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Challengers at Sailability Scotland's Traveller Series at Annandale Sailing Club

by Stephen Thomas Bate 2 May 2023 04:31 PDT 29-30 April 2023
Challengers at Sailability Scotland's Traveller Series at Annandale © Stephen Thomas Bate

Annandale Sailing Club in Lochmaben, Dumfries and Galloway hosted its very first weekend regatta for Challenger trimarans in conjunction with Sailability Scotland (SCIO) and was the very first regatta organised by Stephen Thomas Bate (STB), the club's newly-appointed Commodore.

The first sailors started to arrive at 14:00 on Friday, and received a warm welcome from STB, himself a Challenger sailor.

Saturday morning started with a briefing by Chris Nurney, the race office for the weekend, assisted by Willie Patterson. The wind was a very light force 1-2. The plan for the day was 1 race before lunch, then 2 races in the afternoon, back-to-back. Only 8 out of the 9 entries started the first race, as Alex Hodge had some setup issues, and opted to start after lunch.

Pre-regatta favourite, Val Millward (Rutland Sailing Club) took the win in the first 2 races, closely followed by Duncan Greenhalgh. STB was very surprised to take two 3rd place finishes.

During the second race Val had a narrow escape while she was leading, with Duncan in close attendance. Whilst lapping the slower sailors, Val was impeded at the wing mark whilst claiming water. Unfortunately, the lapped sailor was oblivious to Val's shouts. She avoided collision by bearing away and had to do an unnecessary 360, handing the initiative to Duncan. Val's experience and skill gradually hunted down Duncan, taking a second win.

STB had a very close battle with Chi Chian Wu (studying at Glasgow Caledonian University, hailing from Chinese Taipei) for third place. The lead between them changed a few times, before STB stole the initiative on the final lap at the leeward mark, picking up a gust, pipping Chi Chian to the line.

Rory McKinna is a very talented Hansa 303 sailor, who has sailed all over the world. He started to sail a Challenger last year due to the lack of Hansa regattas and sailors in Scotland. He finally found his feet in race 3, finishing a very creditable 4th.

The race was won again by Val, who now had won the first 3 races. The only change at the top of the fleet was Chi Chian beating Duncan into 2nd place.

Saturday evening saw all the competitors invited to an evening meal at the Crown Hotel in Lochmaben. These social evenings are full of merriment, ribbing of the days events and tall, somewhat exaggerated stories of sailing heroics. The meal was superb, with everyone in attendance fully enjoying themselves.

Sunday's racing was scheduled to start at 10:00. However, we all arrived to dead calm. It was no surprise when race office, Chris Nurney hoisted the AP flag. By around 10:45, the wind started to fill in and we finally got the go-ahead to launch.

The first race was a modest F3 at best. Rory finally flourished and finished the back-to-back races with two creditable 4th place finishes. Race 4 ended with a very close 3-way battle to the line. Duncan finally got the measure of Val to take the win. A similar pattern ensued in the final race, with Chi Chian taking his second 2nd place of the event, with Duncan again taking the win.

The final results were very close for the overall regatta winner. Val beat Duncan by 1 point. There was an even closer result for 4th and 5th, with Rory and STB tied on 17 points; Rory taking 4th place on countback, with his 4th versus STB's 5th place in the last race.

The star of the weekend was Ronnie Cameron from Bardowie (Clyde Cruising Club). He has just turned 93. He is a legend and an inspiration to us all. His enthusiasm is unrelenting and it is always a pleasure listening to his stories. He always sails with a smile on his face, whatever the weather decides to throw at us.

Commodore, STB presented the prizes. He thanked the sailors for their support in bringing the Challenger class to a new venue. STB was quoted as saying, "Ever since I was introduced to the Challenger, it has been a dream of mine to see a fleet of Challengers sailing on Castle Loch. I am very humbled to see this dream come to fruition this weekend".

As winner, Val commented "It was great to come to a new location, an inland location that offered a different challenge, with the wind shifts. It was a different type of tactical challenge that sailors are not used to, and was a great test of the sailor's skill at being able to read the wind".

Prizes were awarded for 1st and 2nd place in the Gold and Silver fleet, along with bottles of wine for the winners and helpers. The weekend's lunches were supplied by Sailability Scotland SCIO, with special mention to our wonderful caterers, Kate and Jean, who fed and watered us. Beanie hats, baseball caps, and wine was supplied by Annandale Sailing Club, and all competitors and helpers were given a packet of Tunnocks wafers, sponsored by STB.

A special mention goes out to Sir Boyd Tunnock (MBE, CBE), of Uddingston, whose annual donation subsidies the competitors' entry fees. Finally, a massive thank you to all the helpers from Annandale Sailing Club, who gave up their weekend to support the event. Without their support and assistance, the event would not have been possible.

Sailability Scotland SCIO's next event, T2 is to be held at Monkland's Sailing Club on the 13th and 14th May, 2023 - you can enter online now.


1st Val Millward (Gold)
2nd Duncan Greenhalgh (Gold)
3rd Chi Chian Wu (Gold)
4th Rory McKinna (Gold)
5th Stephen Thomas Bate (Silver)
6th Steve Laycock (Silver)
7th Ronnie Cameron (Silver)
8th Dorothy Bennett (Silver)
9th Alex Hodge (Gold)

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