Terrific Start To First Wednesday Evening Race

Fine weather greeted the start of the Wednesday evening racing, on 1 May, at Gunfleet Sailing Club and it was great to see twenty dinghies take to the water.  Such was the enthusiasm by the sailors that several found themselves on the wrong side of the line at the start and, immediately, the General Recall flag was hoisted.  Unfortunately, at the second start, one boat was still too eager and although the Individual Recall flag was broken out, the Laser sailor, Tim Dye, continued and was therefore disqualified.  Having his own problems was Brian Allen who capsized his RS Aero moments before the start and lost several minutes in righting the boat.  Meanwhile the fleet was tacking up the coast, under a freshly ebbing tide, on its way to the Kingscliff buoy.  The majority of boats headed out to sea, in order to gain maximum lift, and as they reached the mark it was Ken Potts leading in his Laser, followed by John Tappenden in his RS Aero; then Dye, with Andy Dunnett and Robert Mitchell level pegging, and Paul Stanton, all in Lasers.  The second leg was a broad reach out to the Seaward buoy, a quick gybe, and then a closer reach into the AWS mark.  The top positions remained unaltered until the run down the coast to the St. Michael’s buoy when Tappenden slipped past Potts; Derroll Pedder’s RS Aero now alongside Stanton’s Laser, and Mitchell and Dunnett apparently inseparable.  Once round St. Michael’s it was a beat back to the line, and at this point the fresh force three north-easterly wind had fallen to more of a light breeze.  Further down the fleet, Simon Clarke had kept his Europe ahead of both Dave Ingle and Martin Chivers, in their RS Aeros; Simon Kedge kept Paul Jackson at bay in their GP14’s and Michael Gutteridge made sure his Solo stayed ahead of Andy Stafford’s Laser.  

At the end of the first lap, Potts had taken the lead on handicap, followed by Tappenden, and then Stanton, who had recently overtaken a number of his fellow Laser sailors.  The second lap was a slower affair, with the wind abating. Yvonne Gough worked her Laser up the ranks, as did Tom Bartlett in his Topaz, showing a number of faster handicapped boats a clean pair of heels; meanwhile Allen had worked his way back into the thick of things.  Dunnett and Mitchell continued to sail alongside each other as though their hulls were glued together, and although they finished with just one second between them, on handicap Tappenden split the pair – demonstrating the excitement of racing at Gunfleet.

Results – Tony Chadd Series - 1:
1.    Laser – Ken Potts
2.    Laser – Paul Stanton
3.    Laser – Andy Dunnett