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P&B Challenger UK Championships at Rutland Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards 16 Sep 18:12 BST 13-15 September 2019

The UK Challenger Championships took place at Rutland Sailing Club over the weekend 13-15 September. The event was sponsored by Pinnell & Bax who generously provided prizes worth over £200. The whole fleet was also clothed in their new P&B sails.

Illness, injury and unexpected work commitments led to a reduced fleet size of seventeen. Rutland Sailability kindly loaned two of their Challengers to sailors from Hanningfield Sailability. Unusually the fleet included two syndicate boats. In the Challenger fleet syndicates are allowed when two (or more) sailors are unable to sail the whole event and they share the same boat. The results are those of the boat not the sailor. Chris Keats-Hannan and Alan Knott comprised the Ogston syndicate (5) and Logan Bell and Jenson Kendall were the Rutland syndicate (297).

Unfortunately the weather was not promising with light winds forecast for the whole event. However, the fleet assembled on Friday lunchtime for the race briefing and immediately afterwards launched into a light (F2 gusting F3) NWly breeze for two back to back races on a trapezoidal course.

In race 1 Chris Atkins (313) and Duncan Greenhalgh (28) were shut out when attempting a port tack flier and they were forced left when everyone else went up middle. This paid off as they found pressure and led at the windward mark. Val Millward (312) misjudged her approach to the mark and allowed a number of boats through. She had more problems at the gybe mark where a penalty turn was required. Jack Alderdice (281) rounded the leeward mark in third and became stranded a substantial hole which Graham Hall (270) managed to avoid. On the second beat Val and Graham went left while Chris A and Duncan went up the middle: left was the way to go. Val and Graham continued to change places with each other but Graham had the upper hand at the finish. Duncan was more than happy with third.

At the start of race 2 Val "encouraged" Chris A over the line; he promptly took her wind and managed to sail down and back across the line leaving Val briefly wallowing. Mark Fletcher (298) judged his beat superbly to lead the first lap with David Hodson (212), in his first Challenger regatta, second. However they were overhauled by Graham on the second beat and he ended up covering Val on the beat to the finish. This time Nick Bett (261) took third.

At the end of the day, Graham, Val and Nick occupied the top three places but Duncan, Mark F and David Driffill (179) were close behind all on 11 points. David H was starting to stamp his authority on the silver fleet and the Ogston syndicate led the Rutland one. After racing the short AGM was held and many sailors remained at the club for Friday's steak night.

Saturday dawned sunny and almost windless. However, nothing ventured nothing gained and the race officer announced his intention was to start on time at 11am. The Challengers were launched into a light SWly breeze for two races using the race officer's favourite inverted P course.

In race 3 Val and Graham approached the windward mark together. Val was ahead but not by enough and infringed Graham when she tacked for the mark. Graham got clear while Val did her penalty turn which dropped her down the fleet but she clawed her way back to second. Duncan was very pleased with another third.

Unusually race 4 saw a general recall when the wind shifted to starboard and too many Challengers were pushed over the line. This race should have belonged to David D. who led the fleet until the final gybe mark when Graham got an inside overlap. Val came third after gaining two places on the beat to the finish.

The sailors came in for lunch after which there were two further races still on an inverted P course (remember, it is the race officer's favourite).

The decisive moment in race 5 was when Graham just managed to scrape round the first windward mark and was spared either a penalty turn or double tacking. Val had seen that it was "impossible" for Graham to get round the mark and had gone a little further before tacking: prudence was not rewarded as Graham went on to take the win. Diana Faulks (288) had an impressive race when she nailed the beat on the last lap to move from mid-fleet to fourth: a position she managed to defend to the finish.

There was a collision at the start of race 6 when the gap next to the committee boat at which Mark Rainbow (213) had confidently aimed his boat vanished. He and Mick Brown (4) retired and the race committee was left a little shaken. Once on shore Mick went in search of gaffer tape as "Trasher was trashed" (and not for the first time!) but would be fit to sail on Sunday. Out on the course Alan sailed his best race "like heaven" to come home sixth.

At the end of the day the order of the top three remained the same. David H remained at the front of the Silver fleet followed by Julia Winter (290) and Steve Wozniak (301). The Ogston syndicate consolidated their position over Rutland.

After racing most of the fleet remained at the club for the regatta dinner where there was much discussion of the days events. Duncan appeared to have protested his way around the course but was still on speaking terms with at least one of his victims (David D). Pauline Shaw (266) felt the day's small inverted P course kept the fleet together and forced her to think about tactics and applying the rules (or was she just trying keep on the right side of the race officer?). Julia realised she needed to learn more about tactics (especially the devious ones that were (legally) applied against her!). Chris KH was pleased to have completed all her races which helped rebuild her confidence after an unfortunate incident earlier in the year.

Sunday dawned with distinctly more wind. Out on the race course it was shifting unpredictably between west and south and although mainly F2-4 there were holes (because Jack managed to find one!). Alan described it as an "evil wind" and quite possibly the race officer agreed with him. The race officer persisted with his favourite course.

Race 7 started after a slight delay as the windward mark decided it didn't like its given position and set off to find a better one! Order was eventually restored. Val claimed the lead on the first beat and although chased hard by Nick never relinquished it. Graham came home third having fallen out of contention while doing a penalty turn after hitting a mark, however, third was sufficient for him to take the championships. Steve sailed a truly remarkable race to come fourth. Steve sails with a servo winch on his mainsheet which gives him no feedback whatsoever and requires considerable skill to use effectively (and Steve has that skill).

There was a pause between races to allow marks to be repositioned. It also gave Duncan sufficient time to break his kicker! However, he decided to see what he could do without it. This turned out to be a wise move as he was rewarded with a sixth which kept him ahead of David D in the overall results. Mark F also had another good race to come fourth but the top three positions were taken by Graham, Nick and Val.

So Graham is the 2019 UK Champion with Val in second and Nick third. The Silver fleet was won by David H with Julia second and Steve third. The Bronze syndicate fleet was won by Ogston (Chris KH and Alan) with Rutland (Logan and Jensen, ably buddied by Steve Osbourne) coming second.

The prize giving took some time due to the generosity of P&B. The question remains as to whether Graham pulled out an exceptional performance simply because Daisy needed a new rudder bag? Thanks were given to P&B and all those who helped make the event happen including the safety boat and shore crews. But above all thanks are due to the race officer (and event organiser) Richard Johnson and mark layers, led by David Newton, who struggled against the elements to enable a full series of races to be completed.

Trophies awarded:

Curtis Cup (1st overall) and Thames Water Shield (winner of last race) Graham Hall
Judi Figgures Trophy (2nd overall) Val Millward
Prentice Pot (3rd overall) and Silver Piccolo (highest placed sailor previously unplaced at a UK Championships) Nick Bett
Ayrshire Yeomanry Cup (1st Silver) David Hodson
Clyde Cruising Club Quaich (1st Bronze Syndicate) Chris Keats-Hannan and Alan Knott
Jock Campbell Trophy (best under 30 or over 75) Jack Alderdice
Dan Newton Cup (best improved in 2019) Steve Wozniak

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Challenger nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosFleetSail NoBoatHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1stGold270DaisyGraham HallRutland Sailing Club111111‑317
2ndGold312Legless JesterVal MillwardRutland Sailing Club222‑3331316
3rdGold261Last OrdersNick BettRutland Sailing Club‑5344222219
4thGold28White KnightDuncan GreenhalghBassenthwaite Sailing Club3‑836648636
5thGold179Sheffield ChallengeDavid DriffillOgston Sailing Club6572‑857537
6thGold298InspirationMark FletcherRutland Sailability475‑9776440
7thGold281Black JackJack AlderdiceRutland Sailing Club7985595‑1048
8thSilver212 David HodsonRutland Sailing Club849810812‑1459
9thSilver290SwimarathonJulia WinterRutland Sailability9661011‑13101163
10thSilver301FriendshipSteve WozniakRutland Sailability‑141112713114967
11thGold288Black RatDiana FaulksRutland Sailability121611114(DNF)9770
12thGold313 Chris AtkinsHanningfield Sailability101210‑1391011870
13thGold266LouisePauline ShawGrafham Water Sailability‑161313121212161593
14thSilver5The Harry FisherChris Keats‑Hannan and Alan KnottOgston Sailing Club15101716146‑181795
15thSilver4TrasherMick BrownOgston Sailing Club1114151416(DNF)131396
16thSilver213Bateau RougeMark RainbowHanningfield Sailability1315141515(DNF)1516103
17thSilver297TrinityLogan Bell and Jensen KendallRutland Sailability17171617171417‑18115
18thSilver2FreethinkerAlan KnottOgston Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC1412121

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