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Contender Open at Hayling Island Sailing Club

by Ed Presley 13 Jun 16:09 BST 10-11 June 2017

After a long spring break, the Contender fleet rocked up to the UK's premier sailing venue to sample the many delights that that come with slick race management, high class facilities and a long bar. Of course most of this added value is wasted on the Contender fleet who have low standards, low morals and high cholesterol.

Rigging up was surrounded by the who's who of double handed sailing, thanks to the Merlin and Fireball fleets who generally rub along alright with us due to their shared love of old fashioned courses, high winds and continually lowering PYs. Talk turned to conditions as it was made clear the bay was on. Day 1 looked breezier but the forecast was for gradually lowering winds, and so we were off.

On the course, conditions couldn't have been better; nice bit of swell with 14-15 knots. The Merlins taught us about starting proficiently (twice). As the gun went Simon Mussell nailed the pin and screamed off with Nick Noble in pursuit, Simon's speed allowed him to tack and clear the fleet with only Gary Langdown near enough to worry him. At the mark Simon had a 50 yard lead with Gary and Stuart Jones some way behind and then the chasing pack. Gary blatted off downwind, cutting into Mussell's lead, leaving these two out in front. It was expected that Simon would gain again upwind but not this time, the suspicion is that Gary has been practicing (frankly outlawed in Contenders), a mistake by Mussell under-cooking the mark let Gary in and he sailed off to a big win from Simon. Some time passed and the rest finished, Jones being the best of them in 3rd.

Race 2 replicated the first in results but in slightly less wind this time. Gary Langdown led after overtaking Mussell on the first reach and extended from there, Stuart Jones had to work back from a poor start and battled nicely with Nick Noble to claim another 3rd, this time using his secret power of sailing very low but surprisingly fast on the 2nd reach.

For the last race the wind had died off to the crouching stance we all love. All around us Merlin and Fireball relative speed increased. This sort of slow sailing is the usual domain of Langdown, but with his improvement in the upper wind range would he have lost his skillset? No. Starting fairly mid-line, Gary pointed high to dominate the fleet. Stuart Jones tacked off early to find clean air and took some with him. At the mark Gary had a decent margin of safety over Stuart with a little space back to the improving Ralph Drew. Offwind Carl Tagoe and Ed Presley managed to overtake Ralph and close up on Stuart but old Jonesy pulled it back again upwind by playing the right of centre. Carl and Ed battled for 3rd until the end when an as yet un-featured newcomer David Patterson came rollicking in from the hard right corner to claim the last podium spot of the day behind a unscathed and smug Langdown and Jones.

The fleet retired to enjoy the host of facilities that Hayling has on offer, but again being as low brow as they are, many were found drinking rum in the car park instead.

Day two promised less wind but delivered much more with a bigger swell. It was a truly glorious sailing day with some biblical two footed reaches. The wind now at 18-20 knots squarely favoured Simon Mussell but could fast Gary overcome basic physics to record more wins? At the start Simon went for the pin and disappeared. David Patterson pointing high squeezed Ed Presley into tacking off and going for speed. Simon's speed was somewhat nullified by Ed's going the right way as they rounded close together with Gary 10 boat lengths behind, Ed managed to get level with Simon on the reaches but using the waves to stay deep allowed Simon to carry speed into the leeward mark and stay ahead. Gary Langdown had taken distance off both of these to make it a 3-way battle for the second round. Simon extended upwind but misjudged the lay-line and needed to hitch in with Ed following suit so once again it was tight. Simon stayed ahead for the rest of the race with Gary making ground all the time on Ed who fought hard downwind to keep 2nd.

By the 5th race the wind was 20+ knots with a big sea - perfect Contender conditions. Out of the blocks Ed Presley went hard left with the rest taking the left of middle. A shift at the top saw Ed reaching into the mark on Port to round just behind Simon who had suffered the least from the knock. Ed and Simon traded positions downwind, complete with running commentary from Simon. Both rounded the leeward mark together where Simon turned on the burners to pull out a massive lead - at least he would have if he didn't go for a rookie dip on a tack. It is the measure of his upwind speed that he was overtaken by Jones whilst he stood on his upturned hull, but still managed to round ahead. That and the fact the rest of the fleet over-stood hugely. All this clever stuff allowed Ed Presley to build up a big lead into the last run to the finish, it was nailed on... err no, Ed suffered a multiple capsize and drifted over the line upside down and in 11th. The win went to Mussell with Carl Tagoe making up many places up the last beat to get 2nd. Over-stander Gary came in 3rd.

The race committee wisely decided to get us in before the tide turned and the Hayling bar became nasty; as it was every boat surfed home beautifully for tea and medals.

Hayling Island Sailing Club managed us perfectly and kept all masts intact. The Contender class thanks the club and all of the other sailors for brilliant event, we will be back next year for our Nationals, 7-10th September, get your diaries penned now.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st2439Gary LangdownHigh Cliffe111‑336
2nd2420Simon MussellHigh Cliffe22‑7116
3rd2465Stuart JonesDatchet Water SC332‑5412
4th2572Ed PresleyCotswold SC4552‑1116
5th2607Carl TagoeOxford SC‑7646218
6th2618Nick NoblePortishead SC54(OCS)7521
7th2522Chris BoshierThorpe Bay YC6784(DNC)25
8th678Thomas HootonBurton SC88(OCS)9631
9th693David PattersonEmsworth SC1010310‑1233
10th2347Martin JonesWilsonian SC‑121198735
11th2661Nick CurryWeston SC9‑121012839
12th716Richard FranksWeston SC‑11911111041
13th2639Ralph DrewWeston SC1414613(DNC)47
14th2538John Mclean 1313(DNC)14949
15th712Rodger WhiteKing George SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC64