British Contender Nationals, Castle Cove SC, Weymouth 9th/10th July 2016

The 2016 Contender Nationals were held over the weekend of 9th/10th July 2016 at the superb setting of Castle Cove Sailing Club, Weymouth Harbour.

The event was held as part of the Weymouth Dinghy Regatta which limited the Contender entry to 37 boats. However, there was no limit to the talent which saw all of Britain’s finest Contender sailors on the start sheet.

The forecast leading up to the event had been for a good South Westerly, which the weather Gods delivered, and Saturday dawned with  a gusty 15-25 knots, very similar to the conditions experienced 12 months previously in Medemblik Holland where Simon Mussell was crowned World Champion.

No prizes for Guessing who had the biggest smile prior to the start of Race 1.

Due to the weather conditions the Race Committee made the call that the Trapezoid Course would be sailed inside the Harbour understandably for safety reasons. Race Officer Nick Grace had set a slight port bias line which proved perfect as there were no general recalls all weekend, unheard of in the Contender Class.

Race 1

As the seconds counted down the favourites had all worked out the port bias and the left of the course was paying. As predicted Simon Mussell crossed the fleet on port together with Ben Holden. Nick Noble of team Nob-Tag scraped past a few starboards but also cleared.

By the end of the first beat it was clear that Simon had blistering speed and would be very difficult to beat. The Trapezoid Course with tight reaches gave further advantage to the weightier crews. There was no change at the front and at the finish it was Simon 1st, Ben 2nd and Nob 3rd.

Race 2

Race 2 was almost a carbon copy of Race 1, with the exception of Ed Presley taking 3rd showing his intention to claim a podium place at the end of the weekend.

Race 3

Race 3 saw Simon take the lead again over Ben, closely followed by a determined Graham Scott, eager to make up ground on the leader board after 2 average first races for an Ex World Champion.

The second run saw Simon capsize to windward, there were some that thought he had momentarily been distracted by his new love, but it was clear he had just overcooked it rocking. The recovery was faster than Usain Bolt can run 100 metres and it wasn’t long before he took the lead again, whilst Graham passed Ben who couldn’t recover from laughing at Simon’s misfortune.

Misfortune and laughter prevailed throughout the 3rd race with Carl Tagoe of Nob-Tag Team breaking the hook on his trapeze harness, reverse diving into the green Tom Daley style. Nob having seen what excessive laughter had done to Ben’s race kept his powder dry preferring to do it later in the bar in front of his team mate.

Later that evening after an excellent chilli provided by the galley girls, Team Nob-Tag announced a new long term sponsorship deal with 3D, which stands for Dysfunctional, Disillusioned and Disappointing.

Overnight the leader board was:

Simon 1st on 3 points

Ben 2nd on 6 points

Nob 3rd on 14 points

Ed 4th on 16 points

Much head scratching and boat bimbling was being done in the dingy park Sunday morning by all, trying to squeeze some speed to match Simon.

With the wind direction and speed the same as the day before, the fleet launched into a foggy harbour with visibility down to less than 100m at times. The Race Officer had no option but to fly the postponement flag as the fleet approached the Committee Boat because the windward mark was not visible.

Once again within 30 minutes the weather Gods had done their bit and a clear blue sky started to appear, a further 5 knots wind speed increased the wind strength to a steady 20 knots and the conditions were perfect champagne sailing.

Race 4

With the left hand side of the course paying and a Port bias line, the fight for pole position at the start was on. Simon got it followed by Ben with Nob in close attendance.

And so it stayed to the windward mark only this time Nob was within spitting distance of the 2. So excited by this he managed to shake his rudder off spinning round to windward. Team mate Tag took a deep breath and managed to avoid being distracted although he must have been thinking of the antics from the day before.

The race finished with Simon 1st, Ben 2nd and the fast charging Graham 3rd,increasing the pressure on Nob to get a podium overall,

Race 5

This was Ben’s last chance to upset Simon’s total domination. Some clever manoeuvring seconds before the start saw Ben to leeward forcing Simon over the line, the only problem was that Ben knew he couldn’t be over too, so instead he focused on getting the better start. He did this leading until the second beat when a creature from the deep, probably a giant jellyfish knocked his rudder off causing him to capsize and lose any chance of top spot overall. Behind Simon, Graham had locked horns with Nob. At the finish there couldn’t have been more than a couple of inches in it. It was like a sprint finish at the Tour de France with Nob being Mark Cavendish 1st and Graham - Peter Sagan ….2nd.

Race 6

Simon had by now worked out by some clever arithmetic that 5 points with a discard had secured him the 2016 National Contender Championship. He sailed away from the start line to the shore in the glistening sea, like the Silver Surfer proud of his conquest.

Meanwhile with Ben safely in second it was left to the rest to fight over the crumbs of minor placings. Tag keen to put one over on Nob, took the lead for a while whilst Nob ate dirty air

off the start which handed 3rd overall to Graham. Even with Tag’s 2nd place and Nobs 7th Nob holds on to bragging rights with 4th and Tag 5th. Ex-World Champion Stuart Jones by his own admittance was a disappointing 6th.

It was clear from all that this had truly been an epic Championship, one not seen in this Class for a while with close racing and battles right down the fleet with the weather conditions, sailing venue and organisation all playing their part. It was great to see new faces at their first Championship, proving this ever green boat has lasting appeal and is as modern today as when it was conceived back in 1967.

The next big event will be the European Championships hosted by Highcliffe Sailing Club, Christchurch between 3rd and 9th September 2016, hope to see you all there.

Gear Guide











Wooden Bonezzi





B. Holden


Wooden Bonezzi





G. Scott


Wooden Bonezzi







Epoxy composite Bonezzi







Epoxy composite Karston Krause



Home Made




Vinylester resin composite C/Serve





Other Winners

1st Silver Fleet Neil Ferguson

1st Bronze Fleet Mark Basham

1st Newcomer Clive Dakin

1st Master Graham Scott

1st Grand Master John McClean

For a full set of results see http://www.halsail.com/Result/Public/16499

and a couple of pictures of the competitors here



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