Stuart Hudson and Debs Hill win Craftinsure Firefly Inland at Rutland 15/11/06

A total of 29 Fireflies made it up to Rutland on the 11-12 November to compete in the Craftinsure Inland Championship, the last event of an action packed and extremely successful 60th Anniversary year. This year the National Firefly Association combined the event with the Ladies and Youth National titles.

Strong blustery westerly winds with the accompanying Rutland waves made for interesting racing on day one. The first three races race saw four times national champion Stuart Hudson crewed by Debs Hill reaping his revenge for his 2nd at this year’s nationals with leads long enough to allow him to wear round at the gybe mark and still comfortably maintain his lead.

Previous Lark nationals winner Nigel Wakefield crewed by Emily Saunderson showed that fitness could overcome weight and finished the day on three seconds. Rutland sailor and this year’s national champion Steve Tylecote crewed by his star crew Sally Wilson finished with two thirds and a fourth.

A tiring day’s sailing did not stop the partying. In the 60 years since Uffa Fox first designed and built the Firefly the class have has developed a legendary social scene and the Rutland bar staff were not to be disappointed!

Sunday dawned bright and less windy, a definite bonus for the bleary eyed sailors. Tylecote/ Wilson showed the pace they had had at the nationals and led the 4th race by almost a leg. However, Hudson /Hill showing they were not just heavy wind experts and spent most the race in second place. With two more races scheduled Tylecote and Wilson knew that even three wins wouldn’t win them the event. So it was no surprise to the majority of the fleet to see Tylecote heading back on the last run to try to inflict some damage. A few team racing moves later saw Hudson in fourth and Tylecote pulling back to first. Race 5 followed a similar pattern with a victory for Tylecote and a third for Hudson.

Going in to race six, three points separated the top three boats but only two could win. In the pre-start Hudson/Hill showed that they too could be the aggressor and hunted down Tylecote/Wilson to prevent them getting a good start. In a style similar to that seen demonstrated at the Olympics by a certain Ben Ainslie, Hudson sailed Tylecote to the back of the fleet and gave a thorough demonstration to all as to how team racing can win you fleet racing events. Tylecote eventually broke free and sailed away from Hudson to finish seventh but Hudson’s job was complete – he had prevented Tylecote from getting another race win and thus secured another Inlands victory.

Wakefield/Saunderson showed that sometimes just getting your head down (or your shoulders back) and sailing fast can be the best option and with a victory in the final race they shared points with Hudson but finished second overall on number of wins. Tylecote/Wilson were relegated to third.

Top lady helmsman and winner of the Firefly ladies National Championship was Sophie Hulbert crewed by Dad, Alan all the way from Restronguet in Cornwall. Winners of the youth championships and finishing an impressive 13th overall were Matthew Shepherd and Sophie Shepherd from West Kirby.

Class Sponsors, Craftinsure provided a wonderful range of prizes for the winners with the top three taking home a year’s free insurance. Hudson and Hill, 2006 Firefly Inland Champions, also took a beautiful Silver model Firefly, traditionally awarded to the event winners.

Next year, the Firefly class will be 61. Not a special anniversary but with 60 new boats being launched this year and many new boats on order the class is still on the up. Roll on 2007!