Wind and wave test dinghies

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The new Sport 16 dinghy - part of the Sailability program

Sunday saw the last of the current series of dinghy races at Rye Harbour Sailing Club, and what a fitting climax to this series it was. With winds gusting up to 20 knots from the west and seas with waves up to a metre high, this was a race to test all our competitors. Get it right and the boat will fairly scream over the water, get it wrong and you swap clear air above you for the water underneath.

Five started the race and three finished. The course, which was laid out by Jeremy Short, in Rye Bay was designed to test the sailor’s ability to sail in different wind directions (heading into wind, with the wind coming from the side and then from behind). For those used to sailing inland or on rivers the sea provides additional hazards that slow or capsize you. Turn on the wrong part of a wave and you stop; take a wave wrong and the bow ploughs through the wave slowing you down. On a run (with the wind behind) you can take advantage of the swell and surf on it going so fast that the boat begins to hum – get it wrong though and you spectacularly capsize at high speed.

Exhilarating, at times a touch scary, but a great deal of fun, the race saw competitors battling their way through a series of triangular and sausage-shaped courses. David Tomkinson, operating the safety boat, had his hands full keeping an eye on everyone whilst keeping the boat on station.

John Powell came in first sailing a Laser dinghy, Anna Knight and Sue Saich came in second sailing a Wanderer and Steve Eccles came third sailing a Laser dinghy with a Radial sail (slightly smaller than a standard sail).

The series started on March 12 (which seems an age ago now) and finished with this race. John Powell took the series with Steve Eccles coming second and Anna Knight and Sue Saich coming third. Seventeen club members took part in the series, with ages ranging from 12 to over 60. The next series starts on July 23 and finishes October 22; a winter series is also planned.

After returning to the club house, Anna Knight and Tom Ashmore took the ‘Sailability’ boat ‘Luey’ out for a trial run. Luey is a Sport 16 dinghy with plenty of room in which those who are less abled can experience the joys of sailing. ‘Sailability’ is a registered charity which is separate from, but associated with, Rye Harbour Sailing Club. It is run by volunteers from the club and elsewhere with a symbiotic relationship regarding equipment and storage.

Photo: RHSC

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