With Gunfleet Sailing Club holding the third race in its Autumn Series last Sunday 19 September, things really started hotting-up after Andy Cornforth took his Laser Radial to a clear victory; each of the series three races being won by different helms and just one more race to go.
The force three, touching four, east/south-easterly wind made for ideal conditions although the one question in many competitors’ mind was would it increase as the race went on? This uncertainty lead to Cornforth and Yvonne Gough both hoisting their radial rigs, whilst the rest of the Laser fleet stuck with the full rig. With twelve dinghies taking to the water there was quite a bunch at the start line, with the last of the flood tide holding the craft back as helms edged their way forward. As the class flag fell from the yardarm, signifying the start, both Robert Mitchell and Jono Dunnett found themselves just over the line in their Lasers, but as the individual recall flag was hoisted they both realised their mistake and immediately dipped back behind the line to start again.
The first leg, a beat up the coast to the Preston Park buoy, saw the whole fleet close to shore on starboard tack in order to mitigate the effect of the negative tidal flow. Immediately Cornforth took a lead, despite his smaller rig, and stayed sufficiently ahead to avoid any dirty wind that was impacting on so many of his competitors. As the fleet rounded Preston Park it was Cornforth, followed by Andy Dunnett, Jono Dunnett, and Brian Allen, all in Laser full rigs. Peter Downer was less fortunate when the rudder pintle on the transom of his Comet pulled out, leaving him in need of assistance from the Club’s Rescue Boat in returning hastily to shore. The second leg was a close reach to the Seaward mark and as they gybed around, to then head to the Lilley Farm buoy, Mitchell had got ahead of Allen; but it wasn’t until this point that Andy Dunnett managed to level-up with Cornforth. The run down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy lead to a bit of “rock and rolling” but nobody capsized, and all too soon the leaders were heading back, close hauled, to the line. Jono Dunnett lost a bit of time misreading the Eastcliff buoy for the Outer Distance Mark and did a 360 degree turn to make sure he went inside it; only afterwards seeing the name on the mark and realising it was not part of the course. At the end of the first lap Cornforth had a solid lead and as the tide was due to turn so Mitchell, now overtaken by Paul Stanton, decided to tack out to sea on the second lap but this failed to pay off. However, by the start of the third lap this tactic was the right move and some positions did change. All the time the wind was dropping, and whilst Cornforth held onto his lead it was Eddie White in his Comet that took second place; Jono Dunnett managing to get in front of his father, Andy, to gain third.
Results – Autumn Series - 3:
1. Laser Radial – Andy Cornforth
2. Comet – Eddie White
3. Laser – Jono Dunnett
|19 September 2021
|Autumn Series - 3
|Wind Strength (Beaufort)
|Force 3 to 4 falling
|PP - S - LF - St. M - Line