Gunfleet Gets Afloat For Some Great Sailing

With the Clacton/Holland coast protection works nearing completion it won’t be long before Gunfleet Sailing Club is back in action on the water full-time.  However, members were given a real bonus over the last weekend, and the previous Wednesday when the contractor gave them the thumbs-up to getting their boats out.  On Saturday afternoon 25 July the Club’s Cadets and Otters made the most of the fresh offshore winds to carry-out some sail training; the more experienced young sailors undertook some fine-tuning of their beating and running skills, coupled with gybing, whilst the novices watched a training video on the basics before getting afloat and putting theory into practice, with the assistance of senior Club members.
Sunday 26 July was the day everyone looked forward to, with two races planned and an opportunity to play catch-up on a backlog of events as a result of the enforced closure.  Frustratingly the weather refused to play ball and in the morning, as competitors rigged-up on the beach, a squall blew through.  One of the Club’s Rescue Boats was out in the appalling weather laying the race marks and stayed afloat whilst a 15 minute postponement provided the opportunity for the weather to improve, but alas this did not occur.  With winds gusting to force seven and blinding rain the Officer of the Day wisely hoisted the “race postponed, no more sailing today” flags and everyone retreated back into the Clubhouse. 
However, the previous Wednesday evening 22 July it was a real joy to see so many dinghies rigging-up on the beach in eager anticipation of a mid-week sail.  In a fresh westerly wind and ebbing tide it was very surprising for the competitors that they had to start on a broad reach up the coast but the work of the sand barge prevented the more normal upwind start.  Crews were hesitant as they edged their way towards the line for fear of being swept across it too early but Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens had the confidence to hoist the asymmetric spinnaker, in their RS 400, at the very last minute, so sweeping past everyone.  With everything in their favour it didn’t take long for the boats to make the first mark, with Clarke and Cossens maintaining their lead and Ken Potts, in his RS 600, snapping at their heels.  Robert Gutteridge was challenging Andy Dunnett’s Laser, in his Solution, whilst slightly further back Peter Downer had his Comet going at some impressive speeds.  As they headed out to sea positions began to change, especially further back in the slow handicap fleet.  After a fetch and a further reach it was a beat back towards the line and it was at this point that Steve and Daisy Swinbourne began to pull away from Tom and Ed Philpot, both sailing Topazes, whilst Harry Swinbourne clearly led the Topper fleet.  Downer unfortunately took the wrong course, capsized, and then decided to retire.  At the end of the first lap Clarke and Cossens had carved out a small lead but they were to lose it on the second lap; but with a lot of hard work on the third and final lap, they got back up to top spot and eventually took the winning gun. 
Results – Summer Series:
1. RS 400 – Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens
2. RS 600 – Ken Potts
3. Laser – Andy Dunnett