Autumn Series Starts With Some Exciting Sailing

Gunfleet Sailing Club members took part in the first race of the Autumn Series last Sunday 5 September, with Ken Potts recording a comfortable win in his Laser.

Conditions were near perfect for the sailors, with blue sky, sunshine, and a force four north-easterly wind.  In the last of the flood tide the competitors nudged themselves up to the line for the start; Paul Stanton heading to the Inner Distance Mark on port tack and, with perfect timing, tacking onto starboard as he reached it, just as the class flag fell from the yardarm.  Meanwhile the rest of the fleet were already on starboard tack, but slightly further out to sea, and the boats made an impressive sight as they headed towards the shore on the beat up the coast.  Potts immediately appeared to lead the Lasers but John Tappenden, on an opposite tack in his RS Aero crossed in front of him and appeared to be in a strong position.  Slightly further back, in amongst the Lasers, was Malcolm Smith in his Comet, whilst Robert Mitchell hit a problem very early on when the rivets pulled out from the kicking-strap fitting on his boom and he was forced to sail the whole race without the vang.  Stanton, whilst on port tack, found it necessary to bear away behind Clare Giles who caught him on starboard in her Europe.  The helms continued to stay close to the shore to mitigate the negative effect of the tide and on arrival at the windward buoy it was Andy Dunnett that was first round in his Laser, followed by Potts, and then Brian Allen, also in a Laser.  At this point Eddie White retired in his Comet, the new boat he is still getting to grips with.  The second leg was a broad reach out to the Seaward mark, a gybe, before a narrower reach into the AWS buoy; with Dunnett and Potts now neck and neck, whilst Allen continued to hold onto third place.  It was then down to Lilley Farm buoy before a run to the St. Michael’s mark, at which point Potts was sailing by the lee.  As the boats hardened-up for the long beat back to the line it was slightly surprising that Tappenden, having started so well and then messed-up on the first leg, capsized and dropped back to last place whilst righting his craft.  As they completed the first lap it was Potts eight seconds in front of Dunnett, followed by Giles.  The second lap saw Tappenden claw his way back up the fleet, but insufficiently to impact on the leaders who remained the same except that Potts had opened the gap to almost a minute.

Results – Autumn Series - 1:
1.    Laser – Ken Potts
2.    Laser – Andy Dunnett
3.    Europe – Clare Giles