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Challenger Regatta at Grafham Water Sailability

by Marion Edwards 24 Jun 2019 15:56 BST 22-23 June 2019
Grafham Challenger Regatta © Viv Alderdice

Light, but sailable winds were forecast for the annual Challenger regatta organised by Grafham Water Sailability over the weekend 22-23 June. In the event there was a little more than that and six races were comfortably completed without the usual dithering of "is there too much/little wind?".

Nineteen sailors took part with seven visiting boats from Rutland and Ogston. Grafham Water Sailability kindly loaned boats to three Rutland Sailors and also to Mark Rainbow from Hanningfield Sailability.

Saturday morning saw a deceptively light south easterly breeze on the shore but on the race course it was F3 gusting 4. Val Millward (312) had rigged her boat for light winds and made a quick return to shore for a quick adjustment (is the ability to tie a bowline inversely proportional to an individual's height?). This was clearly a good call on Val's part as she won the first race crossing the line a mere 2 seconds ahead of Graham Hall (270) who clearly hadn't polished his boat quite enough on Friday afternoon.

The fleet returned to shore. Most people went off for lunch but Diana Faulks (288) and Mark Fletcher (289) had suffered broken kickers and urgent repairs were needed.

The afternoon's sailing was a little more lively. In the second race Val took the lead with Mark F. holding second for much of the first lap. Graham was distracted when his "Big Yellow" watch made a bid for freedom and went overboard but he managed to overhaul Mark F on the second beat to take second and Nick Bett (261) came through to take third.

Race 3 was rather eventful for the wrong reasons. Val had bagged her position next to the committee boat with Graham and David Driffill (179) below her. One of the second row sailors was rather too keen for the start and they (a) hit Val's rudder to spin her round to face in the wrong direction before (b) careering off to embrace Mark F.

This left Graham with clear air and he went on to take the win. Val would have limped home in seventh if David hadn't been infringed by another boat which led (unusually for the Challenger fleet) to a protest and disqualification, so Val was elevated to sixth (a result she sincerely hoped she would discard) and Julia Winter (256) to second (her highest position ever in a Challenger race!).

After racing most of the fleet remained at the Grafham Water Centre for the regatta dinner.

Sunday morning saw wind of a similar strength but it had backed to an unwelcome (for the shore crew) north easterly direction. The race officer switched from a trapezoidal to an inverted P course.

In race 4 Nick banged the corners on the first beat to take the lead. On the last reach he was unlucky to meet a bronze fleet boat heading for leeward mark and was forced wide. The wind also filled in from behind allowing Val and Graham to make big gains and ultimately Graham was able to pip Nick on the line.

Race 5 saw Jack Ginn (311) starting to tighten his grip on fourth place with his third fourth. Val took the win after some careful covering of Graham. The fleet returned to the (lee) shore - some approaches were more chaotic than others!

Going into the final race Val and Graham were on equal points. On the first beat Nick and Graham went too deep allowing Val to take the lead from which point she (prudently) covered Graham and went on to take the win with Nick sneaking through to take second.

This final race was also used to determine the gold and silver fleet places making the results rather complicated (and at times counterintuitive). Suffice it to say, Val was the overall winner with Graham second and Nick third. Jack Ginn (fourth overall) was awarded the Gail Force Trophy as best Grafham boat and Sarah Whitelock (264) the Judi Figgures Trophy for best Grafham effort (she completed all six races within a week of coming out of hospital!).

At the prize-giving thanks were given to the race officer, David Rowlands, and his team for their impeccable race management. Thanks are also due to the safety boat crews, volunteers from the local Rotary clubs who did sterling work on the shore, Grafham Water Sailability for hosting the event and ensuring a constant supply of tea, doughnuts and cakes, and also to the Grafham Water Centre.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stVal Millward312Rutland Sailing Club11‑63117
2ndGraham Hall270Rutland Sailing Club22112‑38
3rdNick Bett261Rutland Sailing Club33(DSQ)23213
4thJack Ginn311Grafham Water Sailability48‑1244525
5thDavid Driffill179Ogston Sailing Club6545‑7727
6thJack Alderdice281Rutland Sailing Club8‑9365628
7thMark Fletcher289Rutland Sailability‑1441176432
8thJulia Winter256Grafham Water Sailability7729‑13833
9thDiana Faulks288Rutland Sailability1065‑1210940
10thAlan Bradley265Rutland Sailability5117‑1381041
11thPauline Shaw266Grafham Water Sailability910(DNC)1491254
12thJohn Stokes200Grafham Centre Association121481114‑1559
13thBarry Funnell310Grafham Water Sailability11129‑16161361
14thMark Rainbow242Hanningfield Sailability13(DNF)DNC10111468
15thMick Brown134Ogston Sailing Club1513101515‑1668
16thDeclan Flanagan226Rutland Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNC8121171
17thSarah Whitelock264Grafham Water Sailability171614‑18181883
18thJohn Simpson211Grafham Water Sailability161513(DNC)DNCDNC84
19thLaura Saunderson211Grafham Water Sailability(DNC)DNCDNC17171791

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