Junior sailor tames weather

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Flaming June the tide creeps in as three of the seven dinghies wait to launch

High tides and high winds were the theme for Sunday’s dinghy race at Rye Harbour Sailing Club. As a result the Officer of the Day, Ted Goodsell, took the decision to hold the race in the river.

Scott Wilkinson, 15, took the laurels for the day in his Topper dinghy. Scott is a member of the UK Junior Dinghy Sailing Squad and won by a massive five-minute margin. Eric Zon, sailing a Laser dinghy, came second, followed 13 seconds later by John Powell also sailing a Laser.

Seven boats started and six finished. Racing on the river requires sailors to be continually alert to wind shifts and speed variations. With a westerly wind, gusts force themselves between buildings and moored boats – one minute the competitor is hiking (leaning right off the boat to keep it upright and balanced), the next the wind stops, potentially dumping the embarrassed sailor in the water.

With high tides, it is also tempting to cut outside the channel markers – a couple found this wasn’t a risk worth taking and ran aground losing valuable seconds (watched carefully by Neil Thomas in the safety boat). The strong winds meant that two laps, from Rye Harbour down to Rock Channel and back, took about an hour, with some boats overtaking powered vessels.

After the race with the winds dropping slightly, some club members took themselves off to sea for a blast in Rye Bay before returning to the club house for a well-earned drink. In a similar manner to fisherfolk, comments on how they could have done better “…if only I had…” could be heard in between drinks.

The club opens its doors again to the public on July 8, with sailing starting at approximately 10:44am. Refreshments and a barbecue will be available. Further details can be obtained from Sarah Nelson at sarah@digbynelson.co.uk. If you want to try sailing for free and experience the excitement of dinghies then please do come and give it a try.

Photo: Steve Eccles

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