Burghfield Challenger Regatta 10th-11th May 2013
For those living in the Far North - above Oxford - Burghfield is a sun-drenched paradise but, on 10th May grey clouds raced across a damp sky and the overhead power lines roared like jet engines. Challenging weather!
Ten Challengers launched in various stages of apprehension and sped to the far end of the lake. Neil Bartlett, buddied by David Newton soon returned with a broken kicker but they were back on the water for Race 2. Bruce Padfield, sailing a Burghfield boat, was also a casualty with a broken steering line that ruined his racing for the day.
The rest of the fleet thrashed up the beat towards the clubhouse. At the mark it was Graham Hall in the lead but Gold Fleet newcomer Diana Faulks was in second after following Graham though the Burghfield islands on the favoured Right side of the beat. Graham led to the finish while Val Millward and John Draper took the Right option and
overtook Di, who would have come second if she hadn’t thought Left was best that time!
Race 2 and this time it was Alex Hovden leading Graham, Val, John, Di, Patrick Mills and the rest. Next time around Graham just pipped Alex, surging ahead down the very wet reach and everyone held those places to the finish despite the boat-stopping gusts.
Race 3 was back-to-back and it was Graham leading John, struggling with stiff joints but sailing remarkably well in the squally winds to finish second. Di led Patrick right to the end but he just squeezed by at the line for fifth place, a close finish for the ex-Silver Fleet rivals.
Saturday morning was little better. It was brighter but still gusty with three races to go. Graham was in the usual place as they approached the first windward mark but Val forced him head to wind and, by the time he recovered, John and Patrick had caught him too. John was enjoying the better conditions and won. Graham fought back
to second, with Val third, Alex fourth, Patrick fifth.
It was almost in the bag for Graham, all he had to do was finish but disaster! Going down Race four's first reach, his boat lurched in a big gust and he was over the side. It took moments for rescue to reach him, safe with his arms around the crossbeam. He worked along to the sponson where they grabbed him and pulled him backwards into
the RIB, which then brought him ashore breathless but none the worse for his adventure. Meanwhile John Draper had reached the gybe mark where a huge gust hit as he gybed and tore the sheet from his hand, hurting his wrist. This meant that two of the front runners were out, leaving Alex the clear winner. Di was also flying and pipped Val on the line for second - a real Gold performance from her!
A last race win gave Val second overall. Retirement dropped John to 4th behind Alex while Di won a tie break with Patrick for 5th
1-G. Hall, 2-V. Millward, 3-A. Hovden, 4-J. Draper, 5-D. Faulks, 6-P. Mills, 7-D. Vickery,
8-N. Bartlett, 9-B. Padfield, 10-E. Crees