Butlins Cup - Race Report - May 2019

Clacton Sailing Club held the annual Butlins Cup race last Sunday with a cold Arctic offshore wind that fluctuated wildly at times requiring quick reactions to prevent capsize.

Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey - Easter Bunny 2017

This year Pete Boxer with Eilish Dempsey as crew on their Dart 18 catamaran were well-deserving and clear winners of this long-distance race.

Race Officer Mark Venables had set the course to a buoy at Clacton Pier and then back out to the seaward buoy off the CSC club at Holland-on-Sea with a final beat before the finish line that led to close finishing. Speeds of the catamarans are such that 3 laps were initially set with the club’s rescue boat accompanying the cats as they strayed from their usual playground

A strongly flooding tide swept the catamarans along the coast and most were cautious on the start line. Nevertheless, the fleet all crossed within 10 seconds of the gun.

To capitalise on the strongest tide benefit and in hope of finding cleaner wind Brian Allen and Rob Mitchell hoisted the asymmetric kite sail and headed out to sea in the F18 and began to pull out a slender lead.

In contrast Larry Foxon and Mike Rolfe stayed inshore sailing a shorter distance in their Hurricane and tempted Dan Brzezinski to do the same in his single-handed A Class.

Boxer & Dempsey sailed the middle course in their Dart 18, Both lightweight sailors they were able to coax the cat to surf on many of the long rolling swell waves running down the coast. With helm and crew sitting far forward the 18’ cat adopted a head-down attitude and with the transoms clear of the water drag was greatly reduced. So too was the ability to steer as the rudders had less effect. With the ever-present risk of nose-dive this technique is exhilarating as the small cat surges along under very little control.

By this method the Dart 18 rounded the Pier buoy only seconds behind the F18 and the fleet hardened-up to sail the return leg close-hauled.

Ominous dark clouds and vicious offshore gusts started to split the fleet. Allen and Mitchell revelled in the stronger winds both trapezing to keep the F18 in the water. The lightweights Boxer & Dempsey found they could only pinch and spill in the gusts allowing Brzezinski to power past sailing his A Class on the edge of control. Foxon and Rolfe were also charging along in a flurry of spray and were champing at the heals of the leaders.

Rob Mitchell sailing this week with son Toby on their Dart 16 enjoyed the challenges of the first lap working on their surfing technique, but the chill factor of the long beat helped them decide to retire at the end of lap one.

The wind did strange things in lap two: Oscillating wildly through 90 degrees at times, dropping to nothing and then picking back to full strength and caused a few problems with each boat reporting near capsize incidents.

After an hour and a half racing and with race shortened to 2 laps Boxer and Foxon enjoyed a tacking duel to the finish line. With each skipper trying to ride the swell lines upwind to the finish line buoy only for the strong tide to cause them both to put in two additional tacks. Boxer’s Dart on port crossed just ahead of the Foxon Hurricane that had right-of-way on starboard and was able then to tack back on top and cross just ahead having held the challengers at bay throughout the race.

Bank Holiday Monday and the lighter wind meant that the open-day at CSC was a great success with many newcomers getting a taste of sailing dinghies and catamarans for the first time.

For anyone interested in sailing CSC will be running an Introduction to Sailing course of 6 Saturdays starting in June. Come along to the clubhouse to find out more details.


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