Peter Takes His Comet To Victory

The Gunfleet Sailing Club’s Winter Series commenced in almost summer-like conditions last Sunday 10 October, with Peter Downer claiming the first race in his Comet.

A light north/north-westerly wind provided a flat sea as the competitors launched from the shore but the breeze started to freshen a little as the minutes ticked away.  The helms edged towards the line on a reach, cautiously avoiding being swept across prematurely by the flooding tide, with just seconds to go.  Unfortunately Eddie White was over eager in his Comet and already realised his error in being the wrong side, as the starting signal fell from the yardarm; heading back to correctly cross it as the individual recall flag was broken out.  John Tappenden lead the dinghies, in his RS Aero, as they reached down the coast to the Eastcliff buoy, Andy Cornforth being right behind him in his Laser.  Downer, who was closer to the shore, immediately took up third place, with plenty of bunching as the first leg progressed.  As they rounded the mark it was Tappenden, Cornforth, then Paul Stanton and Carlo Bardetti, both sailing Lasers.  There followed a run out to the Lilley Farm buoy and Bardetti slipped ahead of both Stanton and Cornforth to head the Laser fleet.  The third leg was a reach out to the Seaward buoy and this was a chance to see who could avoid being dragged off course by the tide; Downer showing the rest of the fleet just how to do it.  As the boats hardened-up when rounding the offshore mark there appeared to be two trains of thought.  With the forth leg being a beat into the AWS buoy, Tappenden and Cornforth tacked and headed towards Clacton Pier, whilst many of the others headed up the coast before tacking, so letting the tide take them onto the AWS mark.  The latter tactic clearly paid off as Stanton made the buoy first and then headed towards Preston Park, the rest in hot pursuit.  Tappenden just slipped ahead but as the dinghies beat to Kingscliff, Stanton tacked tight and got a lift at the right time, allowing him to lay the mark and reach straight back to the line.  With all this going on at the front of the fleet it was easy to miss those slower handicapped boats further back, and whilst Stanton had Tappenden on handicap, at the end of the first lap, it was Downer that beat them all.  Just a little further back was Cornforth, and just seconds behind him came Brian Allen in his Laser.  The second lap saw much grim determination amongst the helms, and halfway round the course, Cornforth slipped ahead of Stanton, Tappenden pulled away, but nobody managed to make sufficient ground on Downer who took the winning gun.

Results – Winter Series - 1:
1.    Comet – Peter Downer
2.    Laser – Andy Cornforth
3.    Laser – Paul Stanton