Summer Arrives With The Start Of The Autumn Series

Gunfleet Sailing Club held the first of its Autumn Series of races last Sunday 9 September in weather more befitting of a perfect summer’s day.  The sky was blue, the sun shone, the temperature was 21 degrees centigrade, but the only thing missing was a sailor’s breeze.  Thirteen boats came to the start line and fought the last of the ebb tide as they fetched very slowly down the coast to the Eastcliff buoy.  Even on this first leg, what little wind there was seemed to drop still further.  There then followed a reach back to the ODM, by which time two of the Topazes and the Comet Duo decided to cut their losses and retire to the shore.  However frustrating the faster handicap boats found it, the slow handicap boats had a real struggle making any progress.  After the ODM it was a beat out to the Seaward buoy and this was when the wind dipped to just 2 miles per hour.  It was on this leg that the remaining Topaz and the two Sea Rangers realised that that the chances of making the mark were incredibly slim and all three retired, along with the Topper.  The remaining boats, now exclusively in the medium handicap fleet, then ran back to the ODM before reaching up the coast to the Kingscliff buoy before fetching back through the line.  Even with this small course it was still taking a very long time to make progress and those who had stuck it out were relieved to see the shorten course flag hanging limply from the yardarm as they rounded the mark prior to the last leg of the first lap.

Results – Autumn Series 1:
1. Solution – Paul Davis
2. Phantom – Simon Clarke
3. Blaze – John Tappenden
Fortunately the wind filled in, and reached eight miles an hour over lunch, providing a reasonable if somewhat sedate breeze for the afternoon’s pursuit race for the Ken Potts Trophy.  This race had staggered starts with times calculated to, in theory, see all the boats level with each other at a particular moment that signifies the end.  First away were the Toppers, followed nearly eight minutes later by the Comet.  For the next 23 minutes different classes set off until last away was Ken Potts, the donor of the trophy, in his RS600.  Robert Gutteridge, in his Topper, held the lead for quite some time, with Darcie Baker, also in a Topper, very close behind.  The two had fetched to the St. Michael’s buoy and then reached to the Seaward mark, maintaining their top positions which they continued to hold on the run down to the AWS buoy.  It was however, on the beat back out to Seaward where Peter Downer in his Comet managed to slip through and take the lead; Paul Davis in his Solution moving forward to second place on the reach from Seaward to the Kingscliff buoy.  As the fleet then headed through the line and then onto the St. Michael’s buoy for the second lap, so John Tappenden stole a lead in his Blaze; a position he refused to relinquish right up until the horn that signalled the end of the race.  By this time Simon Clarke had nudged into second place with Potts just behind him.
Results – Potts Pursuit Trophy:
1. Blaze – John Tappenden
2. Phantom – Simon Clarke
3. RS600 – Ken Potts