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Craftinsure 2023 LEADERBOARD

Contender Allen Travellers Series at Poole Yacht Club

by Duncan Ward 24 May 2023 08:14 BST 20-21 May 2023
Contender Allen Travellers Series at Poole © Mike Milward

Over the weekend of 20th and 21st May, 19 Contenders entered the fifth leg of the Allen Travellers Series at Poole Yacht Club. The event was shared with the Fireball and Osprey fleets.

The weather forecast promised mostly blue skies and a variable wind over the weekend from the North-East. From this direction, shifty and variable wind speeds can be expected in Poole Harbour and that's exactly what the fleet experienced, with the conditions varying between almost drifting at times, followed by gusts of up to 20 knots with some massive shifts.

The experienced Race Officer and his team set out to keep control of the fleet starts by using the U flag from the first race. The plan certainly worked well in ensuring a lack of recalls but added a few letters to some of the competitors scores over the weekend!

On Saturday the Contender fleet launched into a variable 10 - 18 knot wind from the NE, which maintained throughout the day. With three races to be sailed it was set to be a taxing first afternoon.

The first race got under way with some of the favourites including Graeme Wilcox and Simon Mussell caught out OCS. Most of the fleet headed left up the first beat, whilst a few boats tacked over early looking for opportunity on the Brownsea Island side of the course. This turned out to be the correct (or possibly lucky!) call as the wind filled in and lifted the starboard tack boats into the weather mark.

Duncan Ward led around followed by Tom Hooton. On the second beat there were some big shifts, with gains and losses aplenty throughout the fleet, a pattern which repeated all weekend. Duncan and Tom switched places a couple of times with the race win going to Tom, with Duncan second and the ever-present Stuart Jones improving well to take third place.

The second race started in similar conditions. With the wind oscillating and varying in speed significantly, the corners of the course were generally to be avoided. Graeme Wilcox sailed a canny first beat to head the fleet around the first mark and continued to stretch his lead through the race, pursued by Stuart Jones and the brothers Smith who finished third (Adrian) and fourth (Rob).

For race three start, the wind pretty much checked out, with much of the fleet wallowing in little or no breeze shortly after the start. Once the wind filled back into patches of the course, it led to an almost immediate stretching out of the fleet. Ed Presley benefitted from a lefthand side streak of wind pressure and raced into the first mark with a big lead but unfortunately for Ed he was OCS at the start!

Simon Mussell hit his stride after a topsy turvy day and headed the fleet around the course stretching his lead to the finish. After a not so great first part of the race, Graeme Wilcox recovered well, pulling up to second with James Spikesley in close pursuit finishing third.

With several of the usual front runners carrying some letters in their score from being OCS, the overnight lead was held by Stuart Jones.

A very pleasant catered evening was spent on the Poole YC balcony, overlooking Poole Harbour with the sun sinking into the Studland Hills beyond.

Day two offered almost identical conditions, with race four starting with a little starboard line bias. Simon Mussell was one of the first sailors to tack off and head right towards Brownsea, this turned out to pay handsomely, with more pressure and a lifting starboard tack pulling Simon into the weather mark. After carrying the pressure down the first reach Simon extended an early unassailable lead.

As the race matured Graeme Wilcox and Stuart Jones did a good job of hunting Simon down but he held on for another win with Graeme second and Stuart third.

With face five starting around midday and the temperature rising, the gradient wind started to battle with the thermals, resulting in bigger shifts and more frequent wind holes. As often happens in these tricky conditions the cream rises to the top, Graeme Wilcox sailed expertly at the front from start to finish, extending his lead throughout, followed by Stuart Jones, both in a race of their own. Adrian Smith also mastered the conditions well to finish third.

For the final race, the holes and shifts in the wind were now starting to get a bit silly with plenty of "tea bagging" and crash tacks to be seen across the course. Graeme Wilcox again sailed impeccably to establish an early lead which he maintained. Behind Graeme there was almost constant position changes, with the race becoming a snakes and ladders affair.

On one lap going right could favour and on the next it could be a disaster and vice versa. The final lap became quite frantic with Stuart Jones moving into second place at the final weather mark, with Gary Langdown inserting himself into the top three.

Graeme Wilcox was the overall and worthy winner, mastering the conditions extremely well. Stuart Jones was clear in second, with Tom Hooton taking the final podium place.

Overall, it was a highly enjoyable, if challenging weekend's sailing, hosted by the fantastic and generous Poole YC. Given the conditions, the race committee and support crews did an incredible job to the keep the racing consistent and on schedule.

The Allen Travellers series now moves onto Hythe and Saltwood Sailing Club on 3rd and 4th June.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stNakita695Graeme WillcoxNetley SCUFD122117
2ndFerocious Black Dog2706Stuart JonesDatchet Water SC32732212
3rdWilly Do It678Thomas HootonBurton SC111445418
4thLightening2711Duncan WardLymington Town26974524
5th 2420Simon Mussel UFD81110727
6thFeel the Need2484Gary LangdownHighcliffe SC551168327
7thPickled Doris705James SpikesleyNetley SC49389832
8thExtreme Ways2730Adrian SmithHythe & Saltwood SC1238113934
9thRebel Scum08GEd PresleyCastle Cove SC610UFD56DNF47
10thAlicia713David EvansPoole YC813610121147
11thHurry Curry2661Nick CurryWeston SC14713971248
12thRabbiting on Too2729Chris HoweOxford SC1115101415656
13th 270James DanielsNetley SC7171415131059
14thDarkness666Bill HootonBurton SC1314121211DNS62
15thRed Ted2449Rob SmithCastle Cove SCUFD45DNCDNCDNC69
16thThunderbird 208BMartin JonesWilsonian SC10121513DNFDNC70
17th 2404John Greenhalgh 1518DNF17161379
18thFoxy Lady712Rodger WhiteKing George SC91616DNFDNCDNC81
19thI'm Alone686Nathan McGroryPoole YCDNSDNCDNC1614DNF90

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