Centenary Cup - Race Report - July 2017

There was a brisk cross-offshore WSW wind blowing last Sunday as Clacton Sailing Club racers jostled on the start line for the Centenary Cup.

Mike and Sue Suffield - Centenary Cup 2017

Pictured above: Mike and Sue Suffield before the race

Martin Chivers who was the original winner of the trophy back in 1977 showed he still has what it takes racing with his wife Debbie in their Dart 18 catamaran still managing to take 2nd place.

Close inshore

The favoured end of the start line was close inshore where the fleet gathered ready to head upwind on starboard at the sound of the gun. Although vulnerable to being luffed the boat that could command the most upwind position on the line is often able to dominate the first leg.

Pete Boxer & Eilish Dempsey tacked into and exploited a gap in the line-up in the closing seconds and crossed the start line with a clear advantage.

New club members Stafford Glover and Ben Peter in their Hurricane Sport also timed their line-charge to perfection and the race was on! In Ben’s words they sailed the first beat like a ‘Robbers Dog’ as the Hurricane soonover-hauled the fleet of Dart catamarans. Having put in 2 quick tacks they reached the windward mark in first position showing their obvious race pedigree.

Tactical advantage

The necessity to tack to make the windward buoy gave Rob Mitchell the decisive tactical advantage over the Chivers team who, although clear ahead when they tacked onto Port, were caught by the slower Dart 16 allowing Mitchell to call for starboard right of way and forcing Martin & Debbie dip behind.

Once round the windward mark the boats freed-off for the first broad reach leg out to sea. Easing the main travellers and sheet tension to allow twist into the sails the boats really took off. The crews trimmed the hulls adopting a nose-down attitude and the cats surfed wildly on the long rolling swells with wild abandon despite the ever-present risk of pitchpole.

Stafford and Ben even manged to raise their kite in the leading Hurricane despite the wind gusting at times to force 5. Gybing at the seaward mark however they suffered equipment failure and were forced to retire from their first race at CSC.

Fast course was set

Race Officer Larry Foxon had set a fast course this week with 2 more reaching legs to make up a sausage before a tight fetch back into the beach. In these conditions sailing near their top speeds mistakes were ruthlessly punished by chasing boats.

Cats - Centenary Cup 2017

Pictured above: conditions provided some fast sailing action

Boxer & Dempsey were leading the fleet until the start of the 3rd lap when they capsized spectacularly inshore. Despite righting their 18 without outside assistance and continuing on to finish the race they could only manage 3rd position overall.

Brian Allen sails single handed

Lack of crews this week meant that Brian Allen was forced to race his Dart 16 singlehanded which was a real test of seamanship. With true grit and determination he completed the race in just over an hour and finished in 4th place overall.

Mark and Charlie Venables were revelling in the conditions until sadly they were forced to retire after an elastic tether used to keep the trapeze wires in place broke under the strain.

Stafford Glover and Ben Peters - Centenary Cup 2017

Pictured above: New Members Stafford Glover and Ben Peters

It was also good to see the return of Mike and Sue Suffield racing in their RS200 dinghy and despite also taking the decision to retire they characteristically never stopped smiling.


Rob Mitchell sailing with George Venables claimed the win by just 40 seconds on corrected time in their Dart 16 deciding that it was his tactics on the first beat of the 3 lap race that made the difference.

Next Sunday the 30th Clacton Sailing Club at Holland Haven opens its doors to visitors and members of the public for the annual Regatta Day with support from the RNLI. Racing is scheduled for the morning and afternoon and is sure to be an exciting spectacle.