2013 Sailing Season Goes Out In Blaze Of Sunshine

Last Saturday 5 October the Cadet and Otter Sailing On Saturday, which has been running since May, came to a close with the final race in the SOS Class Points.  Some 25 boats had taken part in the series and in a number of cases the overall positions really did all depend on this last race.  The first class to get underway was the Topper and Robert Gutteridge lead the fleet towards the Eastcliff buoy, followed by Harry Swinbourne, Tommy Martin and then Finn Harkin.  However, as the fleet rounded this first mark it was Swinbourne that had pulled ahead as they reached out to the Seaward buoy.  By this time the Topazes were on their way and Ross Aylen and Hugo Johnson immediately found themselves at the front of the fleet; going on to take a commanding first position.  Finally the Hobie 405’s started and Conor and Finlay Williams took the lead whilst Brogan and Max Bates were busy tussling with Beth Elliott and Darcie Baker for second place, the latter two being out for the first time in their new boat since moving across from the Topaz class.  The Williams brothers were quick to hoist their asymmetric kits once round the Seaward buoy and pulled away on the reach to Seaward.  The Bates boys also hoisted their kite but had some technical problems which allowed Elliott and Baker to slip ahead of them.  Meanwhile in the Topper fleet Gutteridge broke his kicking strap on the beat from Seaward to the AWS buoy and was forced to accept a tow to shore, putting him out of the competition, and Swinbourne went on to open-up the gap between him and the rest of the Toppers; taking the top spot; Aylen and Johnson winning the Topaz race and the Williams brothers being the first 405 home.  
Results – SOS Cadet and Otter Class Points Overall:
1. Tommy Martin
2. Robert Gutteridge
3. Harry Swinbourne
1. Beth Elliott and Darcie Baker
2. Ross Aylen and Hugo Johnson
3. Nick Cottee and Finn Harkin
Hobie 405:
1. Charlie and Harry Spence
2. Zak and Jake Kurtulus
3. Brogan and Max Bates
1. Laser – Beth Ford
Then on Sunday 6 October the third and final race in the Gunfleet’s Autumn Series was held in what appeared to be a glorious summer afternoon.  As the nineteen boats taking part jostled for position on the start line so the onshore wind began to fade.  The first leg was a fetch down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy and the helms soon became aware of the strong ebb tide that did its best to hold back the craft.  As to be expected, the fastest handicapped craft - the RS400 took the lead but slightly further back it was still a mix of Lasers, Sea Rangers and Topazes, despite the handicaps being quite different.  Once round the first mark the fleet then had to head out to the Seaward buoy and however high the helms pointed their dinghies the tide did its best to drag them up the coast and away from their goal.  It was at this point a number of frustrated competitors decided to head for shore, confident that the now very fickle airs would not increase.  Those with more stamina tacked and tacked again, determined to punch the tide and make the offshore mark.  Eventually they got round it before reaching back to the Eastcliff buoy, hooking around the AWS and heading up the coast to the Kingscliff buoy, and finally fetching back through the line.  The Office of the Day, seeing the plight of the sailors, took pity on them and shortened the course to one lap.  First on handicap was Peter Downer, which gave him victory in the series overall, second was John Tappenden in his Blaze and third was Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens in their Scorpion. 
Results – Autumn Series Overall:
1. Comet – Peter Downer
2. Scorpion – Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens
3. RS400 – Paul Davis and Beth Ford
Although this race heralded the end of the Gunfleet Sailing Club’s 2013 season, the Club will commence its Winter Series on Sunday 20 October with seven races being held up to and including December.