Ken Conquers In Chronic Conditions

Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Winter Series appears to be fated, with the penultimate race being held on Sunday 21 November, once again, in strong and gusting offshore winds that veered and backed throughout the event.

The competitors held back as the seconds ticked by, before accelerating through the start line and off on a reach up the coast to the first buoy at Kingscliff.  Ken Potts led the dinghies, in his Laser, with Andy Dunnett close behind and then Paul Stanton, both also sailing Lasers, but it was only a couple of minutes before Robert Mitchell and Brian Allen simply flew up to the front in their Dart 16.  However, having got level with Potts, they hit a hole in the wind and for a few seconds seemed to stall, and then the wind returned and they were away.  The second leg should have been a broad reach out to the Seaward buoy but such were the wind shifts that it took every ounce of concentration to set the sails correctly; not helped by the flood tide drawing the boats towards Clacton Pier.  It was, in fact, this leg that saw a number of capsizes but the Dart 16 seemed to be lapping it up, sending great showers of spray as it sliced through the water.  Stanton found the conditions just a bit too much and decided to return to shore.  Once round Seaward it was a beat into the AWS buoy before a run back out to sea, and by now there had been several further capsizes, or near capsizes, and it appeared that the race was more a case of survival conditions.  Next to come in was Rob Lockett in his Laser followed, a little later, by Dunnett.  There was certainly no stopping Mitchell and Allen, who kept their Dart powered-up and hammering from the offshore mark down to the St. Michael’s buoy like a “cat out of hell”.  As they reached back through the line it was evident they had built up a strong lead, with Potts quite a way behind and, to those on shore, there seemed to be nothing stopping them.  But as they continued to make fine progress a shackle pin on the traveller came undone and whilst the crew managed to heave-too and make running repairs, it allowed Potts to not only catch-up, but also overtake the stricken pair; sailing on to the finishing line and taking victory.

Course Board
Date 21 November 2021
Race Winter Series 7
Start Time 11:00
Wind Strength (Beaufort) Force 4 to 6
Wind Direction North/North-Westerly
High Tide 12:33
Course K - S - AWS - S - St. M - Line