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Scottish Open Challenger Championship at Loch Venachar Sailing Club

by Chris Keats-Hannan 9 Aug 07:58 BST 5-6 August 2023
Scottish Open Challenger Championship at Loch Venachar © Stephen Phillips

The Scottish Open Challenger Championship, the fifth event in Sailability Scotland's Challenger Traveller Series, took place at Loch Venachar Sailing Club during the weekend 5-6 August.

On Friday the club welcomed 13 Challenger sailors and the task of assembling the boats began ready for a weekend of racing.

There were four sailors from England. Lynn Steward came from St Helens via public transport. two taxies, three trains and one bus, not surprisingly she was loaned a Challenger by Sailability Scotland SCIO.

It was good to see Paul Noble returning to the fleet. Paul was racing "in memory of Jamie" and he had been kindly loaned Jamie Scott's Challenger (283) by Robin (Jamie's father). Paul also carried with him some photos of Jamie, so perhaps they should have been in the Bronze fleet?

On Saturday morning the weather was not encouraging with light winds and even lighter wind forecast for Saturday afternoon. It was decided that the order of racing would be changed, two races in the morning, then lunch and one race in the afternoon.

Race one saw four boats make a good start from the heavily biased port end pin, headed by Chris Keats Hannan (5) and Alex Hodge (116). Chris rounded the windward mark first but unfortunately couldn't maintain it as David Driffill (275) and Duncan Greenhalgh (280) spotted the almost 180 degrees wind shift and pulled ahead in the second beat to the second mark. The view of those who know about such things, was that the big wind shift was the result of a Katabatic wind falling down Ben Venue and on to the loch defeating the base wind.

David maintained his lead over Duncan and Val Millward (312) pulled though the fleet to third place. This remained the order at the front until David, on port tack, tried too close a passing of Duncan on starboard so giving Duncan the lead until the race finish. Fourth was taken by John McPartlin (236).

By Race two, the Katabatic wind had exhausted its energy and the base wind returned with a flourish touching F4 which led to good sailing and some action for the spectators and photographers on the shore.

Val and David led round the first two laps, followed closely by Duncan. The leading pair chose to take a line along the right hand shore. Duncan seeing the stronger breeze in the centre of the Loch and took a favourable lifting line. Tacking for the mark he found himself with a large lead which he held to the finish with Val taking second and David third.

Further back in the fleet there was a tussle at the start line, leading to a protest and a jostle for positions. Stephen Thomas Bate (234) took advantage of the chaos and gained an impressive fourth place.

The fleet came in for lunch. An unfortunate accident left Paul heading for hospital rather than the race course. Fortunately it was nothing that a bit of glue couldn't fix!

After lunch, race three started with the predicted wind drop. David and Val got the best start with Duncan in chase mode. David allowed Duncan through in a tacking duel. These positions held until the penultimate short reaching leg which had turned into a one sided beat. Duncan put in an early tack to avoid the wind shadow near the shore and Val naturally covered. Unbeknown to them both, David rounded the buoy on a big lift and sped past the leading boats taking a well deserved win.

With the loch turning into a mirror, with zero wind, the rest of the fleet were happy to take the race officers advice and count the positions held on the water, which gave Stephen B. another fourth.

The results at the end of Saturday's racing saw Duncan on 5 points, David on 6 and Val on 7. These three had a substantial lead over the rest of the fleet.

In the Silver fleet Stephen B. was top and fourth place overall. Stephen Laycock (223) took second place and seventh overall, by only a 0.5 point lead on Chris who gained a creditable third (and eighth overall). It was anyone's race and all to play for on Sunday.

Most of the sailors and some of the volunteers retired to a very sociable evening meal in the Crown Hotel in the centre of Callander. A post-mortem of the day's sailing took place in a very genial atmosphere until exhaustion started to show and most departed to prepare for the Sunday. A few went on to sample the Scottish night life in Callander until the early hours.

Sunday morning dawned windless with an unfavourable forecast. After a tense, and for some sailors, a frustrating morning's wait for the wind, the Race Officer, reluctantly, made the decision at midday to abandon further racing. The overnight results stood.

The trophy presentation got under way straight after lunch and the Commodore, Andy Gee, presented Duncan Greenhalgh with the Sandeman Trophy as first overall. He also received the trophy for first Scottish based boat.

Dave Driffill was second overall and as the winner of the last race was awarded the Clyde Cruising Club Challenger Trophy.

Val Millward was third overall and was awarded the Consular Corp Quaich for first lady.

Stephen B. came top of the silver fleet, with an impressive 8.5 point lead over second place Stephen L. This will confirm Stephen B's promotion to Gold fleet in future competitions.

For her sterling work helping on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with any and every task required Kim Bradley received the John Heron Trophy.

There were many people to thank. First, the Race Officer, Jelle Stokroos, who did a wonderful job in difficult circumstances. Also, John and Enid McPartlin for organising a wonderfully executed regatta weekend.

Thanks were also given to Sir Boyd Tunnock for assistance with the entry fees (and the supply of the delicious Tunnock biscuits to keep the sailors going) and to Hugh Campbell who (along with some help from Tesco's of Callander) covered the event's galley costs for the weekend, met the cost of producing the printed programme and contributed to the goody bags. Without such generous sponsors the cost of the weekend for sailors and volunteers would have been much higher.

The biggest thank you though went out to all the wonderful volunteers, including Rob McDermott (Safety boat and beach-master), who turned up at the weekend and gave their time and energy to build (then dismantle) the visiting Challengers, and launch (then recover) them and (possibly most importantly) run the galley.

Overall Results:

PosFleetBoatSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1stGoldWhite Knight280Duncan GreenhalghBassenthwaite SC1135
2ndGoldEvelyn275David DriffillOgston SC2316
3rdGoldLegless Jester312Val MilwardRutland3227
4thSilverScottish Flame234Stephen Thomas BateAnnandale SC54413
5thGoldWee Scot236John McPartlinLoch Venachar Sailing Club456.515.5
6thGoldWestern Challenge116Alex HodgeCCCDS79521
7thSilverScarba223Steve LaycockSouthwest Scotland Sailability966.521.5
8thSilverSheffied Challenge5Chris Keats‑HannanOgston SC67922
9thSilverGreat Scot237Lynn StewardWigan & St. Helens SC1081028
10thGoldHotscotch233Dorothy BennettCCCDS8RET830
11thSilverButterscotch235James FlanaganLoch Venachar Sailing Club11101132
12thGoldPaul Challenge184Ronnie CameronCCCDS12121236
13thGoldIniminit283Paul Noble (& in memory of Jamie)Loch Venachar Sailing ClubRET11DNS39

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