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Challengers at the RYA Multiclass Regatta at Rutland Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards 7 Aug 2018 07:17 BST 3-5 August 2018
Challengers at the Rutland RYA Multiclass Regatta © Tom McWilliams

Eighteen Challengers gathered at Rutland Sailing Club for the RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta. The main problem was where to put them all because while the water level was slightly lower than normal, the beach hadn't expanded enough to accommodate eighteen 3.5m wide Challengers.

It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle for the shore crew but they managed it. Sitting among the standard una rig Challengers was a very rare boat, a Mark 3 Challenger (146) with a stayed Bermudan rig complete with jib, which came from Girton Sailing Club and was sailed by Steve Dargavel.

Friday was for preparation and training. Seven sailors, including all five from Grafham Water Sailability, took advantage of the training provided by RYA Sailability in the afternoon. They probably had the best wind of the event starting in F3 but increasing to F4. Dean Abra (218) sensibly took advantage of the safety cover to go for a short sail to check his boat out. There was some head scratching in the dinghy park as 146 was assembled. In the early evening, once the worst of the heat was gone, two sailors (and their long suffering shore crew) could been seen polishing their boats.

On Saturday morning the fleet were launched into a light, patchy and shifty westerly F3. They headed off to the "main pond" where they were sharing the course with the Skuds, RS Ventures and 2.4s. There was some delay as the course was finalised then the Skuds and RS Ventures got away, but 40 seconds before the Challenger start the wind died and (amid some confusion) the start was postponed. At the second attempt the fleet got away and went off in search of the windward mark which was somewhere towards Whitwell. Jack Alderdice (281) did one of his trademark port tack fliers, but it was Jack Ginn (264) who led to the windward mark. Graham Hall (270) took the lead on the top reach of the trapezoidal course but Val Millward (257) had it by the leeward mark. They set off up the second beat, and amid some more confusion, were finished in that order, on a shortened course, at the windward mark with Jack G. taking third.

Race 2 saw a general recall for the Challengers due to a significant wind shift but they got away at the second attempt. This time Alex Hovden (188) went for the port tack flier but a windshift soon saw him tack on to starboard. Val, Jack A. and Mark Fletcher (298) reached and rounded the windward mark just before there was a 45 degree shift which caused Graham to touch the mark (and do a penalty turn) and forced Alex to tack. The three leading boats built an unassailable lead and although Graham was chasing hard he had to settle for fourth.

The fleet had a long beat back for lunch and on arrival they were presented with a map showing the course for the 90 minute Ken Ellis Pursuit Race. With the light, shifty north westerly wind this was never going to be a good race for the Challengers. The Challengers started after 36 minutes 4 minutes after the 2.4s. There was some confusion over the course because while the lead boat led the tiny Hansa 2.3s correctly round the course, 12 minutes later when the Hansa 303 (double) started there was no indication of where they had been! The race was a game of snakes and ladders with boats gaining or losing massively depending on where they were when the breeze came. At the finish a combination of luck and skill saw Alex as first Challenger down in 10th, Val 11th and Diana Faulks (288) in 15th. John Draper (277) made a supreme effort to come to Rutland for the pursuit race, which he has won in previous years, but he suffered very badly in a late wind shift.

The Challenger fleet came in for the day and many sailors and shore crew stayed for the regatta dinner held in the clubhouse.

Sunday morning did not look promising but the wind began to fill in and ripples appeared on the water, so the fleet was launched in a light, shifty southerly or south westerly breeze and again headed down to the main pond for the last two races in their series. The Challengers were again set a trapezoidal course and both races got away first time. Jack A. made a good start and was going well up the beat only to be thwarted by an RS Venture. Val led for the first lap only to be overtaken by Graham on the second beat as she struggled to make the windward mark. However, the situation was reversed on the second beat and Graham compounded the situation by hitting the mark (again) and doing his penalty turn (again). So it was a Val-Graham one-two with Nick Bett (261) taking third.

Race 4 saw a shake up in the order of things. It was Val and Graham at the first leeward mark and they proceeded to beat up the middle where the pressure seemed to be. The rest of the fleet went over the peninsula where there is never any wind, except there was on this occasion! Graham and Val had much work to do on the last lap to work themselves back to third and fourth place respectively with a delighted Mark taking the win and Nick second. Special mention must be made of Steve Wozniak (228) who, sailing his first Challenger regatta and using an electric mainsheet winch (which has no "feel" to it making it especially difficult in light winds), had his best result of seventh.

So Val took the Millar Management trophy home (again) and Graham was second (again) with Nick Bett taking third. How did Steve in his Mark 3 do? He scored a perfectly consistent set of thirteenth places in his first Challenger regatta but feels that for racing, a una rig is the way to go.

Thanks to RYA Sailability, Rutland Sailability and Rutland Sailing Club for organising and hosting the event. In particular thanks to all those helping with the Challengers.

The next event is the UK Challenger Championships, again at Rutland Sailing Club, from 7-9 September.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4Pts
1st257Millward, Val111-43
2nd270Hall, Graham2-4237
3rd261Bett, Nick-553210
4th298Fletcher, Mark-838112
5th281Alderdice, Jack-624612
6th264Ginn, Jack3-96918
7th188Hovden, Alex-767518
8th288Faulks, Diana985-1222
9th256Winter, Julia-121012830
10th228Wozniak, Stephen-15159731
11th266Shaw, Pauline-1711101132
12th290Bradley, Alan412(DNC)DNC35
13th218Abra, Dean14(RET)111035
14th146Dargavel, Stephen-1313131339
15th297Roberts, John167(DNC)DNC42
16th301Funnell, Bary1014(DNC)DNC43
17th263Scott, Jane1116(DNC)DNC46
18th277Draper, John(RET)DNCDNCDNC57

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