Day one of the 2022 Firefly Nationals in Tenby dawned bright and sunny with a gentle breeze, a whisker more than forecast. After two years without a Firefly Week everyone was ready and raring to go. The 43 Fireflies set off out to the race course in good spirits for three scheduled races.
In our runners and riders we said that if things fell into place Jamie and Angus McEwen would be right up there. Well things did fall into place and the dad and lad duo in F3615 ‘Skirmish’ cruised to victory ahead of Jono Pank and Tomeake Diaz in F1954 ‘Pogie’ and Ed Smith and Izzy Bretherton in F2803 ‘Grendel’. Clearly all that Monday night practice at the club is paying off!
Race 1 – 26 years in the making! 10th place in the practice race meant Angus Cook and Lucie Hopkins – née Buck; former back to back Nationals winner dragged out of retirement for this comeback Champs – in F3695 ‘Officer Dibble’ found themselves as pathfinder for the first race. Having not sailed a Champs in so long that the Publicity Sec left them off the runners and riders (Sorry guys!), Angus was happy at having his starting strategy decided for him!
The conditions were variable with some light patches but the Tenby race management team were well able for it. This must have been a second relief to Angus whose boat – as avid followers of the Firefly Facebook page will know – has been bimbled to within an inch of it’s life!
It was tight at the top early on with Paul “PK” Kameen and Evie Snedker in F2018 ‘Biscuit Buffalo’, Steve Tylecote and Alice Lucy in F3037 ‘Grasshopper’ and the McEwens going quickly and hot on Angus and Lucie’s heels. Angus and Lucie managed to hold the McEwens off as well as Jono Pank and Tomeake Diaz who pulled up late in the race. PK and Evie narrowly missed out on getting the inside line at the bottom of the run as the McEwens held the inside overlap on them. Jono and Tomeake continued to challenge and the McEwens nearly slipped through underneath but were denied by Angus and Lucie.
Finally, having not sailed a Firefly Week since 1996 (when half our fleet’s parents were at uni – just saying!) Angus and Lucie crossed the line ahead to claim the first race of the 2022 Nationals! The McEwens swept home in second and Jono and Tomeake were third.
Race 2 – Snakes and Ladders
With the overall forecast for the week making them nervous, race management had decided to bring Race 2 forward to Sunday. The PRO kept the day’s momentum and the mark crew responded to a swing of the wind to the left and it was all set for the gate start. Pathfinder Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunderson in F3007 ‘TipTopToo’ made most of the clear air.
The tide became relevant on the second reach turning it into a run for much of the fleet. The mid-fleet got the worst of the changeable conditions with some huge place changes. There were a few big name casualties as the well-honed boat-on-boat skills of the students came into play. Several university boats managed to take advantage of all the place changes to climb in the results.
Aspirations for triangle sausage were curtailed by a dying breeze and the PRO made the call to shorten to a triangle and a beat. The leading bunch played snakes and ladders upwind to the finish. Steve Tylecote and Alice Lucy grasped the lead with a few hundred metres to the finish in a close tussle for the top four. Exeter University’s James Hammett and Tiger Tellwright in F2594 ‘Bloodhound’ snatched second from Paul Kameen and Evie Snedker and Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunderson.
The smart shortening proved a popular call from the PRO as it left the fleet with a shorter sail (or paddle) home to the bar which, as we all know, is every bit as important at a Firefly event as the racing.
At the end of Day One Steve Tylecote and Alice Lucy are level on points at the top with Angus Cook and Lucie Hopkins. Paul Kameen and Evie Snedker round off the top three. Top Students are James Hammett and Tiger Tellwright in 6th. With lots of racing still to come it’s all to play for.
Ashore the fleet plus Zoom attendees rattled through the AGM – one of the shortest in Firefly history at just over forty minutes – and then piled into the bar for the first Ronstan Buddies which was won by Guy Davison and Emma Hartley and the Burrows brothers. This was followed by a packed Duckhams with lowlights including a Cambridge eingineer who meticulously rebuilt his boat but forgot his boom and a helm who made a strong bid for “worst helm” at Crews Union tomorrow by comparing his svelte crew getting into the boat to a beached whale.
Keep up with all the action on the class social media #Fly22 #jointheswarm