A Trio of Tussles but Potts Pips Them All to the Post

Gunfleet Sailing Club held one of its 3 in 1 races, this time for the Bill Clarke Shield, and after some very close sailing it was won by Ken Potts.

The sun shone on a flat sea but the northerly offshore wind warned the competitors that there would be gusty conditions ahead.  The freshly flooding tide held the competitors back at the start of the first race with Robert Mitchell leading the fleet up the coast to the Kingscliff buoy in his Laser, and Malcolm Smith behind him in his Comet.  Mitchell was first to round the windward mark but by now Potts was just behind in his Laser; Andy Dunnett followed shortly after, also in a Laser.  As the boats ran out to the Seaward buoy Potts allowed perfectly for the drag of the tide and slipped into the lead.  The beat from Seaward to the AWS mark saw little change and Mitchell clung to Potts on the reach to Lilley Farm, maintaining the close proximity throughout the beat down to Eastcliff and then on the close-hauled last leg to the finish line; Andy Dunnett remaining in third place.

Mitchell appeared just a little too early at the start line in the second race and ducked-back at the last few second to avoid being the wrong side.  This allowed Andy Dunnett to take an early lead with his son Gregg, also in a Laser, being just behind.  Then the fleet fell into a wind hole, until the leading three boats caught the first breath of wind and powered away, Andy Dunnett being first round Kingscliff buoy.  But, as in the previous race, Potts edged his way up to the front, whilst Eddie White capsized in his Comet and got parted from his dinghy.  The Club Rescue Boat soon picked him up and reunited him with his craft but it did lead to a retirement having accepted outside assistance.  Brian Allen also capsized his Laser but whilst he was not slow in righting it, he still saw a number of competitors sail passed him.  Positions then settled with Potts gaining a comfortable lead followed by Dunnett and then Mitchell.

The third and final race saw Mitchell have a clear lead, with Andy Dunnett having to duck-back this time which resulted in starting more inshore; this did, however, reduce the negative effect of the tide, and luck provided a puff of wind that put him at the Kingscliff mark first.  Once at the Seaward buoy Mitchell split from the fleet, as the boats beat down to AWS, and headed into the tide, whilst Allen, for the second time, capsized at the gybe mark.  As the majority of Lasers then tacked onto the AWS buoy it becomes clear they had overstepped the lay line, resulting in crossing behind Mitchell who now lead the field to Lilley Farm buoy, and then down to Eastcliff.  But Potts would not be beaten and whilst Mitchell called starboard, Potts managed to outpoint his nearest competitor and so to take the last race and overall victory.

Results – Bill Clarke Shield:
1.    Laser – Ken Potts
2.    Laser – Robert Mitchell
3.    Laser – Andy Dunnett

Course Board
Date 29 August 2021
Race Bill Clarke Shield
Start Time 11:00 : 11:35 : 12:05
Wind Strength (Beaufort) Force 3 to 4
Wind Direction Northerly
High Tide 16:56
Course K - S - AWS - LF - E - Line