Downer On An Upper For First Race

Gunfleet Sailing Club started its 2012 sailing season in style last Saturday 31 March when no less than 75 members squeezed into the Clubhouse to enjoy the annual Fitting-Out Supper.  Following the traditional fish and chip supper Commodore Richard Walker welcomed all those present to a very special year, the Club’s 50th anniversary, and outlined some of the exciting things planned for 2012.  Once again the Cadet and Otter Section was vibrant and the Cadet Committee was planning many fun events on and off the water, the Club was host to the Solution class National Championships and Gunfleet had special commemorative polo-shirts produced to celebrate it “going gold” – at the same time as the Olympics come to London.  The Club members then charged their glasses and toasted 2012, with Commodore Walker declaring the Club well and truly “Open for business”.

The following day the sun shone on the members as they prepared their craft for the first event of the year.  In a very light offshore wind fourteen boats took part in the race for the March Hare Trophy whilst a number of others took to the water for a relaxing sail.  The elements appeared cruel and as the minutes ticked away before the off the wind faded to practically nothing.  Derroll Pedder just managed to stem the ebbing tide to hold his own, and kept his Vortex practically kissing the line just prior to the “off”.  As the class flag fell from the yardarm Ken Potts slipped silently ahead in his RS600 but was unable to shake the competitors off.  It took quite a time to reach the first mark, the St. Michael’s buoy, with Peter Downer amongst the much faster handicapped boats in his Comet and doggedly remaining ahead of all the Lasers on the way out to the Seaward buoy.  By now the wind had freshened a little, dropped, picked-up again, and veered some 90 degrees and back.  This all proved too much for Andy Dunnett and he retired in his Laser, as did Aaron Baker in his Topaz.  The rest of the fleet tacked in to the AWS mark and then back out to Seaward, before heading down to the Kingscliff buoy.  Surprisingly Yvonne Gough capsized her Laser out at sea and, having accepted the assistance of the Club Rescue Boat to right her craft, was forced to retire.  Slipping quietly along, again amongst the faster handicapped craft, were Cadets Conor and Finlay Williams in their Topaz.  Some 50 minutes after the start, as the leading boat rounded the Kingscliff buoy to then head for the line, and the end of the first of three laps, the Officer of the Day hoisted the shorten course flag.  As the boats crossed the finish lines it was Downer that took victory with the Williams brothers clinching a very creditable fourth place.   
Results: March Hare
1. Comet – Peter Downer
2. Blaze – John Tappenden
3. Contender – Matt Downing