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Cyclops Marine 2023 November - LEADERBOARD

Contender training at Oxford Sailing Club

by Tony Brooks 13 Sep 2023 05:48 PDT 26 August 2023
Contender training at Oxford © Chris Howe

After many months in the planning, the Contender training day was set for 26th August 2023, yes a Bank Holiday weekend but with the busy Contender schedule for 2023 and only two Saturday options available it was either this or the weekend of the King's Coronation and with a British Contender fleet of true royalists this was not really an option.

As the weekend drew closer a number of names were added to the list of participants looking to fine tune their skills - just two weeks before the Contender National Championships to be held at Exe SC from the 7th to the 10th September. The forecast for the day was for around 7-10 knots with a light shower later in the day.

The participants started to arrive early to join the two Oxford boats making use of the training day and with all the boats now lined up on the green ready for inspection, Ed Presley put his trusty tape measure and rigging gauge to work as he, ably assisted by either Chris Howe or Tony Brooks, worked their way one by one through the boats, most of which required very little by way of adjustment.

One early Rondar however was going to need a little more time as the new owner hadn't rigged the boat before and a new forestay was required and duly supplied by Chris Boshier of Essex Rigging who was on site for the training. With 10 of the 11 boats now rigged, inspected and ready for action, it was time for a quick briefing with the Instructor for the day Adam Bowers, who had agreed to provide his expert knowledge for the eager-to-learn fleet.

As the boats launched out for the morning session, the wind was at the lower end of the forecast but with enough to keep things moving, the first thing on the agenda was starting and getting off the start line. With a generous line set the countdown began, Carl Tagoe was taking no prisoners as he luffed his first victim into irons just before the start.

A number of starts were arranged with varying degrees of port bias showing who was and who wasn't paying attention, with a couple of boats making a clear port start and crossing the fleet. The other focus for the day was rounding the leeward mark and getting away cleanly, this highlighted the need for a good entry line into the mark and a clear and precise exit.

The fleet returned to the clubhouse for the first debrief of the day and a spot of lunch. The debrief was based around a number of videos and photos as Adam explained in great detail both the good and not so good decisions and manoeuvres made during the session and the use of some rear shots and close-up photos to show the rig set-ups in detail.

With the debrief over, the sailors were keen to get back out on the water to put into practice what they had learned from the morning's session.

As the sailors made their way out onto the water the wind had increased a little and was now at full trapeze level, although this came at a cost as the dark clouds slowly emptied their water droplets onto the fleet as they made their way to the far side of the reservoir. The helms were quickly back into training mode as Adam put them through their paces working once again on starting and leeward mark rounding, during which the sun began to shine once more as the wind dropped slowly back to the lower end of the forecast.

With the second session of on the water training complete is was back into the clubhouse for the final debriefing of the day working on a similar format to the earlier debrief using videos taken during this second session.

A few questions were raised by the sailors and these were clearly answered and explained by Adam. It was then time to pack up for the day, with most of the fleet keen to get back to their own club to put into practice the learnings of the day, just two of the visitors, Paul Green 2490 and Gareth Lincoln 2373 stayed on to join in with the club racing on Sunday competing in the fast handicap fleet racing along with Carl Tagoe and Chris Howe and joined by the Osprey of George Odlin.

This Contender training day was provided by the British Contender Association and was free to all BCA members but would not have been possible without the following helpers:

  • Chris Howe who did most of the organising for the event liaising with OSC, BCA and Adam Bowers. And spent the whole day on either the training or the safety boat.
  • Tony Brooks on-shore help on the day (nursing a bad back).
  • Ed Presley boat tuning supremo who also spent the morning helping on the training boat.
  • Chris Burrows and Nicolas Perzo OSC Safety boat drivers.
  • Carl Tagoe for providing a reminder that he is one to avoid on the start line.
  • And last but not least Adam Bowers the instructor for the day who all that attended agreed was helpful, informative and provided great instruction in a fun and friendly manner, even those that were unable to get onto the water for the training found his debriefing session extremely helpful.

Big thanks go to Adam Bowers, BCA committee and Oxford SC.

Next event on the Contender calendar is Castle Cove SC on the 23rd & 24th September.

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