MIT Gouge Files from Stephen Duncan: Firefly

Key Takeaways and Points

  • Crews drive the boat with their weight
  • The rudders are tiny, the centerboards deep, so if they boat is not flat, the skipper cannot steer
    • The boat powers up very easily, so weight on the rail early is crucial
  • Tension is very loose, more so upwind than wing-on
  • Tacks scoop water unless done in a particular way
  • Mains are much larger than jibs, play the main, not so much the jib.



  • The jib halyard is rigged to an adjustable system that is fed back to the skipper
  • Tension in general should be slack, pull it on a little more for wing-on in not-heavy breeze, but must ease it to correct place before going back upwind
    • Leeward shroud should be dangling loose when sailing close-hauled
  • The normal, nominal Sta-Master setting on the shrouds is 4.5
  • Pull the main up all the way before you rig the outhaul, otherwise the main will not go all the way up
  • Make sure both plugs are in (one in cockpit, one on transom)
  • The standard jib block setting is 7.5 holes showing from the back. Make sure the block is in a hole, and not static in a screw hole
  • The vang is fed back towards the skipper
  • Mainsheet is 1 to 1, rigged with a transom bridle



  • Tacks
    • The gunwales are lower by the mainsheet block, so typical tacks scoop lots of water → Crews should roll more than skippers, and skippers try to roll as far forward as possible. Try to see how hard you can roll w/o scooping
    • Because of the deep centerboard and large main, both skipper and crew flatten hard, and skipper ease main a lot throughout the tack.
    • In heavy air, fireflies are pretty slow to tack, just as a tactical thought
    • Narrow boats, so can be quick to cross
    • Crews watch out for the tiller extension, it’s really long and often is where your head is
  • Gybes
    • Pretty standard
    • Flick the mainsheet in so that the slack at stern does not hook on rudder (think Lasers)
  • Transitions from wing to reach
    • Ease tension before going up to reach
  • Leeward mark roundings
    • Need weight up on the rail early if any sort of breeze because the boat powers up so quickly


  • The jib is relatively static
  • The mains are so big in comparison, play it all the time
  • Ease main first to keep flat


  • Wing-on: the boats can get very unstable in heavy wind, weight back
  • Pull on some jib tension

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