CSC Regatta - Race Report - July 2017

The strong winds forecast for last Sunday nearly caused the cancellation of the Clacton Sailing Clubs annual Regatta but the Commodores go-ahead decision on the day provided some of the most memorable high-wind racing as experienced local crews revelled in the challenging conditions.

Crews in Club House - Regatta 2017

Visiting dinghy competitors from Gunfleet Sailing Club joined with the RNLI rescue crews to attend the formal opening speech from previous Commodore Bernard Evans with his wife Vivienne. As the oldest member of the club Bernard recalled how this would be his 55th CSC Regatta and he wished everyone a safe days racing.

RNLI Trophy Race

The morning RNLI trophy race got underway in brisk F4 winds and building southerly swells with the cats and monohulls jostling close inshore to make the most of the starboard line bias. Matt Burrell with his now regular crew Dan Brzezinski in the fastest boat in the mixed handicap fleet was soon clean away off the line making the windward mark first and in fact went on to be outright winner.

Matt Burrell and Dan Brzezinski - RNLI Trophy 2017

Pictured above: Helm Matt Burrell and his crew Dan Brzezinski receiving the RNLI trophy

Rob Mitchell with George Vennables took 2nd place in their distinctive yellow Dart 16. Then a pair of Lasers from Gunfleet SC were placed a highly respectable 3rd and 4th place with Robert Gutteridge taking first place mono ahead of Paul Stanton.

'Scary fast'

Once round the windward mark the fun really began as the course took the fleet out to sea on a ‘scary fast’ broad reach before heading further downwind to the 3rd mark. Having just joined Clacton Sailing Club the week before Trevor Kettle found himself crewing for Pete Boxer on a Dart 18 catamaran and after only a few minutes of instruction was flat out on the trapeze enjoying the wild ride of his first cat race.

Robert Gutteridge - CSC Regatta 2017

Pictured above: Robert Gutteridge of Gunfleet Sailing Club wins first Mono home in the RNLI Trophy

The race developed into something of an endurance event as once the tide changed the wind and swell increased. Most crews would have been happy to see the course shorten flag go up but Commodore and Race Office Derek Cheek maintained the original 3 laps for cats and 2 for monos.

Special Mention

Special mention to Ted Nelson who attempted the race in a Topper dinghy but was forced to retire as the conditions deteriorated.

Everyone had a wild-eyed story to tell and some bruises as evidence as sailors from the two local clubs enjoyed the lunchtime social gathering.

CUDC Cup Race

The Regatta events continued in the afternoon with the CUDC cup race. A course change from the morning replaced the upwind/downwind sausage by two beam reaches which were predicted to be fast and a reduction to two laps meant that this race would be over in half an hour.

Strong winds

Another clean start line and the fleet beat into the building swell with winds now reaching force 5 or 6 in the gusts.

A sailing boat can usually be sailed to windward in extreme conditions like these by feathering or spilling the wind but everyone knew it would be the downwind legs that would be a test of nerve.

On the reaches each boat would reach or exceed it’s design top speed limit whilst surfing the long swell lines. Steering would be lost at times as both rudders of the catamarans lost grip in the water and control would become instinctive by crews half blinded by stinging spray.

Retirement

Matt Burrell and Dan Brzezinski having proven their prowess in the morning decided that discretion was the wise thing and retired after the first reach and risky gybe out to sea. Matt was heard to complain that there was simply no way to slow his Hurricane down!

Robert Mitchell and George Venables - CDUC Cup 2017

Pictured above: Rob Mitchell and his crew Victor Gomez - winners of the CUDC Cup

Robert Gutteridge as the top dinghy helm from the morning also took the decision to retire in his Laser leaving a diminished fleet of just 6 cats on the water to battle it out.

There were more crew changes in the afternoon with Pete Boxer teaming-up with Pauline Smith and Rob Mitchell in the yellow Dart 16 sailing with another new member Victor Gomez.

Amazingly tight racing

Racing was amazingly tight and the first 3 cats rounded the final gybe mark together. Running fast and loose Chivers, Boxer and Mitchell all approached the buoy at speed with each obliged to give space to the inside boat.

Rob Mitchell and Victor Gomez could afford to be cautious on this final leg as he knew he would comfortably claim the win on handicap leaving Martin & Debbie Chivers to cross the line just seconds ahead of Pete Boxer & Pauline Smith finishing 2nd and 3rd overall.

Waaahoo that was a day to remember!

Unsung heros

Thanks to the unsung heros in the rescue boat and behind the galley and to all the volunteers that continue to make this such a great place to be.

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