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Scottish Open Challenger Championships at Solway Yacht Club

by Marion Edwards 14 Jul 2021 08:18 PDT 10-11 July 2021
Scottish Open Challenger Championships at Solway © John Sproat

The Scottish Open Challenger Championships were held at the Solway Yacht Club, Kippford (Dumfries and Galloway) on the weekend 10-11 July. A small (but perfectly formed) fleet of six Challengers were assembled, cleaned and polished by Friday evening.

On Saturday morning the weather was not encouraging but to be fair this was no great surprise as the weather forecast had been predicting light winds for a week. Local sailors said the very light north westerly breeze at the club would not reach the race area due to an inconvenient hill. Salvation would only come in the form of a sea breeze (but the omens were favourable). The fleet was launched as soon as the tide permitted with the hope of completing two or possibly three races.

For four of the six sailors this was their first racing since 2019, whereas Val Millward (312) and Graham Hall (270) have been able to compete in club racing at Rutland SC. This may explain why Val was able to say she made a good start to race 1 whereas Duncan Greenhalgh (28) said he "made a right mess of it".

Val held the lead to the wing mark but after rounding it Graham got a lift, overtook her and never looked back for the remainder of the three lap race. Val had a comfortable second while Duncan clawed his way back to third. Stephen Thomas Bate (238) took fourth.

The second race saw Val and Graham covering each other up the beat followed by numerous place changes throughout the two laps. Eventually Graham came out on top but only by 10-15 seconds. Duncan collected another third. John McPartlin (236) had his best race of the day to come home fourth.

The race officer decided he could squeeze in a single lap race 3. Val made "an awful start" but was consoled by the fact that Graham's was worse. The pair of them again played tag throughout but this time Val emerged victorious. Duncan was third (again) but felt he was beginning to chase the Rutland pair.

Things were more interesting for the remainder of the fleet. At the leeward mark Stephen Thomas went for an inside overlap on Stephen Laycock (233) and unfortunately touched the mark forcing him to do a penalty turn, this not only let Stephen get away but also allowed John through. Stephen decided not to follow everyone else on the beat to finish but went his own way up the middle where he found some wind to take fourth.

So at the end of the day Graham had a slender, one point, lead over Val with Duncan sitting in a comfortable third. The remaining three sailors were separated by a single point. To round off the afternoon a lovely high tea was served on the lawn in the sunshine.

Covid restrictions prevented the usual regatta dinner in the village hall. However, the Commodore had kindly reserved a number of tables in a local pub so the majority of the fleet were able to eat together albeit at socially distanced tables.

The weather forecast for Sunday had shown better wind but the reality was that, although it started in a southerly or south westerly direction, it never built beyond the strength of Saturday.

Race 4 was difficult because the wind hadn't kicked in. At the front of the fleet it was business as usual with a one, two, three for Graham, Val and Duncan. Stephen Thomas had a good reach to the leeward mark, gaining over 100m on Stephen to take fourth place.

Race 5 had the most "positive wind" (Val's words) of the day. Val and Graham continued to play tag with Val coming out on top and Duncan getting another third.

With one race to go Val needed a win to take the event otherwise it would go to Graham. However, the race saw a real upset. At the start Duncan pushed both Graham and Val over the line. Graham realised and immediately did a 360 which took him back over the line and he set off in pursuit of Duncan.

Val was less lucky and took longer to return and restart which left her with a lot of catching up to do and while she sailed an excellent and fast race she could only manage third. The race was won by Duncan with Graham second.

Prize-giving took place over another, equally good, high tea on the lawn. Graham is the new Scottish champion and he was presented with the Sandeman Trophy for first overall. Val was second overall and was also presented with the trophy for first (and only) lady helm. Duncan won the Clyde Cruising Club Challenger Trophy for winner of the last race. He was also third overall and first Scottish resident.

All in all an excellent regatta, and perhaps the last word should be left to John (fourth overall) who said "it was like sailing in the Mediterranean" with the sun and warm temperatures!

Thanks are due to Willie Patterson and Stewart Biggar (Race Officer and assistant) and the safety crews; to Mary, Deirdre, Maureen and Val who did all the catering; to Robert Dinwiddie (Commodore) and all at Solway Yacht Club, particularly those who just happened to be in the dinghy park when we needed help pulling the Challengers up the slip.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st270Graham HallRutland Sailing Club11‑21227
2nd312Val MillwardRutland Sailing Club22121‑38
3rd28Duncan GreenhalghBassenthwaite Sailing Club‑33333113
4th236John McPartlinLoch Venachar Sailing Club545‑64422
5th238Stephen Thomas BateAnnandale Sailing Club45‑645523
6th233Stephen LaycockLoch Ken‑66456627

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