Contenders at Mengeham Rythe

Over what was probably the last fine weather weekend of the season, 15 Contenders mustered at MRSC for Mengeham's inaugural Open Meeting. On a beautiful autumnal morning, campervans were set up and boats rigged; Dick Buttner had established pole camping position in his van beside the lake and was already enjoying full a English by the time others had arrived. Chris Boshier seemed more fascinated by his newly acquired roll-up machine than the sailing, whilst closest visitor Tony White arrived late, but thanks to the rigging party of Ginge Lincoln, Tony Cook and Dan Taylor [helped by Chris between roll-ups] his boat was rigged in time for the start. An ambulance, too, lurked beside the lake; not for medical reasons, but to carry all the toys belonging to Tim Humphries and family [bikes, canoes, paddleboards, fishing rods etc.] who obviously intended to enjoy their weekend.

With barely enough water to float a Contender the fleet launched with enough wind to punch the inevitable foul tide out to the racing area in Hayling Bay. Most boats found some mud en route, Robert Angus finding more than his share, seemingly enjoying wading rather than sailing. Fortunately he was not wearing his kilt. Meanwhile Dick was towed out, perhaps finding difficulty in digesting his large breakfast.

On a day where reading the wind shifts and avoiding the tide mattered more than most, Race 1 started in a light South easterly 2-3, providing sparkling sailing and mostly full trapezeing windward legs. Dan Taylor in “0blivious” sailed a 3 round race with a good boatspeed and a significant lead. Unfortunately the race officer had set a 2 round race and as Dan did not pass through the line on his third beat he finished…last. However, not daunted he used his entire vocabulary of [we think] Swahili to describe his bad fortune. Meanwhile Stuart Hudson in “Windshift Warrior” took the gun pursued by Keith Paul in “Wiley Fox” for second and Robert Angus in “Mud Lark” for third.

Race Officer Graeme MacDonald started a 3 round race 2 on time, giving competitors a full 90 minutes of racing to read the conditions. Dan Taylor, having already had a 3 round practice lead from the front, but swopped places with the experienced Keith Paul who banged left in “Wiley Fox”and held that tack gaining from a lucky windshift…..but we know he knew it would happen! Meanwhile a consistent Stuart Hudson took 3rd whilst Tony White crossed Peter Barr on starboard approaching the line; however Peter just got 4th and his shout of “Oh Yes” was heard across the Solent.

Race 3 started in a faltering wind with the intention of 2 rounds. Ian Horlock lead from the start and chose the middle path to the windward mark, rounding with a comfortable gap in front of the chasing Dick Buttner and Tony White who had banged the left corner on the first beat. The light wind made for slow reaches on the first triangle with little place changing. Meanwhile Ian`s healthy lead evaporated as he did lots of tacking practice on the shortened course to the line, whilst Tony banged left again and sailed hard to remain ahead of Stuart and Rodger White. Tony took the gun with Ian, Stuart and Rodger following.

Having been beaten by a failing wind and a wicked Hayling ebb tide off Eaststoke point the fleet were towed in by the efficient and attentive MRSC rescue ribs. A curry evening followed, during which we joined the Club`s “Allo, Allo” party.

Sunday morning was even more beautiful; bright sunshine a flat calm. Having spent several hours listening to Solent foghorns in the distance, the race officer wisely abandoned any attempts at racing. Many thanks to Graeme and all at Mengeham Rythe for faultless organisation.

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