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Time trials start

Saturday 30 April 2016

I am uncertain as to when the Time Trials started but the basic principle is that a circular course is set (the current courses can be found on Page 4 of the Almanac.) It is up to the entrant to decide when to start, between May 3 and October 9th and which way round to sail the course. You are racing against the clock although there is nothing to stop boats racing together. The times are then submitted to the Sailing Sec and corrected for handicap. The person with the fastest corrected time at the end of the season wins the trophy. It is an interesting exercise in seamanship and navigation as you have to work the winds and tides to best effect as well as getting the boat to go as fast as possible. I had a go in 1994 and thought I had done reasonably well but my time was easily beaten a few days later probably due to the more experienced judgement of Brian Humby about when to start.

When I first joined the club in 1991 the A class course was around the old Shipwash Galloper course. The instructions were quite alarming in that they said that if there was a Force 6 wind or more in the forecast prior to your start then so many minutes an hour would be deducted from your time. If it was me I would stay at home with that forecast although I seem to remember someone telling me that Joe Dunnet with his smack Dorothy put in a very good time one year in near gale conditions.

In 1994 the course was reduced to about 50nm to go round the Shipwash and Sunk LV and as far as I can make out Max Pennington with Genoa was the last person to enter a winning time in 1995. By 1999 the course had been reduced in size still further to take you round the Medusa, Sunk Head Tower, Long Sand Head and Cork Sand Beacon thus keeping you south of the shipping channel all the time. So far as I am aware nobody has yet made an entry. B Class yachts also have a smaller course round the Cork Sand and again so far as I am aware there have been no entries for several years. As an ex-member of the sailing committee I would be very pleased if the club members once again took part in the Time Trials. If you would like to enter, for either course, please send your entry to the sailing secretary I can give no guarantee about trophies but in any event this is not really about pot hunting it is about testing your skill and navigational judgment. On the right day it can be a very pleasant day’s sailing. So why not have a go?

John Sparks


Tide times - Harwich