Gunfleet Regatta Heralded A Great Success

It was certainly a very busy weekend for Gunfleet Sailing Club when it held its annual Regatta on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 June 2017, sponsored by Discount Windows and Conservatories of Clacton.

On Saturday it was Cadet Day and, in the morning, the first event was the race for the Cadet Day Trophy.  Lively conditions greeted the Club’s young helms and crews as they contended with a force 4 to 5 wind, occasionally gusting 6 and, in a slightly confused start, it was Tom and Ed Philpot that led the pack in their Hobie 405.  As they headed out to sea, on a beat to the Eastcliff buoy, they found Harry Swinbourne hard on their heels in his Laser.  Jude Aylen capsized his Topaz and, as a result, retired.  Korben Symmonds was the next to capsize, in his Topper, but soon had the boat upright and continued on his way.  On the second leg, out to the Seaward mark, Swinbourne took the lead, whilst the Philpot brothers were being chased by Ross and Caleb Aylen in their Hobie 405.  Slightly further back, in the Topaz fleet, it was Finlay Williams and Lily Kearns-Kennedy that gained quite a commanding lead over nearest rival Thomas Aiken, sailing single-handed, with Harrison Smith and Shona Goodchild just a little further back.  A reach into the AWS buoy, followed by a run up the coast to the Kingscliff mark saw little change in positions, and as the competitors beat back to the line, so completing their first lap, it was Swinbourne with a comfortable lead.  The excitement came in the second lap as the Aylen boys really started to put the pressure on the Philpots but, at the Kingscliff buoy, they capsized so scuppering their chances of a second place.  After a free lunch the Cadets and Otters teamed-up to play games, both on and off the water, culminating with a tug of war and egg throwing.

Results – Cadet Day Trophy:

1. Laser – Harry Swinbourne

2. Hobie 405 – Tom and Ed Philpot

3. Hobie 405 – Ross and Caleb Aylen

On the Sunday Gunfleet held its Open Race Day with visiting sailors from Clacton Sailing Club, Brightlingsea Sailing Club, North Herts and East Beds Sailing Club, and Grafham Water Sailing Club.  Conditions were lively for the competitors with the wind blowing force 4 to 5 on arrival, and building steadily during the day.  The morning race was an all-in handicap for the RNLI Charity Shield.  Twenty four craft bunched at the line and, as the start horn echoed across the water, Derroll Pedder found himself on the wrong side in his Solution; as did Liam and Ian Wright on their Dart 18.  The Individual Recall flag was duly hoisted and whilst Pedder returned to correct his error, the Wrights carried on and were therefore disqualified.  The first leg was a beat down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy and, with the flood tide under them, the craft headed out to sea to gain the full benefit.  From there it was a run back to Eastcliff before an impressive reach out the Seaward buoy.  The Spitfire Catamaran, sailed by James Stacey and Cat Elson from Brightlingsea, made an impressive sight as they hoisted their spinnaker and simply took-off.  The wind was continuing to increase which resulted in several capsizes and a number of retirements.  One particular casualty was Steve and Daisy Swinbourne who turtled their RS200 on the broad reach out to sea.  Many competitors braved the gybe at the offshore mark, with most of them managing to stay upright, but a few more wisely tacked around which, whilst slower, proved a lot safer.  A fetch followed, from Seaward to AWS, and then it was back out to sea before a second gybe, a reach up the coast to the Kingscliff buoy and a beat back through the line.  By the end of the first lap the lead, on handicap, was taken by Gunfleet’s Ken Potts, with visitor Andy Everitt second and local John Tappenden third, all sailing Lasers but, as the race continued, the Dart 16 of Robert Mitchell and Mark Butchers, from Clacton Sailing Club, moved up the fleet into third place. 

Results – RNLI Charity Shield:

1. Laser – Ken Potts - Gunfleet Sailing Club

2. Laser – Andy Everitt - North Herts and East Beds Sailing Club

3. Dart 16 – Robert Mitchell and Mark Butchers - Clacton Sailing Club

First Cadets Home:  James Stacey and Cat Elson - Brightlingsea Sailing Club

Whilst rebuilding their strength over lunch in the Clubhouse, the sailors could only watch as the wind increased to the top of a force 6. 

In the afternoon the Club held class racing and first away were the catamarans.  They simply lapped-up the conditions that took them on a long beat down the coast to the Pier buoy, before heading out to the Seaward mark on a screaming reach.  Once more there was some tricky gybing before hurtling into shore, back out again, up to the Kingscliff buoy and a beat through the line.  On the first lap disaster struck the Wright father and son when their cat underwent a spectacular capsize, but the speed in which they got it back up was very impressive and it seemed just seconds before they were in full swing again.  At the end of the first lap it was a lead for Mitchell and Butchers but, by the end of the second lap the Wrights had taken top spot; maintaining the lead on the third and final lap.  The “other” Rob Mitchell, with his son Toby, found conditions just a little too lively, as the wind peaked at force 7, and headed back to Clacton Sailing Club on their Dart 16.

The next class to start was the Topper fleet but such were the conditions that all entries retired after making little headway against a now strong ebbing tide.

There was certainly some exciting sailing in the Topaz fleet with all entries capsizing as they completed the course, but nobody retired and it was a credit to Cadets Harrison Smith, Mac Symmonds and Thomas Aiken that they battled on through fairly atrocious conditions.

The next fleet was planned to be the Comets but when Peter Downer launched, and subsequently ripped the rudder pintle off his boat, the helms decided to sit this one out.  

Meanwhile the Hobie 405s were storming up and down the start line, clearly champing at the bit.  Charlie and Harry Spence had a very good start and, being mindful that the tide had now changed, tacked in towards shore whilst Conor and Finlay Williams headed out to sea.  After beating up to the St. Michael’s buoy the 405s then reached out to sea and, at this point, Ross and Caleb Aylen hoisted their asymmetric spinnaker and just took off, but the exhilaration was short lived when the boat capsized.  Not deterred, they righted it and, still flying the kite, proceeded until the next capsize; at this point the spinnaker got all tangled-up under the boat and they were forced to retire.

Finally the Laser fleet got underway, lead by Everitt, and they too beat down the coast to the St. Michael’s mark, before heading out to sea.  From there it was in to the AWS buoy, back out to Seaward, before reaching up to Kingscliff and heading back through the line on a beat.  Capsizes were not infrequent with Rob Lockett definitely claiming the prize for the most that day.  Robert Gutteridge retired on the second lap, by which time John Tappenden had taken the lead.

Class Racing Winners:

David Foster Catamaran Challenge Trophy:

1. Dart 18 – Liam and Ian Wright - Clacton Sailing Club

2. Dart 16 – Robert Mitchell and Mark Butchers - Clacton Sailing Club

3. Spitfire – James Stacey and Cat Elson - Brightlingsea Sailing Club


Mad Hatter Trophy for Toppers:

All entries retired


Dave Fowell Trophy for Topazes:

1. Harrison Smith and Mac Symmonds - Gunfleet Sailing Club

2. Thomas Aiken - Gunfleet Sailing Club


Tim Webster Tankard for Comets:

All entries retired


Helmsdale Trophy for Hobie 405s:

1. Conor and Finlay Williams - Gunfleet Sailing Club

2. Charlie and Harry Spence - Gunfleet Sailing Club

3. Harry Swinbourne and Tom Philpot - Gunfleet Sailing Club


Paxton Trophy for Lasers:

1. John Tappenden - Gunfleet Sailing Club

2. Andy Everitt - North Herts and East Beds Sailing Club

3. Paul Stanton - Gunfleet Sailing Club

Course Board
Date 24 & 25 June 2017
Race Regatta Weekend
Start Time See Course Charts
Wind Strength (Beaufort) Force 4-5, increasing 6
Wind Direction South-westerly
High Tide Sat 13:33 Sun 13:24
Course See separate Course Charts