Langdown wins windless Contender Nationals

Ben Holden (GBR) finished third in the 2008 UK Contender Nationals at Pwllheli

It wasn't until the final day of the four day event, that the forty weary (from waiting) Contender sailors, gathered on the picturesque Lleyn Peninsular for their National Championships, managed to complete a race. The slightly smaller than usual entry was probably partly due to the forecast of very light winds for the weekend. For once the weather gurus were on the ball and the hottest start to May since records began was to become the dominant feature of the regatta hosted by Pwllheli SC..

With absolutely no wind available to the competitors or Race Officer for the first three days spirits were definitely starting to flag. The last day however finally produced some easterly breeze and the scheduled two morning races were extended to three shortened courses to constitute a National Championship.

Lord 'Seb' Coe, on a pre-Olympic trip to Pwllheli SC, was on hand to watch the fleet launch, shaking hands with some and marvelling at the young athletic Contender sailors in action.

Race one got underway promptly with surprisingly no general in about ten knots of breeze. At the windward mark Stacey Bray came in from the left to just round ahead of Gary Langdown and Simon Mussell. By the end of the reaches Langdown had the lead and the group were joined by Graham Scott.

On the second beat Langdown, Bray and the rest of the leading bunch went right allowing Scott to move up to third despite taking a penalty at the leeward mark. The finish was at the end of the run with the positions unchanged.

Race two again started without a general recall but five boats were pulled out at the windward mark adjudged OCS. With no discard this put paid to the overall chances of front-runners Stuart Jones ,Martin Frary and Matt Aston. This time it paid to stay in pressure in the middle and Bray, Mussell and Ben Holden rounded together. Another short race saw Holden win from Bray and Mussell with Nick Noble in fourth.

Langdown recovered incredibly well from a poor start and a capsize to salvage a fifth place and stay in contention.

With no discard, consistency was the key and going into the final race, Bray held a slender one point lead over Holden who in turn was one point ahead of Langdown. However the lack of discard also meant that Scott, Mussell and Duncan Ellis still had an outside chance of overall victory.

Another clean start (just two OCS - Frary collecting his second of the day) saw Bray at the pin with Langdown nearer the middle. A slight starboard lift put Langdown into a controlling position and he led at the first mark from Jones, Peter Dives, Mussell and Scott. Bray and Holden were back down the fleet a little and unable to put any pressure on Langdown.

The reaches allowed very little place changing but the second beat favoured the right hand side allowing Dives and Scott to move up closer behind Langdown. However he held on easily to the downwind finish to take the race win and with it his first Contender Nationals.

Contender - Final positions

1 Gold 2421 Gary Langdown
2 Gold 2405 Stacy Bray
3 Gold 2315 Ben Holden
4 Gold 720 Graham Scott
5 Gold 2372 Simon Mussel
6 Silver 718 Duncan Ellis
7 Silver 2404 Roger Gates
8 Silver 696 Tony White
9 Silver 2373 Mike Murley
10 Silver 678 Bill Hooton
11 Silver 2314 Roger White
12 Gold 707 Peter Dives
13 Silver 1771 Alan Mollatt
14 Siver 2263 Richard Batten
15 Gold 2376 Nick Nobel
16 Silver 694 Chris Boshier
17 Gold 701 Stuart Jones
18 Gold 702 Matt Aston
19 Gold 716 Paul Ross
20 Bronze 705 Myles Blewett
21 Silver 675 David Gautier
22 Silver 697 Chris Howe
23 Silver 2423 Sandy Clapman
24 Gold 589 Keith Paul
25 Silver 686 Tony Brooks
26 Silver 2392 Ben Van Veen
27 Bronze 654 Tom Hooton
28 Bronze 380 Colin Butler
29 Gold 646 Martin Frary
30 Bronze 604 P J Alison
31 Bronze 557 Ian Brooks
32 Silver 2406 Ed Presley
33 Bronze 445 Paul Green
34 Gold 2383 David Davies
34 Bronze 622 Tim Humphries
34 Gold 713 John Browett
34 Gold 2318 Tim Holden
34 Bronze 38 Dan Webb

Junior Tom Hooton 654 (27th overall)
Overseas E B van Veen NED2392

Thanks to Pwllheli Sailing Club for making us welcome, and our sponsors Craftinsure and Magic Marine for the prizes.