Autumn Leaf Series - Race Report - October 2017

Clacton Sailing held the last races from their ‘Autumn Leaf’ series last Sunday in unseasonably warm weather and under unbroken blue skies.

On the beach - Autumn Leaf 2017

Southerly winds the previous week had picked-up a dangerous looking swell with waves breaking onto the beach. A ‘go’ decision was made on the basis that the sea would calm as the tide dropped and landing would be less of a problem. Launching was only possible for the sailboats and the clubs rescue rib by using the shelter of the sea defences.

Start on port tack

The start line required the fleet to cross on port tack heading against the ebbing tide. The Racing Rules of Sailing in this situation require the windward boat to keep clear of any to leeward and each boat chose their approach carefully.

Smallest of gaps

Pete Boxer and Eilish Dempsey in the Dart 18 cat attempted to luff Brian Allen and Ian Wright in their Hurricane SX off the line squeezing them close to the ODM but in the final seconds an audacious move from Rob Mitchell sailing this week with Alan Griffins dropped-in from windward in the distinctive yellow Dart 16 and slipped into the smallest gap to cross ahead and claim start line honours in race one.

Steady force 4

The fleet headed upwind in steady force 4 winds with all the crews flat out on the trapeze wires. Brian and Ian looked particularly good sailing just loose enough to keep the Hurricane powered-up through the waves, a quick tack onto starboard and rounded the windward mark in first place and then headed off on the first beam reach out to seaward.

Hot on thier heels

Matt and Dan looking very determined chased in the other Hurricane.  Rob Mitchell and Alan did well to round the windward in second place with Pete Boxer and Eilish hard on their heels.

Robert Mitchel and Alan Griffiths - Autumn Leaf 2017

Bearing off onto the downwind leg the cats improve their velocity made good (VMG) by sailing a series of broad reaches instead of heading dead downwind. The skill was knowing when to gybe onto the lay line making allowance for the benefit of the strong tide.

Defensive position

Brian Allen took up a defensive position just ahead and slightly downwind of Matt Burrell on the final lap and controlled the leg by delaying his gybe before gunning his boat onto the final reach to claim line honours and first place on handicap.

Close racing

Race two was equally as close although the wind both moderated and veered during the 3 laps. In a role reversal Matt and Dan led from the start line and covered Brian and Ian on each leg and in each manoeuvre to win by a close margin and claim the series win outright with Brian and Ian in second place.

John Summerfield, with good results from the earlier part of the race series was equally determined sailing this year in his single-handed Dart 15 cat but could only manage a 5th and 4th place to finish 3rd overall.

Peter and Helen Lyall thoroughly enjoyed putting their Wanderer dinghy through its paces this week completing both races with broad smiles and waves to celebrate.

Once the series results had been calculated the convincing overall champions were Matt Burrell with Dan Brzezinski in the Hurricane SX catamaran.

Autumn Leaf Results -2017

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