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Allen Contender Training Day & Open at Datchet Water Sailing Club

by Ed Presley 25 Mar 03:54 PDT 19-20 March 2022
Allen Contender Open at Datchet © DWSC

As with most successful things, stability and consistency are pre-requisites, therefore it is fundamental to the Contender season to start with a thrash around Datchet. Jumping straight into racing may be attractive but we have learned to temper our enthusiasm with an initial tune up and training day to remove cobwebs and test knees.

The tune up day gave members of the class association the opportunity to learn from the likes of Jones, Langdown and Wilcox, firstly to have them on hand to help race rig boats in the fashionable style and discuss the pros and cons of various set ups, but secondly to get some training drills done in close proximity without the pressure of racing.

Out on the water a fruity 20 knots with nasty gusts allowed all to remember how glorious the Contender can be in breeze after a 2021 of barely a leg stretch. Gate starts, short courses with enforced 3 tack and gybe minimum allowed the fleet to test a number of variables and generally get the boat back in the groove. The wind strength meant that there were a few spills to behold as well.

Highlights included:

  • Seeing S Jones swan dive into the sail
  • Realising that the inflatable buoy was in fact rock hard on impact
  • Keeping eyes closed as the gate boat when starboard tackers bear down on you
  • Getting your mandatory tacks in early and feeling smug
  • Forgetting to tell Graeme that we had changed the short course
All of this lovely practice set us nicely for a day of racing in light breezes, for which most were thankful for whilst nursing delayed onset of muscle soreness.

Race 1

Surprisingly all boats came off the line without a recall, with two thirds of the fleet heading more towards the right and the others heading middle left, it was pretty even with James Spikesley leading around the first mark followed by Graeme Wilcox and Gary Langdown with Stuart Jones not far away. Positions stayed the same down the first reach but an issue with navigation after the wing mark saw James getting passed by Graeme and Gary on the second reach. Following the next beat positions saw Graeme increase his lead with the remaining all staying square the same but with Simon Mussell starting to come back into the group. The run was full of bungee as gusts came down the track but again no changes. The flap stayed all square until the end of the final reach with James having to defend hard against Stuart, who was coming down with more breeze, this let Simon through at the leeward mark for Graeme to take the win followed by Gary then Simon.

Race 2

Another clean start with the wind getting shiftier but Graeme and James picking their way upwind to round a well ahead of Stuart and Ed. Graeme and James managed extend away from those behind down the reaches with their own private breeze. On the second beat provided a big shift to the left which was painful if you were the wrong side of it. There are rumours of some capsizes during this period, but Gary and Paul will remain nameless. On the final beat the wind went back to its original direction but got a lot patchier and lighter overall. The positions were settled to finish Graeme, James and Stuart.

Race 3

Just as some of the fleet were wondering if that was going to be it for the day, the Race Officer raised the flags to start the sequence. The final start was clean with James managing to pick his way up the beat and again rounding first followed by Graeme and Stuart. Down the first reach these three managed to keep a good gap over the remainder of the fleet but with the wind getting funky after the wing mark with boats running/reaching/beating on different tacks and gybes led to the fleet compressing and Graeme and Stuart rolling over James in their own bit of breeze and the rest of the fleet rounding the leeward mark together. Stuart took charge in his normal conditions to take the win, but Ed managing to get to a crucial second between the final leeward mark and the finish line and Simon Dodds taking third.

The final results were a season opening win for Graeme Wilcox, secured after the two firsts. An astonished Stuart Jones was second with Ed Presley rounding of the podium. Great to be back on the road and better that it was under bright sunshine. Next up is Oxford.

Overall Results:

PosHelmBoat NameSail NoR1R2R3Pts
1stGraeme WillcoxContender6951st1st4th2
2ndStuart JonesContender 270627066th3rd1st4
3rdEd PresleyContender27087th4th2nd6
4thJames SpikesleyPickled Doris7054th2nd7th6
5thGary LangdownFeel the Need24842nd7th5th7
6thSimon MussellContender24203rd6th9th9
7thNick CurryHurry Curry26615th5th6th10
8thSimon DoddsLaura24238th8th3rd11
9thPaul RossContender 257225729th9th8th17

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