Gunfleet Salutes Jono Dunnett

Last Saturday afternoon, 12 September, members of the Gunfleet Sailing Club, past and present, cheered Jono Dunnett across the finish line of Clacton Pier as he concluded his lone circumnavigation of Britain on his windsurfer, after three months achieving this life-time ambition.  A reception was held that evening at the Clubhouse for Jono, who learnt to sail at Gunfleet and was a member of the Club from his birth until he went abroad to run a sailing school in his twenties.  His feat goes on record as the first time a lone windsurfer has achieved this without the assistance of any support craft.  Jono built the Club's website and helped run the 2014 Cadet Week.  Unfortunately he was unable to assist in 2015 at Cadet Week as he had just rounded Scotland and was heading down the north-east coast at some alarming speeds; his sights firmly fixed on successfully completing the challenge.
On Sunday morning the sea was like a sheet of glass, and not a breath of air, as members of Gunfleet Sailing Club arrived to rig their boats in order to compete in the race for the Tee Dee Challenge Cup.  As the minutes ticked by so a gentle breeze appeared, from the east, and the boats slowly made their way to the start line.  A strong flooding tide meant the first leg, up the coast to the windward mark, was a reasonably slow and somewhat tortuous affair with many competitors tacking to the buoy, only to find themselves being pulled away from it as they drew near.  The next leg, out to the seaward buoy, provided similar frustrations with the tide getting stronger and the light breeze turning even lighter.  Daisy and Harry Swinbourne were the first to retire in their Topaz, followed a little later by Ken Potts in his RS 600; others persevered.  There then followed a reach into the AWS buoy and a beat back out to sea, followed by a run down the coast and a fetch back to the line.  Throughout the race Peter Downer showed his prowess in his Comet by stealthily combating the effect of the tide, whilst in the Solution class Sonny Hart lead the way but was unable to make an indent into the top three positions.  In the slow handicap fleet Richard Walker remained ahead in his Sea Ranger, followed by Tom Philpot and Beth Elliott in their Topaz; Walker only just being beaten over the water by Robert Gutteridge in his Solution after almost one and half hours at sea.  All competitors were very pleased to see the shorten course flag flying as a single lap had proved quite gruelling enough.
Results – Tee Dee Challenge Cup:
1. Blaze – John Tappenden
2. Laser – Paul Stanton
3. RS 400 – Paul and Katie Davis
In the afternoon it was the race exclusively for the fast and medium handicapped boats, the winner receiving the London Trophy.  By this time the wind had freshened very slightly, the tide had turned, and the rain was now falling; not a particularly ideal combination.  In a reaching start the boats now stemmed the freshly ebbing tide but made reasonably short work of the first leg; a surprisingly close bunch as they all tried to navigate around the buoy.  As the fleet headed out to sea so the expected gaps began to appear, the boats settling down into their handicap order, but once around the mark and heading into the AWS buoy nearly all the dinghies allowed themselves to be dragged up the coast by the tide.  Paul Stanton, however, held a true course in his Laser and as a result was the first person to round the mark, putting him a very strong position.  As the boats headed up the coast and then back through the line it was obvious Stanton was unstoppable.  The second lap saw some good tactics by all, but to little avail, and Stanton romped home to a very solid win.  
Results – London Trophy:
1. Laser – Paul Stanton
2. Blaze – John Tappenden
3. Solution – Robert Gutteridge