Only the hardiest Hastings and Bexhill sailors venture out

Cold, strong and gusty northerly winds dissuaded many from taking part in Sunday’s four-race handicap at Hastings and St Leonards Sailing Club.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 3:00 pm
Lasers in close quarters racing for the first mark off Hastings and St Leonards Club / Photo by Rick Pryce

However, six sailors ventured out and were rewarded with sunshine and great conditions. A reaching start at the pin end made for close quarters manoeuvring to get under way and a battle to find a clear lane to the first buoy.

It was then downwind out to sea, a gybe on to a broad reach and a challenging beat into the shore before heading round again.

Decisions on the beat were crucial for deciding who would reach the windward mark first; sailors made different decisions on which route to take and when to tack, with the result that positions changed the most on this part of the course.

It looks pleasant at Bexhill but it was chilly and choppy

The strong gusty conditions also made this the hardest leg for staying upright; sailors leaned out hard at times to avoid going over.

In the first two races, Hugh Ashford (Laser Radial) managed these challenges the best, winning both races and leading largely from the front in clean air while other boats changed positions behind him or were slowed by capsizes.

The third race went to Melanie Clark (Laser Radial) who overtook other sailors by picking a better route up the beat. By the fourth race the wind was becoming more flukey at the windward mark with windless patches appearing only metres from sudden violent gusts.

Mat Windley read the wind well, sliding round the mark and locking himself into a strong puff to carry him over the line nearly a minute ahead of the next competitor.

When the results of all four races were taken into account, Hugh Ashford was the competition’s overall winner.

One point behind in second was Roy Sandford (Laser 4.7) who had sailed consistently to achieve three second places and a third. Melanie Clark was third overall.

The club will hold more racing this Sunday.


Sailing is, like many sports, beholden to the weather and last weekend was a case in point.

Cold northerly winds produced sleet and snow – and just five Bexhill Sailing Club boats took to the water over the weekend.

One catamaran, one Laser, a Europe and a Lightning made up the adult fleet.

Bob Palmer’s Radial rig was fastest although on corrected time young cadet Logan Adams (Topper) was faster still, much to his credit.

More races are planned this weekend . In tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh the Saturday race will now start at 1pm so it finishes ahead of the funeral at 3pm.

Sunday’s race remains scheduled for a 2pm start.

The club is returning to something like normal, offering sail training.

There remain some spaces on the course – contact Geof Padgham, the training officer, or check

You will be trained by experienced RYA-qualified instructors on well equipped club boats supported by safety boats. The initial briefing takes place on May 29 at the seafront clubhouse with refreshments, all Covid compliant and reviewed accordingly.

You will find a welcoming club offering enjoyment exercise and camaraderie. Drop in for a chat when the flags flying.