Class Series 4 - Race Report - September 2016

Clacton Sailing Club's racing season continued with the fourth of the year's Class Series events.

James Parson and Robert Mitchell - Haslett Mug 2015

A solid force four south-west wind greeted the sailors as they gathered to rig their catamarans.

Strong gust and deep swell

Ominous stronger gusts and a deep southerly swell tempted Rob Mitchell - more used to racing single-handed - to this week team up with James Parsons on his Dart 16 catamaran.

This proved a good call as the pair of self-declared high-wind enthusiasts went on to claim first place after some eventful racing.

Start line tactics

Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey realised their only chance against the heavier team required them to win the start-line contest.

They manoeuvred themselves upwind of Mitchell in a position near to the one of the rocky sea defences and got away in a dominant position in their Dart 18.

Close-hauled from the start line, heading out into the ebbing tide, the cats had to pinch to make the windward buoy and Boxer and Dempsey rounded ahead of Mitchell and Parsons, in their Dart 16, as the fleet started to stretch out.

There is a second Rob Mitchell in the club who also sails a Dart 16 with wife Cathy as crew.

They got away from the line in third place and delighted in staying close on the heals on the lead boats.

Brian Allen, another single-handed enthusiast, chose to buddy-up with Mike Rolfe on the new Dart 16X.

Asymmetric kite and twin trapezes

Equipped with asymmetric kite and twin trapezes, the conditions would surely be a baptism of fire.

From the windward mark, the fleet headed out to sea on a broad reach where the craft accelerated to top speed with the crews moving on the wires to help prevent the dreaded pitch pole.

Gybing and then heading on another broad reach down to the leeward mark, the boats could surf the building swell lines. It was interesting to see the Dart 18 pull away on the off-wind legs but the Dart 16s made ground upwind.

Then followed an upwind/downwind sausage before heading back into the ODM to complete the first of three laps.


Rob and Cathy Mitchell were still in contention when, on the last lap, they were hit by a gust and capsized near the windward mark.

Although the club's rescue boat, manned by Neil Warn and Pauline Smith, was standing by, the Mitchells demonstrated good teamwork to right the cat unaided.

Multiple disqualifications

It was all the more unfortunate for them that they were subsequently disqualified by the officer of the day, Martin Chivers, for not rounding the windward mark that they had been so close to.

Boxer and Dempsey were also disqualified after racing for over an hour for failure to round the mark's correctly.

Brian Allen and Mike Rolfe scored a creditable second place in the Dart 16X, despite at no time hoisting the kite.


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