Sailors race for charity

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Jeremy Short surfing his way to victory in a Laser Dinghy

The Rye Harbour Sailing Club summer dinghy race series is now well underway with the fourth race (of seven) held recently. This was an ‘open’ race in support of Sports Aid, the charity that helps the most promising British athletes during the critical early stages of their careers. Thanks go to the race sponsors Virtual Rigger and Martins of Hawkhurst for their generous support.

Eric Zon in a Laser Dinghy (left) and Mark Whiteman off Camber Sands

The event was organised by Scott Wilkinson, 17, ably supported by his family, who, as a previous U15 World Champion Topper Sailor, has benefited from the Charity. Scott was also the Officer of the Day and as such had to make the difficult decision (with lots of adults looking on) as to whether or not to race in Rye Bay or on the river.

The winds were a manageable 15 knots (gusting 20) but the sea state was more than a little eye watering. However, once all the entries were in and it was realised that all the competitors were experienced sailors who could cope with the conditions it was decided to go out to sea.

Jeremy Short (left) receiving first prize from race organiser, Scott Wilkinson

The race route started at the club house sailing downstream to the Bay. This necessitates sailing across the mouth of the Bay where the combination of shallow waters (Camber Sands), high winds and tide can make for some very challenging seas. The course sailed gave the boats an opportunity to enjoy navigating the waves upwind and surfing them downwind.

The character of the race was set with some early capsizes. That said the sailing was exhilarating (as can be seen from the photographs). Jeremy Short came in first place, with Andrew Hewitt and Mark Marquez (from North Carolina, USA) coming second and with John and Claire Powell third.

After sailing back upriver to the finish the sailors came ashore for a BBQ lunch. The event attracted many spectators including some who were considering joining the club and were persuaded by what they had seen.

Image Credits: RHSC.

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