plenty of snakes and ladders; Nigel and Emily held their lead to win from Alex & Sally and PK & Clare. Olly & Sam, Lucy Boreham & Rachel Crebbin and Ben & Fi had a close race but Olly and Sam pulled away to take fourth.
The breeze built further for race 4, down the first reach Nigel & Emily and Alex & Sally had a good battle whilst behind them Olly & Sam, Ben & Fi and Steve Fry & Brian Clarke were neck and neck all the way down the river. Once out once out of the river the windward leeward legs in the flukey N-NE-E breeze and Southampton Water chop were a real challenge. In the end Alex & Emily managed to hold off Nigel & Emily to take their third win and the event overall. In the battle for third Ben & Fi just managed to stay in front of Olly & Sam in the beat back up the river.
Overall Alex & Sally took a resounding win with 3 firsts to count, with Nigel & Emily beating PK & Clare on count back. The next event for the Fireflies is a special 70th anniversary event at the Royal St George in Ireland, boats are provided so get your entry in soon! This year every event entered gets you a ticket for the Platinum Firefly raffle for the chance to win a brand new boat, so it’s the perfect time to get your Firefly out and racing!