Happy Birthday

The Firefly class celebrated their 60th anniversary at Upper Thames SC

Thursday September 21st 2006, Author: Barnaby Smith, Location: United Kingdom
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 two feet in front of Cook. Peter Cook (Frampton) finished third.

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 daughter Maisie were second, Steve Greaves and Caroline Edwards (Rickmansworth) finished third.

The caterers prepared a superb curry for over 80 people for the 60th anniversary dinner and as usual the club were delighted with the amount spent by the firefly class at the bar. After a night in tents for most, racing began in a decent breeze for Sundays 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 second 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 second and Firefly legend Guy Davison (Langorse) sailing with Clare Carter (Upper Thames) for third. Stuart and Jane faced a challenge in the second race from Ben and Ali Sutherland (Imperial Poona) but held on to win. Nigel Wakefield and Emily Saunderson (Wessex Exiles) took third 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 days 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. Ann was delighted to see an active and thriving fleet competing over the weekend.

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