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Sparkling Conditions for crewsday at the 2019 Firefly Nationals

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Tuesday dawned with Lyme Bay Winery Brut Reserve Sparkling conditions. The breeze out on the bay was lighter than it had been on Sunday and Monday but not as light as the eight knots that had been predicted, leaving some crews feeling a little under-dressed.

There were a few fuzzy heads after Monday night’s usually sedate AGM and quiz had erupted into loud singing, shoes and lots of people on the ceiling to the soundtrack of the Nationals 2019 Spotify playlist (shoutout to tunes-master Ali Smith)

Race 4 – R.A.F.S.A. Trophy

Birthday boy Alex Colquitt and Lucy Storey in F3878 ‘SeeYa’ put in a huge bid for Duckhams by turning up 15 seconds late – unicorn horns of shame flapping majestically in the breeze – to the start as pathfinder. This resulted in an abandonment half way up the first beat.

After the restart the right side paid and this boosted a few new faces to the front of the fleet. Many of the student boats went for broke, started early and trucked out after the leaders but struggled with height. A good phase shift in the mid-fleet gave boats to the left lots of clean air to focus on speed and working the waves upwind to catch up.

Jono Pank and Helena Lucas in F1954 ‘Pogie’ led from Ben Lumby and Liz Evans in F2659 ‘Kong’ round the first mark, and held that order to the finish. Dan and Cameron Vincent in F3764 ‘TicTac’ got up to third on the reaches and held on upwind from a fast finishing Guy Davison and Sally Wakefield in F3318 ‘Lynestra’.

The Fireflys were doing what Fireflys do best, tacking on five degree shifts and hiking hard upwind. Towards the end of the race the spray started to fly and while Freddies don’t go very fast, they feel ballistic.

If you were going to describe your dream sailing conditions day three of this years Nationals wouldn’t be far off the mark. To complete the perfect picture there was even a pod of playful dolphins to delight the top five up the final beat and exotically coloured jellyfish for everyone else.

Midfleet honours went to Pogie’s buddies, the duct tape-laden yellow submarine of Bournemouth University’s Will Birchill and “not-Hattie-Askew” (who may or may not be called Jake) which trucked its way through the fleet. Some “pretty sweet” calls by the crew helped them climb through the fleet, despite not having much height on the upwind.

Crews’ Race

As regular followers of the Championships will know, Tuesday is traditionally “Crewsday” in the Firefly fleet. So, with the championship racing over for the day, the helms reluctantly handed over the tiller to their crews and took their place in the front of their Fireflys for the crews’ race.

The helms took to their new roles with varying levels of success, lots of whining and some very ropey jib work. The crews were, of course, excellent!

Usually the entertainment in the crews’ race comes from the helms’ attempts at crewing. This year however saw something a little different. Birmingham University’s Emily Heath and Michael Stevens had rigged a Fireball kite onto their university Firefly for the occasion. The surprisingly successful “Fly-ball” managed to scream down a whole leg before binning it in as the kite down had got stuck on the spreaders and the pole was too big for the boat.

The scores on the door at the end of the race had Helena Lucas in ‘Pogie’ in first place, winning from Sarah Hickman in F3713 ‘Barry Girl’.

Ashore the helms and crews split up for the civilized Helms Dinner at the club and not-so-civilised Crews Union on Monmouth Beach before coming back together in the club bar to party. With their combined 27 points, Jono Pank and Helena Lucas and Will Birchall and “Not-Hattie Askew” were Tuesday’s Ronstan buddies winners, rocking the black Ronstan crew tees in the bar til the early hours.