The Louvre Trust Autumn Sailing Series comes to an end for another year

The Guernsey Yacht Club's Autumn Series, kindly sponsored by Louvre Trust, was held during Saturdays and Sundays in September and October.  The series benefitted from mild, albeit at times, windy conditions but only one of the seven scheduled races for yachts was cancelled due to adverse conditions on the day.

Conditions ranged from virtually no wind for one yacht race although fortunately the wind held up for a short course to be completed, to very marginal conditions for the last race when in fact only three boats chose to race due to the very rough seas in the Russel and particularly on the start line by the Castle breakwater.

The third race of the series was held in very light conditions with competitors sailing a very short course to Vivian race buoy and back via Reffee. In class 1, Blackjack gained an unassailable lead to win but all of the other boats bunched up near Reffee and finished in very close succession. In class 2, Dark Horse forgot to go around the last mark so was disqualified.

The sea conditions for the final race, with a southerly wind, were decidedly choppy and many boats ventured out only to turn back due to this. However three class 1 boats competed and two completed a shortened course, Varmint retiring. The race was won by Roger Martel in Kaya 2, who briefly and bravely flew his spinnaker to overtake Mick Holland in Majic.

Class 1 was won by Martin Ozard and his crew in BlackJack, who had an extremely good series winning all four of the races in which they competed.  They were followed in second place by Roger Martel in Kaya 2 who won the two other races, with Martin Priest in Fandangle placing third.

Class 2 saw less boats competing, the winner being David Aslett and Matt Knowles in Glory Days, followed by John Falla in Banjaard with John Surcombe in Bunbury placing third.

The old adage that there is always too much or not enough wind for sailing certainly rang true for the Louvre Autumn Series 2022. And mostly it was too much. The dinghy fleet for this series was broken down in to two classes. Class 6 were the faster monohull dinghies and Class 7 were the slower monohull dinghies both double and singlehanded.

In Class 7 David Aslett managed to sneak the victory in the first race in his RS Aero una-rigged single hander from Georgina Mann and Henrik Asplund in their RS 200 double handed asymmetric boat. The results were more comfortably reversed in race 2 and then in the third, and only light wind race of the series, the wind swung to make it a reaching course and the asymmetric boats cleaned up with two 200’s taking first and second place Henrik and Georgina coming out on top again from Reg and Nicky Barker in their RS, Take 2 (Hundred).

Race 4 saw Guy Noble, son of the local legend Reg, turn up for his one and only outing on the series. You could tell he thought he had done reasonably well when he was straight on the WhatsApp group after the race chasing up the results (nobody cares when they’re down the pan) and sure enough on loan, as it were, from the Queen Mary Reservoir where he more usually sails, he took the win. Pretty impressive stuff for a man more familiar with the much flatter conditions of inland sailing in the heart of the home counties on a day that saw a stiff southerly breeze in the Little Russell with wind against tide throwing up a large, confused sea.

For Class 6 race two was their first. It saw the old campaigners Gary and Tina Coutanche start as they meant to continue putting in a first place. Their beautifully maintained Dart 18, Dart Garfunkel, catamaran is always one to watch in the breezier conditions. Andy Bridgman, an incredibly dedicated single hander – who is mastering the fine art of foiling, he can be seen literally flying up and down the Little Russell practicing most weekends. His state-of-the-art foiling Wasp class dinghy registered a third in this second race. We really hope he starts to compete more regularly in what is surely be the future of sailing in general and dinghy and windsurfer racing in particular, foiling.

The fact that races were not able to be run because of the autumnal conditions meant that there were no ‘discarded results’ – all the results were to count in Class 6. Gary and Tina Coutanche held on for the overall win from Stuart and Carol Bloese in their RS 500, Gargle Blaster, after they recorded two wins in what would turn out to be the last two races of the series. The fact that they had not competed in the first race, but still had to carry the points, put them down to second – a cruel blow. The other main contenders in this class were Benn Garnham and Jamie Hamilton coming in a very respectable third in their Hobie Tiger catamaran.

In Class 6, despite leaving the Island before the last race for their winter pilgrimage to Sweden, Henrik Asplund and Georgina Mann took the win from David Aslett in Reckless Serenade with, what can only be described as a very consistent performance, from David Le Page and Elaine Mahy in their GP14, Cinq Cent Livres, a classic sailing dinghy designed by Jack Holt in 1949, the modern ones are still a force to be reckoned with in the right hands, and Dave and Elaine’s are definitely the right hands. In a very credible 4th place in a series in which 15 boats competed was Emma Warner in a RS Aero 5 again registering a consistent set of results.

The series culminated in Derek Baudains, Director of Louvre Trust, awarding the prizes with food also very kindly provided by Louvre Trust.  Competitors are looking forward to the next series and indeed Louvre’s continuing sponsorship in 2023.