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Challenger Open at Oxford Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards 27 May 21:07 BST 24-25 May 2019

Approaching Oxford Sailing Club on Friday morning it was encouraging to see the flags flying in a gentle, but adequate, NWly breeze. There were six visiting boats and four local sailors. Oxford Sailability kindly loaned a boat to Rutland sailor Mark Fletcher (258).

After the briefing the race officer set a trapezoidal course. In race 1 Graham Hall (270) led from start to finish but only just, as there was close racing at the front between him, Val Millward (312), Nick Bett (2) and Jack Alderdice (281). Val was robbed of second by Nick who pipped her on the line and she snuck home just ahead of Jack. The four leading boats finished within a minute of each other. This was going to be a close fought event.

Over lunch and in the afternoon there were some threatening clouds but it remained dry and there was little change in the wind strength (direction was another thing!).

In race two Val and Graham got to windward mark first where there was an incident between them which left them both doing penalty turns and Graham unfortunately straddling the buoy (this explains his uncharacteristic seventh place). Nick took advantage of this muddle to take the lead and he proceeded to extend while being chased hard by Val. Mark and Diana Faulks (288) both had their best race to come third and fourth respectively. Neil Bartlett and Murray Palmer (232) were forced to retire as Neil had cramp (ouch!). However, as the sole representatives in the bronze fleet they had already done enough to win!

Race three saw Val and Graham overstand the windward mark whereas Nick was lifted to towards it and took the lead. Val and Graham ended up fighting amongst themselves and slowing each other down as Nick romped home.

So after three races, it was Nick's event to lose and Val, in second, was going to do her best to ensure that happened! In the Silver fleet Jane Houchin (285) had a one point lead over Tom Mackintosh (272).

It is becoming a tradition among the Challengers that, on winning their first race, a sailor buys a round for the fleet and Nick generously lived up to that tradition (thank you!).

Saturday morning saw a similar NWly wind which initially appeared a little stronger than the previous day. The race officer changed to an inverted P course.

In race four Val started as she hoped to go on, rounding the windward mark in first and leading to the finish. She was chased hard by Jack and Nick. Jack managed to keep Nick at bay until the third beat but by the windward mark Nick had got through leaving Jack third.

After lunch the fleet was all ready, on the water and raring to go but the wind decided not to play ball. There was a substantial delay while the race officer struggled to lay a course as the wind shifted wildly around him.

The surprise of race five was seeing Jane arrive first at the windward mark (there were mutterings about local knowledge). Unfortunately Jane was unable capitalise on her position and Val got passed as they headed to the gybe mark. Val then held the lead to the finish. David Driffill (179) sailed a conservative race to take second. Nick had his worst race in fourth, which no doubt he was hoping would be his discard because going into the final race he had a slender (one point) lead over Val.

At the start of race 6 Graham was early at the pin and ended up having to do a port tack non-flier which eventually paid off as he had clear air and reached the windward mark with the leading boats. Nick reached and rounded the gybe mark first, got a gust and was away. At one point he held a leg and a half lead. However, at the second leeward mark a windshift allowed the leading boats to catch up but it was too late and Nick took the win and with it the event.

So the overall winner was Nick adding the first new name to the trophy for ten years. Val had to settle for second and Graham third. Jane just won the Silver fleet from Tom (they were on equal points) with Rob Bainbridge (125) third. Neil and Murray (inevitably) won the bronze fleet. Jane was first Oxford Sailability boat and Tom was awarded the new Pam Gee Endeavour trophy which was appropriately presented, along with all the other prizes, by Pam.

Thank you to Oxford Sailability and Oxford Sailing Club for hosting the event and to race officer, Richard Johnson, and his team on the committee boat.

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewSail NoClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stNick Bett 2Rutland Sailing ClubGold2112‑417
2ndVal Millward 312Rutland Sailing ClubGold‑32311310
3rdGraham Hall 270Rutland Sailing ClubGold1‑7243212
4thJack Alderdice 281Rutland Sailing ClubGold4‑6435521
5thDavid Driffill 179Ogston Sailing ClubGold‑65662423
6thMark Fletcher 258Rutland SailabilityGold5355‑9624
7thDiana Faulks 288Rutland SailabilityGold‑74776731
8thJane Houchin 285Oxford Sailing ClubSilver8‑9988841
9thTom Mackintosh 272Oxford Sailing ClubSilver‑118897941
10thRob Bainbridge 125Oxford Sailing ClubSilver9‑101010101049
11thNeil BartlettMurray Palmer232Oxford Sailing ClubBronze10(DNF)DNC1111DNC56

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