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Sailingfast 2018 728x90

Comet Class Association Championships at Winsford Flash Sailing Club

by Rick Hough 29 Jul 11:57 BST 17-18 July 2021

Winsford Flash Sailing Club, in the heart of Cheshire, was proud to host the 2021 Comet Class Association Championships over the weekend of the 17th and 18th July 2021. Winsford Flash Sailing Club has one of the largest Comet fleets in the country consisting of twenty-one boats with a loyal following and despite the challenges of 2021, nearly all the fleet have sailed and raced in all winds and weathers during 2021.

In addition, 2021 also represents a milestone as it is the 40th Anniversary of the building of the very first Comet dinghy in 1981. And we were delighted to welcome the builder, Andy Simmons to the club over the weekend. He also competed in the Championships in a brand new Comet - lots of oohs and aahs from the home fleet!

30 Comets competed in the Championships. In addition to the 16 members of our own Comet fleet, we were pleased to welcome 14 visiting helms who made the journey to WInsford Flash from as far away as Beer SC in Devon, Newquay in Cornwall, Derbyshire, Wolverhampton, Worthing in Surrey, Berkshire and two ladies travelled down from Scotland to compete.

Eight visitors took advantage of our spacious club grounds to pitch their tents and park their campervans over the weekend and enjoyed a stunning view over Winsford Flash during what proved to be a truly beautiful summer's weekend.

Saturday 17th July 2021

Competitors were met with radiant sunshine and glorious 28 degree temperatures at Winsford Flash for the 2021 Comet Class Association Championships. Race one start was delayed for lack of wind until the northerly filled in down the lake giving 3 or 4 knots by the time the hooter sounded in anger.

Race One

With the wind coming straight down the lake the 30 competitors had a wide choice of lines, and Bob Dodds of Crawley Mariners SC, Peter Mountford of Staunton Harold SC and John Sturgeon of Hawley Lake SC got the best of the scrap for the windward mark from the eastern side of the Flash after a massive lift from the committee boat end of the line.

As the fleet became strung out, Bob consolidated the lead with a great downwind leg sailing by the lee, adding distance to a fiercely competitive chasing pack consisting of ten boats. In the middle of the fleet there was close racing between Pete Chambers and Steve Bellamy With the wind rising slightly to around 5 knots and light gusts working down the lake Bob took race one by some margin from Eddie Pope of Ogsten in second and our own Pete Coop in third, a great third place having initially rounded the windward mark in 7th.

Race Two

The course remained the same after lunch and after the wind dropped again at the start it rose steadily through the race, with Peter Mountford and Pete Chambers making great starts, again on the Committee boat end of the line.

After a tricky initial leg the windward mark rounding order was Eddie, Bob and a strong start from another local competitor Jonathan Latham. Two distinct groups formed with 8 boats battling for the lead and the rest of the fleet fighting hard with some great battles all through the midfield.

Local sailors Pete Coop, Pete Chambers and Steve Bellamy lead the chasing pack and had a good dice on the upwind leg on the second lap, while at the front of the race Eddie pulled out a big lead as the breeze rose to around 6 or 7 knots before dropping once again to near zero setting all helms a real challenge.

As Eddie Pope coasted over the line followed by Jonathan Latham, 7 boats battled it out for third place with honours going to Peter Mountford.

Race Three

After a short break the feast of Comet fun resumed in the third race, yet again almost unbearably hot, with 3 or 4 knots of wind at the start. First to the windward mark was Ben Palmer of Baltic SC with Henry Jaggers of Beer SC and WFSC's Charlotte Coop hot on their heels.

A leading pack of 6 boats developed with everyone else seemingly using the same piece of the Flash at the same time around the gybe mark at 2, the ensuing pandemonium saw a number of boats either doing turns or going back to round the mark, and a spectacular capsize as Linda Shaw pushing hard downwind was hit by a gust that nearly caught out half the fleet.

After that the fleet spread fairly evenly but with good close racing right the way through and the second beat up to Four saw every millimetre of the Flash being used as competitors tried every imaginable line.

Eventually building another storming lead Ben Palmer took the honours from Pete Coop in second and Henry Jaggers in third and the wind yet again changed down a gear as the fleet crossed the line. A great day's racing in glorious sunshine.

Sunday 18th July 2021

Competitors woke to another radiant day on Sunday with even more sweltering heat and no wind at all, not a breath of air to break the surface. Sadly racing was abandoned but it takes more than a cancelled race to dampen a Comet sailors spirits and with excellent speeches from CCA Chairman Peter Mountford, past chairman Henry Jaggers and of course the man who started it all 40 years ago, Andy Simmons who had travelled up from Devon with urgent Comet supplies.

It was really an honour to have Andy at Winsford Flash Sailing Club and great to see him competing in Comet 896 40 years after he created the boat we all love so much.

Ros Stevenson had prepared a superb cake celebrating the Comet at 40 and finally the presentation of the trophy to Eddie Pope of Ogston Sailing Club, a well deserved win after a consistent performance over the three races on Saturday.

Second place was taken by Ben Palmer from Baltic Wharf SC with a valiant third going to local sailor Pete Coop. Well done all, a great day of racing and wonderful to see the Flash filled with Comets.

Thanks and congratulations to all involved in delivering this event under considerable difficulties with a special mention for Winsford Flash Sailing Club Comet Fleet Captain Martin Loud whose tireless efforts and indefatigable spirit carried the whole team through months of planning and re-planning.

Comet Class Association Championships Prizewinners:

Congratulations to:

First Place Eddie Pope
Second Place Ben Palmer
Third Place Pete Coop
Fourth Place Bob Dodds

Fifth Place Alan Bennett

Pete Coop - Top Winsford Flash SC Helm
Alan Bennett - Ancient Mariner
Jonathan Latham - Veteran
Charlotte Coop - 1st Lady
Lucas Sproul - 1st Youth
Lee Purslow - 1st Newcomer

Roger Harrison and Dominic Oakshott - Race Committee Prizewinners

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st377Eddie PopeOgston SC2147
2nd597Ben PalmerBaltic Wharf SC5319
3rd47Pete CoopWinsford Flash SC36211
4th869Bob DoddsCrawley Mariners SC18514
5th126Alan BennettStaunton Harold SC44715
6th800Henry JaggersBeer SC713323
7th864Peter MountfordStaunton Harold SC145827
8th888Jonathan LathamWinsford Flash SC1121528
9th877Charlotte CoopWinsford Flash SC816630
10th311Steve BellamyWinsford Flash SC1271130
11th867Chris RobinsonBurghfield SC1019938
12th746Lucas SproulWinsford Flash SC13121338
13th400John SturgeonHawley Lake SC6251041
14th705Martin LoudWinsford Flash SC9241447
15th610George CoopWinsford Flash SC22101648
16th697Janet GaukrogerWinsford Flash SC17182055
17th236Pete ChambersWinsford Flash SC169OCS56
18th745Fiona NiddrieWinsford Flash SC18142557
19th190Lee PurslowOgston SC19172359
20th844Paul HindeSevern SC29112161
21st857Helen LeiversSevern SC23261261
22nd235Derek ArmstrongWinsford Flash SC15222461
23rd382Roger HarrisonRedditch SC25211763
24th293Catherine WhittakerNantwich & Borders SC24152665
25th727Nigel MillerWinsford Flash SC20281866
26th845Nigel FernStaunton Harold SC26231968
27th321Dominic OakshottWinsford Flash SC27202269
28th643Linda ShawWinsford Flash SC21292878
29th896Andy SimmonsRYA2827DNC86
30th98Claudie BlackWinsford Flash SC30302787

Complete Competitor List:

Special thanks to all who travelled from far and wide to make this such a great event,

Andy Simmons 896 from the home of the Comet, Devon
Allan Bennet 126, Nigel Fern 845, Peter Mountford 864 all from Staunton Harold SC.
Bob Dodds 869 from Crawley Mariners SC
Roger Harrison 382 from Redditch SC
Henry Jaggers 800 from Beer SC
Paul Hinde 844 and Helen Leavers 857 from Severn SC
Ben Palmer 597 from Baltic Wharf SC
Eddie Pope 377 and Lee Purslow 190 from Ogston SC
Chris Robinson 867 from Burghfield SC
John Sturgeon 400 from Hawley Lake SC
Catherine Whittaker from Nantwich and Borders SC

And a great turnout from the home Comet Fleet:

Derek Armstrong 235
Steve Bellamy 311
Claudie Black 98
Pete Chambers 236
Charlotte Coop 877
George Coop 610
Pete Coop 47
Janet Gaukroger 697
Jonathan Latham 888
Martin Loud 705
Nigel Miller 727
Fiona Niddrie 745
Dominic Oakshott 321
Linda Shaw 643
Lucas Sproul 746

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