GUNFLEET Sailing Club held their 2019 Regatta with a full day of racing and many visiting sailors.

The morning race was for the RNLI Shield, with the entry fee being by donation to Clacton Lifeboat Station.

The weather looked very promising, with blue skies, unbroken sunshine and a gentle south/south-westerly breeze.

The craft ranged from the small Topper dinghies to the large visiting Hurricane catamarans from Clacton Sailing Club, all forming a marvellous spectacle as they edged towards the start line, the last of the flood tide accelerating them forward. Unfortunately, both Andy Dunnett and Andy Cornforth were just a bit too eager and, as the race got underway, the individual recall flag pointed out the error of their ways.

Cornforth was quick to return back to the line, cross it correctly and still be in the thick of things.

Dunnett, despite being the leading dinghy, took a little longer to spot his mistake and delayed his correct start by three minutes.

The first leg was a beat down the coast to St Michael’s buoy and all seemed to be going well when suddenly the wind fell away to just a whisper.

There then started a painful game of making very slow headway until round the buoy, by which time it was slack water, and then reaching back to the Eastcliff mark.

At this early stage, Harry Swinbourne and Jess McLean-Wright were in a very strong position, as they flew the asymmetric kite on their RS200.

However, at such an early stage, things could change - and they did.

By the time the third leg, from Eastcliff to Seaward, was underway, Ken Potts was leading in his RS600, followed by Tattingstone Valley Sailing Club’s Ben Power in his RS Aero.

These top two positions remained as the competitors broad reached in to the AWS buoy, with Larry Foxon and Mike Rolfe easing their Hurricane into third spot.

At the other end of the fleet, the daunting thought of making painfully slow progress around the course resulted in a few retirements, starting with Alfie Searles in his Topper, with several Laser sailors making the same decision. Meanwhile, picking off the boats were Mark and George Venables in their Hurricane, followed by Martin and Debbie Chivers in a Dart 18.

Seventy minutes after the start the leading craft, Potts’ RS600 rounded the penultimate buoy and up went the shorten course flag.

Ironically, within minutes the breeze filled-in and freshened, helping the slower-handicapped boats.

Results: RNLI Shield: 1 RS Aero – Ben Powell, 2 Comet – Peter Downer, 3 Europe – Clare Giles.

First Cadet home: Topper – Harrison Smith.

Following lunch, the wind had freshened nicely to a force four and the class racing got underway, starting with the catamarans, and continuing with Toppers, Comets, Lasers and a menagerie fleet.

After many close tussles the winners were:

David Foster Catamaran Challenge Trophy – Hurricane: Brian Allen and Dan Brzezinski.

Mad Hatter Challenge Cup for Toppers – Harrison Smith.

Tim Webster Tankard for Comets – Peter Downer.

Paxton Trophy for Lasers – Paul Stanton.

1893 Regatta Trophy for Menagerie Class – RS600: Ken Potts.