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Challenger Open at Burghfield Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards 6 May 10:10 BST 3-4 May 2019
Challengers at Burghfield © Marion Edwards

Eleven Challengers gathered at Burghfield sailing Club on Friday 3 May for their annual open meeting. There were five local and six visiting boats including Val Millward's new boat Legless Jester (312). Two of the local boats were kindly loaned to visiting sailors. Burghfield Sailability also conjured up a spare sponson which saved Nick Bett's (261) regatta when one of his was found to be damaged.

The weather forecast indicated that the event would be a game of two halves with negligible winds forecast for Friday and rather more "interesting" ones on Saturday. So it proved to be.

The race officer made the sensible decision to bring Friday's lunch forward and delay racing in the hope that the wind would fill in and a light, northerly(ish) breeze did indeed appear. He set a short trapezoid course at the western end of lake - it was not a day for negotiating Burghfield's (notorious) islands.

At the first start Jack Alderdice (281) executed one of his trademark port tack fliers to lead the fleet for the first lap. Mark Fletcher (168) also started on port but without the same elan (and luck) as Jack. Suffice it to say the wind gods treated first David Driffill (179), then Jack and finally Nick most cruelly. Towards the end of the second lap Graham Hall (270) edged ahead of Val to take the win with John Draper (277) in third.

For Race 2 the course was reduced to a (very) small triangle and the race lasted just one (very) slow lap. Val, Jack, David reached the windward mark first and once round it sailed (or drifted) away from the rest of the fleet to finish in that order. John held fourth place for much of the race but he drifted onto the second mark and let Graham and Martin Stone (255) through while he did his penalty turn. It was a very painful race for all concerned.

At the end of the day Val had made the best of the (trying) conditions and had a two point lead over Graham with Jack in third. Neil and Murray had already secured victory in the (one boat) bronze fleet. Most of the fleet stayed at the club for the evening meal which was up to its usual high standard.

To everyone's relief, Saturday's forecast was correct and there was a lively, shifty, gusty, predominantly northerly wind. The race officer set another trapezoidal course and the fleet set off to do two back to back races.

Race 3 saw Jack execute another port tack flier to but as the race progressed there were big gains and losses throughout the fleet. John took the lead on the second windward leg and sailed away leaving everyone else to fight over the minor places. Michele Winch (251) was forced to retire when her rudder popped off not once but twice and Neil and Murray (232) retired amid concerns that they were sinking.

Race 4 saw Val and Legless Jester getting into their stride and soon they extended away leaving four boats battling for second place which was eventually taken by Nick.

Some rather cold sailors came ashore for lunch and a few decided to call it a day. However, after some essential maintenance to 251, Michele decided to go out again, as did Neil and Murray (who decided they weren't sinking - or at least no more than usual!).

Races 5 and 6 used the same trapezoidal course. These races should have belonged to Nick as he had a clear lead in both of them but the wind gods were still up to their tricks and they allowed Val to hunt him down and stamp her authority on the fleet. Unfortunately in race 6 Michele lost her rudder (again) which helped Rob Bainbridge (272) to achieve his best result of sixth.

The fleet retired to the clubhouse for the prize giving (which frankly was of secondary importance to the homemade cakes!). Val was first by some margin, Graham second, closely followed by Nick. The Silver fleet was won by Martin and the Bronze fleet by Neil and Murray.

Thanks are due to Burghfield Sailing Club and Burghfield Sailability for hosting the event and to race officer, Andy Leigh, and his team. We look forward to returning next year.

For more (infinitely superior) photographs of the event see the Sportography.TV website

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewNameSail NoClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stVal Millward 312Rutland Sailing ClubGold‑2121116
2ndGraham Hall 270Rutland Sailing ClubGold1‑4332413
3rdNick Bett 261Rutland Sailing ClubGold4‑7423215
4thDavid Driffill 179Ogston Sailing ClubGold‑63654321
5thJack Alderdice 281Rutland Sailing ClubGold525‑75522
6thJohn Draper 277Burghfield SailabilityGold3614(DNC)DNC26
7thMark Fletcher 168Rutland SailabilityGold7876(DNC)DNC40
8thMartin Stone 255Burghfield SailabilitySilver8588(DNC)DNC41
9thRob Bainbridge 272Oxford Sailing ClubSilver11(DNF)9DNF7645
10thMichele Winch 251Burghfield SailabilitySilver99(DNF)DNC6DNF48
11thNeil BartlettMurray Palmer232Oxford Sailing ClubBronze10(DNF)DNFDNC8749

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