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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

English Open Challenger Championship at Scaling Dam Sailing and Watersports Club

by Marion Edwards 4 Jun 09:38 BST 1-2 June 2024
English Open Challenger Championship at Scaling Dam © Richard Hannan

After a very successful event at Scaling Dam Sailing and Watersports Club in 2023 the Challengers returned in 2024 for the English Open Challenger Championship.

There were eight visiting and two local sailors. Chi Chian Wu, the current UK champion, was kindly loaned the best Scaling Dam Challenger. David Driffill (275) went "above and beyond" by towing a second Challenger from Ogston SC for Lynn Steward of Wigan and St Helens SC. One notable absentee was Val Millward who was sailing the Three Rivers Race (https://www.yachtsandyachting.com/news/275457/63rd-Yachtmaster-Insurance-Ltd-Three-Rivers-Race).

By Friday evening all the visiting boats were ready for the next day's sailing and most sailors remained for at the club for pizzas and salad.

Saturday was forecast to be breezy and it was, particularly in the morning, with a decent F4 gusting a good F5. As for the direction, it was roughly NNW, particularly coming off the dam wall, but it would veer northerly and then add random swirls as it bounced around any buildings close to the shore.

The race officer set a figure of eight course around movable marks with a starboard rounding of the first windward mark. The race officer wasn't happy with the starboard rounding but given the wind direction her options were limited.

Shortly before the start of Race 1, the Bronze fleet boat of Pat Reynolds and Henry Blades (245) was seen stranded in the shallows and they came in for a brief pitstop to sort out a very strange rudder problem before heading off for a late start. The rest of the fleet headed up a tricky beat (all the beats were tricky!) with Graham Hall (270) making the best of it to round the windward mark first and lead for the first lap. Chi Chian (51) took the lead for the next three laps pursued by Nick Bett (261), Graham and Duncan Greenhalgh (280). On the final reach Graham passed Chi Chian and just managed to hold the lead to the finish. Duncan took third.

There was a race 2 and according to the race officer Duncan made a cracking start, but this race largely passed the shore crew by because Stephen Laycock (185) needed retrieving from the shallows with gear failure. This was David's best race, lying second behind Graham at the end of the first lap before being overtaken by Chi Chian on the second and losing out to Duncan on the final lap.

The fleet then came in for (an excellent) lunch, although Stephen missed his as he was busy sorting out the teething troubles on his boat - after which he said it sailed beautifully.

The wind moderated slightly for the afternoon's races, particularly for the last race of the day, but it was still F4 still with some F5 gusts. The race officer stuck to a figure of eight course but made it slightly bigger. This pleased Chi Chian as he liked the mix of port and starboard mark roundings and the high speed reaches.

Race 3 saw the usual suspects rise to the top with both Duncan and Chi Chian holding the lead. However, on the final reach Duncan and Graham engaged in a luffing match with, as the race officer observed, Duncan keen to luff Graham into the club bar to buy the first pint! As a result Chi Chian was able to sail away to take first place with Duncan second and Graham third.

Race 4 belonged to Nick. He had the lead by the first windward mark and held it over three laps to the finish! Unfortunately Chi Chain had a poor start and never really recovered coming fourth.

The fleet returned to shore and almost everyone remained at the club for a most excellent BBQ cooked by the race officers(!) plus entertainment, including karaoke, organised by the club's social team.

After four races the discard had kicked in. Graham had a one point lead over Chi Chian. Thanks to Nick's win in Race 4, he was only a single point behind Duncan. In the Silver fleet Diana Faulks (288) was going for consistency having scored nothing but sixth. Chris and Lynn (75) were sharing seventh and eighth places. They had equal points and were equal on countback so Chris had the advantage with her seventh in Race 4. Pat and Henry had the Bronze fleet sewn up.

Sunday's forecast was for light winds. Sailors arrived at the club to see large patches of glassy calm on the water. At the race briefing AP went up and the race officer said nothing was going to happen until there was wind across all the water. The hope was that a sea breeze would build. There was a good chance it would because there was no base wind to cancel it out. The sailors were told to have sails up and be ready for launching.

Diana benefitted from the postponement as Graham was able to do some impromptu maintenance on her boom using shockcord provided by David. This was generous of them as Diana had, in Graham's words, "been annoying the gold fleet" (by not staying respectfully behind them at all times)!

Sure enough the breeze did fill in and Race 5 started just over 30 minutes late with a simple triangular course. With the NOR stating no warning signals after 11:15 this was likely to be the only race of the day.

Unfortunately Chris was OCS and didn't go back and this mistake was going to be decisive in the Silver fleet results. Duncan made the best start. Nick crossed in second followed by Graham and Chi Chian. Unfortunately Chi Chian tacked off and that was not the thing to do. Nick led for the first lap closely followed by Graham. The second beat was decisive as Nick and Graham saw their lead cut when the wind shifted and stabilised allowing the rest of the fleet to catch up. Graham scraped round the windward mark first but Nick was unlucky, losing out to Duncan and Chi Chian. Graham managed to protect his lead for the remainder of the three lap race with Chi Chian coming through to take second. Duncan was intent on keeping Nick behind him and did so by coming third.

Graham's final win made him the 2024 English Challenger champion with Chi Chian coming second and Duncan third, though as Graham said, any of the Gold fleet could have won. Diana led the Silver fleet home, with Lynn taking second from Chris only on position in last race. Pat and Henry were first in Bronze and in most cases keeping up with the rest of the fleet for at least the first beat.

The prizes were presented by the Commodore, Zoe Meynell and Vice-Commodore, Chris Keat-Hannan. Chris thanked the race officers (and BBQ chefs) Judy and Paul Armstrong, Lisa Metcalfe (club secretary), Phil Dickinson (water safety manager), the social team and everyone who had volunteered in any capacity to make the event such a success. Chris also thanked Hugh Campbell (in absentia) for his generous donation towards the event.

Scaling Dam delivered an excellent championship enjoyed by everyone both on and off the water.

Trophies awarded:

The Shipwrights Trophy (1st overall) - Graham Hall
Anglo Marine Plate (1st Silver) - Diana Faulks
Bronze Barometer (1st Bronze) - Pat Reynolds and Henry Blades

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubFleetR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st270Graham Hall Rutland SCGold11‑3215
2nd51Chi Chian Wu Chinese TaipeiGold221‑427
3rd280Duncan Greenhalgh Bassenthwaite SCGold‑3323311
4th261Nick Bett Rutland SCGold4‑541413
5th275David Driffill Ogston SCGold‑5455519
6th288Diana Faulks Rutland SCSilver‑6666624
7th75Lynn Steward WISH SCSilver‑8778830
8th5Chris Keats‑Hannan Scaling Dam SCSilver7887(OCS)30
9th185Stephen Laycock Sailability ScotlandSilver9(DNS)99734
10th245Pat ReynoldsHenry BladesScaling Dam SCBronze1091010(DNS)39

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