John Bedford Cup - Race Report - May 2016

Despite a light wind forecast there was a good turn-out of catamarans and dinghies last Sunday as Clacton Sailing Club raced for the John Bedford Cup.

Dave Raffbone and Tony Smith - John Bedford Cup 2016

Picture above: Dave Raffbone and Tony Smith with thier Dart 18 Catamaran

First presented by Charles Holiday in 1978 in memory of John Bedford this annual trophy was this year won by Rob Mitchell sailing his distinctive yellow and blue Dart 16 catamaran single-handed.

The 1100 weekly Sunday races are started by sound and visual signals from the cliff top clubhouse and the variety of boats manoeuvre in the final seconds to protect their positions on the line.

Perfect Start

Rob Mitchell demonstrated his experience and made a second-perfect port tack start using the light sou’westerly winds to stem the effect of the flooding tide closely followed by James Parsons & Mark Venables in the Hurricane.

Two of the Dart 18’s soon tacked out to sea to escape the confused wind from the pack leaders hoping also to benefit from the increased tidal flow offshore.

Poor judgement by Pete Boxer & Eilish Dempsey meant they had to put in 2 additional tacks to avoid Martin & Debbie Chivers as they crossed on starboard tack but fought back to a creditable 2nd place overall.

Tactical Beat

The tactical beat was followed by a long run downwind against the tide. Sheets and rig tension were loosened and crews positioned themselves as far forward as they dared in attempts to reduce transom drag.

Matt Burrell with Jack Wayland in the big Hurricane 5.9SX hoisted the asymmetric kite and soon overtook the entire fleet and was first to the leeward buoy and went onto be placed 3rd overall on handicap.

Daniel Brzezinski & Jack Dempsey made gains downwind in their Dart 18 and started to put pressure on the Chivers team. Finally in the 3rd lap good teamwork and intense concentration allowed them to edge past to be the second 18’ cat home.

Jack and Matt Burrell - John Bedford Cup 2016

Picture above: Jack and Matt Burrell preparing thier Hurricane SX Catamaran

New Faces

The Dart 18 fleet was joined this week by the welcome return of experienced local cat sailors Dave Raffbone and Tony Smith. Teething problems with their mainsail halyard connection meant they were late off the line and were never really in contention but they enjoyed their first outing nevertheless.

Another new face on the race scene this year Jamie Lowe in his Topaz dinghy came in ahead of regular Brian Allen in his Laser to be the first Cadet home.

Rob & Cathy Mitchell seem to have re-discovered the joys of sailing with a Dart 16 this season and managed a very respectable 4th overall.

Commodore Derek Cheek kept his nerve on the second lap when it looked like the wind was dying and avoided the temptation to shorten the course.

Competitors were rewarded as the wind freshened and swung southerly and the final run turned into an exhilarating reach as a reward.

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