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Challenger Open at Burghfield Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards on 31 May 5-6 May 2017

Ten challenger sailors met at Burghfield on Friday 5 May for the first regatta of the season. As the boats were rigged in the shelter of the clubhouse, the wind blew strongly from an unhelpful North Easterly direction.

The first race was postponed and lunch brought forward. The race officer went to investigate and came back to report conditions were sailable. The problem was launching and recovering the challengers without annihilating the shore crew. Commonsense (reluctantly) prevailed and racing was abandoned for the day in the hope that the conditions would improve on Saturday. During the afternoon sailors contented themselves with boat bimbling and polishing, and watching the white horses dance down the lake. In the evening an excellent meal was provided by the club caterers.

Saturday morning saw a slight reduction in wind strength and a slight shift in direction which helped with launching and recovery. The sailors set off for an inverted P course. Dean Abra (251) soon retired as the combination of lively conditions and unfamiliar boat (kindly loaned by Burghfield Sailability) took its toll.

In the first race John Draper (277) had the best start and led most of the fleet up the middle of the lake. Graham Hall (270) spotted more pressure to the right so took a chance and went to the right of the islands, but John reached the top mark first and managed to hold Graham off until the start of the second beat. John was then inexorably hunted down by Val Millward (257) and in the end he had to settle for third.

Throughout the day Burghfield lived up to its shifty reputation with those sailors who were lucky enough to be in tune with the shifts making big gains, and others left rueing what might have been. This was certainly the case in the second race when it was Val's turn to lead from the start until Graham had better luck with the shifts on the second beat. A broken kicker put paid to Diana Faulks' (288) race and she retired for a repair.

After a much needed lunch, the fleet set out hoping to complete two further races to allow the all important discard to kick in. The wind had also dropped a little tempting Martin Stone (255) to come out. Soon after launching Mark Fletcher (279) was back onshore with a damaged sail, which was swiftly replaced, and fortunately he made the start in time to sail his best race, coming second behind Graham.

There was a course change for the final race which caused some confusion for a couple of boats and gifted the final win to Graham, with Jack Alderdice (281) finishing on a high in second place.

Graham Hall was the overall winner, closely followed by Val Millward in second and John Draper third (and first Burghfield boat). Martin Stone won the Silver fleet and Rob Bainbridge (272) took second (in his first regatta). Neil Bartlett and Murray Palmer (232) were the only bronze fleet boat but they kept plugging away in conditions that were not ideal for them. The astute observer would have noticed an extra challenger on the water: this was David Newton who was not racing, but providing some on the water coaching and encouragement to the back markers.

At the prize giving thanks were given to members of both Burghfield Sailing Club and Burghfield Sailability, who together hosted another excellent regatta.

Overall Results:

PosFleetHelmBuddySail NoClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1stGoldGraham Hall 270Rutland SC‑11113
2ndGoldVal Millward 257Rutland SC223‑47
3rdGoldJohn Draper 277Burghfield SC33‑539
4thGoldJack Alderdice 281Rutland SC‑544210
5thGoldMark Fletcher 279Rutland SC452‑611
6thGoldDiana Faulks 288Rutland SC6(DNF)7720
7thSilverMartin Stone 255Burghfield SC(DNC)DNC6522
8thSilverRob Bainbridge 272Farmoor SC(DNF)68822
9thBronzeNeil BartlettMurray Palmer232Farmoor Sailability(DNF)79925
10thSilverDean Abra 251Isle of Sheppey SC(DNS)DNCDNCDNC33

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