After a weekend enjoying Coronation Beer (i was one of the ‘lucky’ ones invited to attend the coronation at Westminster Abbey) and with friends enjoying a stag party in London town, i found myself wondering if i could make it back to the Boisdale in a fortnight to watch Kid Creole and the Coconuts; you remember #Annie (I’m Not Your Daddy)? Anyway, the Coronation service and pomp and ceremony made me think of Kool and the Gang and the legendary party tune Celebration…In the Spring Series Simon & Henry Scammell (firefly) had a narrow lead of 2 points with no discards from Mike Hill (laser radial) who would be celebrating after Race 4?

See what i did there? i somehow managed a ramble that included some very dodgy 1970’s bands, the Coronation, and a stag party, to racing a dinghy? You don’t get this sort of race report anywhere.

Race 4 Spring series

Wind Forecast: W/ SW/ WSW (4- 8knots) or, will the wind hold?

Tide: 2 days after Spring Ebb (that’s a lot of flow out!)

With the wind forecast varying from 10 knots to 2 knots; as the boats rigged, a steady 8-10knots blowing across the river (roughly South Westerlies), Richard in the Race office set a simple course that even the famously bad navigator Commodore Lewis would remember (Roger has lost more races from forgetting the course than i have won!)

Start: North Line (we’ve got two lines??)

Oystercatcher (port)

Kingsfleet (port)


Super crew Henry checks that the course is just two marks, after all his job list is expanding as he gets more proficient, jib trim, fore / aft trim, heel, pre start timing, navigation, fleet awareness / fleet tactics. The current crew list when afloat, and, like all great crews making sure you know the course is essential when sailing with your Dad and his goldfish brain. It can’t be that bad – i remember the race (without too much embellishment!)

A pre start sail of the first leg saw Matt Ambrose, Chris Coe and Simon & Henry Scammell test which side of horse sands would give the best wind and tide combination, the North line for the start meant everyone would be pressed onto the Bawdsey shore. True enough with the tide holding the fleet back the gaggle of monohulls fought for a space, Matt and John Daniels furthest in to the tide away from the melee a little shy of the line. Simon & Henry timing the start very well with clear air, Mike Hill mistimed the gun and was a few boatlengths behind in dirty air. at the beginning of Horse Sands Matt split to take the Bawdsey shore.  John led Simon & Henry and Chris Coe along the edge of Horse Sands, there was not much in it, Matt was maybe a smidge quicker in less tide, but he had to sail much further.

At the end of Horse sands the wind started to fade, not good. Now Matt was beginning to look golden, less tide and first to get the breeze. The rest of the fleet struggled, even Chris with the extra sail area was struggling to get to the mark. Simon & Henry and John seemed to bungee back and forth moving forward, holding, slipping…

At this point looking upwind there is not much to see, i start to think that we could be in doo doo if Matt makes it round Oystercatcher, then we definitley have a race. We need to keep moving; Matt was by now making slow but definite progress towards it, unlike John and Simon & Henry who were only just making ‘way’.

After 20 minutes of trying to sail with the boat heeled and the crews as far forward as allowed (lessen the wetted area of the hull) – this leads to most sailors getting fairly intimate with parts of the boat not designed for sailors: centreboards on backs/bums, masts/booms in faces, all in all it’s fairly uncomfortable sailing. Eventually Richard admitted defeat in the race office and put the fleet out of their misery and abandoned the race, a rarity at FFSC.

This meant that without discards Simon & Henry take their maiden series win in the Firefly from Mike Hill in the Laser radial.

On reporting this win to the 10 year old, I was asked:

“Dad, does that mean i will get a trophy?”

“Maybe, How does it feel to win a series?”

A great big smile flashes across the boys face “Good”, not one for overstatement is Henry, then again he’s got me for that. Go Scammells!
Thanks to Richard and crew in the crows nest and the safety team.