Peter's Comet Shoots Into Top Spot

Gunfleet Sailing Club held its race for the Bill Clarke Shield last Sunday 11 September with Peter Downer achieving a very convincing win in his Comet dinghy.
An hour before the start the almost non-existent offshore wind gave every indication that a race could not possibly be held, but as boats were optimistically rigged a gentle onshore breeze developed and, following a quarter of an hour postponement, the fleet got underway.  On a full start line it was Shona Goodchild that lead the pack, in her Laser, on a reach to the St. Michael’s buoy, with Eddie White in his Topaz just behind.  The angle of the wind was just right for the Hobie 405’s to fly their asymmetric spinnakers, providing a colourful sight.  As the dinghies headed round the mark to reach back to the Eastcliff buoy it was Robert Gutteridge in front, in his Laser, whilst Peter Downer was snapping at his heels in his Comet.  The third leg was a beat out to the Seaward mark and many tacked straight away and headed out to sea to gain the maximum effect of the ebbing tide, whilst others just hardened-up and pointed as high as they could, tacking far later, so trying to gain clean wind.  In the slow handicap fleet Barry Peters and Lesley Sacre, in the Mirror, were having a friendly battle with Ted Newson in his Topper.
Tactics definitely paid-off and, as they rounded the Seaward mark for the run in to the AWS buoy, Downer was in the leading boat, ahead of four Lasers and an assortment of other faster-handicapped craft.  Dave Fowell and Jeremy Goodchild flew their spinnaker in their GP14, on the downwind leg and were in amongst the Lasers.  At this point Andy Dunnett decided that a light force two wind was just too frustrating and retired in his Laser.  The beat back out to sea saw some interesting tactics being tried and for Conor and Finlay Williams, in their 405, this didn’t pay off; Beth Elliott and Daisy Swinbourne taking their 405 into quite a sizable lead.  With an hour having elapsed since the start, and nobody yet completing their first lap the competitors were relieved to see the shorten course flag flying.  As the craft began to finish the Williams brothers just slipped ahead of the girls in their 405, whilst Derroll Pedder just missed out on the top three positions in his Solution.
The stars of the race, though, were father and daughter Steve and Poppy Swinbourne in their Topaz, as this was Poppy’s very first sail and she clearly loved every minute of it.
Results – Bill Clarke Shield:
1. Comet – Peter Downer
2. Laser – Robert Gutteridge
3. GP14 – Dave Fowell and Jeremy Goodchild
Course Board
Date 11 September 2016
Race Bill Clarke Shield
Start Time 11:15
Wind Strength (Beaufort) Force 2, touching 3 at times
Wind Direction South-East
High Tide 06:46
Course St. M - E - S - AWS - S - K - Line