Andy Proves King Of The Capsizes!

The fifth race in Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Winter Series was held last Sunday 7 November in some rather lively conditions which, once again, saw Ken Potts claiming victory in his Laser.

The forecasted force four to six winds appeared to be incorrect as the sailors rigged their boats on the beach; a force three to four south-westerly breeze, coupled with sunshine and blue skies setting the scene.  But as time ticked on the wind began to veer round and increase in strength, causing consternation as to which rig was best to use.  As the boats sailed up and down the line the strength of the wind became obvious and the helms made several dummy runs to the line to assess the best position to start.  Bang on the top of the hour the competitors got underway with Potts leading, Paul Stanton right on his tail, in his Laser, and Andy Dunnett just behind, also in a Laser.  Eddie White was quick to realise that conditions were just a bit too much for him and brought his Comet swiftly back to the shore, whilst the rest of the fleet cracked-on, beating down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy.  Very quickly Robert Mitchell and Brian Allen overtook the Lasers on their Dart 16 catamaran, choosing to sail fast but wide, bearing off the wind slightly and really picking up speed; the downside being the need to travel further.  Meanwhile Potts pointed as high as he could, taking advantage of every slight wind shift to try and hold a course direct to the buoy; under the lee of the cliffs and gaining slightly less of the beneficial flood tide than those further out to sea.   This tactic appeared to pay off as, having tacked, the Dart 16 found itself heading straight for Potts and being forced to bear-away behind him as the catamaran was on port tack.  Meanwhile Dunnett also took a slightly broader approach to reaching the mark whilst Stanton hardened up and pointed high.  First to round St. Michael's were Mitchell and Allen, followed by Potts; whilst Dunnett capsized as he got close to the buoy so allowing Stanton to round it in third place; Yvonne Gough not far behind in her Laser.  The second leg was a run out to the Seaward mark which, yet again, saw different tactics.  The Lasers headed in a straight line, wind immediately behind them, whilst the Dart 16 downwind tacked; its extra speed making up for the extra ground covered.  All eyes were on the mark, to witness Potts arrive first but positions were to soon change on the screaming reach in to the Kingscliff buoy, the Dart kicking-up a flurry of spray, the crew flat out on the wire as some very impressive speeds were reached.  Back out at Seaward, Dunnett capsized for the second time and, after he capsized for the third time at the Kingscliff buoy, he decided to retire.  The final leg, a beat back to the line, saw Potts in first place, Stanton second, and Mitchell and Allen third; Gough also retired, after one lap.  During the second lap the wind veered still further and some vicious squalls blew through; Potts being caught out on the reach and finding himself in the water.  By now the Dart 16 had moved up to second place whilst Stanton decided two laps were all he could take and he too retired.  The remainder of the race was a battle between Potts, and Mitchell and Allen, as they coped with a force six wind, with Potts just clinching the race.

Results – Winter Series - 5:
1.    Laser – Ken Potts
2.    Dart 16 – Robert Mitchell and Brian Allen
All other entrants retired.