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Zhik Pyefleet Week at Brightlingsea Sailing Club - Overall

by Fiona Brown 9 Aug 2015 16:39 BST 1-8 August 2015

Brightlingsea Sailing Club's Pyefleet Week 2015 supported by Zhik came to a spectacular conclusion with yet another day of champagne sailing and some nail biting racing to decide the 2015 champions.

Pyefleet Week's perfect mix of good old fashioned regatta sailing, family fun and great partying proved a roaring success once again this year, and the beaming faces at the final prize giving said it all.

From eighty year old Bob Fisher to four year old Willow Cross, everyone who took part in Pyefleet Week - whether on the water on ashore - had a truly fantastic time and the event once again retains it's well earned reputation as the best dinghy regatta week on the East Coast.

The final day featured hot sunshine, great racing in a building sea breeze, a prize giving on the beach where the victors received their trophies and terrific Zhik goodies, and one final blow out party where everyone danced the night away.

The biggest showdown was for the Brightlingsea One Design Class. These 18' clinker three man dayboats have been raced continually from Brightlingsea since 1927 and the 23 strong fleet made an impressive and colourful sight bowling about the River Colne. The quality of sailing is truly outstanding with Olympians and multiple World, Continental and National Champions going head to head for supremacy in these closely matched historic little gems. Going into the last race Dan Willett, crewed by James Willett and Fraz, trailed Malcolm Goodwin, crewed by Graham Sanderson and Georgina White, by two points and from the off the two were locked in mortal combat. Septuagenarian Malcolm Goodwin has won more than a few championships in his time and he had no intention of letting the youngsters get the better of him, so having satisfactorily ensured that Dan was sailed well down the pack after the start he put his beautifully restored C4 Cormorant into gear and sailed himself up into second place to claim overall victory. Dan could only struggle back to seventh, his worst result of the regatta, but still sufficient to secure him second overall with outgoing BOD Champion Jeremy Newman, crewed by Piers Lambert and Olly Newman, taking the third step on the podium.

The biggest fleet of the week was the 29 strong Cadet Handicap which encompasses both junior champions and those taking part in their first ever races. Matt Smith and Issy-Taylor Jones sailed a superb series in their RS Feva to claim victory with a day to spare. Fellow Feva sailors Josh Davies and Blake Tudor took second while Ryan Thomas sailing a Laser Pico and Connie Hughes sailing a Laser 4.7 tied on points for third with Ryan taking the final place on the podium on countback.

A thriving cadet fleet is vital to any club and at the prize giving every single cadet received a special medal to mark their participation and a number of special prizes were also handed out. The commitment and determination of the youngsters to learn, to stick it out even in windy weather and above all to have fun is truly remarkable. Even when they have altercations it is seen as a learning opportunity and Protest Committee Chairman David Chivers ensures that the cadets are encouraged to learn the racing rules. If they do find themselves in the protest room he makes sure they are guided through the process so they can learn from the experience and become better sportsmen and women.

At 25 strong the Laser fleet was also hugely competitive this year and the dog fights as they short tacked up the shore against the tide in their final race had the spectators on the edge of their seats. Steve Williams went into the day with a narrow lead and sailed a masterclass race to secure victory by just three points from Chris Rust with Ollie Newman a further three points back in third. Edd Slack also sailed a great series but had to pull out of race five so had to be content with the leather medal in fourth overall.

Alexander Clark dominated the Laser Radials to take victory by an confident nine points from Ben Eeles with Brandon Hastings in third.

The delightful Wivenhoe One Designs, which at 14' and with two crew are effectively a small sister to the Brightlingsea One Designs, enjoyed a great week and some really ferocious battles. Nic Blower and Cassie Catchpole's four straight wins belies the closeness of the competition as second place Rob Maloney, crewed alternately by Janine For and Peter Goldsmith, gave them an outstanding run for their money. George Brown and David Tournay took third in the class.

Up and coming 49er sailors Sam Curtis and Ben Clegg showed that they have great potential for the future by winning the Fast Handicap fleet by two points from Chris Matthews and Sarah Bines in a Merlin Rocket. Fellow Merlin sailors Piers Lambert and Derek Gentry took third overall.

The Laser 2000 of Chris and Gillian Jordan won the Slow Handicap with a day to spare so the final race decider in this class was for second and third. Lark sailor Chris Fish sailing with Helen and Cathy Fish managed to get the better of Laser II sailors Emma and Martina Barry to claim second by three points. The Slow Handicap Class also produced the winner of the special prize for the most improved sailors of the week which went to Buzz sailor Anthony Kingston crewed by daughter Lottie Kingston.

The youngsters in the Tera fleet have sailed their socks off this week and have impressed everyone with their skills. After seven days of battle Josh Davies claimed a two point victory over Jack Oakley with Matt Smith in third and Blake Tudor fourth. These kids are so dedicated to their sailing that you will notice a number of their names also appear in the results for the Cadet Handicap (the racing is split into two sessions each day enabling people to race in more than one class) making their achievements even more impressive.

Tornado sailors Paul Mines and Stuart Smith had the Cat Handicap sewn up with a day to spare, but conditions on the final day were so perfect that they couldn't resist a final blast to claim their fifth win of the regatta and confirm their victory over nearest rival Barry Arnison, who was also racing a Tornado.

And last but by no means least comes the Adults and Little Ones Class, which this year was won by five year old Louis Hiscocks and Mum Melissa Heppell in a mirror, who beat Louis' big sister Amelie and Tim Ashworth into second place by six points with four year old Willow Cross and her Dad Stephen in third. Again this class is all about encouraging the youngsters to engage with sailing and have fun on the water and some of the parents have some entertaining ways to keep the kids happy and focused. Whilst waiting for the final race to start Melissa was seen giving Louis high-five lessons which, as I am sure everyone knows, are an essential skill that all sailors should acquire.

Pyefleet Week is entirely run by the volunteer members and huge thanks must go to everyone who has helped to make this year's Pyefleet Week one of the best ever. There are too many names to mention them individually but you know who you are and we thank you!

This year Pyefleet Week was lucky to work with some amazing sponsors and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Clothing Partner Zhik, Day Sponsors Brightlingsea Boat Park and Ride, Specialised Fixings, AOC, Just Trays, Britau Scaffolding and ARP, Supporting Sponsors Chemical Release Company, Professional Building Supplies and Walker Modular and Official Suppliers Clean Fresh, Curtis Signs, Dave White and The Press Gang.

Pyefleet Week 2016 will take place from Saturday 30 July to Saturday 6 August.

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