Holiday Cup 1 - Race Report - April 2016

Chilly north winds blew in last weekend for the first of Clacton Sailing Clubs 'Holiday Cup' series races.

Robert Mitchel and James Parsons - Holiday Cup 1 2016

Picture above: Robert Mitchel and James Parsons team up and sail the Hurricane catamaran

Force 5 Gusts

Offshore gusts up to force 5 were visible scudding across the flat grey seas inshore and a brief flurry of hailstone was perhaps an omen of trouble ahead for sailors as they prepared their boats ashore.

Start line confusion

Start line confusion resolved itself and the Chivers were first away on a beam reach to the first buoy, the gusting winds requiring fast reactions from the helm and nimble trapeze work from the crews.

Larry Foxon and Mike Rolfe, beginning to find their feet this season on the Hurricane 5.9 had over-hauled the Dart to set the pace at the first buoy and slam-gybed onto the first broad reach leg heading further out to sea into strengthening winds and building swells.  

James Parsons teamed-up with Rob Mitchell on the other Hurricane catamaran and made a fine sight sailing the cat hard and flat in an explosion of spray and stormed through the fleet on this second leg to take the lead by the second buoy.

Strong wind broad reaching on these powerful boats is very exciting with the lift from the rig increasing the risk of pitch-pole as the bows try to dig in which means the crews have to trapeze as far aft as they can to resist the tripping forces.  

Pitch Pole!

Mark Venables racing his new Dart 16 for just the second time and this week with his other son Charlie discovered the speed at which things can go wrong with a spectacular pitch pole. Charlie was flung through the air still attached to the trapeze wire as the cat went over and rapidly turned-turtle upside down. Both sailors were unhurt and exhilarated by the experience even if support from the clubs rescue boat meant that they had to retire from the race.

Mark & Charlie Venables - Holiday Cup 1 2016

Picture above: Father and Son, Mark and Charlie Venables sailing thier Dart 16 Catamaran

The dinghies were having challenges of their own with veteran sailors Mike and Sue Suffield struggling to keep the centre board in position as their RS200 skimmed and planed down the waves. Hoisting the kite offwind would have been out of the question although Sue later wondered if they would have improved on their creditable 4th position overall had they tried.

Brian Allan gamely battled-on after capsizing twice in his Laser 2 and then once more on his way back into the beach after he had taken the decision to retire.  

The upwind leg back into the beach was the most technical: Deciding how soon to tack onto starboard to be able to lay the ODM proved critical and more places were made or lost on this leg than any other.


High wind experts Martin & Debbie Chivers would eventually take line honours in their Dart 18 catamaran in the 3 lap race after many changes of position and some high drama.

Riding the swell lines allowed the beating boats to head upwind whilst a steadying veering wind shift throughout the race caught Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey off guard on the last leg of the final lap and caused them to have to make 2 quick tacks and to slip from 1st to 2nd place overall.  

James Parsons and Robert Mitchell managed a decent 3rd place once the handicaps were calculated and seemed happy to have had some high wind race experience in advance of the Hurricane open meeting that will be hosted by Clacton Sailing Club in July.  


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