Gunfleet Splash A Big Hit With Everyone

The Gunfleet’s Cadet Splash proved a real hit with everyone when it arrived at the Club on Tuesday 29 August.  Toppers, Topazes and a Pico were all rigged first thing, under blue skies, sunshine and a fresh westerly breeze, before a warm welcome and first day briefing from our Cadet Officer Jo.  The morning meant everyone on the water, with the first race of the Splash Series.  The course was set and the dinghies were soon buzzing round the start line waiting for the signal to get underway.  All too soon they were off and the fleet headed, close hauled, down the coast, fighting the freshly ebbing spring tide, to the Eastcliff buoy.  At first it looked like Adam and Finley would dominate in their Toppers but it wasn’t long before Maddy and Charlie had taken their Pico into the lead and began pulling away, having passed Izzie and Brooke in the Topaz..  It was then a reach out to the Lilley Farm mark before gybing and taking a long broad reach up to the Preston Park buoy.  By this time Adam had nudged ahead of Finley whilst Belle was a little behind in her Topper, followed by Laura in her Topper.  The fourth leg was a fetch in to the Kingscliff buoy before a beat back to the line, and it was this leg that started to really show the strength of the tide.  After two laps it was Adam that took the winning gun, with Maddy and Charlie a close second, and Finley third.  Meanwhile Annabelle, Sam, and Morgan took it in turns to get one to one tuition from long-term sailor John in the Club Topaz as they focused on their next RYA level; Bella, Poppy and Oakley, all new to sailing, being taken out on the high seas by Simon in his GP14.  

Fourteen hungry sailors sat down to lunch - sausages, mash, peas or baked-beans, followed by fruit, before taking part in the afternoon games.  First was the “All Aboard Race” when Team Captains Adam and Maddy set off in Topazes to round an offshore mark before returning to pick-up their second Team member.  Round the mark once more and then back to the shore for the third Team member....and so on, and so forth.  By the time the seventh Team member was aboard the boats were struggling to stem the tide and oh so slowly did they get round the course.  The cake break followed which saw the delicious variety of home-made goodies rapidly consumed by the ravenous youngsters.

Then it was onto “Balls-Up” with the Club’s safety boat depositing vast numbers of multi-coloured balls out at sea, as well as several closer to the shore.  Team members were split between Toppers, Topazes, and swimmers, gathering as many balls as possible before returning to the shore and a mass count-up.  Amongst all the fun the serious bit of ball collection took part and literally hundreds of balls were returned home.  

All too soon it was time to pack the boats away, get changed, and meet-up in the Clubhouse to hear the scores, and it was Team 1, skippered by Adam, that had taken the top spot; time to return home ready for Day 2.

The 30 august saw a fresher offshore wind and conditions certainly proved livelier for the second Splash race.  After Jo had briefed everyone, and the course checked, the same as the previous day but now with three laps, the competitors were soon buzzing up and down the line.  As the start gun echoed across the water it was Belle that had a cracking start in her Topper, leading the fleet to the Eastcliff buoy, until disaster struck as she capsized; by the time she had righted herself the rest of the fleet had passed her, Adam leading, followed by Laura and then Finley.  Slightly further back were Maddy and Charlie  in their Pico but they closed the gap as the fleet headed out to the Lilley Farm mark and then reached up the coast to the Preston Park buoy.  After beating in to the Kingscliff buoy and then heading back to the line it was Adam that was leading, Maddy and Charlie were level-pegging with Finley in second place, and Belle had overtaken Laura.  The second lap saw Maddy and Charlie slip in front of Adam, with the gap opening further on the third lap, but on handicap it was Adam that took first place, Finley second, and Maddy and Charlie third.  

Just time, before lunch, for the “Treasure Hunt” when both teams searched for gold tops in the sand, with literally hundreds being found by each side.  The lunch of pasta in sauce, with cheese and garlic bread, plus fruit for afters, was hastily devoured and it was on with the afternoon fun.  The “Triathlon” was hotly contested with swimming, sailing, and running involving all members of the Teams, and following straight on was the “Multi-Leg” race.  The first Team member ran to the next Team member to then have a leg joined to their colleagues leg, only to run back and have a third member’s leg joined-up...and so on until all seven team mates were leg-tied in a long row, proving running to be almost impossible.  Chaos ensued as various alternative methods were tried but everyone eventually made it home.  Next was the “Wellie Throwing” and several interesting techniques were used with varying success.  After a hasty Cake Break it was on to the “Watery Wordsearch” when two Topazes headed out to sea to pick-up canisters with letters on them.  After a bit of sailing, and a lt of swimming, each Team came back with ten canisters, and unravelling the letters discovered the word to be ‘Playground’.  All of a sudden it was the end of the day and the results were announced – a draw between Team 1 and Team 2.

Light airs greeted the Teams on Thursday morning, 31 August, but it wasn’t long before the boats were rigged and very slowly making their way to the start line.  Leading the pack, once again, were Adam and Finley in their Toppers, and places changed throughout the race as they battled it out, whilst Maddy and Charlie edged their Pico forward.  A little further back from the leading Toppers were Belle and Isabelle, also in Toppers, and some fine sailing by Izzie saw her take third place behind Finley, whilst Adam managed to pull away towards the end to take a comfortable victory; Adam winning the series overall.  Meanwhile Sam, Morgan and Annabelle continued gaining one to one tuition with John and really sharpened their skills.  Those new to the sport of sailing had their third taste of being on the high seas, getting a chance to helm, in Simon’s GP14.

Before lunch, and in order to build-up a healthy appetite, both Teams came off the water and had a game of “Egg Throwing”.  Catching the egg seemed easy, except for two “stooges” that stood between the Teams, and the fact that after every throw the gap between the Teams got wider.  Following a good swim, in order to remove any trace of the game, it was into lunch consisting of jumbo jacket potatoes with a choice of filling, followed by doughnuts and ice creams.  The “Water Balloon Race” was next with each Team taking a Topaz out to the moored Rescue Boat in order to pick up a token which, when brought ashore, released other Team members to run along to Lilley Farm Bay clutching several water filled balloons whilst the Topazes headed there to meet them.  The mass of balloons were then sailed back and points were awarded for the first home and the most balloons returned.  Unsurprisingly, once the game was over the Teams engaged in a lively water balloon fight!  It was then back on the water, with a Topaz and two Toppers per Team, to play “Numbers-Up”.  The Rescue Boat despatched plastic bottles with various number values inside and the Team members had to gather as many as they could and return to shore with them in order for these values to be counted.  Team members were both on the water and in the water as they desperately collected as many bottles as they could.  Once the game was finished there was just time for a Cake Break before everyone had a go at “Kissing the Bow” – sliding carefully down the gunwale of a Topaz (on its side) in order to plant a kiss on the bow of the boat before it dipped too far under the water.  With everyone thoroughly soaked it was back up the beach for the final game - “Tug of War”.

The boats were then all packed away, everyone got changed, and back in the Clubhouse Cadet Officer Jo announced the results.  Winning the 2023 Cadet Splash was Team 1 – Adam (Team Captain),Isabelle, Finley, Brooke, Oakley, Annabelle, and Bella.  In second place was Team 2 – Maddy (Team Captain), Charlie, Laura, Sam, Belle, Morgan, and Poppy.  Thanks were recorded for everyone that helped and Finley presented Jo (his mum) with a bouquet of flowers as a small token of appreciation for such a great time had by all.