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Zhik Pyefleet Week at Brightlingsea Sailing Club - Day 1

by Fiona Brown 3 Aug 2015 11:06 BST 1-8 August 2015
Day 1 of Zhik Pyefleet Week at Brightlingsea © Fiona Brown / www.fionabrown.com

Glorious sunshine and a steady building sea breeze helped to ensure Brightlingsea Sailing Club's Pyefleet Week 2105 supported by Zhik, got off to a fantastic start. Some 130 competitors across 11 classes enjoyed cut-throat racing around the Colne Estuary and Brightlingsea Creek where summer has finally arrived. The opening day was sponsored by Brightlingsea Boat Park and Ride which is also supporting the event with additional rescue boat cover.

Highlight of the day was the President's Race for the Brightlingsea One Design (BOD) fleet. From the off there was no quarter given and none asked as the 23 strong closely matched fleet of 18' clinker dayboats, originally introduced in the 1920s, battled it out on every leg with some extremely fraught mark roundings. After multiple changes of leader it was local racing and boatbuilding legend Malcolm Goodwin, crewed by Georgina White and Graham Sanderson, who got the better of the fleet with Dan Willetts, crewed by brother James and Fraz, second and British Olympic Tornado sailor Jeremy Newman, sailing with son Olly and Piers Lambert, in third.

This year Pyefleet Week incorporates the SigneT National Championship. Today saw the SigneT fleet enjoying a single opening race which was won by Pat Overs and Steve Whiteside with Mike Overs and Mark Cowlingh second and Kate Taylor and Rob Austey in third.

The racing day at Pyefleet Week is divided into two with half the fleet racing in the morning and half in the afternoon. Today the morning group included the Fast Handicap, which was dominated by the Merlin Rocket fleet with Chris Matthews and Sarah Bines first, Piers Lambert and Derek Gentry second, Paul Aldridge and Ben Richardson third and James Spikesley and Hannah Chalmers fourth. First non-Merlin was the RS400 of Pete McCoy and Jessica Rust in fifth.

Elaine and Warren Tudor beat Rhys Lankester and David Gibbons in the Fireball fleet, while the Wivenhoe One Designs, another local clinker day boat, went to Rob Maloney, Janine Ford and Peter Goldsmith.

The combined Laser and Laser Radial fleet also boasts 23 competitors and extremely tight racing. Gary Pilgrim led the Lasers home ahead of Chris Rust and Julie Eeles while first Laser Radial was Brandon Hastings with William Slack second and Alext Lightly third.

Also sailing the morning session, but from a club line start rather than the committee boat line, was the Cadet Handicap Fleet. Matt Smith and Issy Jones sailing an RS Feva took a convincing victory over Ryan Thomas in a Laser Pico, while Thomas Goodsell and Thomas Crane, also in an RS Feva, beat Pete King in an RS Tera Pro by just ten seconds for third place.

Whilst many of the leaders in the Cadet Handicap fleet are seasoned veterans, for some this is their first racing experience. Helming in her first race was Lucy Ryan in a Tera, who started out tentatively but gained in confidence on every leg to finish ahead of several other boats. Last year Amelie Hiscocks made her maiden racing appearance during Pyefleet Week with Dad Simon calling encouragement from his paddleboard as she went round. A year on and Amelie is now racing her Optimist with great pace and attitude and proudly took 12th place in the 24 strong fleet.

Joining the BODs and SigneTs for the afternoon session were the Slow Handicap incorporating the Mirror fleet, the Cat Handicap and the Tera fleets. The Teras were won by Josh Davies with Jack Oakley second and Joshua Allis third, while the Cat Handicap went to Paul Mines and Stuart Smith sailing a Tornado.

Chris and Gillian Jordan sailed their Laser 2000 to a resounding first victory in the Slow Handicap fleet where Emma and Martina Barry took second in a Laser II and third went to Stephen and Willow Cross who narrowly beat Melissa Heppell and Louis Hiscocks for third place overall and first Mirror.

Pyefleet Week continues until Saturday 8 August with a total of seven points races scheduled plus the special Big Wednesday all in handicap where the combined fleets come together for a spectacular masses start, much to the delight of the spectators who line Brightlingsea's famous promenade to watch the racing.

Full results at pyefleet2015.sailbrightlingsea.com

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