The Firefly is a two-man, one-design dinghy that was designed by Uffa Fox in 1946 and used as the single-handed dinghy for the 1948 Olympics in Torbay. There are now more than 3,800 Fireflies with fleets in 30 clubs and universities throughout the UK. It is 12 feet (3.65 metres) long, with a beam of 4ft 6.5 ins (1.4 m), weighs 163 lbs (74 kg) and has a jib and mainsail with a sail area of 8.36 square metres.

The Firefly was adopted by Tamesis soon after its launch in 1947, with Wally Maddison (Commodore of Tamesis from 1965-67) as the first secretary of its class association. Fireflies became the main focus of the club’s team racing in the late 1950s and a Tamesis team won the RNVR national team racing championship in 1963, beating Castaways in the final. Tamesis won the Gnurns Trophy for the second successive year at the annual three-boat Firefly team racing contest at the Welsh Harp in October 2004. Another Tamesis team also won the inter-club team race with Thames and Minima in June 2004 for the Burgee Trophy.

There are seven Fireflies at Tamesis.

Firefly Notices

  • Constantin Gerber wins Cutty Sark Bolt 2017

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      Competitors drifting downstream Sunday 18th June 2017 dawned sunny with ne’er a cloud in the sky, and ne’er a hint of wind.  There was considerable discussion about what to do. The Cutty Sark Bolt was presented by then Commodore Peter Mason as a  tribute to the original races by the Tea Clippers.  The trophy is an actual bolt from the Cutty Sark.  This pursuit race is traditionally longer than the other pursuit races Tamesis holds as the Clipper races were very long. The Cutty Sark was designed to carry tea from China to England, and it was vital to be the first ship in.  More about the story of this fascinating vessel on In the end we opted for the shorter race and start times used for the Centenary Cup held two weeks earlier, so the slowest boats sailed for just over the hour.  This made for a much better race under the conditions. Twelve boats braved the shorter race, some not making it to the 1230 finish. The race is a fund raiser for the Cutty Sark restoration project, and we were able to collect £70. Race officer Carolyne Vines, ably assisted by Cherry Ehrlich in the box, and Peter Simpson and Ken Thatcher in the Patrol Boat, set a short course in front of the club.  The two Fireflies started first, but were quickly caught by the five strong Laser fleet.  Laser sailor Chris Taggart led from the start but was caught in the last 50 metres by fellow Laser Constantin Gerber.  Peter Mason sailing Bambusa, crewed by brother Richard, was the leading Merlin, but unable to catch the two leading Lasers.  Chris Balmbro crewed by Clara Wade was fourth in Merlin Bad Company. Ana, Jo and Lauren kept us going afterwards by doing the bar and serving up great lunches The prizes – boxes of green tea – were presented by the donor Peter Mason.  Constantin – the first Laser sailor to win the Cutty Sark Bolt, graciously thanked his fellow competitors and the organising team. 1st Laser 135387 Constantin Gerber 2nd Laser 130773 Chris Taggart 3rd Merlin 847 Bambusa Peter and Richard Mason 4th Merlin 3062 Bad Company Chris Balmbro and Clara Wade
  • Sunday afternoon sailing 7th May

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    The weather was brilliant, and the wind wasn’t bad too!  See the following link for photos by Chris Wade.  Thanks Chris
  • Stuart Hudson wins Elizabeth Cup in fireflies

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      Sunday 23rd April – Elizabeth Cup Open Meeting for Fireflies (adults) With Sunday morning came the opportunity for the adults to show their stuff in the competition for the Elizabeth Cup at the Tamesis Firefly open meeting. Once again dawn bought with it superb conditions. The wind was up a little (progressing toward a F3, occasionally F1) and direction a little more settled with a westerly. It’s all a bit relative on the Thames though.  Saturday’s protagonists were joined by Lucy & Rachel sailing Willow from Chichester. Again, Tamesis members and visitors were greeted with the club flags up, clubhouse open, and conditions looking excellent. Donald Forbes (Officer of the day) had organised things excellently and a straight-forward and comprehensive briefing was delivered at 10:30 (around which time those competitors who had failed to sign in were chased down and all bureaucracy completed successfully). In celebration of the Firefly open (OK, that may be stretching credulity a little) the Queen’s rowing barge (Gloriana) was making her way from Hampton Court to Richmond. With her transit of the race-course set for 11am the first race was held on a postponement until the flotilla had passed. As she came into view cheers could be heard from the opposite bank and a glorious view was available to all stood on the Tamesis river front. As soon as the flotilla passed furious activity took hold of the Firefly fleet in the rush to get in the water and onto the start line for the 11:30 start. All made it. The home ‘teams’ saw a slight change of configuration with the Dalton team being the adults (Matthew joined by Cathy) and the Harrises swapped out for Ken Duffle and grandson Matt, campaigning in Jim Hamilton’s ‘Fiasco’. The first race got away cleanly and once again Stuart Hudson set the pace. His lead was put under considerably more pressure though. Had the chasing pack not converged quite so magnetically at the first mark it is entirely possible that his position could have been in doubt. Instead a most remarkable conflation of Fireflies clustered at the Canbury mark and consternation from many helms and crew could only further confuse the issue. But, once rounded the fleet then quickly got on with some tight racing and excellent boat handling to reach off toward the downstream mark at Lensbury before encountering one of the legendary Tamesis ‘lulls’ just short of the mark and having to make a snail’s pace around before finding clean air once more. Those with roll-tacking skills and experience used them to good effect to maintain momentum and draw out a further advantage over those more sedate teams. As ever the rich got richer, and those who could read the shifts and make good use of them extracted the maximum advantage. Meanwhile toward the rear of the fleet great enjoyment was had and many tips and lessons picked up. In the second race the stand out performance came from the McEwan boat with Jamie and Angus being a little over excitable at the start, resulting in a return to the line and therefore a first leg considerably behind the fleet. However, over the ensuing three laps they tenaciously clawed their way back up the fleet to finish a very respectable third. Whilst the winner was never in doubt the remaining podium positions were hotly contested, and rivalries from the past swiftly emerged to drive competitors on. For the final race Stuart decided to take a breather and with the master of the river off the course the fleet was thrown into confusion with the need to remember the course and not play follow the leader. Improving on two second place finishes in the first two races Alex and Thomas Davey (Mustard) moved up to pole position. Another performance of note in the third race was that of the Morris crew, Roger and Anna, who finished the third and final race in a good third position. Thus an excellent weekend was rounded out. The final positions were: Overall Helm & Crew Boat Home club Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 1 Stuart & Robbie Hudson F3850 Fursty Ferret Spinnaker SC 1 1 6 2 Alex & Thomas Davey F2649 Mustard Royal Harwich 2 2 1 3 Jamie & Angus McEwan F3615 Skirmish Papercourt SC 4 3 2 4 Steven & Arthur Greaves F1867 Cumulus Rickmansworth 3 4 7 5 Roger & Anna Morris F3119 Horror Papercourt SC 5 6 3 6 Will & Polly Mason F4000 Walrus Papercourt SC 7 5 4 7 Lucy Boreham & Rachel Crebbin F3739 Willow Chichester YC 6 8 5 8 Matthew & Cathy Dalton F3841 Genesis Tamesis Club 8 7 RNS 9 Ken Duffle & Matthew Valentine F3179 Fiasco Tamesis Club 9 9 8   With the final positions claimed a wonderful weekend of Firefly sailing on the Thames drew to a close. It was a great turn out, with close racing and good humour throughout – thank you for all who made the journey to the Thames to join us at Tamesis Club, we really appreciated the opportunity to host such a great fleet. As ever, there are many to thank for their efforts resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, both from Tamesis Club who laid on a great event and also to those who came from far and wide to make it such an enjoyable weekend of racing. We are grateful to all those who helped organise, welcome and ensure that everything ran smoothly. Thank you. Of particular note we would like to thank Sue Harris who after many years of leading the Firefly class at Tamesis as Class Captain has handed over the baton to Matthew Dalton (who will attempt to lead from the front – not something that he had much luck with over the weekend!). We look forward to welcoming the Firefly class back to Tamesis in 2018. If you’re in South West London and like what you see and would like to experience the
  • 8th Firefly Junior Cup a great success

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    Saturday the 22nd of April dawned with near perfect conditions, meeting sailors who awoke ready to head to South West London to take on the challenge of sailing Firefly dinghies on the Thames. On reaching the club visitors and home teams alike were welcomed with the excellent site of the club flags flying (all preparations having been excellently orchestrated by Commodore Carolyne Vines and outgoing class-captain Sue Harris), the sun shining and conditions looking generally benign but enticing. The stream in the Thames was light and the breeze similarly a relatively consistent F2 (occasionally F1) northerly. Nine visiting boats were duly assembled.  The Daveys came from Royal Harwich, returning nearly to the scene of their now famous Firefly victory in the Bloody Mary, and Tamesis supplied two home ‘teams’ – Andrew and Tom Harris, sailing Sue Harris’ Firefly and Matthew & Anna Dalton in Genesis. All was set fair for an exciting and close-fought set of three races for the Firefly Junior Cup. A pleasant up and down course was set – with an eye to the younger helms. As the five minute warning sounded activity on the start line rapidly gathered pace, and the promise of close tactical racing set hearts pounding and young helms navigating the closely contested waters rapidly got immersed in the concentrated focus of fighting for position whilst avoiding collision. It was with great excitement that the fleet crossed the line for the first beat down to the Lensbury mark (downstream towards Teddington Lock) and all got away cleanly. Stuart and Robbie Hudson (Fursty Ferret) the reigning National Champion (Stuart) almost immediately drew out in front – where he remained for the entire weekend, causing thoughts in the chasing pack that Fursty Ferret was a mythical Foiling Freddie. Much jostling went on in the pack, with positions switching rapidly and some great (and some awful) tactics playing out. The Harrises were considerably hampered by Sue’s boat’s attempt to drain the Thames into its bilges; none the less they competed valiantly and demonstrated some excellent local experience to make best of the conditions. Over the next hour and a half (and three individual races) the wind shifted through 360 degrees and visitors and home teams alike were left scratching their heads at times. Moments of frustration with the shifting winds were punctuated with rapid tacks and gybes to avoid the water pistol wielding spectators on the bank adding to the ‘fun and excitement’ with the occasional drenching. Fortunately the warm and sunny conditions meant that cooling down was the order of the day. Whilst the Fireflies fought it out downstream the Tamesis cadets and social sailors were also enjoying the delightful conditions and it is fair to say that the 22nd of April marked an excellent day for the younger generation to experience the thrills and excitement of close quarter racing and the exhilaration of steering craft perfectly suited to the conditions in a racing situation. Anna Dalton was delighted to have had the chance to helm – and although it was nerve wracking – demonstrated real seamanship and good sense as her father attempted to drive from the front (fortunately Anna drew on all her wisdom to avoid a Firefly rapidly approaching on starboard!). Many other children were also visibly excited to have had the chance to compete in the company of National Champions and winners of the Bloody Mary! As the afternoon drew to a close there was a palpable air of satisfaction (not least from the box where Sue and Carolyne coped admirably with keeping track of the crew and helm changes throughout). With the boats out of the water and race sheets handed in, Jamie McEwan set about the challenge of working out prizes with a complex countback, forward and at times sideways strategy resulting in a three way tie for the Junior Cup – Maddie Greaves, Arthur Greaves and Matthew Mason! Prizes were awarded to all Juniors who helmed, with another category for those who crewed (won by Elizabeth Hudson), and excellent support from the river bank received due recognition with the now famous (and hotly contested) cheering competition leading to a very difficult decision for Jamie to arbitrate – in the end a tie was declared with Polly Mason, Veronica Bickford, Ruth Dalton and Sylvia McEwen all performing admirably. So, with all prizes awarded and boats tucked up for the night the competitors basked in the glow of the evening sun on the Tamesis lawn to enjoy a picnic and catch up after a long winter of Firefly hibernation. Many thanks to Matt Dalton for the above report The prizes were split into three categories: Children Helming, Children Crewing, and Children Cheering. The cheering competition was too close to call so honours were shared evenly between Polly Mason, Veronica Bickford, Ruth Dalton and Sylvia McEwen. In the Children Crewing category results were: 1st Elizabeth Hudson 2nd  Stella Davey 3rd Zoe Mason 4th Ben McEwen 5th Anna Morris 6th Charles Bickford The Junior Cup itself, competed for by children helming, had to be split between three as the results were so close: 1st Maddie Greaves, Arthur Greaves and Matthew Mason 2nd Angus and William McEwen 3rd Thomas Davey 4th Finn Morris 5th Tom Harris 6th Anna Dalton 7th Robbie Hudson Carolyne Vines, Sue Harris and Andrew Forbes ran the racing assisted by our new Firefly Class Captain Matthew Dalton, who also took part with daughter Anna.  The catering was provided by Jo Carstens and Lauren. Jamie McEwen organised the prizes. Close racing at the top mark The prize giving line up
  • Daveys win Elizabeth Cup, Masons win Firefly Junior Cup

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            Alex and Thomas Davey of the Royal Harwich YC won the Elizabeth Cup at the Tamesis open meeting for Fireflies on Sunday 24 April.  This was the third time Alex has won it. Sailing Mustard (2649) in a cold and blustery northerly wind, they fought off the competition from the 10 boat fleet, to win the first two of the three races and were second in the third. Nigel Wakefield and Emily Sanderson were second in Flo (3674). Results: 1 Mustard (2649) Alex & Thomas Davey, RHYC, 4  points; 2 Flo (3674) Nigel Wakefield & Emily Sanderson, 7 points; 3 Tanglefoot (2631) Stuart & Jane Hudson, Keyhaven YC, 10 points; 4 Cumulus (186) Steven Greaves & Madelaine/Arthur Greaves, Rickmansworth SC, 14 points. The event was organised by Sue Harris, Tamesis Firefly Class Captain, with help from Tamesis Commodore Carolyne Vines. Donald Forbes, the Race Officer, was assisted by Peter Johnson, and the patrol boats were operated by Chris Pollard Paul Jamieson and Robin Lince         12 boats made their way to South-West London for the annual Firefly Junior Cup at the Tamesis Club. This event is for the children – and there seemed to be quite a few of them! The blustery northerly wind was strong enough that not many of the children managed much helming, but  every boat had at least one child crewing or doing other crucial jobs such as sticking heads in the water or shooting water pistols. There were three close-fought races on a windward-leeward course up and down the river, giving lots of excitement for both the sailors and the enthusiastic crowd on shore. Special mention must go to Olivia Powell, who on one of her first competitive outings in a Firefly was capsized by her dad… luckily there was plenty of restorative tea and cake on offer in the ever-hospitable Tamesis clubhouse. In the final race of the day two intrepid children took to the helm: Thomas Davey and Matthew Mason, both aged 8, and crewed by their dads (who have a long rivalry of their own). After a titanic battle all the way round the course, Matthew just held off Thomas to take line honours and the Junior Cup. Results: Junior Cup (children helming) Place Helm Crew 1st Matthew Mason Will Mason 2nd Thomas Davey Alex Davey   Children Crewing Place Crew Helm 1st Thomas Davey Alex Davey 2nd Arthur Greaves Steve Greaves 3rd Finn Morris Roger Morris 4th Robbie & Elizabeth Hudson Stuart Hudson 5th Olivia & Ana Powell Alec Powell 6th Zoe & Matthew Mason Will Mason 7th William McEwen Jamie McEwen 8th Ludo Kameen Paul Kameen 9th Pippa & Millie Wakefield Nigel Wakefield 10th Anna Morris Amy Morris 11th Luca Merriman Grandpa 12th Jack Dingwall & Joe Merriman Ben Dingwall   Cheering Competition 1st Finn Kameen 2nd Ben McEwen 3rd Sylvia McEwen 4th Polly Mason 5th Ella Simmonds   Brave Sailor – Stella Davey Best Swimmer – Olivia Powell Nelson Lookalike – Angus McEwen     OODs Sue Harris and Carolyne Vines, Patrol Boat Chris Balmbro and Andrew Forbes   Photos of the whole weekend by Robin Lince, Paul Jamieson and Carolyne Vines  The following report was written by Steven Greaves: After a great day’s sailing in the Junior Cup on Saturday an enthusiastic bunch of Firefly sailors turned up at Tamesis Club on Sunday 25th April to contest the Elizabeth Cup on the Thames.  Ten boats set about rigging in an unusually cold and gusty northerly and most got onto the water for a prompt start by the race officer and his team.  Those over the line (or still on the jetty) when the start gun went were soon back in the pack thanks to the vagaries of river sailing.  The Firefly once again proved what tight racing it can provide, with the younger crewed boats mixing and beating those of a more experienced nature.  When it all shook out it was Alex Davey crewed by son Thomas claiming the bullet in the first race, chased home by Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunderson. Another pair of father / son combos of Roger and Finn Morris & Stuart and Robbie Hudson claimed the third and fourth spot. The experienced pair of Lucy Boreham / Rachel Crebbin sailed consistently into fifth.    The second race followed a similar pattern with the same boats sailing well into first and second place.  Third place was picked up by local Jamie McEwen crewed by (previous day’s Junior Cup victor) Matthew Mason having shaken off their capsize from the first race.  Matthew’s dad and sister, Will and Polly, sailed a good race to come in sixth but a few enthusiastic gusts caused a couple of capsizes, most vocally from Ed and Sophie Smith.   After a suitable break for lunch and all races to count it was back on the water to decide the medals.  Multiple class champion and previous Elizabeth Cup winner Stu Hudson, this time crewed by his wife Jane, shot off the line to an impressive and unassailable lead while the rest of the fleet fought amongst themselves.  The consistent Daveys came over the line second and took the title, with Wakefield / Saunderson third to finish second overall.  Fourth across the line and fourth overall was Steve Greaves who’d been sharing crewing duties between daughter and son Arthur and Madeleine.  Progressing over the day to take fifth in the last race were Alec and Ana Powell.   An excellent and tiring days sailing was followed by welcome tea and cake to complement the prizes.  An excellent event run by the members of Tamesis – see you next year!
  • Alex Davey wins Elizabeth Cup for third time

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    Alex Davey won the Elizabeth Cup for the third time at the Tamesis open meeting for Fireflies on Sunday 26 April.  Sailing Mustard (2649), crewed by his son Thomas, Davey, from the Royal Harwich YC, beat eight other Fireflies over a lengthy course in a light NE wind which gave a downstream beat and an upstream reach and run.  The cup was awarded to the boat achieving the best results in two of the three races. With entries from seven different clubs and a steady north wind the competition for the Elizabeth Cup for Fireflies was always going to be good.  And it was never tighter than on the start line.  In a medium wind with a short windward leg there were boats recalled in all three races. Steering clear of trouble Alex and Thomas Davey in Mustard showed that they were indeed hot stuff on the windward legs taking a strong lead and well able to hold their own on the runs.  Taking first place, they were followed by Skirmish sailed by Jamie and Angus McEwen. Race two saw Skirmish with an early lead but with the Mustard team tucked in on the Middlesex bank for the run emerging ahead at the second mark.  Skirmish was also being pressed by Grendel sailed by Ed and Sophie Smith and The Walrus sailed by Will Mason and Polly Matthew.  The Davey family were again in front at the finish, with the McEwens second and the Smiths third. Race three saw another strong battle among the same leaders and while Mustard was again the winner Grendel snatched a well deserved second place with Skirmish third. Results:  1 Mustard (2649) Alex & Thomas Davey, Royal Harwich YC;  2 Skirmish (3615) Jamie & Angus McEwen, Oxford and Cambridge Sailing Society;  3 Grendel (2803) Ed & Sophie Smith, Papercourt SC. The event was organised by Sue Harris, Tamesis Firefly Class Captain, and Stewart Colley, Tamesis Commodore, presented the prizes. Donald Forbes and Peter Johnson were the race officers and the patrol boat was operated by Chris Pollard and Peter Finch. .         Alex Davey in the lead in the first race.
  • Firefly Junior Cup at Tamesis

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    Seven boats and numerous children gathered at Tamesis Club on Saturday 25th April for the Junior Cup, an event for children crewed by grown-ups. The forecast hailstorms never materialised and instead the competitors and many spectators were treated to sunshine and a good breeze. In the first race, Finn Morris (crewed by his mum Amy) took an early lead which he never relinquished. Behind him Angus McEwen (with dad Jamie) showed good speed after a slightly late start, picking his way through the fleet to finish second. “Hot” on his heels was Mustard, sailed by Thomas Davey and Arthur Greaves, with Alex Davey pulling the odd rope, followed closely by newcomers Ana and Alec Powell. Behind them were two shiny varnished boats with a horde of Dingwalls on board – Luca, Jack and Nicholas, Ben Daisy and Joe. Next across the line (and sailing very stylishly) was Polly Mason, crewed by her dad Will. The second race was won by the Ben/Daisy/Joe team, chased by Thomas and Arthur and then Ana. Finn took 4th place, just overtaking William McEwen (who had swapped with his brother Angus) at the finish. Matthew Mason, another family substitution, was behind them, along with Luca/Jack/Nicholas. There was all to play for in the final race, in which excitingly the Fireflies shared a course with a large contingent of Tamesis juniors in Toppers, Mirrors and Oppies. Both fleets seemed to survive more or less unscathed! Ana sailed beautifully to take line honours, leaving her tied on points overall with Finn who took third in that race. Thomas and Arthur were 5th so Ana won overall on countback. Many thanks to Tamesis Club for once again organising a wonderful event. In traditional Tamesis style the sailing was followed by picnic tea and cakes on the lawn – all very idyllic! Overall results: 1st Ana Powell 8 points 2nd Finn Morris 8 points 3rd Thomas Davey & Arthur Greaves 10 points 4th Angus & William McEwen 13 points 5th Luca, Jack and Nicholas 15 points 6th (and winners of the Most Stylish Sailing prize) Polly & Matthew Mason and Maddie Greaves 21 points Crewing prize: Ben, Daisy and Jo Cheering competition: 1st= Ben McEwen, Anna Morris 3rd Ella Simmonds Bravest sailors: Stella Davey and Zoe Mason Report Jamie McEwan Photos Carolyne Vines   Pictures below                      
  • Elizabeth Cup won by Steven Greaves

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    The Elizabeth Cup was won by Steven Greaves of Rickmansworth SC crewed by his children Madelaine and Arthur at the Tamesis open meeting for Fireflies on Sunday 27 April. Sailing Cumulus (186), they won both the first and second races in the three race event and did not compete in the final race, which was won by Mustard (2649) sailed by Alex Davey of the Royal Harwich YC, who won the Cup last year. Skirmish (3615), sailed by Jamie and Angus McEwen, of Tamesis, was second overall, with a third and two seconds in the three races. The races were sailed in a very fast running stream and a fickle wind, that varied in direction between south west and south east, and the best progress upriver was achieved by staying close to the Middlesex bank. Those competitors who were tempted out into the middle of the river by the occasional gust soon regretted their mistake as they were overtaken by boats tacking up the shore. Ten boats took part in the first race, but enthusiasm diminished thereafter and some lapped boats, struggling against ther stream, eagerly accepted a tow back from the Patrol Boat, which was manned by Tamesis Harbour Master Chris Pollard and Peter Finch. The incoming tide brought some flooding, leaving the pontoons below water, and while the struggling boats managed to avoid hitting them, their crews pleaded for a shortened course as they passed the starting box, manned by Race Officers Donald Forbes and Peter Johnson. Only five boats started the last race and only two finished. Results: 1 Cumulus (186) Steven & Madelaine/Arthur Greaves, Rickmansworth SC; 2 Skirmish (3615) Jamie & Angus McEwen, Tamesis; 3 Mustard (2649) Alex Davey & Erin and Jack Osborn, Royal Harwich YC; 4 Horror (3119) Roger & Finnian Morris, Papercourt SC. The prizes were presented by Sue Harris, Tamesis Firefly Class Captain.
  • Sue Harris

    Firefly Class Captain

    020 8546 7572