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UK Challenger Championships at Rutland Sailing Club

by Marion Edwards 14 Sep 2021 06:15 BST 10-12 September 2021
UK Challenger Championships at Rutland © Richard Johnson

Sixteen Challengers, twelve local and four visiting boats gathered at Rutland Sailing Club for the 2021 UK Challenger Championships on Friday 10 September. This was the first Challenger regatta held in England since the 2019 UK Championships and it was good to be back.

Seven 2.4mR sailors were present for their Inland Championships. At the briefing it was explained how two the classes would share a committee boat but sail on separate courses. The 2.4s would sail their preferred windward-leeward course whereas the Challengers would sail a trapezoidal course. This all worked very well and there was minimal interaction between the two fleets.

There was a 30 minute postponement before the first race to allow the wind to build (a little) and steady. The Challengers were launched in a light SWly breeze and set off down towards the church for two back to back races. While it was possible to see the racing from the club balcony some of the nuances were lost so sailors were asked for the high, and low, points of their racing. The quotes are their own words.

In race 1 Graham Hall (270) built a commanding lead only to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" when he was overtaken by Nick Bett (261) on the short beat to the finish. Val Millward (312) was third with silver fleet sailor Jane Scott (298) doing very well in fourth place (apparently it was a "sheer fluke"!).

Caz Jerromes (313) had a traumatic start to race 2 when she got entangled with a buoy. How this occurred and how she extracted herself is worth an article in its own right - suffice it to say her race did not go well! Alan Bradley's (315) highpoint was finding himself in front of Val and Graham at the start even though they mercilessly overhauled him. He would much have preferred the race to have finished after the third lap when he was in fourth as opposed to sixth at the end of the final (fourth) lap. The race was eventually won by Duncan Greenhalgh (280) and he declared this to be "a nice surprise"! Graham had another second and Val another third. Barry Funnel (228) had his best race coming eighth. The race was notable for Stephen Laycock (237) because he lost his hat.

So at the end of the afternoon's racing, Graham had a slender (one point) lead over Nick. Duncan and Val were a further point behind and on equal points. Steve Lee (301) led the Silver fleet but Jane and Alan were only two points behind again on equal points. Clearly racing was going to tight throughout the fleet.

Racing was followed by the AGM which saw Richard Johnson retire after 20 years as chairman of the class association. David Newton made a heartfelt speech of appreciation and presented Richard with an engraved cut glass bowl to mark the occasion.

Saturday morning saw a slightly stronger westerly breeze and racing began after only a minimal delay.

Bill Ridlington (297) made a "miraculous" start to race 3 to lead the fleet for the first lap. Unfortunately the miracle evaporated when he discovered he had mistaken the gybe mark for the leeward mark so he retired gracefully. Nick's start was the opposite of Bill's as he was last over the line after doing a 360, by the third lap he had fought his way to the front of the fleet but then dropped back to finish fourth. It was a race of many place changes, but in the end Val took the win with Duncan second and Graham third.

In race 4 Graham took the lead on the first lap and was able to extend to take the win. Jane's low point came as she approached the first windward mark ahead of Val but she touched the mark and while doing her 360 she watched Val shoot ahead. Bill recovered from his disastrous race 3 achieve his best result of 5th.

The fleet returned to shore for lunch. During the break the principle race officer (Richard Johnson) was found making some adjustments to the class association Challenger Freethinker (263) which had been loaned to Pauline Shaw. These tweaks no doubt improved Pauline's performance in the afternoon.

In race five Nick got away on first beat and that was that. Stephen Thomas Bate (233) made a "cracking start" but ended up pinching to reach the windward mark and drifted into the weed from which he had to be rescued by a safely boat leaving him a long, long way behind. At the front of the fleet, Graham worked his way up to second and Steve Lee achieved a remarkable third place in his first Challenger regatta.

The start of race six saw a certain amount of chaos, but thankfully no damage, when a sudden wind shift caused a port tack flier to refuse to fly. Val scored her second win of the day and Dave Hodson (212) was second. David Driffill (275) had been struggling to build a relationship with his newly acquired Challenger "Evelyn" but things were looking up as he achieved his best result of sixth. Richard Sant (290) observed that "despite ideal conditions in the last race I managed to fight my way to the back". In this race Stephen Laycock lost his brand new sailing watch.

At the end of the day Graham had a slender two point lead over Nick who in turn was two points ahead of Val and Duncan who were still on equal points. In the Silver fleet Steve Lee had stormed ahead leaving Alan (second) and Jane (third) some way behind.

Sunday dawned sunny and windless with a less than encouraging forecast. Nothing daunted the race committee went out to monitor the situation and the fleets were called to the race area down by the church. However, after an hour and despite moving the course down to the main pond, the wind remained fitful and fickle. By then the 2.4s had formed a neat raft of seven boats while the Challengers milled slowly around in a more untidy fashion. Racing was abandoned and the sailors sailed and paddled slowly home. David Newton (mark layer) claimed that he and his assistant had done more work than anyone else as they had laid, relaid and recovered all the marks without a boat racing round them.

The results remained unchanged from Saturday evening so Graham is the 2021 UK Champion with Nick in second. First in Silver fleet (and fifth overall) was Steve Lee with Alan second.

At the prize-giving thanks were given to the race committee, in particular race officers Richard Johnson and David Rowlands, to mark layer David Newton and his assistants and to the safety crews. Thanks are also due to Pauline Harrison who tried to maintain administrative order within both the Challenger and 2.4mR fleets (which is rather like herding cats)!

Trophies awarded:

  • Curtis Cup (1st overall) Graham Hall
  • Judi Figgures Trophy (2nd overall) Nick Bett
  • Prentice Pot (3rd overall) Duncan Greenhalgh
  • Ayrshire Yeomanry Cup (1st Silver) and Silver Piccolo (highest placed sailor previously unplaced at a UK Championships) Steve Lee
  • 2nd Silver Alan Bradley
  • 3rd Silver Jane Scott
  • Thames Water Shield (winner of last race) Val Millward
  • Jock Campbell Trophy (best under 30 or over 80) Bill Ridlington

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

PosHelmSail NoBoatClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stGraham Hall270DaisyRutland Sailing ClubGold22312‑410
2ndNick Bett261Last OrdersRutland Sailing ClubGold1‑4431312
3rdVal Millward312Legless JesterRutland Sailing ClubGold331‑76114
4thDuncan Greenhalgh280White KnightBassenthwaite Sailing ClubGold51224‑814
5thSteve Lee301FriendshipRutland SailabilitySilver‑85543522
6thDave Hodson212 Rutland Sailing ClubGold6(DNC)765226
7thAlan Bradley315ThunderballRutland SailabilitySilver96688‑1237
8thDavid Driffill275EvelynOgston Sailing ClubGold778‑1310638
9thJane Scott298Inspiration Silver4‑11101171143
10thBill Ridlington297TrinityRutland Sailing ClubSilver109(RET)5111045
11thPauline Shaw263FreethinkerGrafham Water SailabilityGold‑11101199746
12thStephen Thomas Bate233Hot ScotchAnnandale Sailing ClubSilver13131310‑15958
13thBarry Funnell228Bateau RougeGrafham Water SailabilitySilver‑1681215131462
14thRichard Sant290SwimarathonRutland SailabilitySilver141491214‑1563
15thStephen Laycock237Great ScotLoch KenSilver1212‑1414121363
16thCaz Jerromes313 Rutland SailabilitySilver151515(DNC)DNCDNC79

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