The Calm Between The Storms

Members of the Gunfleet Sailing Club made the most of the window of opportunity when the previous day’s rough weather abated sufficiently to hold the race for the Fleet Championship on Sunday 3 October.  

In fact it was a pleasant force three south-westerly wind that greeted the competitors as they launched into a rather grey North Sea and started to position themselves for the start.  With the seconds ticking away it was very unfortunate that Brian Allen capsized his Laser and the freshly ebbing tide swept him away from the line; the Club’s Rescue Boats standing off as Allen righted the boat and threw himself back into the race.  Meanwhile the event had got underway with Ken Potts getting a fine start by sailing into the shore, tacking, hardening-up and just hooking round the Inner Distance Mark before tacking again and starting a long beat down to the St. Michael’s buoy, groyne-hopping all the way.  The majority of the other helms followed a similar tactic in order to mitigate the negative effect of the falling tide.  Just behind Potts was Paul Stanton who had rigged a radial sail on his Laser as the forecast suggested the imminent arrival of stronger winds.  Despite the reduced sail size he managed to hold Andy Dunnett back, whose Laser had a full rig, by constantly catching him on starboard tack; the port boat always having to give way.  Eddie White drove his Comet hard on the slog down the coast but, in the end, retired gracefully as the strengthening tide proved a little too much.  Potts was first to reach the windward mark and, once round, he simply flew down wind, now with the tide under him, as he headed for the Eastcliff buoy; Dunnett was next round, and Stanton just behind.  After Eastcliff it was an exhilarating reach out to the Seaward buoy, a gybe, and then a closer reach back in to the AWS mark.  This leg caught a number of sailors out as their boats took a “banana” line, being pulled off course by the tide.  After a run to Preston Park buoy it was close hauled to Kingscliff before beating back to the line.  By now Potts had built up a strong lead and looked unstoppable, and all eyes were on who would be in second place.  Dunnett had maintained a the lead on Stanton, but only just, when he capsized, having tacked close to a groyne; this allowed Stanton to sail past him.  As the first lap concluded, Allen had worked his way up the fleet and was not far behind Yvonne Gough in her Laser Radial and it wasn’t long before he had overtaken her; only to lose the position when he capsized on the gybe at Seaward.  None of this impacted on the leaders and with the original three laps being shortened to two, it was Potts that took a commanding first place.
Results – Fleet Championship:
1.    Laser – Ken Potts
2.    Laser – Paul Stanton
3.    Laser – Andy Dunnett