Reports 2014

Gunfleet Sailing Club’s 2014 Cadet Week was full-on despite bad weather seriously hampering the sailing programme.  The Monday sailing had proved very lively, and the wind on Tuesday proved so strong that the 40 Cadets and Otters were forced to remain onshore but a wide variety of land-based games, including releasing the four team captains from their imprisonment after completing a number of stretching challenges.  There was also a visit to Clacton Lifeboat Station to see how a modern lifesaving organisation worked.
Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Cadets held the fourth race in their SOS Class Points last Saturday 23 August in a stiff westerly breeze which caused a number of capsizes.  The Toppers were first away and it was Harry Swinbourne that lead the fleet, followed by Robbie Jay and Harrison Ledger, with Max Bates close behind and Abigail Hayes trailing a little.  Next to go were the Topazes and it was Finn Harkin and Harry Spence that dominated from the very start.
It’s been very many years since Gunfleet Sailing Club put a float into the Clacton Carnival but thanks to Kevin Jay and his band of merry helpers Gunfleet not only took part, but also gained second place in the decorated floats section.  The Carnival’s overall theme was fairy tales and Kevin entered GSC with the Little Mermaid, so maintaining a nautical link.  Using a Club Topaz, with loads of blue balloons representing a choppy sea, plus all sorts of cut-out creatures the entry proudly flew the Gunfleet pennant.
Gunfleet Sailing Club held its race for the prestigious Bill Geddes Trophy last Sunday 3 August, with eleven boats entering.  The sun shone on the sea, highlighting the small white caps, and the wind blew force five, gusting six, from a southerly direction.  Richard Walker sailed up the line in his Sea Ranger, on starboard tack, reaching the Outer Distance Mark just as the starting gun was fired; forcing a number of competitors on port tack to put in a quick tack.
The third race in the Gunfleet Sailing Club Cadet Class Points was held last Saturday 26 July in almost perfect conditions.  Under blue skies, bright sunshine and a pleasant force three onshore breeze it was the five Toppers that started first.  Harry Swinbourne lead the fleet and pulled away at an early stage as he reached to the Eastcliff buoy and then beat back along the coast and then out to the Seaward mark.  A little further back Abigail Hayes was challenging Robbie Jay but failed to get ahead of him.  Five minutes after the Toppers had gone and it was the turn of the Topazes.
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.
Gunfleet Sailing Club held the third cruise of the season last Saturday 12 July when an armada of dinghies tacked down the coast, westward way, fighting a lazy ebb tide.  The cruise had originally been planned to go to Walton but with a 6:30 p.m. low tide, it would have resulted in a very late return to the Club, so plans were redrawn.  With the sky becoming blue, after an earlier overcast day, and the sun breaking through, it was a gentle sail that greeted the crews.  At 5:00 p.m.
Members of Gunfleet Sailing Club joined their friends at Clacton Sailing Club for their Regatta last Sunday 6 July, and for Cadet Harry Swinbourne it turned out to be a day not to forget when he won the trophy for first Cadet home in the CUDC Cup race, only to find that he had also won the actual CUDC Trophy overall.  Gunfleet members Peter Downer and Robert Gutteridge also took first place in the RNLI Pennant race for first dinghy and first Cadet respectively.
Last Saturday 28 June the Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Cadets and Otters took part in the second race of their Class Points Series as part of the Sailing On Saturday programme.  As the boats were being rigged the wind direction shifted 180 degrees, changing from onshore to offshore, which provided an interesting twist to the race.  Each of the classes had separate starts and individual courses, with the Toppers being first away.  From the very beginning Harry Swinbourne took the lead but found himself being challenged by Max Bates in his new boat.
It was certainly full-on last Saturday 21 June for Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Cadets and Otters when they had their “Bring A Friend Day”.  With over 40 young people and seventeen boats afloat the waters off the Club made a magnificent sight.  Pairing-up, the experienced young helms took their friends for a sail around a triangular course and then handed the tiller over to their visitors for them to have a go.
Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Cadets and Otters went afloat Saturday 14 June as part of the second Sail/Race Training in their SOS series.  Under instruction of the Club’s Sailing Secretary Paul Davis the 405’s, Lasers, Toppers and Topazes learnt how to use the tide to their advantage, and how to ensure they steered a straight course when laying a mark.  This advanced course attracted some 10 boats whilst a “ducklings” course for the novices saw a further five Toppers and Topazes learning the basics of sailing.  Following straight on was the Gunfleet's annual Crabbing Contest.
The glorious weather certainly brought out the sailors last Sunday 8 June when Gunfleet Sailing Club held its race for the Jubilee Cup.  Blue skies and unbroken sunshine, coupled with a light onshore breeze, saw eighteen dinghies taking part in the race and it made an impressive sight to see the craft closely bunched at the very start.  In fact the tide had just completed ebbing and was now making which did catch a few of the boats out; within seconds of the start gun there were two further sound signals and the individual recall flag was hoisted.
Last Saturday 31 May Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Cadets and Otters took part in the first race of their Class Points Series.  The youngsters, who all sail Toppers, Topazes, Hobie 405’s or Lasers, had four individual class starts with four separate courses, designed to test boat handling to the full.  In a light easterly breeze it was the Topper class first away and right from the very beginning it was clearly going to be Harry Swinbourne’s race, whilst in the Topaz class Zak Thomas had his work cut-out with Alice Fuller challenging him at every opportunity.
Gunfleet Sailing Club slipped into its busy mode last weekend with the start of its SOS – Sailing On Saturdays for the Cadets and Otters.  This first SOS of the season, which now runs until September, focused on sail/race training with some 30 young members taking part, assisted by seven of the Club’s top adult sailors.

Last Sunday 18 May members of Gunfleet Sailing Club cast off from their headquarters on the first official cruise of this season.  Seventeen dinghies, accompanied by one of the Club's Rescue Boats, departed under blue skies, unbroken sunshine and a pleasant light easterly breeze.  The armada of boats took the last of the flood tide and headed “westward-ho”, making easy passage as it reached down the coast.  It wasn’t long before the craft made Clacton Pier and then continued on past Martello Bay and Jaywick Sands, before landing at St. Osyth.