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Plenty of Wind in the Sails of Louvre Autumn Sailing Series

The twelfth annual Louvre Autumn Sailing Series took place during October and November despite the challenging weather conditions and saw four classes of racing yachts, dinghies and windsurfers compete.

Organised by the Guernsey Yacht Club, the handicapped race challenge involved a variety of craft accruing points throughout a series of seven races, followed by a prizegiving.

Long-term sponsorship from Louvre Group has made this series possible for over a decade.

The weather has not been ideal this year, with a barrage of gale-force winds hitting the island each weekend, leading to the cancellation of several races.

Racing Yachts

The first Class One (Racing Yachts) race saw Simon Henning coming first in his Melges 24, White Rabbit.

The final Class One race saw perfect conditions of sunshine and a solid north-west wind of about 15-20 knots, with six boats lining up on the start line ahead of a fast-paced race back and forth across the Little Russell.

This race culminated in a lunch on the balcony of the Yacht Club courtesy of Louvre Group, ahead of the prizegiving.

Class One was won by White Rabbit (Simon Henning) followed by Kaya (Roger Martin) with Blackjack (Martin Ozard and Steve Morris) coming in third place.

Having only managed to complete two races before the final one in the series, it was all still to play for in the dinghy classes.

Dinghy Classes

The final race saw them sent out from Castle Cornet to a mark just east of Salerie Corner ahead of a fast downwind run to an inflatable mark midway between Guernsey and Herm, before the home stretch to Fermain Bay. The slow fleet did two laps, with the fast completing three and a half.

Gary and Tina Coutanche's Dark Garfunkel, along with Poker Face, sailed by Benn Garnham and Jamie Hamilton, made up the fast fleet of catamarans.

Poker Face reached the downwind mark first before extending its lead further, reaching 20 knots on the blast to reach Fermain Bay, with Dark Garfunkel comfortably taking second place. According to its captain Mr Coutanche, the near 30-year-old Dart 18 had never gone that fast before!

The RS500 Mostly Harmless piloted by the Bloeses and Adam Knight in his RS100 followed behind in their own race.

Poker Face finished first on the water with Dark Garfunkel second on handicap, and Adam Knight taking third.

The slow fleet had a good turnout with the juniors joining in the adult fleet racing, having led the way around the course for most of the year. However, it was the old hands’ turn in the final race with Steve Rickards and Patrick Goddard sailing TOG and Dave Aslett in his Laser showing the juniors how it’s done.

Despite their best efforts to minimise losses, Krystow Damsel in his laser Radial and Joe Coutanche and Heather Hutchins in their Feva were unable to hold the adults off with TOG finishing two minutes ahead of Mr Aslett. Krystow managed third on the water but was beaten on handicap by the Feva.

Tough Weather Conditions

‘Unfortunately, we were up against some awful weather conditions this year, which meant that sadly many of the races had to be called off. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the racing we did have,’ said Sam Atkinson, Rear Commodore Sail of the Guernsey Yacht Club.

‘We were very impressed by the junior sailors who demonstrated a great deal of confidence and skill in Class Six, giving the adults a run for their money. Especially considering the challenging wind conditions in the last couple of races.’

Haidée Stephens, Director of Louvre Group, commented: 'Over the 12 years that we have sponsored this series I think this year saw the worse weather. However, that is all part of sailing, and the winners truly deserved their prizes. We are very proud of everyone who got involved.'

Mrs Stephens concluded: ‘We live on a beautiful island, so it’s no surprise that sailing is of such importance to so many islanders. Having a relationship with the Guernsey Yacht Club for over a decade now is very exciting as the series continues to thrive every year.’

Final results

Class 1 (Racing Yachts)

1 - White Rabbit (Simon Henning)

2 - Kaya (Roger Martin)

3 - Blackjack (Martin Ozard and Steve Morris)

Class 6 (Fast Dinghies)

1 - Poker Face (Benn Garnham and Jamie Hamilton)

2 - Dart Garfunkel (Gary and Tina Coutanche)

3 - RS100 (Adam Knight)

Class 7 (Slow Dinghies)

1 - RS Feva (Joe Coutanche and Heather Hutchins) – also first juniors

2 - TOG (Steve Rickards and Patrick Goddard)

3 - Laser Radial (Krystow Damsel)