Gunfleet Regatta A Great Success

Gunfleet Sailing Club held its annual Regatta last weekend 19/20 July with a full two days of sailing events.  On the Saturday it was Cadet Day when over 30 of the Club’s Cadets and Otters took part, in the morning, in the race for the Cadet Day Trophy.  Such was the eagerness of the crews that there had to be a general recall due to the number over the line at the start, but the next time they all got away cleanly.  Powering into an early lead were Conor Williams and Dominic Milham in their Hobie 405, but being pushed hard by Cadet Commodore Robert Gutteridge in his Laser.  Harrison Smith and Mac Symmonds, were an early casualty in their Topaz when they capsized in the fresh winds but soon had the boat upright again.  In the Toppers it was Zak Kurtulus who lead the way, being pushed hard by Harry Swinbourne.  There were some interesting tactics and some great sailing, the young crews pushing their boats to the limit. 
Cadet Day Trophy:
1. Hobie 405 – Conor Williams & Dominic Milham
2. Laser – Robert Gutteridge
3. Hobie 405 – Beth Elliott & Jake Kurtulus
After lunch the youngsters split into four teams, based on the morning’s race results, and battled it out in a variety of games, including a Triathlon, capturing the most balls on the water, sailing after letters in bottle to make a word, tug of war, and finally egg throwing.  In glorious sunshine the afternoon just raced by and the final results were:
1. Don’t Know...Don’t Care – 13 points
Beth, Jake, Ted, Brogan, Nick, Harrison, Mac and Jacob
2. Goodness Nose – 12 Points
Conor, Dominic, Finn, Maddie, Alice, Lydia and Mia
3. Apex 38 – 8 Points
Rob, Harry, Korben, Jude, Max, Emilio and Holly
4. Pirates – 5 Points
Zak, Ross, Caleb, Michael, Abigail, Emily, and Esme 
In the evening the Club was in full swing for the Regatta Party when 80 members and friends turned-up for a delicious barbecue.  The Club welcomed the Commodore of Clacton Sailing Club - Derek Cheek and his wife Jean as guests.  Soon everyone was tucking into minted lamb chops, chicken kebabs, pork spare ribs and chicken drumsticks, along with a very impressive salad bar; plus a four selection veggie alternative.  This was followed by gateau, and all washed down with Pims and Lemonade - a feast fit for a king.  Afterwards, thanks to mother nature, there was a spectacular pyrotechnics display out at sea as lightning flashed all about.  Thanks go to Rear Commodore Jon Meggison and his band of helpers for a wonderful spread. 
On the Sunday 32 boats took part in the Gunfleet Race Day with visiting craft from Clacton on Sea Sailing Club and Hertford County Yacht Club.  Despite some fairly gloomy weather forecasts the morning shone bright with a light south south-westerly breeze.  It made an impressive sight to see such a large fleet of dinghies and catamarans line up at the start of the first race, for the RNLI Charity Shield.  With an ebb tide holding them back, there was a clean start with Derroll Pedder first away in his Solution, the RS 400 of Paul and Katie Davis hot on his heels and Harry Swinbourne right up there in his Topper.  The first leg down the coast to St. Michael’s buoy saw the wind starting to shift more onshore and this provided the opportunity for Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey in their Spitfire to break away, hotly chased by Robert Mitchell in his Dart 16, both catamarans from Clacton Sailing Club.  There then followed a tight fetch out to the Seaward mark before a run down to the AWS buoy.  At this point the Lasers remained a close-knit bunch but were unable to shake-off Peter Downer in his Comet who stayed firmly on their tail.  Meanwhile, in the slow handicap fleet it was Finn Harkin that led the way in his Topaz.  Having beat back out to the Seaward buoy and headed up the coast to the Kingscliff mark it was a reach back through the line; the angle just allowing those with asymmetric spinnakers to fly them and so gain the extra speed.  At the end of the first lap it was Downer with an overall lead but he soon found himself being challenged from all angles.  Positions changed throughout the fleet during the second lap and at the end of the race just one second split the top three places; victory, and the overall shield, going to a visiting Xenon.  There was also a shield for the first under 18 year old and this, despite still competition, was won by Mark Stacey from Clacton Sailing Club, who sailed his Laser magnificently.
RNLI Charity Shield:
1. Xenon – Richard Wright and Mark Thomas (Hertford County Yacht Club)
2. RS 400 – Paul and Katie Davis (Gunfleet Sailing Club)
3. Comet – Peter Downer (Gunfleet Sailing Club)
First Under 18 Home:
Laser – Mark Stacey (Clacton Sailing Club)
After lunch it was time for class racing, the different classes being set off at 5 minute intervals.  By this time the wind had freshened considerably and was hitting force six in the gusts, the sea providing some interesting rollers to make the sailing more interesting.  The first to get underway were the catamarans of Clacton Sailing Club, with a course taking them up to Clacton Pier; providing a magnificent reach in the strong onshore winds.  Boxer and Dempsey struggled to shake-off Mitchell, whilst Larry Foxon and Sam Ronson, also in a Dart 16, fought hard to catch Mitchell; Daniel Bizzezinsui trailing a little in his Dart 15.  Next away were the traditional Sea Ranger dinghies, with a much smaller course for these 60 year old clinker boats.  Gunfleet Commodore Richard Walker took an early lead with Lesley Sacre retiring early on.  The Topper class then set sail, finding the conditions both lively and exciting, just a bit too lively for Scarlet Peters who, at seven years old, headed for the safety of the shore.  In the Topaz fleet Finn Harkin, who has only been sailing for a year, pulled ahead of all the others, but unfortunately Jamie Lowre was disqualified in his boat for jumping the start and not returning to correct his error.  As the Hobie 405’s got underway so the wind seemed to ease down and the four boats seemed to be very closely matched.  With the airs becoming a bit lighter opportunity was taken by some to fly their spinnakers gambling between extra speed against potential capsize.  Next away wee the seven Lasers and Matt Gough looked for some time to be the one going home with the Trophy but was just overtaken at the last moment.  Even less fortunate was Andy Dunnett who fell out of his boat running downwind whilst balancing the boom out.  The Solutions, which had been revelling in the fresh winds prior to their start, were disappointed that the breeze appeared to be getting lighter all the time.  Finally it was the turn of the Menagerie fleet to go and, at a very closely bunched start, it was clear this could be anyone’s race.  As time went on the winds turned to light airs and then faded to nothing, causing the competitors to struggle in stemming the tide, and resulting in one or two further retirements.  
At the end of the day Commodore Walker thanked all those taking part in the Gunfleet Regatta and presented the following trophies:  
Class Race Winners:
Sea Ranger Trefoil Trophy – Richard Walker
Topper Mad Hatter Challenge Cup – Harry Swinbourne
Topaz Dave Fowell Trophy – Finn Harkin
Hobie 405 Helmsdale Trophy – Brogan Bates and Nick Cottee
Laser Paxton Jug – Paul Stanton
Solution Tim Webster Tankard – Simon Clarke
Catamaran David Foster Challenge Trophy – Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey
Menagerie 1893 Regatta Trophy – Mark Thomas and Richard Wright