Over the weekend of June 11/12 Hamble River Sailing Club hosted a combined Albacore and Firefly Open. Hamble River has held a Firefly Open every year for over a decade (and on several occasions in the previous six decades) but it was the first time in living memory that the Albacore fleet had travelled to Hamble for a reunion of two classic Uffa Fox designs which were originally built at Hamble Point.

The meeting attracted 29 entries, eighteen Fireflies and eleven Albacores who were competing for their Southern Area Championship. Weather-wise the weekend provided the complete range of conditions with sun and light winds as the fleet launched on Saturday, and then gales and driving rain at the end of Sundays racing.

The weather extremes made life very difficult for Principal Race Officer Dermod O'Malley and his team, ruining the original plan to hold six races over the weekend out in the Southampton Water/Solent area.

On Saturday the fleet left Hamble for the Solent in a light North Westerly breeze and bright sunshine. The ebbing tide swept them out of the river and to a postponement as the race management team waited for the predicted South Westerly breeze to arrive. As the breeze began to fill a trapezoid course was laid with inner and outer courses for the two classes.

The Albacores were first away and powered up the 0.8 mile beat into a ever freshening breeze of 18 to 20 knots. The sailing was awesome with boats on both gybes as they approached the leeward mark. Some found the runs to be a greater challenge and there were some spectacular capsizes as boats from both fleets headed for the lee shore of Hillhead.

Nev Herbert & Mark Fowler and John Woffinden & Ian Stone swapped victories in the Albacore fleet but it was the consistent pairing of John & Paul Gimson who took the overnight lead with a pair of seconds. At the end of race two the Race Officer took a sensible decision, with the wind building to 25 knots and safety boats stretched to capacity, to send the fleet home via a two mile screaming reach!

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Sunday morning dawned wet and breezy. The committee boat took an exploratory trip out to Southampton Water to check the sea conditions but quickly concluded that the combination of torrential rain and 25-30 knot gusts and wind against an ebbing tide meant a change of plan was in order. Some rapid reorganisation led to a single race taking place on a windward/leeward course in the Hamble River before the water disappeared - racing in the river being a rare event these days as the Harbour has become more and more busy, and the passing traffic larger and larger.

The Fireflies were more used to the river challenge as they are regular participants in the annual Hamble River Warming Pan, which is a river-based spectacular. The Albacore sailors didn't look so sure about being sent through the mass of anchored boats on the 1 mile beat to the river mouth.

In the, by now, atrocious conditions nine Fireflies and four Albacores ventured out for a three lap survival test. John and Paul Gimson led the Albacores home managing the conditions with amazing alacrity as they built a commanding lead and cemented their overall victory on countback in front of Nev Herbert and Mark Fowler.

The view from the Committee Boat of both classes planing up river with jibs poled out would have been something the great Uffa Fox would loved to have seen. The racing was close in both fleets and particularly so in the Fireflies, with the three leading boats rounding the last leeward mark overlapped.

Remarkably all thirteen boats made it to the finish line before quickly heading for shore to sample the famous HRSC tea and cakes.

As always a team of willing volunteers from HRSC staffed safety boats, laid marks, and kept competitors well fed and watered throughout the weekend. Many thanks to all who assisted up to, and during, the weekend as without willing volunteers HRSC would be unable to run events of this type. The freezing weather on Sunday was also excellent practice for the Winter Series, although the writer is not sure that all our helpers appreciated this!


Sailed: 3, Discards: 1, To count: 2, Entries: 11, Scoring system: Appendix A


1st 7753 John Gimson Paul Gimson (2.0) 2.0 1.0 5.0 3.0
2nd Gran Turismo 8155 Nev Herbert Mark Fowler 1.0 (12.0 DNF) 2.0 15.0 3.0
3rd Who Ate All The Pies? 8126 John Woffinden Ian Stone (5.0) 1.0 3.0 9.0 4.0
4th Showdown For Jador 6493 Mike McNamara Flip Foulds 3.0 3.0 (4.0) 10.0 6.0
5th Gunship Diplomat 7425 Matthew Thomson Ellie Thomson 6.0 4.0 (12.0 DNC) 22.0 10.0
6th Sequoia 7507 Graham Darvil Myke Bowers 7.0 5.0 (12.0 DNC) 24.0 12.0
7th 8154 Rob Lyne Peter Grey 4.0 (12.0 DNS) 12.0 DNC 28.0 16.0
8th Te Wero gAl 8129 Phil Tindall Roy Box 8.0 (12.0 DNF) 12.0 DNC 32.0 20.0
9th Blue Jay 7525 Andrew Pearce Ian Simpson 9.0 (12.0 DNF) 12.0 DNC 33.0 21.0
10th 7510 Hugh Fletcher Simon Barlow 10.0 (12.0 DNF) 12.0 DNC 34.0 22.0
11th Ozily Emiver 8000 Trevor Smith Ann Smith (12.0 DNF) 12.0 DNC 12.0 DNC 36.0 24.0



Dermod O'Malley