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Contenders Travellers Trophy Round 1 at Burton Sailing Club

by Nathan McGrory 26 Mar 11:35 GMT 23-24 March 2024

16 members of the UK contender class travelled from far and wide for the season opener at Burton SC on Foremark reservoir. The weather gods, clearly slighted in some unknowable way by the class, decided on a violent Nor 'wester for both days.

This led to huge variations in strength and direction of the wind, perfect for the first time some had sailed since last year. These attritional conditions would lead to several unfortunate breakages of gear and some of the wiser members of the class choosing not to partake in the racing. Four of the six races would be sailed, with a discard after the fourth race.

Race 1

After an incredibly violent pre start, there were only three starters. An incident of particular note was the damage to Chris Howe's transom, with the bottom separated from the hull during a capsize. Let's hope he knows a good boat builder.

The three intrepid competitors were Simon Mussel, Ed Presley and local 'legend' Tom Hooton, all of whom had unsurprisingly sailed over the winter. Simon took the lead but capsized and retired, leaving Ed and Tom in a match race for the win. Places were exchanged with colossal shifts and gusts at every point on the course. Eventually Ed eked out a lead after Tom left in irons by another huge shift at the windward mark, managing to hold on for the win. Then everyone gave up, not wanting any further damage to themselves or their boats.

Race 2

Day two dawned to still violently gusty and shifty conditions, but less pressure than the first day allowed more competitors onto the course despite some of the wiser class members deciding not to sail at all. The course was P shaped to make maximum use of the Reservoir, and the race committee generously set the gybe mark right under the club for maximum uncertainty in wind conditions at this crucial moment.

With the wind still all over the place so there was no one track up the beat, leading to a game of snakes and ladders on the legs to windward. Unfortunately Ed broke his top pintle, ending his hopes of an event win. This left Tom Hooton to get in front, making the most of his local knowledge and managing to take his first win of the event. Rob Smith took second despite expressing his distaste for inland sailing and Tim Holden finished in third.

Race 3

For the third race there was a change of course to avoid the lee of the club, but several boats went home after the brutal second race. The course now had a second beat to windward on the laps along with a club race running concurrently for extra jeopardy.

Simon won the start with a port flyer and started off on the beat that still proved difficult to negotiate in a consistent manner. Places exchanged at the front of the fleet until Tom Hooton capsized down the run, with Tim Holden claiming the win and Rob again in second, still adamant that Portland harbour is a better venue. Simon came in third.

Race 4

For the final race there were even fewer takers, down to 6 starters, on the same course as race 3. This time the line had an even greater port bias, and the leaders made the most of this starting off on port tack at the pin end.

With the wind still yet to settle, Tom again made the best of his local knowledge to get in front of Simon and Tim to take a second race win and overall event victory, probably deserved as he was the only sailor to complete every race.

Simon claimed second in the last race but a third place was enough for Tim Holden to hold on to second overall, leaving Simon as the last of the place getters in Third.

Thanks to Burton SC race and safety crews for putting on racing in very challenging and variable conditions and dealing with a class not quite prepared for the violence of the conditions. Also thanks to Bill Hooton for organising the event on behalf of the class. A strong start by Tom Hooton with a newly measured HD sail, could this be the Wavelength alternative the class has been searching for? A few notable absences including last year's champion Graeme Wilcox and Stuart Jones who usually manages to do well in nonsensical wind. Will the sailors at this event be able to maintain the momentum or will the attritional conditions leave them too broken? Find out at Oxford on 6th/7th April 2024 for the next Travellers trophy event of 2024.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st678Tom HootonBurton Sailing Club21‑414
2nd2503Tim HoldenHalifax Sailaing and Watersports club(DNC)3137
3rd2420Simon MusselHighcliffe Sailing Club(RET)53210
4th2589Nathan McGroryPoole Yacht Club(DNC)85417
5th2710James DanielsNetley Sailing Club(DNC)77519
6th2449Rob SmithCastle Cove Sailing club(DNC)22DNC21
7th2574Nick ArranCarsington Sailing Club(DNC)RET6629
8th2708Ed PresleyCastle Cove Sailing club1RET(DNC)DNC25
9th2383David DaviesPrestwick & Loch Ryan Sailing club(DNC)4DNCDNC38
10th2702Chris BoshierThorpe Bay Yacht Club(DNC)6DNCDNC40
11th2490Paul GreenPort Dinorwic Sailing club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC51
11th712Rodger WhiteKing George Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC51
11th672Trevor LloydNotts County Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC51
11th2729Chris HoweOxford Sailig Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC51
11th2733Neil FergusonYorkshire Dales Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC51
11th666Bill HootonBurton Sailing Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC51

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