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Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week - Day 1

by Fiona Brown on 7 Aug 5-12 August 2017
Ready to launch on day 1 at Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week © Fiona Brown

The East Coast's leading dinghy regatta, Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week, got off to a spectacular start at Gold Sails Day on Sunday 6 August with glorious racing in classic building sea breeze conditions.

The regatta takes place over eight days and racing is split into two groups, one racing in the morning and the other in the afternoon, with the fleets alternating each day. The one exception to this is Big Wednesday when the fleets come together for a spectacular massed start all in handicap race.

First to get underway on Gold Sails Day was the 19 strong Fast Handicap fleet. Conditions were initially very tricky as the land and sea breezes fought each other for supremacy and the teams played snakes and ladders on the fickle lanes of breeze. Ultimately it was local experts Andy and Sarah Bines in their Merlin Rocket who got the best of the conditions, winning the race by almost two and a half minutes from the Hornet of Issy and Will Taylor-Jones of Royal Harwich YC. Ed Evans took third place in his RS300.

This year has seen the very welcome return of a Mirror fleet to Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week. The fleet may be only 8 boats strong, but with some very well known names among the largely parent and child crews it will without doubt be one of the most competitive. Leader of the pack today was Malcolm Goodwin sailing with granddaughter Kaya Nawrot, who beat son Philip Goodwin crewed by grandson Felix Goodwin. In third place was Melissa Heppell crewed by son Louis Hiscocks. Fifth place went to 1995 Mirror World Champion Clive Goodwin (son of Malcolm and brother of Philip), who will be crewed on alternate days by daughters Anna and Zoe Goodwin. Amelie Hiscocks helmed father Simon, perhaps better known as a double Olympic Medallist in the 49er class, into sixth place.

Steve Williams claimed first blood in the Laser Class, beating Mark Schofield and Richard Herbert for the honour. The combined Laser 4.7 and Laser Radial Class went to the Laser 4.7 of Joshua Davies with Alex Clarke second and Alex Lightly third, both sailing Laser Radials.

Brian Allen's RS Aero 7 took victory from Paul Aldridge's Solo in the Slow Handicap, where Rebecca Bines and Connie Hughes sailed their RS200 into third place, just ahead of Rhys Lancaster and Jane Somerville in a Scorpion.

The Slow Handicap A fleet was won by Blake Tudor, fresh from claiming a silver medal at the recent RS Tera Pro World Championship in Carnac. In second place was the Wivenhoe One Design of David Tourhay and Lionel Scutcher with Brooke Hastings sailing an RS Tera Pro beating Harry McTiernan sailing an RS Tera Sport for third place by just 16 seconds on corrected time.

With the morning races completed it was all back to the club house to enjoy the legendary Pyefleet Week Lunch Table, which offers a delicious range of home made goodies, all prepared by the entirely voluntary galley crew.

First away for the afternoon session was the Asymmetric Fast Handicap Fleet where Ben Clegg's Musto Skiff beat Chris Bines and David Gibbons' RS800 with the Tornado of Paul Mines and Stuart Smith in third.

Not content with her sixth place in the morning's Mirror class, Amelie Hiscocks switched to her Optimist for the afternoon's Cadet Fleet race and showed the fleet a clean pair of heels in the freshening breeze. The Laser 4.7 of Freya Gascoyne took second place with Ed Eeles in an RS Tera Sport third, Elizabeth Hill racing a Topper fourth and Lucy Ryan in an RS Tera Sport fifth.

Pete Purkis won the opening race in the RS700s from Simon Redfearn with David Bridle third and Simon Farren fourth.

The Parent and Child Handicap went to Stuart and Tom Philips in an RS Feva XL, who beat the Topaz Race of Dave Youngs and Finlay Appleton with Tim Hare, being crewed on alternate days in a Laser by Max and Charlie Hare, third.

The Brightlingsea One Design Fleet is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year, but the fleet is showing no signs of its age at all, with 19 teams joining the hotly contested fray. Fleet newcomer Clive Goodwin transferred from his Mirror to his father Malcolm's C4 Cormorant, and crewed by Graham Sanderson and Mark Schofield went head to head with past Tornado World Champion and British Olympian Jeremy Newman, sailing C32 with son Ollie Newman and Sarah Bines. After an incredible battle Goodwin took victory by a mere 14 seconds from Newman, with Chris Matthews, crewed by David Conlon and Ed Gibbons/Rebecca Bines third.

After sailing the competitors came together for the Commodore's Reception, where Commodore Fiona Brown not only welcomed this year's competitors, but paid tribute to the army of volunteer members who make the regatta possible and to the sponsors who generously support the event. Brightlingsea's Mayor Ian Block welcomed the regatta to the town and praised the sailing club for its ongoing contribution to the local sporting community and to the terrific team spirit of its organisers.

The forecast for day two of the regatta, which is sponsored by Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners, anticipates another day of south westerly winds ranging from sub ten knots to 17 knots. Day two will also feature the much anticipated annual Brightlingsea One Design School Dinners and Disco night, for which fancy dress is de rigour.

Further information and full results are available from www.pyefleetweek.com

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