Exciting Sailing Down The Gunfleet

The Gunfleet Sailing Club once again had the opportunity to get afloat just prior the beach recharge directly in front of its headquarters.  Last Sunday afternoon 2 August thirteen boats took part in the race for the Bill Geddes Trophy, sailing in idyllic conditions of sunshine, blue skies, and a pleasant force 3 east/south-easterly breeze.  This was an important race as it also counted towards class points for those dinghies with three or more in the Club.  John Tappenden in his Blaze had a cracking start and led the fleet on the first leg to the windward mark, positioned off the Kingscliff, rounding the buoy comfortably ahead of his nearest rivals – Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens in their RS 400.  At this point it was planned there would be a beat out to a seaward buoy, but the wind backed slightly and this, coupled with a freshly ebbing tide, allowed the competitors to make the offshore mark in a single fetch.  It was then back down to the first buoy before returning out to sea, followed by a very broad reach down the coast towards Clacton Pier.  It was good to see all the Solution class on the water, with Sonny Hart leading the way, whilst being pushed by Yvonne Gough in her Laser, who lead her class round the course.  In the slow handicap fleet it was a battle in the Topazes between Tom and Ed Philpot, and Steve and Daisy Swinbourne.  By the end of the first lap Ken Potts had just squeezed into top position in his RS 600, with Tappenden second and Hart third, but on the second lap Tappenden really put the power on; managing to win the race by just a few seconds.
Results – Bill Geddes Trophy:
1. Blaze – John Tappenden
2. RS 600 – Ken Potts
3. Solution – Sonny Hart
Class Points – 1 Winners:
Solution – Sonny Hart
Laser – Yvonne Gough
Topaz – Steve and Daisy Swinbourne
Topper – Harry Swinbourne
Sea Ranger – Richard Walker
On the Saturday it had been the turn of the Cadets and Otters to test their sailing skills with a force three southerly wind giving them perfect conditions to take part in the first SOS race of the season.  A small course with three laps gave the competitors plenty of opportunity to hone their sailing techniques as they challenged each other throughout the event.  In the Topper fleet it was Harry Swinbourne and Hannah Aylen that really did well whilst in the Topazes there was a constant battle between Tom Philpot and Daisy Swinbourne, and Caleb and Jude Aylen, positions changing several times as they really pushed their craft to the maximum, with the Aylen brother just taking the top Topaz position.
The previous Wednesday evening the Gunfleet members raced for the Tony Chadd Trophy, normally a series but due to the coast protection works this summer it had to be a one-off race.  The wind proved light with a force two westerly, veering north-westerly at times.  Robert Gutteridge, in his Solution, was just a little too eager and jumped the line but was quick to return.  Unfortunately he failed to actually re-cross the line and had to return for a second time, putting him at quite a disadvantage.  Getting the perfect start were Cadets Beth Elliott and Grace Woods in their Hobie 405.  The first leg was a close-haul to the windward buoy and there was as much excitement in the slow handicap fleet as with the more powerful dinghies; the Comet of Peter Downer in amongst the three Topazes and the Topper, Downer having initially headed to the wrong mark.  It was then a dead run out to the seaward buoy before a beat back to shore, followed by a broad reach up the coast.  Both Tappenden in his Blaze and Matt Gough in his Laser added an extra leg by once more returning out to sea but, whilst adding unwanted time onto their performance, this did not disqualify them as they still correctly rounded all the buoys on the course.  Despite a number of competitors erring during the event it still proved an exciting race with Gutteridge clawing-back up the fleet, making impressive time, and Downer and Tappenden getting into the top three positions. 
Results – Tony Chadd Trophy
1. RS 600 – Ken Potts
2. Comet – Peter Downer
3. Blaze – John Tappenden