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Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week 2016 - Day 1

by Fiona Brown 1 Aug 2016 08:35 BST 30 July - 5 August 2016

The opening day of Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week 2016, the east coast's premier dinghy racing week hosted each year by Brightlingsea Sailing Club, produced spectacular sailing conditions for all eleven fleets racing on Brightlingsea Boat Park & Ride Day.

The morning dawned bright and sunny with a northerly breeze blowing off the land making for lots of tricky shifts and gusts. The fleets are split into two groups for the week with one group sailing in the morning and the other in the afternoon. For the morning group conditions were fairly light, but the wind dropped off significantly as they were coming to the end of their first lap, requiring the OOD to shorten the course. For the afternoon session it was a different story with cloud cover and much more blustery conditions.

The first group to race included the Fast Handicap, Lasers, Laser Radials, Fireballs, Wivenhoe One Designs and RS700s from the committee boat line out in the estuary and the Cadet Handicap from the more sheltered club line in Brightlingsea Creek.

First blood in the Fast Handicap fleet went to local sailor Edward Evans in an RS300 with James Spikesly from Notley Sailing Club sailing a Contender second and BSC Sailing Secretary Piers Lambert and his crew Tim Bees third in their Merlin Rocket.

In the Laser fleet it was an all local affair with Pete Kyne winning the Lasers from Chris Rust with Stephen Williams third. Gary Pilgrim took victory in the Laser Radial fleet from Alexander Clarke and Eddie Bridle.

Age was no barrier to success in the Fireball fleet where Barrie and Rose Winship, who are both 66 years young, showed the fleet how it was done by beating Alan Carter and C Jessop with Rhys Lankester and Dawn Jasper third.

The RS700 fleet was a late addition to the event but they put on a great show today with the winner's laurels going to David Bridle, with Pete Purkiss second and Simon Farren third.

Brightlingsea sits at the entrance to the River Colne which is lucky enough to lay claim to two delightful traditional day boat classes. The fourteen foot Wivenhoe One Design (WOD) is a classic two man clinker centreplate boat which has been raced at Wivenhoe, some four miles up river of Brightlingsea, since 1935. Today it was the turn of WOD No 16 to shine with Nic Blower at the helm and David Tournay crewing. Second home was Nigel Cook crewed by Peter Cook in No 1 and third was No 4 helmed by Richard Bowyer with Chris Wood crewing.

Brightlingsea Sailing Club has a long tradition of encouraging youngsters into sailing and this year's Cadet Handicap fleet includes some of the club's most promising cadets who are currently developing their racing skills. Issy Taylor-Jones and Harvey O'Sullivan raced their RS Feva to victory with Ed Eeles in and RS Tera Sport second, Charlotte Bate in a Topaz third and BSC's Cadet Commodore Brooke Hastings fourth in her RS Tera Sport.

The club is also one of the few in the area to still be entirely volunteer run, which means that those who raced in the morning session then swopped their dinghies for the committee boat and rescue boats, allowing those who had run the show in the morning to enjoy their own race in the afternoon. Between races an army of volunteers keep everyone fed and watered while other volunteers handle all the race administration. Even event photography is handled by volunteers and today's lovely images are kindly provided by Andy Bines.

First off the line after lunch were the Asymmetric Handicap fleet which includes the multihulls. The F18 of Nick Barnes and Simon Northrop made the best of the very gusty and shifty conditions to win the fleet with James King and Jack Butters, fresh from victory in the Nacra 15 Championships on Lake Como, taking second. First monohull was Chris and Gillian Jordan's Laser 2000 in third with the RS800 of Dave Conlon and Ed Gibbons fourth.

The biggest fleet racing at the event is the Brightlingsea One Designs, a three man eighteen foot clinker day boat which has been sailed continuously at Brightlingsea since 1927. With 21 boats out the starts are spectacular and the fleet is very closely matched ensuring plenty of nerve wracking action at the marks. The opening race was won by C32 Avocet helmed by double Tornado World Champion Jeremy Newman sailing with Ian Newman and Piers Lambert. In second place was the young team of Chris Matthews, Sarah Bines and Tom Kyne in C27, with Danny Fox, Bob Hedger and Tim Hearne in C8 third and Alan Hicks crewed by Jayne and Craig Bond in C54 fourth. The youngest person racing in the fleet this week is sixteen year old Georgina White who crews for her father Mark White in C53, which was built for her late grandfather, the Olympic Gold Medalist and multi class champion Reg White. At the opposite end of the spectrum Tom Sargeant, who sails C6, celebrated his 70th birthday today!

The event also features a very popular Parent & Child Handicap class, which offers many youngsters their first experience of serious racing with their parents or a close relative or family friend. Today produced an all Mirror top three with Clive Goodwin crewed by Anna Goodwin first, Melissa Heppell crewed by Louis Hiscocks second and Tim Ashworth crewed by Amelie Hiscocks third. If you are thinking that Hiscocks is a familiar sailing name you would be right, as Louis and Amelie's father is 49er double Olympic medalist Simon Hiscocks.

The final fleet competing this week is the Slow Handicap where the OK of past BSC Commodore Paul Aldridge showed the fleet the way. Tim Bees, who is sailing a Laser 2000 with his sister in law Melissa Smith and daughter Katie, who is just four, came second, while Archie Penn and Ben Warrington from Waldringfield sailed their 420 into third place.

Back ashore the competitors came together for the President's Welcome Reception where BSC President Alice Davies welcomed the sailors and their families to the club and thanked everyone who has worked so hard to make the event possible. She also thanked all the event sponsors and in particular today's sponsor Brightlingsea Boat Park & Ride and title sponsor Learning & Skills Solutions. She then introduced Brightlingsea Mayor Karen Yallop who welcome the competitors to Brightlingsea Town and particularly invited them to visit the newly reopened Brightlingsea Open Air Swimming Pool, as well as the many businesses, restaurants and bars in the town.

Racing continues tomorrow on Specialised Fixings Monday, and with the forecast promising broken sunshine and westerly winds of 10 to 20 knots it looks like there's another interesting day ahead. Racing continues until Saturday 6 August with each class scheduled to race one regatta race per day. The only exception to this is Big Wednesday when the fleets will come together for a spectacular massed start for an all in handicap race which does not count towards the overall points but does have it's own special trophy.

Further information about the event including full results can be found at

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