RS 400's Dominate First Of The Autumn Series

The only thing missing was a sailor’s wind last Sunday 5 October when Gunfleet Sailing Club held the first race in its Autumn Series.  The unbroken sunshine and blue skies suggested a summer’s day but an hour before the start there was a complete lack of wind.  Then a light wisp appeared, varying in direction and alternating some 270 degrees before settling in as southerly.  As the twelve boats launched they were greeted by a force two, touching three, breeze but as the starting gun echoed across the water the wind dropped.  Right on the line was Peter Downer in his Comet but he found himself sandwiched between the RS 400’s of Paul Davis and Beth Ford, and Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens.  This caused Downer’s boat to stall and allowed other dinghies to slip by.  The first leg was a close haul down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy, the slow handicapped craft finding it a particularly daunting passage as they fought the ebb tide.  Leading round the first mark was Davis and Ford who immediately hoisted their RS 400’s spinnaker and made fairly short work of the reach out to the Seaward buoy.  A little further back Andy Dunnett in his Laser was holding off competition from Conor and Finlay Williams in their Hobie 405 who were, in turn, ahead of Robert Gutteridge in a Solution; however, by the end of the first lap Gutteridge had slipped ahead of the Williams boys.  Harry Swinbourne in his Topper was battling it out against his father and sister, Steve and Daisy Swinbourne, in their Topaz but due to the frustration of the light airs he decided to retire back to the shore.  Ross and Caleb Aylen, also retired in their Hobie 405.
As the boats completed the first lap it was Davis and Ford in the lead, with Clarke and Cossens second, and Dunnett third, but during the second lap Downer moved through the fleet, getting ahead of Dunnett on handicap.  Some of the closer tussles however were between the Topazes and at the end of the race the Swinbournes were only just holding back Brogan Bates and Shona Goodchild – making it an exciting finish for both sailors and spectators alike.     
Autumn Series - 1
1. RS 400 – Paul Davis and Beth Ford
2. RS 400 – Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens
3. Comet – Peter Downer