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English National Challenger Championship at Grafham Water Sailability

by Marion Edwards 30 Jun 11:43 BST 24-25 June 2017

Nineteen boats gathered at Grafham Water Centre over the weekend 24-25 June to contest the English National Challenger Championships, organised by Grafham Water Sailability. While the majority of sailors were visitors, five of them were sailing boats kindly loaned by Grafham Water Sailability.

Saturday morning dawned bright, sunny and breezy with the wind predominantly WSWly 4 gusting 5. The race officer, Mike Haynes, used the new inverted P course, throughout the weekend.

The first race got underway on time, but Jack Alderdice (281) was soon forced to retire when the rivets gave way on his mast collar. However, a repair was made which held for the rest of the weekend. The race was eventually won by Graham Hall (270) with Val Millward (257) second and Pauline Shaw (266) coming home third (a personal best). The fleet came in for lunch, after which the race officer adjusted the course and two further races were completed.

At the end of Saturday Graham (1,1,2) had a slender lead over Val (2,2,1), with Pauline in third place (3,5,5). Chris Atkin (289) (8,4,4) led the silver fleet and Julia Winters and John Wright (211) (10,11,11) the bronze.

To become English Champion, Val had to win at least two races on Sunday but made a bad start in the first. At the windward mark she was still in touch. Graham and Val were nose to tail at the last mark, with Graham in front but he made a bad rounding, allowing Val to overtake just far enough to tack for the line and win. In the next two races, Val was faultless but Graham obligingly straddled a buoy in the last race, ensuring a win for Val plus overall victory on the tie break. In the event the main interest, and highlight for many, was a last-race third for Judi Figgures (264), celebrating a birthday and sailing with a servo-assisted mainsheet but showing she could still mix it with the top of the fleet after over 20 years of Challenger racing.

So Val is the new English champion with Graham having to settle for second and Jack third. Outside the top three there were a number of significant achievements, most notably Pauline’s fourth place and first Grafham boat. Hanningfield Sailability (Chris Atkin and Peter Lawrence (87)) dominated the silver fleet. While Ron Bainbridge and David Newton (272) romped home first in the bronze fleet, though the result might have been quite different if Julia and John had been able to sail on Sunday.

At the prize giving thanks were given to the race officer, Mike Haynes, the safety boat crews and Grafham Water Sailability and Grafham Water Centre. The next event with be the Welsh Open Challenger Championships at Llyn Brenig Sailing Club (22-23 July).

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewSail NoClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stVal Millward 257Rutland Sailing ClubGold‑2211116
2ndGraham Hall 270Rutland Sailing ClubGold11‑22228
3rdJack Alderdice 281Rutland Sailing ClubGold(DNF)3333416
4thPauline Shaw 266Grafham Water SailabilityGold3554‑6522
5thChris Atkin 289Hanningfield SailabilitySilver‑84454623
6thPeter Lawrence 87Hanningfield SailabilitySilver67765‑831
7thJudi Figgures 264Grafham Water SailabilityGold5889(DNC)333
8thAlan Bradley 194Rutland SailabilityGold7‑139117741
9thMark Fletcher 265Rutland SailabilityGold4667(DNC)DNC43
10thJohn Stokes 173Rutland SailabilityGold99‑10109946
11thRob BainbridgeDavid Newton272Oxford Sailing ClubBronze11‑121212101055
12thNeil BartlettMurray Palmer232Oxford Sailing ClubBronze14‑151414121468
13thJulia WintersJohn Wright211Grafham Water SailabilityBronze101111(DNC)DNCDNC72
14thDean Abra 218Isle of Sheppey SCSilver(DNF)DNCDNC88DNC76
15thLaura SaundersonSue Baker242Grafham Water SailabilityBronze(DNC)DNCDNC15111177
16thSarah WhitelockPeter Smith242Grafham Water SailabilityBronze131413(DNC)DNCDNC80
17thMark Ashley 303Rutland SailabilitySilver(DNF)10DNFDNFDNF1282
18thKristopher TangJohn Morrow200Grafham Water SailabilityBronze(DNC)DNCDNC13DNC1386
19thDennis SmithKelvin German256Grafham Water SailabilityBronze12(DNF)DNFDNFDNFDNC92