Downer Takes Top Spot

Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Peter Downer had mixed fortunes last Sunday 4 October but came out as a winner in the end.
In the morning the Club held the second race in its Autumn Series and blue skies with unbroken sunshine, along with a flat sea, gave all the appearance of a summer’s day.  Unfortunately the very light offshore airs destroyed any chance of a lively sail but the freshly flooding tide resulted in Steve Swinbourne, and Beth Elliott and Daisy Swinbourne, finding themselves on the wrong side of the start line in their Topazes but an individual recall flag soon had them correcting this error.  It was then a reach down the coast to the first buoy with Robert Gutteridge out in front in his Solution, but it wasn’t long though before John Tappenden slid past him in his Blaze, leading the fleet on the broad reach out to the seaward mark.  By now the wind was beginning to back to a westerly and what should have been a beat into the AWS buoy became a close haul.  Sailing a perfect course, and almost up with the faster handicapped craft, was Peter Downer in his Comet and he doggedly hung-on-in, actually overtaking Gutteridge and pulling away from him.  Many of the other slow handicapped boats were similarly sailing extremely well to their yardstick and continued to adjust their techniques as the wind backed still further and started to freshen.  At the end of the first lap Downer had a strong lead, followed by Harry Swinbourne in his Topper and as the slow handicapped dinghies returned to the beach so the faster handicapped boats went on to complete their second lap.  With this the wind continued to freshen and it was soon evident that the increase in speed would certainly put paid to Downer’s once certain victory.  In the end the much improved sailing conditions pushed him down to third place and gave top spot to John Tappenden.
Results – Autumn Series - 2:
1. Blaze – John Tappenden
2. Solution – Robert Gutteridge
3. Comet – Peter Downer
The good news was the wind continued to blow a steady force three for the start of the afternoon’s race for the Jubilee Cup and with this race also being the final in the Cadet’s Spirit of the Wind series it was not surprising to see eleven Cadets taking part amongst the more senior members.  The wind had settled from the south and meant the competitors were quick to tack out to sea as they headed for the windward mark, so getting that extra lift from the flood tide.  The faster handicapped boats found the conditions just to their liking and Ken Potts, in his RS 600, pulled away right from the start.  Further back Rob Lockett, in his Laser, was having an exciting battle with Ross and Caleb Aylen in their Hobie 405, and once that latter boat got on a broad reach the asymmetric spinnaker was hoisted and they were away.  Meanwhile, in the slow handicap fleet, the Topazes were having their own race with Beth Elliott and Daisy Swinbourne holding off Tom and Ed Philpott, and also Shona Goodchild and Jude Aylen.  As the single lappers finished their race the elements started to reverse what had happened in the morning and the wind began to fall away.  This, coupled with the strengthening tide resulted in a much slower second lap and Downer, who had seen his possible morning win slip away, now watched with a large smile on his face as his nearest rivals dropped back; the elements assisting him to pick up a well deserved first place.
Results – Jubilee Cup:
1. Comet – Peter Downer
2. Blaze – John Tappenden
3. RS 600 – Ken Potts
Spirit of the Wind Series Overall:
1. Solution – Robert Gutteridge
2. Topaz – Tom and Ed Philpot
3. Topper – Harry Swinbourne