Capsizes "A Plenty" In First Winter Series Race

Members of the Gunfleet Sailing Club took part in the first race of their Winter Series last Sunday 26 October with the weather making an appropriate backdrop.  A force 5, gusting 6, south/south-westerly wind, grey skies and a lumpy sea did not deter 15 boats from taking part and on a tightly bunched start line it was Paul Davis and Beth Ford who timed it to perfection in their RS 400, flying through on port tack just as the class flag dropped from the yardarm.  The majority of boats followed suit, on port tack, whilst a few headed out to sea on starboard in order to maxamise the assistance of the flood tide in speeding them on their way to the windward mark.  Unfortunately an early casualty was Harry Swinbourne in his Topper when the mainsheet parted from the boom and he had to be towed in to the shore by the Club’s Rescue Boat.  Following the beat to the windward buoy it was a fetch to St. Michael’s and then a reach out to the Seaward mark.  On this leg it was only Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens that hoisted their asymmetric spinnaker in their RS 400 and this gave them the lift required to pull away, but as they gybed the boat so the tiller extension snapped.  The couple continued but this restriction had a big impact, and after capsizing they chose to retire back to the Club.  Snapping at the heels of the RS 400’s was the Hobie 405 of Conor and Finlay Williams but they had difficulty shaking off the Lasers.  A number of boats capsized at the gybe mark but the helms were quick to get their craft up again and speed on their way on the next leg down to the AWS buoy.  As the dinghies tacked round this mark in order to head back out to sea it was surprising that the leading Laser, sailed by Andy Dunnett, capsized, not once but twice.  This lost him valuable time but he worked hard to pull himself back up to third place overall at the end of the first lap.  However, he was not alone in tipping his boat over during the race; Tom Philpot capsized his Topaz and needed help from the Rescue Boat Team, forcing a retirement, as did David Evans in his Laser, who turtled the boat.  Yvonne Gough worked hard in her Laser but was unable to catch the leading boats in her class.  The second lap proved no less exciting although there were less duckings for the entrants.  By this time John Tappenden had powered his way into first place in his Blaze but might not have been quite so successful if Dunnett had not gone for a swim during the first lap.
Winter Series - 1
1. Blaze – John Tappenden
2. Laser – Andy Dunnett
3. RS 600 – Ken Potts