“Sumer is icumen in” is the incipit (gosh straight off with complicated words, anyone know a lawyer / solicitor / english teacher?) of a medieval English round or rota of the mid-13th century; it is also known variously as the Summer Canon and the Cuckoo Song. This rota is the oldest known musical composition featuring six-part polyphony (yes, i had to google that bit too). Anyway this is what it sounds like: Sumer is icumen in

If you could have a musical representation of Summer series Race 1 then it’s probably pretty close, gentle rhythmic, repetition; the wind was struggling to maintain 10 knots and the tide, well if we know one thing about the tide at the Ferry it doesn’t struggle. – the tide never struggles at Felixstowe Ferry. Stand in course setter was Commodore Lewis (yay!) if there is one thing i can guarantee with Rog as course setter is – it’s going to be easy to remember, no chinagraphs / pieces of paper / two brains for this one.

Race 1 Summer series


club line Start

Haven (port)

Line (finish)

N.B. Observe All channel buoys

A good turn out for the dinghy fleet, the return of a few regulars, some new faces although a few missing due to open meetings and Worlds (Tim O’ is at the OK worlds battling 143 other OKs) and Mike Hill switching to the dark side(?) in the multihulls.

With High Water at 1945hrs(ish) and just about 10 knots of breeze, the club members enjoying the view from the clubhouse and maybe a pre dinner adnams were in for a classic Ferry melee. For our younger readers ‘melee’, that doesn’t mean we are going to attack at close quarters with a range of weapons, it means that there’s going to be a confused struggle. This is the classic ferry start, just like short tacking the green at cowes week, who gets the position at the gun, with breeze and the clear lane? Everyone trying to get in an area the size of a tennis court, in and out of the groynes, short tacking up the bawsdey side to get to the channel, with high water approaching there was plenty of depth to cut the corner to avoid the incoming tide.

With 15 seconds to go the single handers and the Firefly found themselves gathered into a very tight spot, with Chris Coe closest top the Bawdsey shore / groynes pushing the Firefly up, the Firefly was pushing Grandmaster Max up, who was pushing Guy up and so on. Harley bailed and gybed out to get a clear lane, Rog & Jo stood off a bit – the taller rig and more power giving them more space. At the gun two short horn blasts! Individual recall – but who?

“I think that’s us Henry, we are over. Prepare to gybe, Go!” Simon & Henry spin the firefly round quick dip the line and set off, by the time Simon looks up he can see no one looks like they turned back “hmmm”” he thinks to himself. I’m sure there were boats above me…
At the first tack inshore Simon spots Guy standing ashore in his laser fixing his rudder and then a ‘donk’ from the Firefly’s rudder Simon has hit one of the unmarked submerged groynes and the rudder floats up “bugger”, no worries i have a spare ruddder pin in my bouyancy aid. Err no that was the spare. As the fleet started short tacking up the green it was Grandmaster Max leading the way crosing tacks with Rog & Jo (who also thought they might be over and turned back to dip the line), John Daniels (laser) a good start from Chris  Coe saw him exchanging tacks at the front, hails of ‘starboard’ mean the sailors are super aware of where they are so they don’t get trapped in a lane behind another boat, sometimes dipping, sometimes tacking back in to get first rights on the inshore side calling for ‘room’ for the shore to tack back out. Simon managed to thread a bit of rope through the rudder pin and the Firefly set off trying to lessen the damage from a poor start and then rudder failure, they cross tacks with Matt Langley & his sister (sorry i don’t know your name) in the laser 2000. Disapointed to find they have aalready lost 5o+ metres in the first 30 seconds, Simon & Henry start to work the Bawdsey shore, staying close to shore, quick tacking.

The advantage the laser and the firefly have at the Ferry is that they are extremely good at tacking if you know how, they get up to speed very quickly after the tack. The better you can tack in the back edddy the more gains you can make, sharp crisp tacks that the boat is back to speed quick, this is one area that has to improve when you are tacking every 10 – 15 seconds. Simon & Henry have not mastered roll tacking yet, but here is the practise, a tack every 10 or so seconds soon hets a rhythm. There is barely time to sit before the next tack is rolling in. The Simon & Henry (firefly) had also sailed the first part of the course before the start to see how close to the shore they could get (very very close) they began to gain on the lasers, no i couldn’t believe it either.

First to get to Deben buoy was grandmaster Max, followed by Rog & Jo, Chris (RS100), John (laser 7), Harley (laser 7). Simon & Henry rounded just in front of Matt & Co. (laser 2000) and Guy who had fixed his rudder in the Laser.

The course out of the channel on the flood saw everyone beating (slowly) on port tack to make the next green channel marker Mid Knoll, i think most of the fleet thought that the flood tide would help them make this on one tack (the flood tide sweeps along the coast towards London, my aide memoire is Flooding to Fetcham, Ebbing to Edinburgh). Harley and Simon & Henry were furthest North – hoping that this plan would give the best tidal relief in the channel, Max and Rog & Jo were furthest South with the fleeet spread between. Rog & Jo had to tack to make the green Mid Knoll channel marker, so did Chris Coe. Simon & Henry were gaining on Harley and John Daniels,  watching to see if Max could squeeze past Mid Knoll, if he did he would be away…

Max tacked to make Mid Knoll buoy what was going on, it’s nearly high water last of the flood and the fleeet were tacking to make Mid Knoll? had the tide turned early? After Mid Knoll Rog & Jo ttacked baack onto Port and headed up the coast towards the Dip, Chris Coe followed. By the time Simon & Henry tacked to make Mid Knoll they had squeezed in front of Harley and caught up John.  It was going to be a long beat to Haven, the wind was just enough to keep the sailors engaged although its fairly uncomfortable as you try to get weight forward and on centreline, keep the boat moving. The firefly was keeping pace with the lasers but pointing a little higher, so small gains.

It’s quite a long way to Woodbridge Have in sub 10knots of wind so the fleet slowly made their way, the two RS’s furthest South. Max, John, Simon & Henry, Harley, Matt & Co. all on the North side of the course hoping that the flood would help them to Woodbridge Haven. Rog & Jo first to get there, took a couple of extra tacks to get round Haven, so the tide was still flooding, set their kite for the run home, Chris next with a quick hoist. Then Max followed by Simon & Henry who had tacked onto John’s layline forcing him to sail a little deeper to clear his wind (sorry John – your layline looked spot on!), John rounded close behind.

By now the tide was just begining to go slack, and the wind was beginnning to fade a little too. How to keep a 10 year old engaged when the wind is dieing and the line seems to be hours away? Gybe, gybe back, gybe, bail, gybe, goosewing, all of these Simon & Henry did and it seemed to work they actually gained a little on Max and pulled away a little from John. Just as they were approaching West Knoll the wind died a bit more, not good, you could almost hear the groans of the sailors still trying to get to West Knoll. Max seemed to keep the breeze a bit longer, Simon could see the breeze filling, we’ve just got to keep the boat moving.

The wind started to fill and the Firefly was the first to pick it up, gaining on Max as he got to West Knoll, pulling away from John. Rog & Jo were a long way upriver gybing  to the finish, followed by Chris, although Chris seemed to be struggling with the gybe angles in the river a little. By the time Max had made Deben buoy Roger & Jo were just taking the gun, Simon & Henry were trying to cover Max to see if they could actually overtake the Grandmaster, but as they entered the river the laser pulled away downwind and John in the laser behind started to catch up.

“i think we are going to be third” says a relaxed Henry sponging out the firefly (again)

“i’m not sure, John is closing fast and the line looks a little to far away”

Sure enough the filling breeze gave John just enough speed to pip Simon & Henry on the line (2 seconds).

Line Honours: 1st Rog & Jo (RS400), 2nd Chris Coe (RS100), 3rd John Daniels (Laser 7)

Discussing this race with Henry, I thought this was our best race so far this year we negated our early start, sailed the boat as well as we could, we actually caught up / overtook lasers. We didn’t seem to lose out too much downwind, our tacking is getting much neater. Henry obviously disagreed and stated that the Methersgate Race was clearly the best race of the season, well he would say that wouldn’t he, that was all speed, power and grunt like an american muscle car all show and no corners. Summer 1 was more like a classic E-Type, so we agreed that tonights race was the best race we’ve had in the Firefly. Society might tell you that kids aren’t competitive, that they don’t like racing, schools might promote ‘non-competitive’ sports days. Sport it isn’t about winning. It’s about having fun, making a team, making friends, it’s about learning skills (and forgetting them occasionally!), it’s about losing, it’s about teamwork, it’s about so much more than just a boat, even in sub 10 knots we had fun, we’d forgotten the biscuits, drink but it didn’t matter, we didn’t know how we’d done, Roger & Jo were a long way in front. We thought we had beaten the lasers, but the RS’s? we’d have to wait to find out.  Jane (Crow’s nest / results) came over to tell Henry he’d won on handicap this is what he did:

All i know is that you tell a 10 year old he’s won and he’ll fist pump🤣 best race (in a firefly) so far…