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Challenger English National Championship at Grafham Water Sailability

by Marion Edwards 26 Jun 2018 11:12 BST 23-24 June 2018
2018 Challenger English National Championship at Grafham day 1 © Eric Joyce

Eighteen sailors gathered at Grafham Water Centre over the weekend 23-24 June for the English National Challenger Championships, organised by Grafham Water Sailability. Three of the nine visiting sailors were sailing boats kindly loaned by Grafham Water Sailability.

The weather forecast for Saturday was for a light but sailable wind but that for Sunday was dire. At the race briefing, the race officer, Mike Haynes, suggested that four, rather than the scheduled three, races be run on Saturday in case Sunday's forecast was accurate: the fleet readily agreed.

The fleet launched in a gentle F3 breeze which shifted between west and north west. The plan was to sail two short races on a triangular course before lunch. In race 1 Alex Hovden (188) was first to the windward mark closely followed by Graham Hall (270), Jack Alderdice (281) and Val Millward (257). Graham and Val both managed to hit the windward mark and while doing their turns, let Jack Ginn (289) through. However, over the next lap or so they picked off Jack G., then Alex and Jack A. Going into the final reach Val had a comfortable lead over Graham but was "grievously robbed of the race" (her words) when she was seriously headed on the reach whereas Graham found pressure and was lifted which enabled him to take the win. Alan Bradley (194) sailed an excellent race to take third and Pauline Shaw (266) fourth.

Race 2 saw another clean start, with Graham, Val and Jack A. close together at the windward mark. Graham overstood the mark and a personal gust was sufficient to allow him to get his nose ahead and he began to extend, whereas Val and Jack became locked in a personal battle which Val eventually won but she was unable to catch Graham. The highlight of Pauline's race was not her position (seventh) but seeing a circular rainbow around the sun!

After lunch the race officer changed to an inverted P course. Afterwards Pauline commented that she enjoyed sailing different courses during the day and that she now understood what an inverted P course was!

At the start of race 3 Jack A. executed a beautiful port tack flier, complete with a royal wave, as he crossed ahead of the boats on starboard. Unfortunately his joy was short lived as boats tacking on to port later were lifted and Graham reached the windward mark a few seconds before Val and Jack. Graham then found the tail-end of a gust which allowed him to extend. Val took another second and Jack third. Alex had is best race in fourth.

For race 4 Jack G. now had the confidence to "try something different" (his words) and, as his namesake had done in the previous race, went for a port tack flier, unfortunately it did not fly and he was heavily penalised. At the end of the first lap Graham pushed Val beyond the pin before tacking but Val recovered, out pointed him, took control of the race and held her lead to the finish. John Roberts (297) found an extra gear for a remarkable fourth place. Unfortunately as Alan approached the line his rudder cruelly jumped off leaving him stranded just short of the finish. Julia Winter (256) made a "horrendous start" (her words) and crossed the line last but battled her way up to seventh and learnt not to give up after a bad start.

After racing many of the sailors remained at the Grafham Water Centre for a very good regatta dinner and a sociable evening.

Sunday dawned with a slight breeze which gradually diminished and at the briefing the race officer said he was not optimistic but suggested an hour and a half postponement before a final decision. During the postponement boat bimbling and ad hoc onshore coaching took place (remember David "I was just trying to keep out of everyone else's way" Acott (265) that you have as much right to be on the race course as anyone else!). At 11am some brave souls from the Grafham Water Sailing Club could be seen struggling round their course and the sensible decision was made to cancel racing for the day.

So in the overall results Graham got the better of Val to reclaim the Shipwrights Trophy, and Jack A. came third. In the Silver fleet Jack G. had an emphatic win and it won't be long before he is promoted, John R. was second and Julia Winter was delighted with third.

The light winds made for less than ideal conditions the Bronze fleet, which was a pity as there were six entries. Jane Scott and John Wright (211) were the clear winners and in the morning races were ahead of some of the Silver fleet. Sarah Whitelock and Steve Radley (264) were second, but Sarah's highlight was to have managed to complete all four races and still be able to walk to the car afterwards! Laura Saunderson and John Morrow (129) also completed all four races to come third.

At the prize giving thanks were given to the race officer, Mike Haynes, who ensured that the racing was fair and that the championship included an all important discard. He was also booked for next year's regatta! Thanks are also due to the safety boat crews, Grafham Water Sailability (not least for the constant supply of tea, doughnuts and cakes) and the Grafham Water Centre.

Shipwrights Trophy (first overall): Graham Hall
Anglo Marine Plate (first silver fleet) and Gail Force Trophy (top Grafham boat): Jack Ginn
Bronze Barometer (first bronze fleet): Jane Scott and John Wright
Judi Figgures Trophy (best Grafham effort): Sarah Whitelock and Steve Radley
John Cranston Trophy (best Grafham non-trophy): David Acott

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewSail NoClubFleetR1R2R3R4Pts
1stGraham Hall 270Rutland Sailing ClubGold111‑23
2ndVal Millward 257Rutland Sailing ClubGold‑22215
3rdJack Alderdice 281Rutland Sailing ClubGold‑83339
4thAlan Bradley 194Rutland SailabilityGold355(DNF)13
5thAlex Hovden 188Papercourt Sailing ClubGold‑664515
6thJack Ginn 289Grafham Water SailabilitySilver54‑6615
7thPauline Shaw 266Grafham Water SailabilityGold477‑918
8thJohn Roberts 297Rutland SailabilitySilver98‑11421
9thJulia Winter 256Grafham Water SailabilitySilver7‑98722
10thJohn Stokes 200Peterborough SailabilitySilver‑10109827
11thDavid Acott 265Grafham Water SailabilitySilver‑1313101033
12thDean Abra 218Isle of Sheppey SCSilver111112(DNC)34
13thJane ScottJohn Wright211Grafham Water SailabilityBronze1212‑131135
14thSarah WhitelockSteve Radley264Grafham Water SailabilityBronze‑1614141341
15thLaura SaundersonJohn Morrow129Grafham Water SailabilityBronze14‑16161242
16thNeil BartlettMurray Palmer210Oxford Sailing ClubBronze151515(DNC)45
17thDennis SmithKelvin German173Grafham Water SailabilityBronze171717(DNC)51
18thKristopher TangGraham Cox242Grafham Water SailabilityBronze(DNC)DNCDNCDNC57

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