Spirits raised by the sounds of the Caribbean

Post date: 27-Apr-2015 16:52:28

It was a chilly, grey day that greeted competitors for the St Edmundsbury Sailing and Canoeing Associations’ third Antigua Sailing Day Regatta at Lackford Lake, on Sunday. However, while the weather conditions were somewhat different to those being experienced at Antigua Sailing Week, which had just started in the Caribbean, there was a similar warm atmosphere and fun side to the racing. This was in no small part due to the Calypso sounds of the steel band, that had been generously provided by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, wafting over the lake.

With a tremendous turn out of over two dozen boats, the fleet was split into adult and junior divisions.

In the first race, Anthony Gunstone, crewed by his son Felix, led the way from the adult start in their Firefly, chased by a gaggle of Lasers. Although the wind died at one stage, allowing the fleet to compress, the Gunstones slipped away again and secured their first win ahead of the Lasers of Mike Senior and Alan Wright, who had worked his way up through the pack, with Ali Stephens (Laser Radial) forth. Nick Collier and his daughters Imogen and Isobelle did well to complete the course in their Mirror.

The junior fleet was considerably bolstered by the presence of Sea Cadets from the Newmarket and Mildenhall units but it was the Denny brothers, James (14) and Richard (12), who battled for the lead in their Toppers. The first race victory went to James, with Richard second, Ian Anderson third and Shane O’Neill forth.

Suitably refreshed with patties and banana cake, from Kathie Butcher and Sheena Senior, the racers ventured out again for race number two. Infuriatingly the breeze, that had picked up while the crews had been ashore, dropped off again before the gun, leading to another slow, intense outing. Andrew Griffiths (Vareo) made a perfect port tack start ahead of Mike Steele (Laser) and Wright. These three had a close tussle for the first lap before the Gunstones wriggled their way to the front. The Gunstones notched up their second line and handicap win, with Stephens coming through on corrected time to take second, with Wright third and Steele forth.

In the junior race, Richard Denny led from the start and held on to take the gun ahead of his elder brother, James, followed by Anderson. However, it was it was the youngest Denny brother, Ben (8), sailing an Optimist, who sailed brilliantly to take the win on corrected time.

The course was changed for the final race, with a short start line close to the shore providing an entertaining view for the spectators. Steele got away well but was overtaken by the Gunstones and Wright on the second lap. The Gunstones finished first again on a shortened course, with Wright second and Steele third - places which they held after the time corrections had been applied.

The final Junior race turned out to be a re-run of the second, with Ben Denny taking another first on handicap, Richard second, James third and Anderson fourth.

In the overall standings, the Gunstones were clear winners of the adult prize, with Wright second and Stephens third - and first lady helm. The junior prize was won by Richard Denny, with James Denny second and Ian Anderson third. Ben Denny sadly missed out on the overall prizes, despite his two firsts, as he did not complete the first race and there was no discard.

This week sees the sailing season in full swing with Culford School sailing on Monday evening; WASH disabled sailing on Tuesday; Young People Afloat on Wednesday evening; club racing on Thursday evening; Sea Cadets and race training on Saturday and racing for the Greene King Can on Sunday. Further details at www.westsufolksailing.org.uk