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Thorpe Bay Contender Open Meeting

22nd and 23rd August
Report By Rodger White

19 Contenders made their way to Thorpe Bay Yacht Club and the delights of Southend from as far away as Halifax. A vast carpet of sand and mud was there to greet us - an hour and half later the flood tide had covered the racing area with enough water to race on. The first race was delayed while the wind pirouetted and fluctuated in strength and the fleet drifted aimlessly about the committee boat.

The fleet finally got away cleanly in a force 1 to 2 southerly in spite of the extreme port bias and early arrivals at the pin end, Nick Grace (700) and Stuart Jones (2465), bailed out to advantage and clean air. First and second at the windward mark, these two were pursued intently by local Chris Boshier (694) and Jerry Hone (2432). Nick Grace stretched his lead to the end while further back in the fleet at the final leeward mark a raft of Contenders and Finns vied for position, this coinciding with the sea breeze, a 45 degree wind shift and the ebb tide. With the ebb tide in full flow and insufficient wind to stem the tide, the second race was abandoned with the fleet heartily concurring with the race officer's decision.

Next morning, the carpet of sand and mud was there again, entailing a long wait before the start of racing. In the southerly 3 to 4, Bill Hooton (678) was first to the windward mark, having not overstood by as much as the rest of the fleet on the left. Alan Mollatt (2318) and Dan Taylor (476) were well up at this point having headed right. However, the fast Jones, Grace and Ben Holden (2315) soon overhauled Hooton to finish in that order.
Race 2 again saw the pin end favoured as a wind shift coincided with the gun and Jerry Hone made the most of a large gap there. Tacking off early to follow the rest of the fleet going right, he was first to the windward mark, closely followed by Jones and Grace. By the gybe mark, these two were past and finished in that order while the rest of the fleet tussled for the minor placings.

At the start of the third race, with a committee boat biased line, the fleet obliged with a general recall. On the reset line, the fleet were led out to the right by Hooton, followed by Stuart Backhouse (2448), Jones and Grace. At the leeward mark, Backhouse was favoured with a puff of wind and a wave, to lead round the mark, only to misjudge the tide, to hit the mark and have to do a turn, allowing Jones, Grace and Hooton through.
That was the end of the racing and Stuart Jones, who dominant in the three Sunday races, deserved to win from Nick Grace. Places 3 to 9 were covered by 4 points, showing there was plenty of close racing in the fleet.
Overall Results
1. Stuart Jones (2465) 3pts
2. Nick Grace (700) 5pts
3. Bill Hooton (678) 15pts
4  Rodger White (2314) 15pts

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