Hastings & St Leonards Sailing Club sailor Ashford is tops in the Autumn series

Boats head for the first mark in the final days racing of the Autumn Series - picture courtesy of Rick Pryce
Boats head for the first mark in the final days racing of the Autumn Series - picture courtesy of Rick Pryce

The final races in the Autumn Series at Hastings & St Leonards Sailing Club were held in warm autumn sunshine and a gentle but variable north westerly breeze.

Competitors’ positions changed throughout the races as the shifting breeze came and went, becalming some while accelerating others. Tacking on the frequent wind shifts, spotting the areas of wind pressure and taking into account a strong tide, became crucial to finding a way to the front and crossing the line first.

Hugh Ashford in a Laser made the best start in the first race, quickly pulling ahead and leaving the rest of the fleet to contend for second and third, or so it seemed.

Ashford was still ahead as he approached the windward mark for the second time but then stalled as the wind dropped around him; the rest of the fleet were quickly upon him and there was considerable amount of shouting and forced manoeuvring in the close quarters melee that ensured.

When boats did find their way through and out to sea on a reach, Ashford was now towards the back and Sergio Velluti was at the front, where he remained to the finish, with Steve Clark second.

In the second race, Roy Sandford found the breeze and dominated throughout, making good decisions on when to tack and showing fine judgment on laying the marks correctly in the strengthening tide. Steve Clark was second, and Melanie Clark third, despite a capsize when gybing too close to a mark in the strong tide. Melanie Clark then sailed a perfect final race of the day to win ahead of Velluti in second and Ashford third. Overall victory in the Autumn Series Laser Fleet went to Ashford. Overall victory in the General Handicap Fleet went to Philip and Margaret Blurton; their Tasar being sailed on the final day of the series by Philip Blurton and Tanya Szendeffy.

Also out on the water were three of the club’s youth sailors in a Pico, and the club’s new power boat, which has been purchased to support youth sail training in particular, and has been named Grey Goose.

Next Sunday sees the start of the club’s Winter Series with racing reduced from three to two races as temperatures begin to drop and the afternoon light fades sooner in the day.

To find out more about sailing at the club go to www.hastingssc.org.