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SESCA 'Antigua Sailing Day'

by Tim Perree, SESCA Racing Officer 7 May 2017 21:13 BST 30 April 2017

Competitors in the St Edmundsbury Sailing & Canoeing Associations 5th Antigua Sailing Day Regatta were greeted with bright, breezy and chilly conditions at Lackford Lake, near Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.

However, while the temperature was significantly cooler than that being experienced at the 50th Antigua Sailing Week, that 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, which had been generously provided by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, wafting over the Lake.

The racing consisted of three races for both adult and junior divisions. In the first race, Alison Stevens led the adult fleet away in her Laser, pursued by Carl Day & Alan Shaw (Enterprise) and Jon Holmfjord (RS Aero). Stevens built up a commanding lead to take both line and handicap honours, while the RS Aero and the Enterprise battled for second place. Holmfjord ended up snatching the position from Day & Shaw by just 2 seconds on corrected time. Leslie Denny (Vibe) and Jon & Finn Senior (Vibe) took 4th and 5th spots respectively. Tim Perree (Laser) and Mike Senior (Laser) found the conditions a bit too lively and succumbed to several capsizes.

The junior fleet was bolstered by entries from Ben Stringer and Sophia Shaw from Newmarket Sea Cadets in their Pico single-hander dinghies. Ben led at the end of the first lap, pursued by Sophia, Richard Denny (Topper) and Ben Denny (Optimist). Richard handled the conditions well to take the win.

The breezy conditions were a challenge for the fitness and stamina of competitors, but recovery was certainly helped by the tremendous range of delicious cakes (all cooked by Shena Senior), plus free hot & cold drinks served throughout the day.

Suitably refreshed, the competitors headed out for Race 2, with the wind as breezy as ever with plenty of challenging gusts just before the start. Aly Stevens led the way again, followed by Carl & Alan, then John Holmfjord and Mike Senior. Jon & Finn Senior, now in a Wanderer, suffered a capsize near the start but managed to complete a lap before retiring. Tim had more capsizes just after the start and decided to retire early and try to recover with more coffee and cake. The finishing order was Stephens in 1st, followed by Shaw & Day, Holmfjord and then Mike Senior.

In the junior race, Sophia Shaw led the first lap while Richard Denny was set back by capsizing and fell behind Ben Stringer. Richard recovered to take second place behind Sophia, with both Ben Stringer and Ben Denny retiring from the race.

After a well-earned lunch-break, accompanied by the soothing sounds of the steel band, a reduced complement of hardy competitors took on the final race. Once again, Stevens led all the way from Jon & Finn Senior in the adult race, with Richard Denny beating his brother Ben.

In the overall standings, Aly Stevens was the winner of the adult prize, with Jon Holmfjord sharing equal second with Carl Day & Alan Shaw. The 3rd place prize was awarded to Jon and Finn Senior. The junior 1st prize was won by Richard Denny, with Sophia Shaw in 2nd, and Ben Denny in 3rd.

A special thank you was given, once again, to the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Office, represented by Sean Matthew on the day, for supporting this unique event in SESCA's racing calendar.

Racing continues at Lackford on Thursday evenings and Sundays. The season is now in full swing with many other groups using the lake, including: Culford and Priory Schools; WASH disabled sailing; Young People Afloat; Suffolk Scouts and local Sea Cadets.

The Club's next major event is the RYA 'Push The Boat Out' Open Day on Sunday, 21 May when free sailing taster sessions and joy rides will be offered to potential new members. Further details at www.westsuffolksailing.org.uk

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