Visit By Olympic Sailor Great Success

Gunfleet Sailing Club achieved a real coup last Saturday 20 August when nineteen year old Phil Sparks from the GBR Olympic Sailing Squad spent a whole day providing training to over 30 Gunfleet Cadets and Otters.  Phil started the day by explaining how he got into sailing at the age of 6 years and worked his way up to winning the Youth World Championships in a 420 in 2009, before progressing onto the Olympic 470 class.  Classroom training in the Clubhouse followed and then seventeen boats took to the water with the young crews demonstrating their skills.  Much of this was filmed as an aid to demonstrating how techniques could be sharpened, before a much needed break for lunch.  Fully refreshed and after some more advice and tips, this time on racing tactics, a small course was set and a race held.  With Phil out on a Rescue Boat observing the way the boats were handled and marks rounded, it presented perfect feedback for the debrief that followed.  All too soon the day was over with just time for Cadet Rear Commodore Charlie Venables to thank Phil Sparks for taking the time out to provide such invaluable training, and for Cadet Social Secretary Anna Challis to thank the very generous anonymous donor who funded both the visit and the lunch.

The next day it was a chance for the younger members of the Club to put their training into practice when Gunfleet held its race for the Toppo Single Helm, and Cadet Single Helm for the first under 18 boat to finish.  It was no surprise there was a packed start line with 22 boats taking part, 9 of which were helmed by Cadets.  With a gentle offshore breeze and the first of the flood it was inevitable that someone would jump the line and in this case it was Eddie White, whose Solution just crossed with half a second to go.  Up went the individual recall flag and White instantly returned to start again, losing valuable minutes in the meantime.  Despite light airs the fleet soon reached the St. Michael’s buoy and then headed out to the Seaward mark, making much slower progress as the boats stemmed the strengthening tide.  The wind then started to fall away and the beat down to the AWS buoy seemed a tedious leg but helped to break the competitors up.  In the Solution class Simon Clarke lead the way but unfortunately he clipped the AWS mark and in completing his penalty 360 degree turn allowed Paul Davis to slip ahead.  Cadet Charlie Venables, borrowing his father’s Solution, held White off for a while and sailed the boat extremely well.  Dad – Mark Venables, in a Laser, had a good battle with veteran Andy Dunnett but it was Dunnett that eventually pulled ahead.  In the Topper fleet there was some very close racing between Robert Gutteridge and Zak Kurtulus, with brother Jake Kurtulus just behind; whilst there was a very clear leader in the Topaz fleet with Conor Williams building up a very substantial lead and taking a very convincing fifth place overall in the race.  Sailing to victory, amongst all the class competitiveness, was Peter Downer in his Comet, with Sebastien Mathewson taking third place in the Toppo Single Helm and picking up the Cadet Single Helm.  Just missing out on the top three positions was Barry Peters, who very quietly sailed his Comet Duo around the course to gain fourth place. 

Results: Toppo Single Helm
1. Comet – Peter Downer
2. Blaze – John Tappenden
3. Byte – Sebastien Mathewson
Cadet Single Helm
1. Byte – Sebastien Mathewson
2. Topaz – Conor Williams
3. Solution – Charlie Venables

The Club will now be in full swing for the Gunfleet Cadet Week with 45 young members booked in to have a great time on the water, followed by a massive party to end the event.