CLACTON Sailing Club held two epic races back-to-back as part of their Class Series.

Force four south-westerly winds built steadily to become a solid force five, with long, rolling swells offshore providing a real work-out for the sailors.

Race officer Cathy Mitchell set a leggy course to allow the fast catamarans to properly get into their stride, with each race designed to last about an hour.

To hit the start line on starboard tack, ready to head out to sea and make the most of the beneficial flooding tide, the cats had to manoeuvre close inshore, worryingly close to the rocky sea defences.

In the first race, Rob Mitchell, sailing with his now regular crew Mark Butchers, made the perfect getaway, closely followed by Larry Foxon and Mike Rolfe in the Hurricane 5.9 and Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey in their Dart 18.

Matt Burrell had teamed-up with Brian Allen in the other Hurricane.

They were late off the start but sportingly raced on, using the opportunity to tune-up together.

The upwind leg was followed by a wild broad reach out to sea, with the crews freeing the sails and trapezing off the rear beams, fearful of allowing the bows to dig in with risk of a catastrophic pitchpole.

Foxon and Rolfe led the fleet from this point onwards but could never really shake the chasing Dart 18.

Easing further into a downwind leg, the helms gunned the fast cats down the swells, with the crews playing the sails and trimming the hulls intentionally nose-down.

Steering from the rudders at these speeds becomes loose and the body posturing of the sailors marks the difference at the front of the fleet.

Luffing hard at the lower mark, the course allowed the windward mark to be made as a close fetch as the first leg of the 'sausage' and then again back downwind, ridding the deepening swells before heading back inshore to complete the lap.

The first race was shortened to two laps and when the handicaps were calculated Boxer and Dempsey took first place, with Mitchell and Butchers second and Foxon and Rolfe third.

The second race began just five minutes after the last boat finished race one. Again the cats clustered close to the rocks and in the closing ten seconds Boxer and Dempsey ran to the ODM and tacked off to make perfect Port Flyer.

However, bad judgement convinced them they were over early and they dipped back to re-cross the line again, leaving Foxon and Rolfe space to escape with a perfect start.

This time, however, the other Hurricane was also on track and gave chase hard on their tail.

The second race was a fascinating demonstration of two evenly-matched fast cats match-racing each other in strong winds with the lead changing at least four times and the two boats rarely more than a few boat lengths apart.

The race officer allowed the full three laps to really test the performance and stamina of the fleet.

On the first lap, Burrell and Allen might have appeared to have the edge but Foxon and Rolfe dug deep.

Both boats pushed each other to raise their game but it was no surprise that when handicaps times were adjusted, Foxon and Mike Rolfe came in a thoroughly well-deserved first place.

Boxed and Dempsey split the Hurricanes for second and Burrell and Allen came in third.