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The Contender fleet made its way to Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club for the Northern Area championships, this being the first UK event after the Worlds in Italy, a fleet of 10 Contenders arrived to do battle. The water level was down, making a gusty southerly breeze even more interesting and prompting that good old saying, "It's not normally like this here".

 

The course was set for the first two back to back races, with 3 short beats and 3 broad reaches. At the windward mark the fleet was to find the conditions a little difficult, with wind ranging from 10-30mph and big shifts a number of boats capsized and Tim Holden lost his rudder. Once on the reaches, if you were in the wind you were flying, if not you were left behind. After a lot of place changes and centreboard inspections Ben Holden crossed the line first followed by Tim and Neil Ferguson with Tom Hooton 4th.

 

Race 2 and the fleet were all a little more prepared for the shifty conditions. The wind had now increased a little, after 3 laps Ben and Tim were to finish first and second with Neil again 3rd and Tony Brooks close behind.

 

The rain had now arrived and we came in for lunch, cake and tea, but all too soon we were back out on the water, the cold rain making things feel more like winter. Sailing the same course we set off on the 3rd clean start of the day, the wind was still shifty and changeable and positions were changing as large gusts came across the water helping some to pull out a large gap from those behind, at the finish it was Tim 1st followed by Neil then a gap to Tony and Ben close behind.

Off to the curry house for the evening with the rain now pouring down, thanks to Neil and his son for providing the taxi service and the bacon rolls the following morning for the few brave souls that camped at the club overnight in the wet and windy conditions. By the following morning the wind had swung around to the west and had settled a little, with the sun showing signs of making an appearance all was looking good.

 

A new course was set for the day with a long beat down the lake and some tighter reaches and 3 gybes. With the majority of the fleet looking at a port start it was down to Neil, Tom and Tony to try and mess things up starting on starboard, with all boats away cleanly the port starters were looking good for a clear lead, but with the lift available along the left side of the lake the starboard starters were catching fast, at the windward mark Ben rounded first with Tony on his transom and Tim close behind, by the next mark the order of the first 3 had reversed and a gap opened to Neil in 4th. By the end of the second beat the wind had increased to "officially honking" and it was now all about keeping upright and with 3 gybes this was not easy, Ben had now regained the lead only for his mast to snap just above the gooseneck, with Tim being the gentleman and making sure Ben was safe before continuing, Neil now enjoying the extreme conditions charged his way through to take a well deserved 1st with Tim second, Tom had raced into 3rd with Tony just holding onto 4th.

 

After lunch Ben had now re-rigged his boat with Tim's spare mast, a brave few then launched into the windy conditions, most of the fleet opting for an early shower. Ben, determined to take the Northern crown set off and led from start to finish with Tim and Neil in hot pursuit. Ben pulled out a good lead and held on to the finish. It was only when Ben was safely back on land that he noticed that the fixing plate on the mast for the lowers was hanging on by one loose rivet with the other 2 broken.

 

So at the end of a hard weekend sailing, the overall results were Ben Holden 1st, Tim Holden 2nd, with Neil Ferguson 3rd. A big thank you must go to Neil Ferguson and all who helped at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club providing some great sailing in extreme conditions and to the galley staff who provided us with good food over the weekend.

 

Overall Results:

 

Pos

Helm

Club

Sail No

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

Pts

1

Ben Holden

Halifax

2315

1

1

4

(DNF)

1

7

2

Tim Holden

Halifax

2503

‑2

2

1

2

2

7

3

Neil Ferguson

Yorkshire Dales

2422

‑3

3

2

1

3

9

4

Tony Brooks

Oxford

2496

6

4

3

4

(NDC)

17

5

Tom Hooton

Burton

678

4

5

5

3

(DNC)

17

6

Mike Pullin

Halifax

627

5

6

6

7

(DNC)

24

7

Chris Walker

Staunton Harold

628

7

7

(DNC)

6

DNC

31

8

Ian Smith

Yorkshire Dales

2519

(DNC)

DNC

DNC

5

DNF

38

9

Geoff Norman

Notts County

2405

(DNF)

DNC

DNC

DNF

DNC

44

9

Rodger White

King George

712

(DNF)

DNC

DNC

DNF

DNC

44

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