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English Challenger Championships at Ogston Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards 26 Aug 22:43 BST 24-25 August 2019
English Challenger Championships at Ogston © Viv Alderdice

The English Challenger Championships took place at Ogston Sailing Club over the weekend 24-25 August. The event was generously sponsored by the local companies of H.A. Briddon Ltd and Jons Tyres.

There was a healthy turn out of fourteen boats. It was good to see the five local boats all sailed by local sailors. Three Challengers made the long journey down from Scotland, five just popped up the road from Rutland and the final boat had a tedious journey from Surrey. The fleet convened on Friday evening for an excellent meal in the clubhouse. The excellence of the food was a recurring theme throughout the weekend.

The championships were notable as the first official event for the class's new Pinnell & Bax sail. Although the sail was only finalised in July almost all the Challengers at the event were using it, so thank you to P&B for all their hard work. Nick Bett (261) commented that he felt that the new sail kept the middle order of the fleet closer together than normal resulting in more changing of places.

Unfortunately the forecast was for light to vanishing winds - and so it proved to be. Racing was around the club marks and the race officer set interesting courses which used the available wind to best effect. He also provided a lead boat so as not to disadvantage the visiting sailors.

On Saturday morning the boats were launched into a predominantly SEly F3 breeze with occasional gusts of F4. Race 1 belonged to Val Millward (312) who danced away from the fleet leading from start to finish. Graham Hall (270) was sixth at the first windward mark but managed to pull through to finish second with Duncan Greenhalgh (234) very please to take third.

The fleet returned to shore for an excellent lunch.

When the fleet relaunched the wind had veered to SWly and reduced in strength to F2 gusting F3.

In Race 2 Duncan confidently led the fleet from the start towards the windward mark of Race 1 not realising that the leg had been reduced by a significant amount. Having overstood the actual windward mark he rejoined the fleet at the back! By the leeward mark Val had the lead but on rounding it Graham sneaked to windward of her and took control of the beat. He also found a pressure stream which eluded Val and from there he led to the finish. Val then lost out to Alex Hovden (188) who took second and she had to settle for third.

Race 3 followed back to back and was sailed in a gentle F2 which faded to drifting conditions. It also appeared to be a race for hitting things! The race started badly for Duncan as he ran into Val before the start but after completing his penalty turn (after the start) found himself third at the windward mark. On the second downwind reach during some close quarters racing Graham touched Val's rudder. He then proceeded to make a mess of his penalty turn which (briefly) let Alex through. As Val and Graham started up the beat they began to slow each other down while Jack Alderdice (281) recalled advice from a previous visit to Ogston: when in a desperate situation (and he was!) look towards the dam to identify the direction of the winning shift. He did this and, against commonsense, held starboard tack until he reached the lay line where he found pressure and sailed to victory. Alan Knott (3) was doing well until he had the misfortune to hit the windward mark on the second lap at which point the wind turned off and, like the rest of the fleet, he limped (slowly) towards the finish. The race officer took pity on the fleet and finished them at the leeward mark.

So at the end of the day Val and Graham were on equal points with Val claiming first by virtue of beating Graham in the third race. Third to seventh were separated by only five points and there was still everything to play for - provided the weather cooperated.

Most sailors and their shore crew remained at the club for another excellent evening meal which was enlivened by a between course raffle ably compèred by David Driffill.

Sunday dawned sunny and windless. The race officer hoisted AP promptly to postpone the scheduled 10:30 start. He announced that, if there was wind, racing would commence at midday with the possibility of two back to back races. However, the wind failed to make an appearance and following a discussion with the fleet, the race officer abandoned racing at 11:30. As the Challengers were packed away an intermittent and fitful breeze blew but it never enough for anyone to regret the abandonment.

So Saturday's results stood. Interestingly first (Val) and second (Graham) had to be separated on countback, as did third (Jack) and fourth (Alex), and also fifth (David Driffill (179)) and sixth (Nick) showing the closeness of the racing in the Challenger fleet. In the five boat Silver fleet Alan (in his first Challenger regatta and only six weeks in the boat) was first, Stephen Thomas Bate (238) second and Mick Brown (6) third.

At the prize giving Val was awarded the Shipwrights Trophy (first overall) and Alan the Anglo Marine Plate (first in silver). Thanks were given to the principal and assistant race officers Andy and Janet Gomm, the safety crews and volunteers from the club, particularly those in the galley who fed us exceedingly well. Finally, and most importantly, thanks to David Driffill who was the driving force behind bringing the English Challenger Championships to Ogston Sailing Club.

Overall Results:

PosFleetSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1stGold312Val MillwardRutland Sailing Club1326
2ndGold270Graham HallRutland Sailing Club2136
3rdGold281Jack AlderdiceRutland Sailing Club48113
4thGold188Alex HovdenPapercourt Sailing Club72413
5thGold179David DriffillOgston Sailing Club54716
6thGold261Nick BettRutland Sailing Club65516
7thGold234Duncan GreenhalghBassenthwaite Sailing Club39618
8thSilver3Alan KnottOgston Sailing Club87823
9thGold4Don SpencerOgston Sailing Club1161027
10thSilver238Stephen Thomas BateAnnandale Sailing Club910928
11thSilver6Mick BrownOgston Sailing Club10111233
12thGold288Diana FaulksRutland Sailing ClubDNF121138
13thSilver5Chris Keats‑HannanOgston Sailing Club12141339
14thSilver237Stephen LaycockSailability Scotland13131440

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