Thirty Firefly teams enjoyed close racing at Bourne End last weekend 22/9/06

A total of 30 Firefly dinghies competed at the Upper Thames open meeting at Bourne End on the 16-17 September in sunshine and light breezes. Fireflies have been racing continuously on this stretch of the Thames since 1946, so the club were delighted to welcome back old friends and to see so many new faces in the class after all this time in the Firefly classes 60th Anniversary year.

In keeping with Firefly tradition the first race was single-handed for the Bourne End Challenge Cup. Peter Cook, Barney Smith and Jonathan Bickford found breeze on the Berkshire side of the river and managed to break away from the rest of the fleet. However, local single-handed expert Angus Cook recovered from being OCS to sail his way through to the lead by the last mark. He entered a tacking duel with Bickford (Upper Thames) who eventually managed to cross the line about 2ft in front of Cook. Peter Cook (Frampton) finished 3rd.

In a decreasing breeze the helmsmen collected their crews for the afternoon’s long distance race for the Measurer’s Cup. The top mark was set nearer to Marlow than Bourne End providing a good opportunity for river sightseeing as the wind died.

Ben and Jenny Vines took along their seven-month old twins for their first taste of competitive dinghy sailing. Former national champion Stuart Hudson and wife Jane (Spinnaker) quickly established a large lead and were never challenged. Angus Cook sailing with his eight-year-old daughter Maisie were 2nd, Steve Greaves and Caroline Edwards (Rickmansworth) finished 3rd.

Racing began in a decent breeze for Sunday’s Upper Thames Challenge Cup. Again, the Hudsons established a big lead leaving the others to battle it out behind them. Chris Guy and Annie Goss (Castaways) were 2nd for much of the race but unluckily sailed into an infamous Upper Thames hole on the last leg to let in Peter Cook and Janet Exelby for 2nd and Firefly legend Guy Davison (Langorse) sailing with Clare Carter (Upper Thames) for 3rd.

The Hudsons faced a challenge in the 2nd race from Ben and Ali Sutherland (Imperial Poona) but held on to win. Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunderson (Wessex Exiles) took 3rd place. Seamus Kilpatrick marked his return to the club after a 10-year absence by falling out of his boat. With the wind dying, no further race was completed and Stuart and Jane Hudson were declared the day’s winners.

The fleet then retired to the clubhouse to sample a superb cream tea and devour a beautiful Firefly Class 60th Birthday cake. The cake was cut by Ann Hardman, a long time Upper Thames member, who first sailed a Firefly at Bourne End in 1946.

Overall Results

Upper Thames Challenge Cup (Sunday’s racing)
1st 3681 Stuart and Jane Hudson Spinnaker Club
2nd 2898 Peter Cook and Janet Exelby Frampton on Severn SC
3rd 2144 Ben Vines and Ali Sutherland Imperial Poona

Measurers Cup (Saturday afternoon)
1st 3681 Stuart and Jane Hudson Spinnaker Club
2nd 3695 Angus and Maisie Cook Upper Thames SC
3rd 2144 Ben Vines and Ali Sutherland Imperial Poona

Bourne End Challenge Cup (Singlehanded race)
1st 3616 Jonathan Bickford Upper Thames SC
2nd 3695 Angus Cook Upper Thames SC
3rd 2898 Peter Cook Frampton on Severn SC