Gunfleet Regatta Heralded A Great Success

Just over a week after the beaches in front of its headquarters were open, Gunfleet Sailing Club held its annual Regatta weekend, starting on Saturday 29 August with the Cadet Day.  Twenty-five of the Club’s younger members soon had their craft rigged in the morning and were busy sailing up and down the line, in a force 3 southerly breeze, eagerly waiting for the gun to start the race for the Cadet Day Trophy.  The actual start was a very impressive sight with a tightly bunched group of dinghies heading down the coast to the first mark, but unfortunately Harry Swinbourne was just over the line and had to return back to cross it correctly.  Robert Gutteridge lead the boats round the buoy in his Solution, the fleet of dinghies making a fine sight as they headed out to the seaward mark.  From there it was a broad reach into AWS buoy and a beat back out to sea.  It was this latter leg that started to split the competitors and at the end of the first lap Gutteridge had quite a strong lead.  Further down the pecking order Tom and Ed Philpot were laying in fourth place in their Topaz whilst Robbie Jay held the fifth spot in his Topper.  Positions changed quite a bit during the second lap with Swinbourne pushing his way through the fleet, after his bad start, and finishing in the top three whilst Shona Goodchild and Jude Aylen also moved up several places to take fifth place whilst Gutteridge took the winning gun.
Results – Cadet Day Trophy
1. Solution – Robert Gutteridge
2. Hobie 405 – Ross and Caleb Aylen
3. Topper – Harry Swinbourne
After lunch the Cadets were split into teams and played a variety of water games before concluding the day with pillow-fights, onboard moored dinghies, and an egg throwing competition.
The Club’s Regatta race day, for all ages, on Sunday 30 Augustn was held under overcast skies and a strong northerly wind.  However, this did not deter the competitors and, shortly before the start of the morning’s event, there was a fine spectacle of boats from the home Club, Clacton Sailing Club, and Hertford County Yacht Club; all jockeying for position as they waited to take part in the race for the RNLI Charity Shield.  Paul Davis and Beth Ford, in their RS 400, led the fleet away with Dan Brzezinski and Ian Wright, in their Dart 18, soon overtaking them.  Fighting the last of the flood tide the craft made quick work of the close-haul to the first buoy, and the faster craft went round it at an alarming speed before screaming out to the seaward mark.  It wasn’t long before capsizes started to occur and these certainly kept the three rescue boats on their toes, although all casualties managed to right themselves very speedily.  The beat into the AWS buoy saw positions change several times and the broad reach back out to sea was when the crews had the opportunity to really turn on the power before a quick gybe and then down the coast to a buoy near Clacton Pier.  As the craft beat back up the coast to complete their first lap there were further mishaps.  Just before reaching that point Brzezinski and Wright capsized their catamaran and lost many minutes trying to right it; this allowed James Stacey and Pete Boxer to lead the competitors on handicap, followed by Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens in their RS 400 and then Ken Potts in his RS 600.  During the second lap there were a number of retirements, either through gear failure or exhaustion, with a further bout of capsizing thrown in the mix.  While all this went on the Club received a visit from Clacton’s two lifeboats and the crews watched with fascination, from the comfort of the clubhouse balcony, at the proceedings before them.  Meanwhile, back on the water, the battle was really hotting-up and it was becoming difficult to judge who might actually be winning.  In the end it was Brzezinski and Wright, having made a magnificent recovery, that pulled it off and, following their earlier capsize, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Results – RNLI Charity Shield:
1. Dart 18 – Dan Brzezinski and Ian Wright; Clacton Sailing Club
2. Dart 18 – James Stacey and Pete Boxer; Clacton Sailing Club
3. RS 600 – Ken Potts; Gunfleet Sailing Club
1st under 18 – James Stacey  
After lunch it was time for class racing and fortunately, by then, the wind had abated a little.  With some impressive sailing, and cunning tactics, the different classes enjoyed competitive but good spirited sport, highlighting the fantastic facilities afforded at Clacton since the completion of the coast protection scheme.  Once again it was the catamarans that provided some of the most exciting drama, the leading two craft finishing just inches apart.
Results – Class Racing:
Dave Fowell Topaz Trophy – Beth Elliott and Deacon Stevens
Helmsdale Hobie 405 Trophy – Ross and Caleb Aylen
Paxton Laser Trophy – Yvonne Gough
Tim Webster Solution Trophy – Sonny Hart
David Foster Catamaran Trophy – Dan Brzezinski and Ian Wright
1893 Regatta Trophy (menagerie) – RS 600 Ken Potts
Gunfleet’s Cadet Week, held the previous week, was heralded a great success by the Club’s young people taking part, despite some atrocious weather putting paid to many of the water based events.  The original plan had allowed for a race each morning and games in the afternoon, plus an all-day cruise midweek, but the programme had to be regularly revised to ensure there was plenty of land-based entertainment when the wind was too strong to launch the boats.  There was, however, sufficient break in the weather to allow for a number of class races to take place, resulting in some close tussles and varying results:
Cadet Week Class Racing, Overall:
Swallow Trophy: Toppers – Harry Swinbourne
Amazon Trophy: Topazes – Tom and Ed Philpot
Captain Flint Trophy: Hobie 405’s – Ross and Caleb Aylen