Sunday morning dawned to overcast ‘light’ conditions. The forecast was for a consistent F2 easterly and for the sun to break through mid-morning.
On paper, near-perfect conditions for the Firefly Junior Cup race of 2021.
After 18-months of pandemic uncertainty, two cancellations (2019 was cancelled due to storms) and a six month delay, we were into the Tamesis Firefly Open meeting for the first time since April 2018. Quite a long wait in anyone’s book, but all the more so for the reigning Junior Cup holder Josie Tanner who was planning on an appearance at lunchtime to contest the Junior Cup race at a scheduled 2 pm.
The weather duly delivered with the sun appearing around 11 – in time for the Elizabeth Cup races (more of that in another report). The wind ‘settled’ to a variable F1 to F3, swinging wildly from a southerly to a northerly and all points in between, sometimes at the same time on different parts of the course!
The week leading up to the Firefly Open (Elizabeth Cup – 28th of April 2019) and Junior Cup was a far from stress-free week. Storm Hannah was beating its way into the South East of the UK and the weather forecast changed rapidly day to day. By lunchtime on Thursday it became clear that unless there was a miraculous change on the day the sailing conditions for Saturday’s Junior Cup would be beyond challenging – hard in open water, but with the swirls and eddies often found on the Thames too much to make sailing safe. So, with a heavy heart we cancelled Saturday’s racing and hoped that Sunday would see the promised improvements.
Fortunately that proved a wise decision. Saturday’s conditions were indeed treacherous with squally conditions producing numerous vortices on the water and heavy overcast conditions. Sunday morning dawned brighter and altogether more conducive conditions on the Thames prevailed with a ‘steady’ North-Westerly F3-4, gusts in the F5 range, and whilst clouds were present there were the odd patches of sun.
Seven Fireflies were in attendance, four from the home fleet and three visitors. Had the conditions been better, and without clashes in various training programmes, we would no doubt have seen more. Nevertheless, a respectable and able fleet assembled for the first race of the day scheduled for 11:10. Returning to defend his Elizabeth title of 2018 was Nigel Wakefield, this year crewed by Pippa Wakefield (F3674 – Flo). Joining them were the visitors Roger and Finian Morris (F3119 – Horror), Alex Ogilvie and Fi Edwards (F2560 – Fuzzy Duck) and the home crews of Tim and Ed Medcalf (F2103 – Scallywag), Griff and Louis Tanner (F3287 – Tin Bin), James Berry and Rupert Fletcher (F3552 – Slippery Skin) and Matthew and Anna Dalton (F3841 – Genesis). Course K was sailed – an up and down with dog-leg on the return to the top mark at Canbury.
In the first race Roger and Finian led from the start, with a belting first leg down the river toward the Lensbury mark, hotly pursued by Nigel and Pippa, then Tim and Ed. Conditions were sparkling, with some significant gusts to test the boat handling and skills of the crews on the river. The first three positions remained firmly established through the rest of the race, but with gaps being small people were kept on their toes. Unfortunately, conditions proved a little too challenging for Anna and Genesis retired in the first race with the crew changed for Cathy Dalton in subsequent races. James Berry, in his newly acquired Slippery Skin, began tentatively but soon got into the swing of navigating the river in a Firefly and Griff and Louis remained calm and deliberate as they made up ground throughout the race.
The second race started promptly at 12:10 and saw Tim and Ed sit out after a tiring first race to recuperate ready for the afternoon. Unfortunately after a somewhat slow start James and Rupert in Slippery Skin retired after the first lap – but with big smiles to accompany them. Once again Roger and Finian set the pace managing to eke out a lead of just under thirty seconds from Nigel over the first lap and kept trying to pull themselves free of the Wakefields who held on tenaciously through the four laps to finish within 40 seconds of Roger and Finian. Matthew and Cathy in Genesis sailed a blinder of a second lap to take third position and held that through the remaining laps. Behind them a tight battle between the Tanners and Alex and Fi saw their positions change with each lap, with Griff and Louis managing to pull away by 20 seconds on the final lap to take fourth.
With boats pulled out of the water all the crews made their way to the clubhouse for lunch. A wonderful atmosphere was tangible in the clubhouse with smiles all round following near perfect river conditions in the morning – described as ‘Prosecco sailing’ (I think that’s a compliment!)
For the third and final race Finian declared independence from his dad and took the helm of Flo with Nigel relegated to crewing (and perhaps thinking that this was a good opportunity to help Finian with some boat handling tips – more on that later). Roger was joined by his wife to crew the final race. With family bragging rights at stake there was an air of tension in the fleet.
Once again the fleet were sailing course K, and after a frenetic countdown to the start all got away cleanly. Obviously Nigel’s advice on starting position hadn’t quite produced the flier that Finian was hoping for and Dad Roger led the first lap by a mere six seconds. Behind them the next three positions were separated by less than a minute at the end of the first lap, but the Daltons trailed by over 2 minutes after a being a little over optimistic about the width of the river (you’d expect a home crew to be a little wiser) and running aground on the far bank.
By this stage Finian had obviously decided that advice from the older generation needed to be heeded with caution and set about a masterful exhibition of Firefly handling to not just catch his father but get ahead, putting some clear water between himself and the older Morris generation, establishing a lead of 18 seconds at the end of the second lap. Behind them the next three boats were separated by 9 seconds, with the Daltons bringing up the rear but managing to eat into the self-inflicted deficit.
The third lap saw Finian continue to execute well timed and effective tacks and defend his lead – but with the clock ticking Roger was becoming increasingly competitive and, dare we say it, nervous. Throwing every bit of skill and ability that he had Roger was firmly set on trying to unseat his son from the lead. Behind the fleet the Daltons had reduced the deficit to a mere minute and had the bit between their teeth – with much complaining that races should be longer (in marked contrast to the situation when they find themselves in contention and desiring the course to be shortened!). The middle of the pack remained close with positions changing a number of times.
Roger’s persistent paid off. He took the lead (obviously in a humble and not too celebratory way… not!) and finished the fifth and final lap to win by a ‘comfortable’(?) margin of 7 seconds. Tim and Ed held onto third, with Alex and Fi in fourth, and Griff and Louis in fifth. The Daltons finished six but had reduced the gap to 20 seconds, producing a warm glow with dreams of what could have been…
As boats were packed away there was a brilliant atmosphere with congratulations all round and not a little worry from the older generation that the sun was soon to set on their mastery of the race course. Positions were analysed and final rankings checked. As ever with the Open at Tamesis there were prizes for the Open, but also for junior crews. Matthew Dalton introduced the prize giving which was carried out by the day’s OOD, Carolyne Vines (with quite some history in the Firefly class to her name).
Junior Crew results
1st – Finian Morris
2nd – Pippa Wakefield
3rd – Louise Tanner
4th – Ed Medcalf
5th – Anna Dalton
Elizabeth Cup results
Papercourt Sailing Club
Spinnaker Sailing Club
Netley Sailing Club
It was a wonderful Open meeting and all at Tamesis Club would like to thank those visitors who bought with them the fun family atmosphere that pervades the Firefly class. It was a real joy to be a part of it. We are also very thankful to Carolyne Vines for setting out a great course and running sailing through the day and all those others who served the class so well during a super day’s sailing. We look forward to welcoming many next year for the Junior and Elizabeth Cups at Tamesis.
What a great day we had on Sunday contending for the Elizabeth Cup at the Tamesis Firefly open meeting following the cancellation of the Junior Cup on Saturday (the result of squally conditions in the middle of Storm Hannah). But the Elizabeth Cup enjoyed amazing conditions – a fairly consistent (yes, for the river it really was!) F3-F4 North / North-westerly (under grey skies with the occasional outbreak of sun!) to test the abilities of helms and crews alike. Three visiting boats were in attendance along with four from the home fleet.
Roger Morris & Finian Morris in “Horror” – representing Papercourt
Nigel Wakefield & Pippa Wakefield in “Flo” – representing Spinnaker
Tim Medcalf & Ed Medcalf in “Scallywag” – representing Tamesis
The deserving winners – Roger Morris and son Finian presented with the Elizabeth Cup by Carolyne Vines.
A huge thank you to the duty team for the day led brilliantly by Carolyne Vines.
We’d also like to thank Ronstan who sponsor the Firefly class open meetings for the additional prizes – wonderful!
Further reporting to follow – along with lots of pictures! Check back for updates on the Tamesis website – www.tamesisclub.co.uk.
Tamesis will be hosting the Firefly Junior Cup and Elizabeth Cup open events (Saturday the 27th and Sunday the 28th of April) for the National Firefly Class. It would be great to have a good showing over the weekend. Here are links to the event pages along with NOR’s etc. – Junior Cup, Elizabeth Cup.
We have a number of boats lined up already for the home fleet – please do drop me a note on email mattandcathy at gmail.com if you can confirm you’ll be sailing.
We have a number of people who would be interested in borrowing a boat for the weekend and there are possibly Fireflies at Tamesis that could be loaned to be sailed over this weekend. Please can you send me an email if you would like to sail but have no Firefly, or have a Firefly and won’t be sailing!
Looking forward to seeing many of you over the weekend, either on the river bank or enjoying what we hope will be a weekend of warm weather and good wind on the river!
Three Merlins, one Laser and a Firefly took to the water on the Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend in August to contest the Tamesis August Bank Holiday pursuit race. It was a grey morning, but fortunately free of rain and with the odd smattering of sun – and (at least from the boat park) some wind – a westerly. Course P was set by Steve Katz (OOD for the day) and the marks duly laid by Chris Pollard and Ian Ramage in the launch.
At 11:15 the first boat in the pursuit set off (Firefly – Slippery Skin, helmed and crewed by Matthew and Ruth Dalton). They were followed by Stewart Colley in his Laser and then at 11:28 the three Merlins then set off to try and chase down the boats further up the course. One of the Merlins (Emmeline, with Tim Medcalf and friend Andrew Mitchell) had been named ahead of the race and looked in super condition. She was joined by Rupert Fletcher, crewed by James Berry in his Merlin and Peter Impey and his wife Suzie crewing.
In true Tamesis style both the Canbury and Lensbury marks were approach on close hauled courses and there were good reaching conditions in the middle. The wind remained throughout though, but was “a little variable”.
Matthew & Ruth held off the chasing pack until 12:24, six minutes short of the finish bell, when they were masterfully caught and passed by Stewart in his Laser. Tim rounded out the podium in his new Merlin to create a good mix of craft in the top three positions.
The mornings sailing was nicely rounded off by a light lunch in the clubhouse along with many visitors enjoying the brief outbreak of Bank Holiday sun. All in all a lovely morning on the river. Thank you to all on duty who made it such an enjoyable morning.
Following the success (despite the lack of consistent breeze) of the Junior Cup on Saturday the Sunday of the Elizabeth Cup dawned with a promising forecast but an absence of wind first thing. After an anxious few hours peering at various wind apps on the internet the organising committee headed off to Tamesis Club on the Thames hoping that the forecast was right. And so it was.
The home crews were joined by six visitors to the club (from Southampton, Surrey and Hitchen), racing three races (with two to count) for the much coveted Elizabeth Cup and first in the 2018 series for the M25 and the Vines trophy. With last year’s winner unable to attend there was much anticipation of who would end the day on the river crowned as the best of this season opener (with some quality crews present, and a couple of dark horses). This year we were pleased to see three new crews attending, Phil Bevan & daughter Laura Bevan (on her way back to university) from Grafham, Tim Medcalf & Ed / Henry Medcalf of Tamesis and Florian & Sara (also representing Tamesis). Following the consumption of bacon sandwiches and rigging of boats, the “P” course was set (upstream to Canbury, down to Lensbury, then a dog-leg on the return to the start line).
The first race got underway at exactly eleven o’clock in a good F3 which was a little patchy (and swirly!) in places. The nine Fireflies set off for the windward mark spread across the width of the Thames. Within 90 seconds of the start the quality of the field was evident with a number of crews making excellent headway toward the mark despite the presence of a reasonably current running against the competitors. At the end of the first lap it was Lucy Boreham & Rachel Crebbin in Willow (F3739) who led the fleet across the line first, followed closely by Ed Smith & Kirsty Hawkes in Grendel (F2803) and then first Firefly open participants Phil Bevan & Laura Bevan in Purple Doris (F3671). But the first two thirds of the fleet were closely grouped and it was all to play for. At the back of the pack the stream was playing havoc, but after a couple of mark entanglements (and some frustration with shifty winds) good progress began to be made by all!
By the end of the second lap Ed Smith & Kirsty Hawkes had pulled out in front, Steven Greaves & Arthur Greaves in Cumulus (F1867) had climbed up two places and third saw the ominous appearance (for everyone else!) of Nigel Wakefield & Emily Saunderson in Tip Top Too (F3007).
Throughout the third lap the wind increased from a F3 to F4, but at the same time more holes and swirls appeared rewarding patience, consistency and smooth boat handling. Lower down the pack places were also changing regularly and close racing – especially up from the Lensbury mark – was in much evidence. At the end of the third and final lap for race one Nigel & Emily had continued their rise through the fleet having grown accustomed to the river conditions remarkably fast to take the win, followed closely by Steven & Arthur and Ed & Kirsty rounded out the podium for the first race.
The remaining contenders crossed the line within 5 minutes of the first finisher to bring to a close the first race.
A few crew changes were made following the first race and the wind conditions had settled into a (broadly) westerly direction and built to a consistent (well as consistent as the wind ever is on the twisty Thames) F4.
Once again all nine boats lined up and set off for the windward mark at mid-day. This time Matthew Dalton & Ruth Dalton in Genesis (F3841) had a good start and rounded the windward mark in third. Unfortunately Tim Medcalf & Henry Medcalf in Scallywag (F2103) found themselves over the line and had to turn around and restart. In front, Nigel & Emily had started out race two as they finished the first and were hotly pursued by Steven & Arthur.
With the wind being alternately gusty, and then swirling through 180 degrees at times the racing was challenging, but all crews faced the same conditions. Those who were able to make best use of the shifts, patiently endure the holes and avoid the worst effect of the currents did well again – a recipe for river sailing at it’s best.
The second lap saw the Dalton’s early performance start to wain with the strong-ish breeze proving quite hard for Ruth on the jib. However, others were coming into their own and by the end of the fourth and final lap the dominance of Nigel & Emily, Steven & Arthur and Ed & Kirsty was challenged by Phil & Laura who managed to get in front of Ed & Kirsty to finish third.
All crews then returned to the pontoons to break for a well earned lunch and chance to relax from a hectic couple of races whilst catching up with old friends and making some new ones.
Having let lunch settle a couple of the younger crews decided to call it a day and with the format allowing a discard, settled in to watch the third and final race and enjoy the spectacle of Fireflies in the sun on the Thames fighting it out.
Nigel & Emily put on a fantastic display through the starting sequence positioning themselves just to the right side of the inner distance mark on the start line and holding their position against the stream almost inch perfect for 4 minutes. The other crews jostled for position across the line and all got away cleanly. Whilst at the front of the pack the competition was one of Nigel & Emily holding off Steven & Arthur (despite the latter making every attempt to attack) the third and fourth positions were hotly contested throughout between Phil & Laura and Ed & Kirsty. Looking back at the records from the box their relative positions changed with every lap, but in the end Ed & Kirsty just got the better of the other crew to complete the podium for the third race.
The box were kept busy doing the math and making sure that all the positions were correctly accounted for whilst the visitors and home crews alike disassembled Fireflies ready for the trip home and the younger members of the visitors and home teams had ice creams on the lawn and relaxed after a hectic but enjoyable day on the Thames.
In the end the first two positions were never in doubt, but third was closely fought. Having checked and done the discard / countbacks the following results were published and announced with suitable formality by Commodore Carolyne Vines and Vice Commodore Chris Pollard.
Name of boat
Tip Top Too
Anna / Ruth Dalton
Ed / Henry Medcalf
All in all, a fantastic day on the Thames at Tamesis Club with Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunders well deserved winners of the Elizabeth Cup in Tip Top Too.
The participants and Firefly Class Captain would like to thank all those who helped organise, provide support and make the club a welcoming place to be. In particular we would like to thank Peter Johnson for being OOD, Chris Pollard for manning the race box (helped by Kaan Yargici), and Sean Roberts & Jim Hamilton providing safety boat cover for the duration of the open.
We all look forward to seeing you next year, and don’t forget, the next Firefly Open takes place on the 12th of May at Rickmansworth – if you can make it you are sure to have a wonderful time competing in this great class of dinghy.
(Report written by Matthew Dalton, photography Cathy Dalton).
Saturday dawned – a fabulous day, simply perfect for the Firefly Junior Cup at Tamesis Club on the Thames. After several weeks of inclement weather, lacklustre winds and a raging stream on the Thames it looked set for a wonderful afternoon’s sailing. Unfortunately a large mass of grey cloud hovered menacingly over the Thames for much of the afternoon and left the river nearly windless! However, one full race was successfully run and a second completed the day (having released competitors from the restrictions of rule 42 – no rocking or other form of propulsion) and great fun was had by adults and children alike.
A record home fleet (at least for the last few years) took to the water, including Ed & Tim (F2103 – Scallywag), Josie & Griff (F3287 – Tin Bin), Sara & Florian (F1698 – Ella) and Anna & Matthew (F3841 – Genesis). They were joined for the afternoon by visitors making the journey up from the south coast – Jemima & Chris (F3095 – Mensonge) and Ludo & Paul (F2018 – Biscuit Buffalo).