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Contender open meeting at Netley Sailing Club

by Mike Murley 11 Oct 2019 14:34 BST

16 Contenders travelled to Netley SC despite a forecast of calms on Saturday and storms on Sunday. It was indeed a weekend of two halves and the forecasters were pretty accurate.

Saturday started misty, damp and still. The conditions hung around until after lunch time when blue sky appeared, and a light breeze came up Southampton Water from the SE.

Saturdays light wind races were close. Gary Langdon built up a decent lead in the first, only to see a big rain cloud create a huge shift leaving Stuart Jones rubbing his hands in the lead, which he held to the finish, followed by Gary and Mike Murley-Hughes in third.

Race 2 saw Netley sailor Graeme Wilcox win by a big margin, followed by Stuart and Mike again in third.

With half the fleet camping in the field at Netley there was a recipe for disaster resulting in sore heads on Sunday. No-one can remember how many drunken sailors you can fit in a camper van, but apparently, it's a lot.

On Sunday the wind had switched 180 degrees to come straight down Southampton Water with a solid force 4-5. The start time was brought forward to 10:30 to allow racing to take place before Ed Presley and Simon Mussel headed off to the new Tottenham stadium for a date together watching the American Football. As it happens, they both sailed very well with Simon winning the first race, Ed second and Graeme third.

The next race had a touch of disaster for the leaders. By now it was pretty windy and Simon lead until he fell in, possibly distracted by the night ahead. Very close racing with lots of place changes between five or six boats, and after Ed broke his centreboard, it was Graeme and Mark Watts who found themselves in the lead at the final leeward mark.

With 100m on starboard, one tack and 100m on port to the finish line you'd expect them to stay in those positions. The problem was that one tack. Graeme and Mark both got stuck in irons allowing Stu, Carl Tagoe and Mike to nip by as the pair of them did three-point turns.

For race 5 Simon got his act together again with a fine win from Gary and Stu after Mark suffered the second broken board of the weekend while in the hunt for a podium finish.

Current Contender Ladies World Champion, Fiona Collins, chose not to sail but did a great job as an over-qualified beach master, having loaned her boat out to local youngster, Cameron Barr. Despite not having sailed a Contender before Cameron completed all six races in wind ranging from 2 to 30 knots. Fantastic effort and skill.

Fiona had an influence even on the beach. With most of us declaring three races quite enough, and the race team ready to send us in, but Fiona insisted on a fourth race. Just six boats stayed out including Carl Tagoe who finally found the form his powerful pumping deserved and won from Stu and Gary, meaning Stu was overall winner.

Race office Dave Henshall had a beaming smile all weekend as race officering Contenders was apparently on his bucket list. Thanks to Netley for a great event.

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