The 2005 Contender Nationals were held over 4 days, from 21st to the 24th of May at the superb setting of Porthpean S.C., near St Austell, Cornwall. An entry of 56 boats was attracted showing that numbers are continuing the increase of the last few years.

The forecast for the period was for wet and windy weather and so it largely proved to be, however, due to the launching being in a sheltered bay it was sometimes deceptive when leaving the beach.

The first race started in fine wave jumping conditions, blowing up to 30 knots, and saw Tim Holden soon take the lead followed by a gaggle of fast moving surfers. The thrills and spills of the conditions soon caused the chasing pack to thin out, leaving Holden followed by Neil Wilson and John Browett as the leaders. The positions stayed this way until a misunderstanding with the finishing procedure let in Wilson, with Browett a metre behind. A confused Holden followed up, just holding out Graham Scott. A protest for redress was to no avail for Holden and things stayed as they were.

The race was even more notable for Simon (many nicknames) Mussell falling off the side of his boat into the sail and somewhere in the process breaking his leg and ankle in 5 places. Not surprisingly he spent the rest of the regatta in Truro hospital and now has a fine set of metal wear holding it all together. He did, mind you, allegedly, get the paramedic's phone number. Get well soon.

Sunday morning was a race officer's nightmare with squally showers bringing strong gusts followed by long flat patches with the left over wave system. Each passing weather feature causing up to a 45 degree wind shift. After 3 hours and 2 aborted starts the fleet went ashore without any result. By mid afternoon the breeze had settled into the west and 2 short races were held again in sparkling, surfs up, conditions. In the first Holden once more speeded his way to the front followed by Scott and Wilson. These 3 pulled out a large lead to finish in that order but not after Holden swam on the last reach, getting up quick to find Scott a touch slow on the last tack letting him in by a whisker. The chasers were lead home by Stuart Jones.

The second race of the day again saw Holden hold off the opposition to win both of the days races with some comfort and style. Jones followed closely for some time, almost getting past on the run, but was batted off on the next beat and also over taken by Wilson. Once again it was sparkling and dangerous reaching legs where pushing it too far could cause a swim. Extreme stuff really.

The wind was also up for Monday as the fleet headed off to the favoured right corner, but this time in solid sunshine. There was a familiar pattern to the positions with Holden, Wilson and Scott all thereabouts. The next beat, where the right really was favoured, whereas the middle and left saw a touch of the doldrums, greatly shuffled the fleet order, but it was still Holden and Wilson leading, but with Matt Aston and Gary Langdown following up in the now light shifted breeze, having altered after a brief rain squall.

The second Monday race was the most spectacular sail, now that the wind had returned gusting to 30 knots at the start. Many came ashore with big grins saying they had never been so fast downwind on a Contender surfboard. The by now familiar look at the front of the fleets with Holden then a closely placed Wilson prevailed for half the race until Scott rudely passed them on the run, coming from some way behind to just creep past by the bottom mark. Scott held this lead to the end with the other two staying as they were. Again Jones held off the rest to finish fourth someway back.

Tuesdays forecast was grim with force 8s and they were not wrong, so the fleet headed off for an early prize giving. Tim Holden, having threatened in other years, gladly took the Nationals with 3 wins out of the 5 races and won with a degree of comfort. It really was one of the most exciting and extreme sails in a stunning venue and proved that at least the boats can take it even if leaving the helms quivering jellies.

1st Tim Holden, Halifax SC, 5
2nd Neil Wilson, Holy Loch SC, 8
3rd Graham Scott, RYA, 11
4th Stuart Jones, Datchet SC, 18
5th John Browett, Datchet SC, 19
6th Dave Davies, RYA, 28
7th Nick Grace, Castle Cove, 29

Silver Fleet winner
8th Paul Ross, Shotley SC, 33

Bronze Fleet winner and 1st newcomer
15th, Nick Noble, Portishead SC, 64

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