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Plain sailing as wind picks up

By Canterbury Times  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

Challenging: Sailors struggled early on in calm conditions

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THIS year's Forts Race, organised by Whitstable Yacht Club, followed a well-established pattern – apart from the wind.

It was due to blow force three on both days, so to maximise chances of a good event the Forts Race itself was planned for Saturday with Sunday available as back-up if conditions were marginal.

As things turned out winds were marginal with too little rather than too much.

The race started on the top of the tide with a long beat up the Swale in a force two followed by a run back to the club line.

The second leg turned north out to the Forts started as a tight kite reach where the wider beam of the Tornados enabled them to make good their losses against more nimble shorter designs of catamarans up the Swale.

However the fleet then sailed into a hole once past Middle Sands buoy, which enabled slower cats to catch up and nullified the early lead of Will Sunnucks' Marstrom Monster.

When the wind did fill in it was not a sea breeze from the Thames but unexpectedly from the north east.

The Forts themselves proved a challenge with incidents at the bell buoy as competitors faced weak following winds fighting strong oncoming outgoing tide.

The massive Maunsel Fort structures themselves worsened the problem by creating wind shadow and provided the club rescue fleet with its only break from boredom.

On the return trip competitors sailed into another hole off Shellness which again allowed the slower cats to catch up.

Here the sea breeze finally came to the rescue, aiding those eastwards out to sea first, but only briefly as the prevailing south-westerly re-established itself once the fleet re-entered the Swale estuary.

In the end victory went to leading Dart 18 sailors Chris Goymer and Jenni Donovan from Sheppey, whose skill in navigating their local Swale waters was rewarded by them being the only smaller cat to reach the first gate at the club line before it was closed.

That enabled them to profit from the holes on the Forts leg and deservedly to claim the Forts trophy for the first time in a small cat.

Second on corrected time was Rupert White and Nikki Boniface from Brightlingsea in a Spitfire and third Raphael Sicouri and Marcela Mingozzi from Stokes Bay

Notable WYC member results were Abby Zambinski crewed by Tom Bruton Junior as the first WYC boat in a Nacra F18 Infusion, Alicia Clifford and Siobhan Lamb as the first youths in a Spitfire and Nick Dewhirst, aided, and Steve Gray in the first Tornado.

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