Perfect Conditions For Penultimate Race

Members of Gunfleet Sailing Club that arrived for the sixth and penultimate race of the Winter Series last Sunday 30 November were greeted by a lack of wind, grey murky conditions and a sea mist that reduced visibility to an unacceptable level.  Undeterred by this the competitors prepared their boats and as they did so the mist lifted, the sun broke through, and a force three offshore wind kicked in, making almost perfect conditions.
On the last of the ebb tide the boats gathered in force on the line, some helms having to stall their craft to avoid being the wrong side.  As the start flag fell from the yardarm Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens had the asymmetric spinnaker up on their RS 400 and took off, followed by Conor and Finlay Williams in the Hobie 405, their kite pulling nicely.  Not quite so quick off the mark in hoisting all the canvas was Paul Davis and Beth Ford in their RS 400.  Robert Gutteridge also had a magnificent start in the Solution and had it going a dream on the first leg.  Once round the Kingscliff buoy it was another reach out to the Seaward mark, and leading the Laser fleet was David Evans, with Andy Dunnett and John Tappenden chasing hard after him.  The Williams brothers then proceeded to pick-off the Lasers one at a time, only to blow it when they reached the turning buoy and found the kite had got jammed; boat after boat passing them as they fought to get it down.  The beat down to AWS saw little change in the order although by now Dunnett had taken the lead in the Lasers.  A run then took the competitors back out to Seaward before a fetch down the coast to a second offshore buoy, and finally a close haul back through the line.  At the end of the first lap Ken Potts had carved out a lead in his RS 600, followed by Davis and Ford’s RS 400, and then Dunnett in his Laser.  But disaster struck the RS 400 when, on hoisting the kite it too got jammed forcing Ford to have to climb on the foredeck to try and resolve the problem.  This caused the boat to unexpectedly go about resulting in Ford falling in the water; the rival RS 400 cutting past and pulling away all the time.  Meanwhile in the slow handicap fleet it was Tom Philpot and Beth Elliott in the Topaz that quietly lead the way.  Justice was done in the third lap, amongst the RS 400’s, when Clarke and Cossens got their spinnaker jammed, allowing Davis and Ford to catch-up.  As the two boats headed home on the very last leg they were once again neck and neck but it was Davis and Ford that slipped ahead and took the finish gun just two seconds in front of their rival; neither making an impression on the top three places.
Winter Series - 6
1. RS 600 – Ken Potts
2. Laser – Andy Dunnett 
3. Laser – John Tappenden