The Chase Becomes a Real Cliff Hanger

Gunfleet Sailing Club, last Sunday 15 August, held The Chase, a pursuit race where the slowest handicapped dinghy starts first, followed, at strictly set intervals, by those with faster handicaps until the fastest craft sets off with a whole fleet to catch.

 A south-westerly force three to four wind greeted the competitors and, under a freshly flooding tide, the first away was Yvonne Gough in her Laser 4.7.  Four minutes later it was the turn of the Laser Radials to head off, followed nineteen seconds later by the Solos, and just four seconds after that the Europe of Clare Giles was on its way.  Already the chase was on, but three minutes later the full rigged Laser class got under way followed, almost five minutes after, by Rob Lockett in his Blaze.  Those in the actual race, at that time, were busy beating down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy; Gough keeping an eye over her shoulder as the others edged nearer.  Just over nine minutes after the Blaze, the Dart 16’s were heading out to sea, both sailed single handed with the helms out on the trapeze as they used the strengthening tide to help them on their way.  Three and a half minutes went by before the Dart 18 gave chase and finally, thirty four minutes after Gough had set off, Dan Brzezinski sheeted in hard on his A Class catamaran, got out on the wire, and had the daunting task of trying to catch all the other competitors up.  After the first leg to the windward buoy it was a run back to Eastcliff before a lively reach out to the Seaward mark, a gybe, followed by another reach up the coast to the Kingscliff buoy and a beat through the line.  Still leading, after the first lap was Gough, with Andy Dunnett maintaining second place in his Laser Radial, and Gregg Dunnett holding third place, also in a Laser Radial.  But all this was to change during the second lap when Dunnett moved up to first place and Ken Potts, sailing a Laser with full rig, went from fifth place to second.  All the time the catamarans were starting to pick-off many of the dinghies; Robert Mitchell simply flying on his Dart 16.  With a fixed finish time of 12:30 it was clear that a full third lap would be completed by most competitors and as the craft flew through the line it was now Potts leading with Andy Dunnett second and Mitchell third.  During the race there had been a number of capsizes, Andy Dunnett proceeding to go over for the second time, allowing Mitchell to gain second place as the leaders beat to St. Michael’s for the fourth time.  Then came the run back to Eastcliff, and with Potts sailing straight to the mark and Mitchell downwind tacking, it was difficult to see who was now in the lead.  But with five seconds to go, Potts swung round the Eastcliff buoy with Mitchell just one boat length behind, and the finish horn echoed across the water, concluding a very exciting race.

Results – The Chase:
1.    Laser – Ken Potts
2.    Dart 16 – Robert Mitchell
3.    Laser Radial – Andy Dunnett

Course Board
Date 15 August 2021
Race The Chase
Finish Time 12:30
Wind Strength (Beaufort) Force 3 to 4
Wind Direction South-Westerly
High Tide 17:23
Course St. M - E - S - K - Line