Chipstead Sailing Club

60th Walter Smith Cup Firefly Open at Chipstead Sailing Club

by National Firefly Association 25 Sep 10:56 BST 22 September 2019

Fireflies at Chipstead - photo © Jennie Chapman

Sunday dawned remarkably beautiful compared to the forecast for the eighteen Fireflies who had made the trip to Chipstead SC for the 60th running of the Walter Smith Cup Firefly open.

The Fireflies were joined by eleven Enterprises and a whole shower of Comets making for a fairly packed piece of water.

The amazing Firefly fleet included four previous National Champions including this year's Champ, a glut of past CSC open winners from the whole history of the event, a handful of 20-somethings and loads of eager youngsters crewing (and helming) for their parents at their first open meeting.

The briefing proved to be very necessary with a fairly complex course being set, taking in the whole of the lake including a hitch back across in front of the club. Knowledge of the six buoys in play was likely to be helpful. Thankfully the Firefly fleet would be starting second with the Enterprises providing pathfinders to lead the navigation of the tour of the lake.

The first race got underway bang on time at 11:00. Nigel Wakefield and daughter Pippa in F3674 ‘Flo’ made early gains but were unable to cross Jono Pank and Lucy Smith in F1956 ‘Pogie’ and Andy and Jenn Cornah in F888 ‘Desperado’ who had taken an early hitch to the right of the beat. A nice zephyr propelled Pogie into a first mark lead alongside the Wakefields.

With no such thing as a safe lead at Chipstead, it was always open but the front two maintained the lead through the first lap, to be joined and then overtaken by current national champion Stuart “the Hud” Hudson and daughter Elizabeth in F3850 ‘Fursty Ferret’ at the start of the second lap. The three boats all changed places as the shifts, holes, snakes and ladders took affect each leading at some stage, but not for long!

At the final mark, the Hudsons lead from the Cornahs with Pank and Smith in third. In one final twist on the beat to the finish, the Hudsons found a hole whilst Pank and Smith and the Cornah's managed to escape into bits of pressure to sniggle past on either side, putting the original first lap order back in place! Pank and Smith first, The Cornahs second and the Hudsons third.

Fireflies at Chipstead - photo © Jennie Chapman

A one lap scramble for Race two got underway following a quick tea break waiting for the Comets to finish and England to get to half time in the rugby. Taking the initiative to stamp his authority back on the fleet at his home club and own the right hand side of the beat, defending champion Dom Johnson and daughter Sophie in F4234 ‘Vader’ took control of the committee boat end and shut out both Pank and Smith and the Cornahs with 20 seconds to go forcing both boats to tack out and gybe round.

Unfortunately for the Johnsons, they had pulled the trigger a fraction early and two hoots signalled them OCS. Whilst a quick tack and duck would usually have prevailed, the Johnsons were then faced with both Pank and Smith and the Cornahs coming round the committee boat on starboard, leaving them no option but to sit and wait with sails flapping whilst the two previously kippered boats sailed past muttering “justice” before they could quickly duck the line to restart.

Fireflies at Chipstead - photo © Jennie Chapman<a name="_GoBack"></a>

The faith in the right was well placed though as by the windward mark, all three teams were in the top five along with the Hudsons and Jamie and Ben McEwen in F3615 ‘Skirmish’. Nigel and Pippa Wakefield, Alex and Stella Davey in F2649 ‘Mustard’ and Ben Green and Fi Edwards in F1522 ‘Pandemonic’ quickly closed up downwind on new pressure from behind leaving eight boats lined up across the lake within seven lengths, all hoping for the next puff.

The leeward boats picked up the new breeze first, Pank and Smith and The Cornahs sneaking out a bit with The Hudsons slotting in behind as they approached the leeward mark at the far end of the lake. In an unusual turn of events for Chipstead, a solid band of wind then filled in, straight down the lake, across the course, which shut down all of the ladders and some crews were even seen sitting on the side. A slightly processional phase then followed as everyone seemed stunned by the consistency and strength of the breeze through what had now become a series of fetches to the finish. At the line, Pank and Smith took the race, followed by the Cornahs and then the Hudsons.

The fleet then retired to the club for an awesome lunch courtesy of Chipstead’s caterers and a catch-up of all the goings-on in the break since last month’s epic Nationals at Lyme Regis. After lunch the course was adjusted and the start line was set at the bottom end of the lake, giving the full length as the first beat.

The wind had picked up a little for race three and big gust just before the five minutes put a few of the Comets in the bushes. This caused a bit of a distraction for a few of the (grown-up!) crews which may have contributed to a slightly more chaotic pin end.

Off the line, local hero Neil Banks shot out of the line and held most of the fleet on starboard while Pank and Smith had tacked out early onto port, heading right. The breeze on the left then started to fade and the fleet found themselves seeking a way back to the more consistently funded right.

At the top mark, Pank and Smith had clung onto their early advantage with the McEwens close behind. The usual concertina occurred on the long run down the lake but Pank and Smith held on with the McEwens in hot pursuit and a tightly bunched pack of Daveys, Johnsons, Hudsons and Wakefields. The Johnsons made their march on the second beat to move into second, with the McEwens holding off the Daveys for third. Pank and Smith’s third win completed their picket post score line to take the event with a race to spare. They opted for the early tea and left the rest of the fleet to battle it out in the last.

Race Four was sailed on the same course, utilising the full length of the lake. Out the line, the Hudsons and the Daveys took the early tack onto port, to the right, with the Wakefields and McEwens leading the charge from the group up the middle that had stayed on starboard for a bit longer after the start. The beat saw a nip n tuck series of crosses and ducks, with the four teams all battling for the lead. At the first windward mark, the Wakefields had eased out a tidy lead over the Hudsons. At any other venue this would have been safe, but Chipstead has its own rules and the Hudsons soon overturned it. The Cornahs also threatened the Wakefields but weren’t quite able to close them out.

The final tally of results saw the Hudsons taking second from the Cornahs on countback and the next four teams separated by three points. The Johnsons edging the Wakefield collective for fourth and the McEwens edging Alex and Stella Davey for sixth.

Fireflies at Chipstead - photo © Jennie Chapman

Just behind the front runners, there was a real battle between junior helms Robbie “SonofHud” Hudson and Izzy Johnson who were both crewed by their mums. There were several place changes between the two in each race, with Robbie coming out ahead in the first and third races and Izzy in the second and fourth.

They both handled their boats well in variable and very shifty conditions and there was even a few points where they managed to sneak ahead of their dads (watch out Stu and Dom).

Overall Robbie was the winner of first junior Helm with Izzy one point behind but holding off Claire Shea and Rachel Crebbin in F1809 ‘Flamingo’ to win First Lady Helm.

Prizes were awarded for the junior crews, with Elizabeth Hudson taking the victory from Sophia Johnson, followed by the tag team of Pippa and Camilla Wakefield narrowly edging Ben McEwen for third.

Fireflies at Chipstead - Junior prize winners - photo © Sally Wakefield

The fully laden cake table was a welcome sight for all involved, with the younger crews certainly munching their way through their quota!

A truly awesome day was had by all even if some on-edge parents left wondering if they might see the sweets and cake making a return on the way home!



Sail No. Helm Crew Club Points Place
1954 Jono Pank Lucy Smith Imperial Poona 3 1
3850 Stuart Hudson Elizabeth Hudson Spinnaker 7 2
888 Andy Cornah Jenn Cornah West Kirby 7 3
32 Dom Johnson Sophia Johnson Chipstead 11 4
3674 Nigel Wakefield Pippa Wakefield Spinnaker 12 5
3615 Jamie McEwen Ben McEwen Papercourt 13 6
2649 Alex Davey Stella Davey Royal Harwich 14 7
1522 Ben Green Fi Edwards Lymington Town 24 8
2166 Neil Banks Maria Lamb Chipstead 25 9
3772 Rob Ellis Sarah Harwood Chipstead 34 10
24 Robbie Hudson Jane Hudson Spinnaker 34 11
22 Izzy Johnson Jenny Johnson Chipstead 35 12
3040 Alastair Vines Lucy Simmons Redditch 36 13
1809 Claire Shea Rachel Crebbin Chipstead 37 14
2095 Peter Lanham Wendy Seaton Chipstead 38 15
2560 Alex Ogilvie Loni Mayhew Netley 41 16
2816 David Sherwan Alice Sherwan Chipstead 51 17
1st Lady Izzy Johnson  22 Chipstead 
1st Junior Helm Robbie Hudson  24 Spinnaker<table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="7">
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1st Junior Crew Elizabeth Hudson  3850 Spinnaker
2nd Junior Crew Sophia Johnson  32 Chipstead
3rd Junior Crew(s) Pippa and Camilla Wakefield  3674 Spinnaker
4th Junior Crew Ben McEwan  3615 Papercourt