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Challenger UK National Championship at Rutland Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards 19 Sep 16:09 BST 15-17 September 2017
Challenger UK Nationals at Rutland © Tony Mayhew

Eighteen Challenger sailors gathered at Rutland Sailing Club on Friday for their UK National Championships. The fleet had an International flavour with Zoltan Pegan (263) making his regular appearance from Hungary and Jean Claude Loiseau (301) coming from France. As usual we were grateful to Rutland Sailability who loaned boats to several visiting sailors.

Following the race briefing the boats were launched into a light north westerly breeze for two back to back races on a trapizoidal course.

In Race 1 Zoltan started at the committee boat and was first to the windward mark followed by Alex Hovden (188) and Mark Fletcher (298). The wind died on second beat before the rain came bringing a bit more wind. Graham Hall (270) took advantage of some fortuitous wind shifts to work his way though the fleet to take the win with Zoltan second, Alex third and Val Millward (257) in an uncharacteristic fourth place.

Race 2 should have belonged to Alan Bradley (290) who led at the windward mark of lap two. Unfortunately he became confused by this unaccustomed state of affairs and proceeded to sail to the wrong mark, distracting Jack Alderdice (281) (who should have known better) in the process. Val and Graham pointed out the error of their ways and Val led downwind but allowed both Graham and Jack through at the gybe mark. Graham got a personal puff of wind and accelerated away to the finish, followed by Jack then Val, with Alan managing to recover to take fourth.

At the end of the day Graham was leading the fleet. Jack and Val were on equal points with Jack taking second on countback. In the silver fleet Julia Winters (256) was leading on countback from Peter Lawrence (87).

After racing the AGM was held and most of the sailors then remained at the club to enjoy the Friday night Steak night.

On Saturday morning the fleet launched into the north westerly wind, and headed off down to the church for two races on an inverted P course. During Race 3 the rain came down severely limiting visibility for a time and just after the start of Race 4 the wind veered northerly. During these races Val got into stride and took two race wins with Graham relegated to second. Jack and Zoltan were sharing thirds and fourths, and Duncan Greenhalgh (261) and Jean-Claude were getting the hang of their borrowed boats.

With the wind remaining northerly, the resulting lee-shore made for an interesting recovery of the boats as they came in for lunch.

After lunch racing resumed with two more races still on an inverted P course. Races 5 saw another victory for Val with Graham declining further to third, and Duncan achieved his best result so far of fifth.

In Race 6 things appeared to be looking up for Graham as he led from windward mark. However, on the second beat he tacked into a header allowing Zoltan, Alex, Val and Jack through. On the top reach Val got past Zoltan, positions which they held to the finish, with Graham recovering to third. During the third lap the race officer spotted another squall coming and decided against a fourth lap, requiring the shore crew to leave the warm, dry clubhouse and venture out into the rain for the recovery - they were not impressed.

So at the end of the day Val had a two point lead over Graham, with Zoltan and Jack chasing hard in third and fourth respectively. In the Silver fleet Peter had taken the lead from Julia. The fleet retired to the clubhouse for a well-earned regatta dinner.

On Sunday the wind still had a significant northerly component (the shore crew were getting fed up with this). The fleet was split in two for Races 7 and 8 which comprised the medal races. The first eight boats comprised the A fleet and the remainder the B fleet with the two fleets having separate starts.

Race 7 was designated the Bart's Bash race and was sailed over two laps of a windward-leeward course. In the A fleet Graham started towards the pin and went further left before tacking and finding a lift up by the peninsular to the windward mark which he reached just before Val. They maintained that order to the end with Alex taking third. In the B fleet Peter got the better of Jean-Claude with Alan in third.

Going into Race 8, Graham needed a win to take the event but it was not to be as he had a disastrous race. Zoltan took command of the A fleet race leaving Val and Alex in second and third respectively. In the B fleet Jean-Claude took the win followed by Peter and Diana Faulks (288).

In the medal races consistency paid, so Val won the A fleet, Alex's two thirds gave him second and Zoltan was third. The B fleet was more interesting with Jean-Claude taking first on countback from Peter, and Diana taking third on countback from Alan.

For the championship as a whole, after a slightly shaky start, Val put together a superb set of results to win and reclaim the Curtis Cup, Graham was second, and Zoltan was awarded the Prentice Pot for third place (which is a remarkable achievement as he hadn't sailed a challenger since last year's championships). The silver fleet was won by Peter, with Julia and Jack Ginn (122) in second and third respectively.

Pauline Harrison, chairman of Rutland Sailability, was on hand to present the prizes. Thanks were given to all those who helped made the event happen but particularly to Richard Johnson, the race officer and event organiser.

Trophies awarded:

  • Curtis Cup (1st overall) Val Millward
  • Prentice Pot (3rd overall) Zoltan Pegan
  • Thames Water Shield (winner of last race) Zoltan Pegan
  • Silver Piccollo (highest placed sailor previously unplaced at a UK Nationals) Duncan Greenhalgh
  • Dan Newton Memorial Prize (best improved in 2017) Peter Lawrence
  • Jock Campbell Trophy (best under 30) Alex Hovden
More photos are available on flickr here.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Challenger nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosHelmSail NoClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1stVal Millward257Rutland Sailing ClubGold‑4311112211
2ndGraham Hall270Rutland Sailing ClubGold1122331‑913
3rdZoltan Pegan263HungaryGold2‑643226120
4thJack Alderdice281Rutland Sailing ClubGold‑5234444425
5thAlex Hovden188Papercourt Sailing ClubGold3‑857683335
6thDuncan Greenhalgh261Bassenthwaite Sailing ClubGold‑11766595644
7thMark Fletcher298Rutland SailabilityGold65‑159758545
8thChris Atkin297Hanningfield SailabilityGold81075‑1179854
9thJean‑Claude Loiseau301FranceGold10‑138886111061
10thAlan Bradley290Rutland SailabilityGold7413‑151210121371
11thPeter Lawrence87Hanningfield SailabilitySilver9‑1412131012101177
12thDiana Faulks288Rutland SailabilityGold‑1512911914131280
13thJulia Winters256Grafham Water SailabilitySilver14914‑171311161491
14thPauline Shaw266Grafham Water SailabilityGold13151012(DNC)13151593
15thJack Ginn122Grafham Water SailabilitySilver121611101415(DNC)DNC97
16thStephen Thomas Bate58Annandale Sailing ClubGold1611‑171415161416102
17thNick Bett122Rutland Sailing ClubGold(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC77109
18thDean Abra218Isle of Sheppey SCSilver(DNC)DNC1616DNCDNC1717123