Sailing: Rushworth triumphs in Silver Firefly

REVERED coach Andy Rushworth was the fitting winner as Christchurch Sailing Club’s Silver Firefly was contested for the first time in 27 years.

Sailing a borrowed Solo, Rushworth, affectionately known as Rover, had been seen out training on the course for several days in advance and clearly had taken the event seriously.

For the first time in recent memory, the club adopted a pursuit race format with the Avon Scow setting off first followed by a stream of Toppers, Splash, Lasers, Solo, Vision and Finns.

Early race-leader Stuart Percival made good use of the early fresh breeze in his Scow and held a good margin over the chasing fleet well into the race. Jack Acton (Topper) gave chase.

Starting last, the Finns of Simon Percival and Jack Arnell made short work of reigning in the Lasers of Mike Greenland, Richard Beasley, Glen Tizzard and Gary Mehson to emerge as the early favourites.

Starting just ahead of the Lasers, the RS Vision of Jim Lawrence and Jon Arnell made a good start but when their mainsail halyard snapped they were forced to retire.

Ela Miller (Splash) managed to overhaul the Topper of Jacqui Tizzard and moved into pole position as the leading lady helm.

Despite her best efforts, however, she was unable to resist the challenge of the Solo, Lasers and Finns in the final stages as the breeze died away.

Meanwhile, Rushworth set about chasing down the slower boats and by mid-race had emerged as the main threat to Stuart Percival.

With 20 minutes to go, Stuart Percival still held a sizeable lead as Rushworth moved past Acton’s Topper into second place as Arnell and Simon Percival steadily closed in.

But with less than six minutes remaining, Rushworth finally drew level and after a short luffing match was able to dive to leeward and take the lead before the two Finns took second and third on the final beat.

At the prize-giving, Rushworth thanked the race team who braved the wet weather and congratulated the hardy sailors who defied the forecast to make the race a huge success.

The Silver Firefly remains under lock and key in the trophy cabinet but a new winner for 2014 will be engraved to join her prestigious list of former champions.

Winners – First grand master: Andy Rushworth (Solo). First junior: Jack Arnell (Finn). First legend: Stuart Percival (Scow). First lady: Ela Miller (Splash).


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