Sunshine, Smiles, and Superb Sailing at Gunfleet Regatta

Last weekend, 1st and 2nd of June, was a very busy one for the Gunfleet Sailing Club when it held its annual Regatta.  It all started on Saturday with Cadet Day when 25 of the Club’s younger sailors took part in a variety of events including a race and a number of games.  The race, an all-in handicap, saw Robert Gutteridge getting off to a blinding start in his Topper.  The fresh offshore winds made it a lively affair as the boats reached to the Eastcliff buoy, and an even livelier one out to the Seaward buoy.  At the end of the first lap it was Ben Richardson that had taken the lead in his Topper, followed by Beth Ford in her Laser, with Conor and Finlay Williams in third place in their Hobie 405.  Richardson pulled away in the second lap and took a convincing win.  After the first race there followed a second one but this time the competitors, now in teams, had to pick-up as many plastic balls as they could; final results based on time and quantity.  After lunch the teams then took part in a water-based treasure hunt, collecting bottles with values inside, and the traditional egg throwing.  

In the evening the Clubhouse was buzzing as 85 people, including a number of guests from Clacton on Sea Sailing Club, enjoyed a celebration barbecue.  The marquee and the sun terrace ensured everyone was very comfortable as they socialised in a convivial atmosphere, enjoying the range of high quality meats supplied by local butcher Chas Bower of Kings Avenue, Holland on Sea.  Talk turned to the following days racing and the merits of the different types of boats currently on the market.
The following morning the sun shone for Gunfleet’s Race Day.  With a strong contingent of catamarans and dinghies joining Gunfleet from Clacton Sailing Club it was pleasing to see 27 entries for the morning race.  At a closely bunched line it was Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey that got a clear start in their Dart 18 as the fleet headed to the Kingscliff buoy on a fetch, it was then a run out to the Seaward buoy against an ebbing tide before a beat back to Kingscliff.  There then followed a second run out to Seaward and a reach down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy before another fetch back through the line.  Unfortunately a few of the competitors, at the end of the first lap, went the wrong side of the Outer Distance Mark and were disqualified.  At the half way stage Clacton Sailing Club member Robert Mitchell was leading in his Dart 16 with Gunfleet’s Paul Stanton second in his Laser, but positions were to change during the second lap.  However, Mitchell hung onto his lead to take the winning gun.  During the race the Club was delighted to welcome the crew of the Clacton Lifeboat Station, the proceeds of the Regatta always being donated to the RNLI.
Results – RNLI Charity Shield:
1. Dart 16 – Robert Mitchell; Clacton Sailing Club
2. Dart 18 – Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey; Clacton Sailing Club
3. Scorpion – Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens; Gunfleet Sailing Club
First Under 18.  Topper – Robert Gutteridge; Gunfleet Sailing Club
After lunch it was time for the class racing with each class of dinghy having its own course, its own start and, very importantly, its own trophy.  First away were the catamarans and this time Boxer and Dempsey ensured nobody was going to beat them, on a course that took them right down to the Pier buoy, and showed their fellow competitors a clean pair of heals.  Next away were the Sea Rangers and taking an early lead was Richard Walker, looking a convincing winner until near the end when Fred Webster got past him and pulled away to take the honours.  There then followed the Toppers, all sailed by youngsters, and Gutteridge appeared to have the edge on his rivals for the first two legs but Richardson slipped past him and opened up a reasonably healthy lead.  In the Topaz fleet it was Eleanor Margetts and Abigail Hayes that took the honours, despite capsizing a couple of times on the way round.  Stanton dominated the Laser fleet but all credit must go to Beth Ford who, for the second week running, put up an excellent performance with a broken kicking strap.  In the Solution class try as Derroll Pedder may he was unable to beat Paul Davis who romped home during the second lap.  Finally it was the menagerie fleet that got underway and there soon followed an interesting tussle between the Williams brothers and the Spence brothers, both sailing Hobie 405’s, with some keen but friendly rivalry to help them on their way.
At the end of the day Gunfleet’s Commodore Richard Walker thanked all those for attending and taking part, and particularly thanked all those that put so much work into making the Club’s Regatta such a success.  He then handed-out the trophies to the winners.
Results – Class Racing:
David Foster Catamaran Challenge Trophy:
1. Dart 18 – Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey
2. Hurricane – James Parsons and Tye Parker
3. Dart 16 – Robert Mitchell
Trefoil Trophy for Sea Rangers:
1. Curlew – Fred Webster
2. Scallywag – Richard Walker
3. Peggy – Lesley Sacre
Mad-Hatter Challenge Cup for Toppers:
1. Ben Richardson
2. Robert Gutteridge
3. Chris Krimmel
Dave Fowell Trophy for Topazes:
1. Elleanor Margetts and Abigail Hayes
2. Beth Elliott
Paxton Trophy for Lasers:
1. Paul Stanton
2. Beth Ford
3. Tom Fadden
Tim Webster Tankard for Solutions:
1. Paul Davis
2. Derroll Pedder
1893 Regatta Trophy for the Menagerie class: 
1. Scorpion – Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens
2. Vision – Robert and James Foxon
3. Hobie 405 – Conor and Finlay Williams