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Contender Open and Training weekend at Datchet Water Sailing Club

by Tony Brooks 16 Mar 16:14 GMT 14-15 March 2020
Contenders at Datchet Water © Rodger White

With the early signs of spring in the air after what has felt like a long winter of non-stop torrential rain and more wind than you could wave a stick at, it was time for the Contenders first sailing event of 2020.

In a change to our usual proceedings Stu Jones had offered to run a training session on the Saturday, this consisted of eight Contender sailors, four old lags as Stu put it and four less experienced helms, one of which had only sailed a Contender for an hour with little experience on the trapeze.

After a brief talk on techniques and how to get a Contender around the course, a quick look over the boats with regards to set-up, the eight helms floated their boats and set off for some guidance in tacking and jibing. This was followed by a number of short 1 lap races to include a minimum of 5 tacks and 3 gybes, with the fleet safely back on shore there followed a debriefing session with Q&A's. Having spoken to some who had attended, the consensus of opinion was that it was a very helpful day with Ed Presley pleased that there was no video evidence of the day as he usually end up on YouTube.

With a race schedule of 3 races back to back on the Sunday, the day dawned overcast with a steady force 3 blowing across the Queen Mother Reservoir, the forecasts for the day were showing either an increasing wind or rain followed by a drop in the wind speed. With racing due to start at 11am a briefing was held in the wet bar at 10 with the Contender fleet making the decision that pumping was definitely going to be the order of the day.

The first race started with the fleet of 11 Contenders spread along an even start line, with a number of boats tacking off to the right the fleet approached the windward mark for both sides of the course with neither side showing any great gains. Simon Mussel was quick to show that he had lost none of his upwind speed in what was now a force 4. With broad reaches the fleet was able to spread out a little with Simon Mussel and Ed Presley showing the way, after 4 laps and 26 minutes of racing it was Simon who crossed the line first followed by Ed and Stu Jones with a bit of a gap back to Tony Brooks in 4th.

Race 2 started once again with a clean start with the majority of the fleet eventually tacking off to the right hand side of the course, Tony Brooks and Simon Dodds continued to the left hand side and were rewarded with a nice lift with Simon Dodds making the most of this and arriving at the windward mark first with Tony having to tack in behind Simon Mussel who was approaching the windward mark from the right hand side going like a train. After the 2 reaches in what was now a darn good blow with some big gusts, the fleet was now back into their usual positions with Simon Mussel and Ed fighting it out for the top spot, Stu Jones then had an uncharacteristically poor leeward mark rounding in one of the large gust leaving a gap between himself and the mark to fit a Mississippi paddle steamer through, so Tony took advantage of his mistake and swept through only to find himself re-passed by Stu at the next mark.

Chris Boshier was up in amongst the leaders with his kicker jammed on as the rope decided to slip down the side of a pulley, he promptly capsized to windward, unable to make repairs on the water it was now all over for him. By the end of race 2 now increased to 5 laps in the building breeze, it was Ed who crossed the line first followed by Simon Mussel and Stu close behind with Tony once again in 4th this time having to hold off a fast chasing James Spikesley.

With Chris Boshier and two others deciding to call it a day, race 3 started with just 8 boats on the start line with Tony once again hoping to find the nice lift on the left hand side and the majority of the fleet going out to the centre of the reservoir it was looking good with Just Simon Mussel steaming across in front of Tony who put in a quick successful tack and then made an absolute pigs ear of the bear away, Stu's quick reactions allowed him to tuck his way past Tony's now horizontal mast but it was James who was not so lucky, as he attempted to bear way to avoid the Carbon Fibre obstacle he rolled over to windward with the tip of his mast now pointing towards Tony as he stood on his centre board watching the fleet screaming off down the reach.

The wind was beginning to show signs of calming down a little throughout this race but the gusts coming through were just as strong and appearing at the most inopportune moments. By the end of the last upwind leg Simon was showing his great speed with Ed unable to catch him and Stu now on Ed's heals. Tony was now back up to 4th and making good ground on Stu as he rode a large gust down the reach only to capsize at the wing mark allowing Stu to regain his position well ahead. With Simon Mussel finishing first in the last race followed home by Ed and Stu, it was Simon who took the overall win for the event. After a brief discussion to check the overall results by the Datchet Water race team with a certain amount of confusion as Stu was shown as 3rd and not taking his usual position on home ground. The prize-giving was held upstairs in the posh bit, with elbow tapping replacing the now banned deadly hand shaking.

We would like to say a massive thank-you to the team at Datchet Water Sailing Club for providing us with a fantastic start to the 2020 season during this time of uncertainty.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st 2420Simon MusselHighcliffe1214
2nd 2708Ed Presley 2125
3rd 2706Stuart JonesDatchet Water3339
4thbds‑uk.com2496Tony BrooksOxford44412
5thPickled Soris705James SpikesleyNetley55616
6th 2410Simon DoddsHyth & Saltwood77519
7thThunderbird 22714Martin JonesWilsonian86721
8thRabbiting On Too2729Chris HoweOxford68822
9thEssesx Rigging2702Chris BoshierThorp Bay9DNFDNS33
10th 507James DanielsNetley10DNFDNS34
11th 317Iain JenningsDraycote Water11DNFDNS35

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