Exciting Sailing At Splash

It was the turn of the Gunfleet Sailing Club’s younger members when the race for the Gunfleet Splash took place last Saturday 7 September, being only open to those under 18 years of age.

Whilst sunshine and blue skies set a picturesque scene to the non-sailor, there was a strong offshore wind, variable in direction, making sailing conditions tricky at the best of times.  However, this didn’t deter the competitors and it was good to see such close bunching at the line as the seconds ticked away.  At the start of the race Harrison Smith got his timing just right and immediately took the lead in his Topper, only to catch a sudden gust and capsize within a few seconds.  This gave Alfie Searles the chance to take the lead in his Topper, whilst Harrison Smith’s younger brother George was powering his way through the fleet, also in a Topper.  Determined not to let the Topper class have total dominance, Owen Hooper and Francesca Cottee drove their Topaz hard to take the lead position.  The first leg took the dinghies down the coast, on a reach, to the Eastcliff buoy, and then it was a run out to a temporary mark, but with the wind swinging in direction by several degrees, it was of little surprise that further capsizes took place; the Club’s Rescue Boat being close by should assistance be needed. 

The third leg was a reach back up the coast to the AWS buoy before a gruelling beat back to the line.  It was this last leg that many found the hardest, with a strong flood tide and constant wind shifts, every sailor had to be alert and quick to take action.  Various tactics were taken, some meeting with more success than others.  It was also at this point that the wind strength increased to a force six and the crews had to muster every ounce of strength to hold their craft upright.  Lauren Hooper found conditions just too tricky in her Topper and got pushed out to sea where the waves were extremely large, capsizing a number of times on the way.  For the onlookers it was never certain who would take the winning gun but, in the end, it was a solid victory for Harrison Smith.

Results:  Gunfleet Splash Overall:
1.    Topper – Harrison Smith
2.    Topper – Alfie Searles
3.    Topaz – Owen Hooper and Francesca Cottee

First Topper:  Harrison Smith

First Topaz:  Owen Hooper and Francesca Cottee