This year the Contender World Championships was held as part of the 116th Travemünder Woche on the 23rd-30th of July 2005. With approximately 1500 boats sailing during Travemünder Woche the Contender Class managed an impressive entry of 117, making it the largest fleet of the week. The entries came from 10 countries, of which 22 were from the UK. The fleet ranged from 17- 69 years old, with 3 juniors and 7 ladies competing.

With Ron Duffield heading the measurement team, the German association made the stressful and time consuming measurement process much more bearable.

Pre race favourites were the defending champion Andrea Bonezzi of Italy, and last year’s runner up Marcus Hamilton of Australia. Germany’s Jan Von der Bank fresh from his German nationals win would also be strong. From the UK, Tim Holden the 2005 British national champion, runner up Neil Wilson, as well as past world champions Graham Scott and Stuart Jones could all be in with a shout.

With light winds forecast for the week the pre race favourites could be in for a surprise. The course for the championship was 7 miles from the dingy park, so getting to and from the racecourse was going to be painful. To make matters worse the fleet had to negotiate container ships within the harbour.

The practice race as started in a force 2 which came and went during the race. It was won by Von der Bank, who led from start to finish, normally a bad omen for the rest of the regatta. After about 6 hours on the water the competitors were spoiled to a fantastic buffet dinner on the tall ship “Passat” with free wine and Beer.

The first Race was postponed till the following day as attempts to start the fleet was thwarted by a heavy port bias on the line and over eager starting. The wind died and the fleet were sent home. On the sail back a force 4-5 filled in on the nose, which made the 9-hour day somewhat worthwhile.

After a number of aborted attempts the first race was started under the Black flag and marginal trapeze conditions. Those heading to the left were rewarded by a shift that saw the left hand pay. Brits who looked to benefit were Tim Holden, who was 2nd to the windward mark, closely followed by Nick Grace and Tim’s nephew Ben Holden who were in 4th and 6th respectively. But remember the Black flag? Well, Nick and Ben’s race was over as their numbers displayed on the mark boat greeted them at the windward mark. Von der Bank kept one step ahead of the fleet to win, with Graham Scott pulling through to take 3rd, as the course was shortened at the leeward mark in a dying breeze. Rodger White and Gary Langdown sailed a steady race to finish 6th and 7th respectively.

The fleet waited until a breeze filled in, and the start of the second race under the black flag got away after a few attempts. Even though the starboard end seemed to be favoured at the start the left hand side of the course favoured, to allow White to come in to the mark in 3rd and Neil Ferguson to round in 8th. As the breeze built to a respectable force 3-4 Hamilton showed the fleet a clean pair of heels winning the race comfortably from second place Giovanni Bonzio and Von der Bank in 5th. Brits pulling through the fleet were Neil Wilson and Matt Aston who finished 3rd and 10th respectively.

Race 3 was started at 5pm in a good force 3-4 which saw Bonezzi and Hamilton fighting for the lead. Bonezzi forced Hamilton in to a 720, which gave Bonezzi his 1st win of the championship with Hamilton in 2nd, Christoph Homeier 3rd and Von der Bank in 4th. Brits figuring in the final race of the day were Holden 5th, Aston 6th and Scott 7th.

After three races and 10 hours on the water the overnight leader was Jan Von der Bank closely followed by Graham Scott.

The second day of racing was started in light and difficult conditions, which was reflected in the results.

Race 4 saw the championship leader retire from a poor position in the race. Hamilton took arbitration after an incident with John Browett at the windward mark, which he lost and dropped from 15th to 38th. The winner of the race was Austrian Gunther Wendel with Germans Jan Kuhlmann and Karsten Kraus in 2nd and 3rd. Briton Stacy Bray finally got it together and finished 5th, with Scott 6th, Jones 7th, Langdown 8th and Wilson 9th.

Race 5 was won by Marcus Hamilton who bounced back from a disappointing result in race 4, which kept his title hopes alive. Soren Andreasen of Denmark managed his best result of the championship finishing 2nd, ahead of Jones who was consistently sticking in top10 results. Gary Langdown’s 5th kept him in contention as he added to a steady set of results, with Aston 9th and Wilson 10th.

Race 6 was the day of the black flag and the Invisible Gary Langdown. 20 boats were Black Flagged in this race. 6 Brits were disqualified, with the most significant one being Scott who had finished 6th and was in a strong position overall. After a fantastic start (three boat lengths ahead of Graham Scott!) ,Gary Langdown led the race until Von der Bank hunted him down to take the win. Also figuring in the race was Holden, who finished 3rd and Jones 6th. Brit Simon Forbes put up a brave fight to stay in the top ten but slipped to a creditable 17th, his best of the championship.

Race 7 saw Hamilton take the win with Bonezzi 2nd and Von der Bank 3rd. Racing was over for the day. So the fleet had an early return to get ready for the Championship dinner. Overnight leader was again Von der Bank, with Andrea Bonezzi now up to second and Marcus Hamilton in 6th counting a 27th. With the second discard to kick in after the next race the championship was still wide open.

During the championship dinner the competitors were treated to fantastic meal, great surroundings and a spectacular thunderstorm. Back at the campsite, some tents had flooded and one had even collapsed. Dick Buttner was heard bailing about 40 gallons from his collapsed tent at 1:30 in the morning, which was very funny if you weren’t Dick.

For the final day, after a short postponement ashore the fleet was towed to the racecourse, and after a 2 hour postponement the racing was cancelled and the deserved winner was Jan von der Bank of Germany. Second was last years winner Andrea Bonezzi and Giovanni Bonzio in 3rd. Rene Heynen was a very close 4th with the top British boat being Gary Langdown in 5th place who also lifted the Masters trophy.

The German Contender Association should be thanked for the value for money and the efficient race management. In 6 months it will all happen again in Perth Australia, where 20-25 knots of breeze are promised. 20 UK boats are already committed to the trip, with a few container spaces available.

1st GER 544 Jan von der Bank 26pts
2nd ITA 11 Andrea Bonezzi 36pts
3rd ITA 47 Giovanni Bonzio 39pts
4th NED 228 Rene Heynen 39pts
5th GBR 2324 Gary Langdown 42pts
6th AUS 247 Marcus Hamilton 43pts
7th GBR 2318 Tim Holden 44pts
8th GBR 701 Stuart Jones 47pts
9th GER 522 Karsten Kraus 60pts
10th GBR 673 Neil Wilson 61pts

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