Hertford County Shield Race A Real Spectacle

There was a strong turnout of competitors for the Hertford County Shield race at Gunfleet Sailing Club last Sunday morning 10 May, with a pleasant force three south/south westerly wind greeting the sailors as they rigged their craft.  Under a freshly flooding tide the boats jockeyed for position and as they edged their way towards the start line so the wind swung southerly and freshened to force four.  One or two helms were just a bit too eager to be right on the button and, at the last minute, were forced to go about to avoid jumping the gun, so losing valuable time.  On the other hand the two RS 400’s avoided this trap and got clean away, beating along the shore to the windward mark, followed by Robert Gutteridge in his Solution.  Also getting a good start were the Philpot brothers in their Topaz, doggedly remaining in the thick of the fleet on the first leg, and showing some of the faster handicapped craft a thing or two.  After some nail-biting sailing it was Ken Potts who tacked round the first buoy in his RS 600; Paul Davis and Beth Ford just a hair’s breadth away in their RS 400.  This certainly proved exciting stuff to the many spectators that were watching from onshore.  There then followed a fetch out to the Seaward mark before a run up the coast, the latter leg seeing some splendid downwind tacking with asymmetric kites flying nicely.  However, it was also on this leg that a few crews found their spinnakers badly knotted and valuable seconds were lost as they furiously fought to unravel the mess and get the all important extra sail hoisted correctly.  Positions changed and changed again, Simon Clarke and Emily Cossens losing further time putting in a penalty 360 degree turn after hitting one of the race marks in their RS 400.  Meanwhile, a little less fraught further back, Peter Downer calmly sailed a very clean course in his Comet and kept the faster handicapped Lasers on their toes by refusing to drop back.  By the end of the first lap Potts had carved-out a reasonable lead whilst on the second lap some competitors were hit with further misfortunes; Dave Fowell and Derroll Pedder having to contend with problems to their rudder throughout the race.  Potts was, however, in his element and went on to strengthen his lead in the third, and final, lap.
Results – Hertford County Shield:
1. RS 600 – Ken Potts
2. Blaze – John Tappenden
3. Laser – Andy Dunnett