Squall Hits The Racers

Gunfleet Sailing Club kicked-off its Winter Series on Sunday 23 October in very mixed condition, ending in a vicious squall and victory for Ken Potts.

A couple of hours before the scheduled race the wind was hitting 30 mph and it was doubtful if anybody would get out on the water, but as the clock ticked by so the wind moderated until, at times, it was as low as 7 mph.  Helms hastily rigged their boats and the fleet was soon out at sea ready for the start.  Cadet Adam Kedge nudged his Topper up to the line, checking himself all the time to ensure he didn’t arrive too early, and as the start got underway it was John Tappenden that lead the competitors in his RS Aero.  With a south-easterly onshore breeze, he had positioned himself near the Outer Distance Mark, and less than a boat length behind him was Robert Mitchell in his Laser Radial; Dave Ingle being a similar distance behind Mitchell in his RS Aero.  Potts in a full rigged Laser, on the other hand, had decided to start further down the line, nearer the shore; a move that resulted in him getting the others’ dirty wind.  With the high tide coinciding with the start of the race it meant the craft had the benefit of the freshly ebbing tide assisting them on their way as they reached up the coast to the Kingscliff buoy.  Tappenden was first to round the mark, followed by Mitchell and then Ingle, as they all headed out round the AWS buoy and then on to the Eastcliff mark.  Potts worked hard to draw level with Mitchell and once passed him then set his sights on Tappenden.  After Eastcliff it was a beat out to the Seaward buoy and, with one exception, the competitors hardened-up and pointed out to sea; the aim being to have the tide drag them towards the mark.  The exception was Potts who tacked straight away and beat along the coast until he reached the Club and then headed offshore.  This didn’t stop Tappenden making the buoy first but as he went round it he capsized, righted the boat, capsized, and then capsized a third time; his tangled mainsheet being the cause.  Potts seized the opportunity and slipped past the casualty, revelling in the exhilarating reach to the Lilley Farm buoy.  Enjoying some good sailing, if not quite so eventful, was Simon Kedge in the Topaz, who had pulled away from his son Adam early on.  With the race well underway the storm clouds gathered out by the Gunfleet Sands and the wind started to pick-up quite rapidly.  The race was hastily shortened to one lap but before everyone finished the heavens opened-up, the wind gusted to 33 mph and visibility reduced dramatically.  However, the course was completed and, with the guidance of the Club’s Safety Boat, everyone returned to the safety of the shore. 

Results – Winter Series - 1:  
1.    Laser – Ken Potts
2.    RS Aero – John Tappenden
3.    Laser – Robert Mitchell

Course Board
Date 23 October 2022
Race Winter Series 1
Start Time 11:00
Wind Strength (Beaufort) Force 3 to 7
Wind Direction South-Easterly backing Easterly
High Tide 11:00
Course K - AWS - E - S - LF - Line