Simon Takes His Europe To Victory In Difficult Conditions

After three successive Wednesday evening sails in almost perfect conditions, Gunfleet Sailing Club members were probably due for a slight change in the elements, and that is exactly what they got o 22 May 2024.  Plenty of cloud, some of which was dark and rain-threatening, plus a south westerly wind that gusted into a force six was what greeted the competitors as they launched into a grey and murky north-sea.

Reaching up and down the line meant quite a bunch as the start got underway and, unfortunately, Adam Kedge was just the wrong side in his Topper and had to return to correct his error.  By then Simon Kedge, who had planned to sail his GP14 singlehanded, realised it was going to be a bit too much of a handful and retired.  With a freshly flooding tide under them, the competitors beat down the coast to the Eastcliff buoy, tacking out to sea to gain the full benefit, but John Tappenden decided to retire, in his RS Aero, finding conditions not to his liking.  As they rounded the windward mark it was Simon Clarke leading in his Europe, followed by Robert Mitchell in his Laser, and the Tim Dye, also in a Laser.  Dye then proceeded to carry out a death roll, so allowing Andy Dunnett to fly past in his Laser; it was certainly proving to be a lively race.  Mitchell swept past Clarke but as he gybed around the Seaward buoy he too capsized, allowing Clarke to regain his lead.  Derroll Pedder was the next to capsize, as he gybed, in his RS Aero, whilst Dunnett took the safer option and tacked around.  Unfortunately for Paul Jackson and Chris Sutton, in their GP14, they too capsized but in trying to right the boat, snapped the centreboard.  As if this wasn’t enough, the forestay broke, causing the mast to come completely down, but fortunately the Club’s safety boat was soon alongside and, having scooped-up the crew, towed the stricken GP14 back to the shore.  Meanwhile, Mitchell had recovered from his capsize and was hard on the heels of Clarke as they reached in to the AWS buoy when, once again he capsized.  Having righted the Laser for the second time he gave chase to Clarke, with Dye fighting to get back in with the leaders.  The dead run up the coast to the Kingscliff buoy saw some more capsizes, and when Mitchell went over for the third time, he decided he had really had enough and returned back to the shore.  Pedder was next to retire, and it wasn’t long before Dunnett found himself exhausted, and he too retired.

Dye eventually caught up with, and overtook Clarke, despite further capsizes, but could not gain sufficient lead to beat Clarke on handicap; and whilst all this was going on, cadet Kedge skilfully sailed his Topper into an impressive third place.

Results – Tony Chadd Series - 4:
1.    Europe – Simon Clarke
2.    Laser –Tim Dye
3.    Topper – Adam Kedge