Challengers at the Ogston Open Handicap Regatta
There is a well established tradition of Challengers competing at the Open Handicap meeting at Ogston Sailing Club. This year the five local Challengers were joined by three visitors and the Challengers formed almost half the fleet.
On Saturday morning there was a lively north westerly breeze until shortly before the race briefing when it vanished. The race officer was not happy. From then on the wind was variable in both strength and direction as is typical for Ogston.
For race 1 the fleet was sent round the corner out of sight of the clubhouse. Alex Hovden (188) and Gill Bates (229) both made excellent starts towards the pin where the breeze was stronger, unfortunately Gill was found to be OCS. Graham Hall (270) was among a group of boats which headed left up the beat and found a stronger more consistent breeze. Towards the end of the first lap Graham found himself in the lead and to his surprise he held it to the finish. Alex also had an excellent race coming third. Don Spencer achieved a remarkable fifth place in his first ever sail in a Challenger!
The sailors came ashore for lunch and could be heard complaining about the unreasonable shiftiness of the wind (even by Ogston standards!). By the time the fleet went out for the second race, the wind was from a more consistent north westerly direction but there were still many shifts and lulls to catch the unwary. However, the direction allowed the race officer to lay the course within view of the clubhouse.
There was much comment onshore about Don's pre-start position for Race 2. Those in the know were convinced he had a cunning plan based on his local knowledge, whereas the reality was he was struggling in the light wind with an unfamiliar boat! Alex was the lead Challenger for much of the first lap but Graham overtook him on the approach to the leeward mark. Going into the last lap the Laser had a clear lead and Graham was fourth behind the two Enterprises. The Enterprises engaged in some private match racing seemingly oblivious of the threat posed by Graham. At the penultimate mark Graham got between the Enterprises and a fortuitous gust allowed him to pass Enterprise 472 and hold second place to the finish.
In Race 3 Graham made a good start in the middle of the line and he led the fleet at the windward mark and continued to lead until the wind died on the third leg. The wind filled in from behind and he was overhauled first by the Laser then by the Enterprises. Although Graham finished fourth on the water he beat Enterprise 472 on handicap. Diana Faulks (288) had her best race of the day in eighth (and third Challenger).
At the end of the day, the Laser was leading with Graham second and Enterprise 19007 in third. In the Challengers, Alex was second and Don third. Mark Winch (230) was leading the buddied Challengers. Much of the fleet remained at the club for an excellent evening meal,
Sunday morning started windless but filled in to give a light north westerly which was forecast to back to westerly and drop as the day went on, As westerly is not a good direction at Ogston the race officer made the sensible decision to run the races back to back.
In Race 4 the Laser started 3/4 of the way down the line on starboard, he soon tacked on to port, crossed the fleet and never looked back. Alex timed the start impeccably but was overhauled by Graham by windward mark. The Challengers were struggling under the light conditions. Graham was back in fifth place chasing Enterprise 472 and the Graduate, he gained ground on the off wind legs and lost it on the beats, but he managed to keep close enough to claim third on handicap. Alex was sixth on handicap but for the remaining Challengers it was a race to forget.
The wind was fluky (or worse) for Race 5. For much of the race Alex, Diana and Graham took turns to be lead Challenger, but on the third lap Graham rounded the windward mark just before the wind began to drop and pulled away from the other two. The wind died completely and boats were drifting. The race officer took pity on the back markers and finished them after two laps. Eventually the top three places were claimed by the Laser, Graduate and Lightning, with Graham, Alex and Diana coming home fifth, seventh and eighth respectively.
The event was won conclusively by Adam Hague in his Laser, with Graham second, and Mike Heap in Enterprise 19007 third. Alex Hovden was second Challenger (fifth overall) and Mick Brown (239) third Challenger (eighth overall). Mark Winch was first buddied Challenger by some margin (12th overall).
Thanks are due to Ogston Sailing Club, particularly the galley team, John Swain and his team on the beach, and race officer, Andy Gomm, who delivered a good series of races under very trying conditions.
Ogston Open Handicap Regatta Results:
|11th||Rohan Daniels||Ogston||Laser Vago DH XD Rig||1005||1074||‑12||9||11||12||10||42|
|12th||Mark Winch||Ogston||Challenger + Buddy||230||1347||10||11||10||16||‑18||47|
|14th||Freya Walker||Ogston||Topper Taz 3.177||1632||1500||11||‑14||14||10||14||49|
|15th||David Tiney||Ogston||Lightning 368||331||1170||(DNC)||DNC||DNC||8||3||53|
|17th||Mark Graham||Ogston||Challenger + Buddy||134||1347||13||(DNC)||DNC||17||16||67|
|19th||Alice Hedley‑Fenn||Ogston||RS TERA SPORT||Tera||1432||(DNC)||DNC||DNC||19||15||76|
|20th||Callum Bates||Ogston||Challenger + Buddy||229||1347||(DNC)||DNC||DNC||18||17||77|