THE 2017 racing season got underway at Clacton Sailing Club with the previously-postponed Equinox Race.

Cats and Monohulls raced together in fabulous force three south-easterlies and the start line was closely contested.

Husband-and-wife Rob and Cathy Mitchell, in their Dart 16, have clearly got their starts wired this year and have been consistently hitting the line at speed as the gun went during training.

Brothers Gleb and Anton Petrovski chose to use club Topper and Topaz dinghies and were mixing it up on the line with these highly manoeuvrable and fun boats.

Dan Brzezinski and Matt Burrell each chose to sail their Dart 18s single-handedly and took on the other catamarans that included Dart 16s being sailed by Mark and George Venables and Brian Allen.

Pete Boxer completed the mix of boats, sailing his A Class for the first time.

The race course took the fleet out to sea into the onshore winds with a short reach before heading back downwind back to the beach.

Beating, reaching and running are the three disciplines of any sailing boat and fairly tested the skills and fitness of the fleet for the first event of the season.

Rob and Cathy Mitchell took a well-deserved first place after the handicap results were calculated and completely proved their coaches' point about the importance of making a good start.

The 2017 racing season continues every Sunday.

Sailors of any ability are welcome to join the fun at Clacton Sailing Club up at Holland Haven.

n In the previous two weeks, Clacton members have been busy having race training sessions, organised by local champions Ian and Liam Wright.

They were well-attended by sailors aiming to improve their performance ‘around the cans’.

Many of the training exercises were aimed at improving boat-handling in the closing seconds of the start line.

Ian explained how a thorough knowledge of racing rules is essential to be able to secure the best position as each of the boats jostled during the repeated practise five-minute start sequences. Competitors were encouraged to call the rights of way and there were many penalty 360s taken as a competitive spirit developed.