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Ocean Safety 2023 - New Identity - LEADERBOARD

Scaling Dam Challenger Open Regatta

by Marion Edwards 26 Jun 2023 23:00 BST 24-25 June 2023
Scaling Dam Challenger Regatta © Richard Hannan

It was nineteen years since the Challenger fleet last gathered at Scaling Dam Sailing Club. It isn't clear why it had taken so long to return but two members of the 2004 fleet were pleased to be back.

There were seven visiting and three local sailors. Sarah Threapleton (245) was kindly loaned the third Scaling Dam Challenger.

By Friday evening all the visiting boats were ready for the next day's sailing and a number of tents had sprung up behind the clubhouse. There was a convivial evening meal in the clubhouse of pizzas, salad and alcohol.

On Saturday morning the weather was sunny and there was a lively SWly breeze with gusts at the top of F5. The race officer set a figure of eight course. Val Millward (312) described the gusts as "vicious" but that didn't stop her taking the two wins of the morning session.

Graham Hall (270) didn't have a successful Race 1. He approached the first windward mark on port and encountered Lynn Steward (75) approaching it on starboard. He decided the easiest way out of the situation was a quick 360 and slotted in behind her rounding the mark down in fifth. He had to do a further 360 when he almost went the wrong side of mark 2 before clawing himself up to second by virtue of having more luck on the beat than Duncan Greenhalgh (280) and David Driffill (275). Unfortunately Stephen Thomas Bate (238) missed a mark so started his event in the worst possible way.

At the four minute gun of Race 2, Duncan and Lynn got entangled in the way that only Challengers can get entangled. Graham noticed their predicament and alerted the safety boat who helped them get disentangled enabling them to start at least two minutes after everyone else. Not surprisingly neither had their best race. Stephen capitalised on Duncan's misfortune and took fourth.

The fleet then came in for (an excellent) lunch. The wind moderated slightly for the afternoon's racing. The race officer stuck with a figure of eight course (it is well suited to Scaling Dam) but made it slightly bigger.

It is not entirely clear what happened in Race 3. Val claimed the "boys" (of the gold fleet, not one under sixty!) ganged up on her and she ended up having to do a 360 which allowed Graham to get away (the "gentlemen" in the gold fleet would dispute her version of events!). While Graham took the win, Val managed to keep the other boys/gentlemen behind her to claim second. Unfortunately Mike Blades (186) had his rudder jump off and was forced to make a brief pit stop ashore for repairs.

After putting together a solid 6, 7, 6 Chris Keats-Hannan (5) decided enough was enough and opted to skip Race 4 so she could conserve her energy for Sunday.

Race 4 should have belonged to David. He executed an impeccable port tack flier and played the first beat to perfection. He led for a lap and a half before getting things wrong on the second beat which allowed both Graham and Val through. Sarah ended the day with her best result of seventh. It was a pity she was unable to sail on Sunday.

The fleet returned to shore and almost everyone remained at the club for a most excellent BBQ cooked by the versatile race officers. Some of those camping were able to take advantage of the club bar knowing they only had a short stagger to their tent.

Careful study of the results showed that technically Graham was ahead of Val but only by virtue of their positions in the last race. Similarly David led Duncan by coming third in the last race (and he had the better discard). In the Silver fleet, consistency was paying for Lynn and she had a one point advantage over Stephen. Likewise, in the Bronze fleet Mike was a single point behind Belinda Noda (51). Clearly there was everything to play for on Sunday.

Sunday saw the wind veering a little more to the south and stepping up a notch. The race officer set a different figure of eight course. Mike was launched but then realised that the kicker was held together by a single strand of wire. A repair was contemplated but he decided to stay ashore (it was his first regatta). Chris did go out but it was soon clear she was struggling to get upwind and retired - a puzzling problem has been found with her mast.

Race 5 saw Val very narrowly miss out on the win because of an unkind wind shift as she approached the finish line. Graham was just able to scrape passed her. Belinda sailed her best race to come sixth.

Going into the final race there was still everything to play for. Val needed a win to take the event, and Duncan needed at least a third to take third from David. In Silver, Lynn and Stephen were still only a point apart.

By the first leeward mark, Graham had a small lead over Val but as he went through the gate he picked up some pressure which carried him (and only him) to and round the windward mark and away. The race officer commented that he had found another gear, whereas Duncan said he had stolen all the wind. Duncan managed to beat David, and Lynn beat Stephen.

So, once all the numbers had been crunched Graham had his most emphatic win of the season (by all of two points!) with Val second. David was not impressed that Duncan had taken (stolen) third and not even on countback but position in the last race. Lynn was delighted with first in the Silver fleet (but less happy when told if she carried on like that she would soon be promoted to Gold!).

The prizes were presented by the Commodore, Zoe Maynell. Chris Keat-Hannan (the regatta organiser) explained that the event came about following discussions, which started in 2020, with Val. She went on to thank the race officers (and BBQ chefs) Judy and Paul Armstrong, John Tate (Sailability co-ordinator), Lisa Metcalfe (club secretary), Phil Dickinson (water safety manager) and Richard Hannan (photographer). She also thanked everyone who had volunteered in any capacity to make the event a success.

Graham thanked everyone at the club, but particularly Chris, for the overwhelming success of the event. He also observed that it was the only competitive regatta for disabled sailors in North East England this season and that exactly half the sailors were women.

As winner of the Bronze fleet Belinda was determined to both thank and give full credit to her youthful buddies Harry King (Saturday and Sunday morning) and Henry Blades (Saturday afternoon). While Belinda had sailed before, this was her first experience of racing so the starting sequence, sound signals and flags were rather a mystery to her but Harry and Henry had been quick to explain what was going on.

At the end of the event, visitors and club members alike, expressed the hope that it would not be another nineteen years before the Challengers returned!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st270Graham Hall Rutland SCGold‑2211116
2nd312Val Millward Rutland SCGold11‑22228
3rd280Duncan Greenhalgh Bassenthwaite SCGold3‑5344317
4th275David Driffill Ogston SCGold‑43433417
5th75Lynn Steward WISH SCSilver5656‑7527
6th238Stephen Thomas Bate Annandale SCSilver(DSQ)4855628
7th51Belinda NodaHarry King/Henry BladesScaling Dam SCBronze8‑10786736
8th5Chris Keats‑Hannan Scaling Dam SCSilver676(DNC)RETDNC41
9th186Mike BladesHenry BladesScaling Dam SCBronze78(RET)9DNCDNC46
10th245Sarah Threapleton Rutland SCSilver99(RET)7DNCDNC47

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