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Essex Rigging Contender Eastern Area Championships at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club

by Chris Boshier 22 Jun 11:10 BST 15-16 June 2019

Thorpe Bay Yacht Club saw the Contender fleet gather for the Eastern Area Champions and Round 6 of the Travellers Series sponsored by Essex Rigging on the 15th & 16th July. With competitors travelling from as far afield as Bristol to support the event although taking less commuting time than many of the Kent fleet who travelled up on the Friday due to a diesel spill on the M25.

For all the Friday travellers, a delicious dinner was devoured in the club over beers and discussion of the ever changing forecast for the weekend and what might be to come over the next two days, would it be nothing or everything? Only time and tide would tell.

Saturday after a breakfast and a briefing on the course and starting procedures as well as a little local knowledge sharing the fleet hit the water in very little breeze.

The race officer, Howard Warrington and his team held their nerve despite tight tide times and waited for the now predicted breeze to fill in, which after half an hour or so it did from the South, allowing a good size course to be set in a fair trapezable breeze.

Race one and there was the expected exuberance of the fleet after such a delay and the AP was hoisted swiftly. On the second try the fleet got away cleanly and at the top mark with underestimation of the tide perhaps it became a pinch-a-thon to round the mark, Chris Boshier rounded first and with neither side paying it made a close and interesting reach, Stuart and Carl passed in that order to windward and held their places to the bottom mark. Most of the fleet went off to the right and again neither side paid leaving the top 3 places the same, Chris managed to make his way to the top mark first again and held his advantage down the run, places remained the same for the next beat and reaches although Stuart made a valiant effort between the bottom mark and the finish mark to come in lss than a boat length behind Chris.

After a bit of mark and line shuffling by the excellent race team as the wind built, Oscar was flown on the committee boat and race 2 was under way with some port bias and a tide pulling the fleet over making a few people gybe round at the last minute to exit the line on port and avoid the ensuing chaos at the pin. Carl got away cleanly and made it to the top mark first showing how high he could point, followed by Stuart and Richard Franks. Reaches were now mostly trapezing but with the tide on the ebb there were gains to be made by following the rhumb line. At the bottom mark no changes in the top 3 but by the next top mark Boshier had overhauled Franks to take third, places then remained the same down the reaches to make it Tagoe, Jones and Boshier.

Race 3 and more of the same on the start line, another clean start with some people starting higher up the line to take account of the tide, those who went left were handed a lovely lift up to the top mark leaving half the fleet floundering around by the pier, at the top mark it was Boshier Noble and Tagoe first to round, these places remained the same for the rest of the race leaving Chris overnight leader followed by Carl and Stuart.

A big hand is due to the race team for getting in 3 races on a falling tide. Back to the beach and as the sea had kicked up a bit in the building breeze it was left to chris as the local to go first into the slipway and after his monumental misjudgement of tide and waves rolled out of his boat as it washed between the slipway and the groin, prompting the rest of the fleet to sensibly opt for the beach!

After a shower and beer it was time for more of James's catering and more beer to discuss the day's racing over.

Come Sunday, the forecast wind arrived in buckets but as can be the case here, this held the tide off for longer than expected leading to a good half hour delay as we waited for enough water for those brave enough to use a fixed rudder to be able to launch, giving both the wind and the waves time to build. Howard and his team were good enough to wait until the beach master gave the all clear for those who were venturing onto the water to make it to the start area up by Southend.

Race 4 and the breeze was still building as it did all day, hats off to David Holt from Minnis Bay who having offered to help on the support boats instead of sailing and also to those who didn't venture out but stayed in their wetsuits to help the sailors to recovery once they returned, thank you Tony and Peter. Anyway, back to the racing, which saw Carl first to the top mark, followed by, Chris Stuart and Nick Stuart rolled Chris on the reach but had gone a bit high and Chris slipped a gybe inside only to lose the position again on the next reach. No changes on the next 2 beats and run but Chris tripped over his boom on the gybe to let Nick Curry and Martin Jones through, despite a valiant attempt, not quite beating Martin to the finish, so results were Carl, Nick and Stuart.

Race 5 and the wind was still building Martin showed he had some steel danglies and executed a clean port end flyer, however, Chris arrived at the top mark first, closely followed by Carl and Stuart, by now it was well and truly breezy with a back tank reach down to the wing mark, Chris went high and let both Nick and Stuart through the dropped it at the gybe mark and called it a day, so I can't tell you what happened after that apart from the results, which was Nick Noble first, followed by Nick Curry, and Carl Tagoe, Nick Curry certainly finding some more speed in the windy stuff these days.

Race 6 and with gusts in the mid 30's well done those that stayed out and raced, by then the lasers who were sharing the open had all called it a day and the race officer was a little surprised the contenders wanted to continue, but at least that's prompted him to want to have another go in contenders so all good for the class. Anyway, well done to all who finished race six, results were Nick Noble 1st, followed by Paul Ross, Stuart Jones, Carl Tagoe, Richard Buttner, Nick Curry and Dave Adams, I'm sure the reaches were amazing and the runs wobbly and worrying, so well done all of you for finishing.

A big thanks again to all the people who stayed kitted up and help recover all the boats safely along with the rescue boats. Back in the club house and it was time for prize-giving with prizes and wine donated by Essex Rigging. More thanks to Thorpe Bay for hosting the event and the people who gave their time and support to make this a great event, you know who you are, thank you.

First was Nick Noble, who being the most Western of the sailors as he sails at Portishead is now the Eastern Area Champion. 2nd was Carl Tagoe from Oxford and third Stuart Jones from Datchet. As sponsor and fourth placed I also get the pleasure of writing the report. So here it is, hope you enjoyed it and see you all again soon, if not in Filey for the Northern Area Championships then in Quiberon next month for the World Championships.

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