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Contender National Championship (take two) at Castle Cove Sailing Club

by Tom Hooton 27 Sep 2023 05:53 PDT 23-24 September 2023
Contender Nationals (take two) at Castle Cove © Rick Bowers

On the 7th to the 10th of September the Contender fleet headed off to the picturesque surroundings of Exe Sailing Club in Exmouth for the National Championship, to be greeted by warm sunshine and a distinct lack of wind as the forecasts had suggested. It has to be said that this was a great social event with great food the warm hospitality from Exe Sailing Club, but after 4 days of sitting around waiting for wind and a few gentle drifts around Lyme bay on the tide as the race team tried their best to get a race under way, not one race was sailed as the 6 knot minimum wind speed required for the Contenders did not materialise.

With thoughts now moving towards the next event on the Contender Calendar, the decision was made to make this event the sailing part of the National Championships, so 2023 National Championship take two were to be staged at Castle Cove over a 2 day event with a potential of 6 races.

The morning of the 23rd September dawned and the competitors were welcomed to the sailing club with the canteen producing bacon butties (with or without egg), cakes and drinks, with a handful of keen or semi-retired travellers arriving on the Friday. As the competitors geared up to go sailing in what was forecast to start as a light breeze that would slowly build throughout the day the main topic was of the heavy wind forecast for the following days sailing. After a quick briefing from the RO the competitors headed to the changing rooms and prepared for battle with a turnout of just under 30 boats launching from the two main slipways.

Race one got under way on time in around 8 knots of wind with a questionable start under the P flag where several sailors had to gybe round and go back at the pin end. The right side of the course seemed to be the favoured side in the prevailing south westerly wind direction with the sailors who had started at the starboard end of the line tacking off towards the now favoured side while the pin end starters were hooked into the left side of the course where the wind seemed to be more fickle and not able to benefit from the lift from the land on port tack. Tony Brooks rounded first having taken a more central route with Mike Murley, Adrian smith and Chris Boshier just behind. Unable to see the wing mark and bearing off too far Tony lost places as the sailors with better eye sight powered over him. Graeme Willcox found himself in the pack having gone the wrong way up the beat then showed his fitness and worked hard on the reaches and subsequent legs to get himself back into contention. The race finished with mike taking the win from Graeme and Adrian 3rd but after sailing had finished for the day a protest saw mike DSQ'd which in turn promoted Graeme to 1st Adrian 2nd and Chris Boshier to 3rd.

Race Two got under way with a clean start and the pack of boats had now figured out the best way up the tricky beat by tacking off onto port as soon as possible, Graeme took an early lead closely followed by lightweight Adrian smith with younger brother Rob not far Behind, with the rest of the fleet bunched up in the chasing pack, the wind speed had increased a little but there were some good and not so good shifts to be found up the beat shuffling the pack. The race finishing in the order that it started with Graeme taking the win followed by the brothers Smith.

Race three and the wind had now started to build with the pumping flag making its first appearance of the day and 3 laps to complete. The race got away with another clean start and the bigger boys were starting to drop down on the wires, again the right hand side seemed to pay with Duncan Ward making it to the first mark in first place followed by Mike Murley And Tom Hooton by the end of the first triangle Graeme Willcox had manged to catch up and take the lead of the race, during the next beat racing remained close and places changed back and forth, the fleet rounded the windward mark and proceeded down the run and by the end of the run it was Graeme followed by tom with Duncan and Stu jones now in hot pursuit. For the final beat of the day there was again a close battle with positions changing as the fleet worked their way towards the windward mark. Then it was a pump to the finish on the reaches, Graeme had boat speed in abundance and disappeared leaving a tight battle between Stuart Duncan and Tom with it finishing in this order.

After a good day of racing the competitors were again treated with the most excellent service on offer from the Canteen staff. The Bar was now open and serving as the competitors settled down for a night of watching the rugby followed by a great meal laid on by Sandra and the team.

Day two dawned and the sky was grey, the wind was up at around 25 knots and this was forecast to hold throughout the day. With the competitors eager to get out on the water, the fleet would be held ashore while the flying 15's sailing from Weymouth & Portland had the final race of their nationals to complete in the harbour due to the conditions out in the bay. The Contenders now with a slightly reduced number as a few deciding the conditions were not for them and Ed Presley taking the sensible approach of not launching with a damaged mast foot. The remainder of the fleet started to launch and make their way to the start line in the now choppy waters.

Race 4 and with the wind still up at around 25 knots from the south and a chop on Portland harbour the race got under way and it was clear from the outset that Simon mussel was going to dominate in these conditions with a different gear when it comes to upwind speed. Simon was first to the windward mark followed by Graeme and Duncan, Tom and Carl. Duncan tipped it in at the gybe and was not to be seen again. The places remained unchanged up the next beat with a lot of the fleet overstanding the windward mark and reaching in at full speed. At the bottom of the final run the waves were getting tricky with Simon taking the bullet from Graeme and carl holding his position at the bottom of the run from tom after a few nervous moments in tom's boat.

Race 5 started with two less boats on the start line and again, Simon showed tremendous boat speed to take the lead of the race and having sailed a lot further than most as he overstood the mark again but this time Stuart jones manoeuvred his way into second place followed by Graeme Willcox. With Carl, Gary and Tom battling behind. The race finished with Simon taking another win and Jones picking up some valuable points in second and Graeme in third. The day had taken a couple of victims with James Spikesley suffering from a torn sail and Simon Dodds rocking a rolling home with a two piece boom the RO deciding that this would be the last race of the weekend, Graeme had put together a consistently good series with nothing but podium scores to take overall victory.

So the final scores were: Graeme Willcox taking the overall win of the Castle Cove open and the 2023 Contender National Champion. Stuart Jones (not sure how he did it) second overall and Grand Master winner with the new and very apt trophy. Simon Mussell was third having discarded his disastrous race two result. Tom Hooton was 4th overall with a good consistent set of results and Rob Smith was the Masters winner in 6th overall with older brother Adrian (thanks Sandra) in 5th.

The silver fleet was won by Duncan Ward in 8th, James Daniels took the bronze and youth prizes finishing a very respectable 15th, with Charlie Samson taking the newcomers trophy.

The Contender fleet would like to thank the members of Castle Cove for putting on an excellent event with great race control from the RO and team getting 5 good races in. We would also like to say a big thankyou to Sandra and the hard working team in the galley keeping us all fed and watered throughout the weekend.

The next and final event of the British Contender season is at Rutland Water Sailing Club on 14th/15th October. This promises to be a great event and a fantastic way to end the 2023 season.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Contender nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
12787 Graeme WilcoxNetley SC1112(3)5
22706 Stuart JonesDatchet Water SC(16)525214
32420 Simon MussellHighcliffe11(23)61119
4678Willy do itTom HootonHighcliffe(19)844622
52730 Adrian SmithHythe and Saltwood SC228(14)1123
62449Red TedRob SmithCastle Cove8397(12)27
72383Bit 'o' WetDavid DaviesLoch Ryan SC4(9)79727
82711 Duncan WardLymington Town SC(14)11381032
92607 Carl Tagoe (18)17103434
101 Gary Langdown 12(19)136536
112702 Chris Boshier 3161412(RET)45
122747IsabellaTony BrooksOxford SC7101913(DNS)49
132661Hurry CurryNick CurryWeston SC13(18)1711849
14705Pickled DorisJames SpikesleyNetley Sailing Club6411(RET)DNS50
152710 James DanielsNetley SC10(21)2115955
162423LauraSimon DoddsHythe and Saltwood SC21141510(RET)60
172708Rebel ScumEd PresleyCastle Cove91312(DNC)DNC63
182714Thunderbird 2Martin Jones 15618(DNC)DNC68
192619Spaghetti WestonMike Murley­Hughes (DSQ)75DNCDNC70
201426 Charlie SansomCastle Cove SC512(RET)DNCDNC75
21686I'm AloneNathan McGroryPoole YC17202216(RET)75
22712Foxy LadyRodger WhiteKing George SC221520(DNC)DNC86
23666DarknessBill HootonHighcliffe202216(DNC)DNC87
24696 Tony CookDowns SC242423(DNC)DNC100
25629 Phil TysoeCastle Cove252525(DNC)DNC104
262491 Gareth JonesCastle Cove23(RET)24DNCDNC105

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