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Contender Inland Championship at Rutland Sailing Club

by Simon Mussell 17 Oct 2023 18:09 BST 14-15 October 2023

After an unseasonably warm Autumn a jolly chilly NNW breeze greeted 30 sailors as they gathered for their annual Inland Championships at Rutland Sailing Club. It was great to see so many people attend and even better to see that there were a number of new faces who had chosen Rutland as their first travellers event.

One notable and slightly unexpected attendee was Nick Noble who has been taking a break from the excitement of Contender sailing this season to dip his toe in to the slightly insane world of veterans motor cross. Hopefully we will see more of him next year!?

After the usual chit chat in the club before racing we reluctantly pulled out our winter wetsuits and headed out on to the water with the conditions looking ideal; 15-18 knots and most importantly sunny.

Race 1 started without delay at 12.30pm. As the gun went the first of many shifts went left favouring those at the pin end of the line. As the majority flipped over on to port it was Simon Mussell who appeared in front with Rob Smith, Tommy Hooton and James Spikesley in hot pursuit. The reaches were broad and with the flag up that permitted us to pump so we all eagerly fanned our way along in the flat water.

By the leeward mark the leading bunch were tight and Graeme Wilcox and Ed Presley had started to make their move towards the front, both showing great technique downhill. As the race unfolded Graeme and Ed continued to move forward and by the end it was only Simon that managed to cling on to his position. The race ended Simon ahead of Graeme, with Ed 3rd and James coming home 4th.

Race 2 began with a recalled start however 2nd time lucky and we were off. Similar conditions prevailed and Simon was again ahead at the windward mark, but this time Graeme was close behind as was Ed, and Ben Holden who had made the most of the shifts and his upwind boat speed. As the race progressed Simon and Graeme were neck and neck until the 3rd beat.

Whilst both were heading to the left Graeme tacked right on a shift, not wanting to get caught up in a tacking duel Simon held on for a hundred yards (91.44m for the younger in the fleet) but it proved a bad decision with Graham moving in to a solid lead. Ed also caught up but in a freak lull he managed to capsize allowing Simon to sail to finish in 2nd, Ben to sneak through in to 3rd with Ed 4th and Tommy Hooton 5th.

Nick Pye also deserves mention. Sailing Contender 657 and relatively new to the fleet Nick came home 7th which as very impressive in quite challenging conditions. We look forward to seeing more of Nick on the circuit next year!

Race 3 began in a slightly lighter and more variable breeze; the wind whisperer that is Graeme took a solid lead making the most of the oscillating shifts whilst Ed, Ben and Carl Tagoe battled it out behind. This race finished without drama for Graeme with no one able to offer up a challenge whilst Ed's superior down wind speed saw him move to 2nd with Ben, Carl and Simon Dodds coming in just behind.

Saturday night saw the fleet split tacks. Some heading to the pub and others enjoying the hospitality at the Sailing Club whilst watching Ireland get dispatched by the All Blacks on the telly. A good night was had by all though and most had a fairly early night having been worn out by a tough day on the water.

Sunday brought even colder conditions although the breeze was a lighter 8-10knts from the NW.

One notable shoddy performance on Saturday was by Stuart Jones. Normally nailed on for a good result he had put in 3 scores on the Saturday which were not up to standard; possibly due to over extending himself at the Rutland 5km Park Run on Saturday morning posting a very respectable time of 26 mins. Not bad for the old geezer! Sure enough in the lighter conditions Jones led the fleet in Race 4 making good use of a left hand shift which helped him establish a substantial lead by the wing mark. The following fleet were tight and at the back of the chasing pack was Graeme.

As the race unfolded Graeme did what most thought impossible which was to edge his way through the chasing pack and then chase down Jones and beat him on the line. It was an impressive performance! The race for the lower positions was very tight with Chris Boshier offering up a stand out performance which saw him get to 3rd position with Ed and Tommy Hooton coming in just behind.

Race 5 started in a little more pressure and Simon made the most of the shifts on the first beat (more luck than judgement!). Nick Noble was immediately behind with Graeme in 3rd. This race also saw Gary Langdown up at the front. Gary has been using an experimental North laminate sail this weekend and having made a few adjustments to his rig and controls its showing signs of working. As race 5 progressed Simon led for the first 2 laps before getting severely out of phase on the 3rd beat dropping like a stone to 8th. During the same beat Graeme moved up to 1st, Jones in to 2ndand Rob to 3rd. Nick finished in a respectable 4th with Gary in 5th.

The final race of the weekend started in a lightning and oscillating 6-8knot breeze. This time the right hand side of the course paid big time off the start. Tommy Hooton chose his route wisely and arrived at the mark in first with Rob Smith close behind. In a changeable breeze Tom and Rob continued to make the most of the conditions finishing 1st and 2nd after the Race Officer made the wise decision to shorten course as the wind showed signs of reducing to very little. Stuart finished 3rd and Simon Dodds sailed well to post a 4th.

All in all a great weekend, a worthy Inlands Champion, it's just a shame we have to wait till next March for the 2024 season to begin.

Our thanks go the Rutland Water Sailing Club for a well organised and run event.

As this event is also the final event of the year, there was the Travellers trophy positions to sort out, no surprise at the top with Graeme Willcox taking the overall win that he had secured back at Weston with a very impressive 8 events attended and 8 wins. Ed Presley was second with 3 wins and Stuart Jones third with a string of second places. The Silver fleet was won by Simon Dodds with James Daniels taking the Bronze and Under 25 prizes. Best improved sailor for 2023 was Peter Snowden.

With next year's fixtures 99% complete and some interesting overseas events on the calendar 2024 promises to be a great year for the fleet. We hope to see a few Contenders showing up at some of the Selden Sailjuice Winter events over the less warm season to keep your toe in.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st2787Graeme Willcox21111(DNC)6
2nd2708Ed Presley3424‑7720
3rd2706Stuart Jones‑1110722324
4th2420Simon Mussell12689(DNC)26
5th678Thomas Hooton65‑10510127
6th2484Gary Langdown9‑16975535
7th705James Spikesley49‑12116636
8th2449Robert Smith1211(DNC)93237
9th2607Carl Tagoe764128(UFD)37
10th2423Simon Dodds‑191551316453
11th1652Nick Noble58(DNC)64DNC54
12th2702chris boshier‑181718311857
13th2383David Davies1012111014(DNC)57
14th2733Neil Ferguson16‑181515151071
15th2710James Daniels‑21191314131473
16th2315Ben Holden833(DNC)DNCDNC76
17th2729Chris Howe1522(DNC)17121278
18th666Bill Hooton‑25.521171818983
19th2751Richard Buttler202014‑24201185
20th657Nick Pye‑2772021211786
21st2714Martin Jones1313822(DNC)DNC87
22nd2574nick arran23(RET)1919221699
23rd2725Peter Snowdon141416(DNC)DNCDNC106
24th712Rodger White22(DNC)DNC201915107
25th2618Brian Whitmey(DNC)DNCDNC161713108
26th2490Paul Green24(DNC)DNC232418120
27th2373Gareth Lincoln25.5(DNC)DNC2523DNC135.5
28th2747Tony Brooks17(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC141
29th696tony cook(RET)DNCDNC26DNCDNC150
30th634Dave Burrell(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC155

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