There was plenty of breeze for some hot action in the Firefly class open meeting, Matt Findlay reports
Forty Four sailors made the trip to Dun Laoghaire last weekend for the Firefly open meeting at the Royal St. George Yacht Club. The event is the first of a series of Firefly events taking place this year to commemorate the class’ 60th anniversary.
Competitors simply had to turn up and launch as Royal St George Yacht Club and Trinity College Dublin provided their team racing boats. Six races were sailed over two days outside the harbour on a traditional triangle-sausage Olympic course with one discard coming into play after five races were completed.
Race One started in a shifty force 3 to 4 with competitors fighting hard for pole position on the heavily pin-end biased line. Once away, however, the large shifts opened the game up and it was the West Kirby team of Matt Findlay and Georgie Corlett that made the most of the shifts to lead at the top mark, closely followed by the chasing pack. Findlay/Corlett held their lead for the next two laps until the wind completely shut down at the start of the third beat. The local teams of John Sheehy and Noleen Owens, and Conol Casey and Gillian Burke did a great job of spotting the new breeze and cruised past Findlay/Corlett to finish in that order.
Race Two and the old breeze had re-established itself and was now occasionally touching a force 5. The committee squared the start line to the breeze and made the course slightly shorter and it was those boats that made the most of the shifts that again emerged at the front. Casey/Burke sailed well to win, with Findlay/Corlett just piping the young local team of Conor Byrne and Rachel O’Brien for second at the finish.
The committee again shortened the legs for race three and it was Findlay/Corlett who won the start at the boat end to lead all the way to the finish with Londoners Chris Guy and crew Jennie fighting through to second and then defending well to stay ahead of Casey/Burke.
After a fantastic formal dinner for the firefly sailors, complete with the finest Irish craic and plenty of wine, the weather gods at Dun Laoghaire know how to cure a hangover and delivered a perfect force 2 to 3 onshore breeze in brilliant sunshine for the sailors to race in on Sunday. With less shifts to play, boat speed and good starts became the priority of the days racing.
Graham Elmes and Michelle Rowley had featured consistently in the top ten on Saturday and now moved to the fore, taking the lead of race four at the first mark. They were followed by Findlay/Corlett and Andy Palmer-Felgate and crew Liz Sutt. Findlay/Corlett rolled Elmes/Rowley on the first reach to take another bullet and Palmer-Felgate displayed immense boat speed to take second from Elmes/Rowley.
In race five it was the pairing of Phil and Jill Slater who were finding their form to take their first bullet of the event, followed by the ever quick Elmes/Rowley and Sean and Heather Craig who were making the most of Sunday’s champagne sailing conditions.
The final race would decide the podium positions with any of five teams still able to claim second overall. Palmer-Felgate claimed a well earned bullet while Chris Guy and Jennie turned on the pace to take second from Elmes/Rowley. This was enough to give them 24 points and third overall while Elmes/Rowley had showed consistently at the top to take second overall on 20 points. Findlay/Corlett finished the last race in sixth to win the event with 13 points.
Position / Helm / Crew / Score
1 Matt Findlay, Georgie Corlett, 13
2 Graham Elmes, Michelle Rowley, 20
3 Chris Guy, Jennie, 24
4 John Sheehy, Noleen Owens, 26
5 Stefan Hyde, Katie Hamilton, 33
6 Conor Byrne, Rachel O’Brien, 34
7 Phil Slater, Jill Slater, 36
8 Andy Palmer-Felgate, Liz Sutt, 37
9 Barney Smith, Pippa, 41
10 Steve Whoittingham-Jones, Lisa Keenan, 45
11 Sean Craig, Heather Craig, 49
12 Robin Mecklenburgh, Nicola, 51
13 Conal Casey, Gillian Burke , 52
14 Lizzie Edwards, Fleur Oswald, 53
15 Dave Chisholm, Kerry Ryan, 60
16 Andy Rowland, Jim Bramley, 61
17 Hermione Turner, Andrew Prince, 76
18 Andy Reynolds-Jones, Simon Reynolds-Jones, 76
19 Ruth Verrier-Jones, Jim MacLeod, 83
20 Joe McIvor, Jenny McIvor, 85
21 Alan Turner, Rosemary Turner, 88
22 James Miller, Kim McMullen, 89