Lasers Dominate The Autumn Series' First Race

The strong wind warning forecast for the east coast did not deter ten boats taking part in Gunfleet Sailing Club’s first race in its Autumn Series last Sunday 10 September; John Tappenden gaining victory.

As the crews rigged their dinghies so the wind started to freshen, and what started off as the lower end of a force 4 had soon reached force 5.  The competitors sized-up the line but three boats were clearly the wrong side at the start and within seconds the Individual Recall flag was flying stiffly from the yardarm.  Harry Swinbourne quickly corrected the error in his Laser but Tom Philpot and Cath Bicknell, sailing a Laser and Comet respectively, headed to the shore.  The first leg was a beat down the coast, in the face of a south-westerly wind, to the St. Michael’s buoy.  The single-handed sailors stuck close to the shore as they tacked between the fishtail groynes, whilst Jack and Elliot Berry took their Fireball out to sea and made the most of the flood tide.  This tactic resulted in a clear lead as the brothers rounded the windward mark, immediately hoisting the spinnaker on the run back to the Eastcliff buoy.  By this time Eddie White had found the conditions a bit too lively and retired.  Behind the Fireball, but leading the Laser fleet, was John Tappenden who really got some speed up on the third leg, a reach out to the Seaward buoy.  Successfully gybing round the offshore mark, it looked like the Berry brothers were unstoppable but disappointingly they took the AWS mark to starboard instead of port and were disqualified.  By now the wind had strengthened still further and was into a force 6, resulting in some large seas adding to the fun.  Robert Gutteridge had maintained his second place in the Laser class but was finding Andy Dunnett continuously closing the gap.  After a very broad reach from Seaward to the Kingscliff the final leg of the course had the competitors beating, with the tide, back to the line.  As they finished the first lap Dunnett had managed to gain a one second lead on Gutteridge, whilst Swinbourne was trailing behind Yvonne Gough in her Laser.  A lot of hard work during the second lap, when winds reached 31 mph, saw some changes but maintaining a Laser domination. 

Results: Autumn Series - 1:
1.    Laser – John Tappenden
2.    Laser – Andy Dunnett
3.    Laser – Harry Swinbourne

Course Board
Date 10 September 2017
Race Autumn Series 1
Start Time 11:00
Wind Strength (Beaufort) Force 5 gusting 6
Wind Direction South Westerly
High Tide 15:07
Course St. M - E - S - AWS - S - K - Line