Exe Champagne Challenge 2018 proves a big hit with all who took part

PUBLISHED: 09:44 22 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:44 22 September 2018

The 2018 Exe Sc Champagne Challenge Club Class winners are presented with their prizes. Picture CONTRIBUTED

The 2018 Exe Sc Champagne Challenge Club Class winners are presented with their prizes. Picture CONTRIBUTED

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The day of the annual River Exe Champagne Challenge, organised by Exe Sailing Club (ESC), dawned calm and race officer Richard Linsdale wisely set a short course for the club class, writes Rex Frost.

The 2018 Exe Sc Champagne Challenge Fast Class winners are presented with their prizes. Picture CONTRIBUTEDThe 2018 Exe Sc Champagne Challenge Fast Class winners are presented with their prizes. Picture CONTRIBUTED

At the signal, the wind died, but five minutes later the breeze filled in and the class moved off, past the Exmouth lifeboat towards Brixham.

Half an hour later the Fast class started with a fair breeze and the fleet split as usual. The inshore optimists went west and the rest went out to sea.

It looked as if the inshore group would have the advantage as the wind lifted them toward Teignmouth, but then it died and the other batch came in fast. In the next hour with lots of wind shifts and lifts, places changed quickly, with Exeat (Dave Bunting) being almost at the front at one time then Jammin (Steve Best) getting going again and Red Fox (Colin Leach) gaining and losing for no obvious reason.

Gruffalo (Ann Way) and Electra (Sue Frost) vied for being ahead of each other at the Sewer buoy and only some judicious tacking got Electra back in front. Gracie Girl (Andy Bailey) was seen making great strides to close the gap only to fall back when the wind shifted and in between them Roobella (Mark Jenkins) in the club class, made steady progress despite sailing single handed in 20 knot gusts.

The 2018 Exe Sc Champagne Challenge sponsors. Picture CONTRIBUTEDThe 2018 Exe Sc Champagne Challenge sponsors. Picture CONTRIBUTED

The run across the bay saw sails being reefed and the only place changes were when the bigger boats got into their stride, while some confusion over the Goodrington mark robbed Jabberwocky (Robin Adams) of precious seconds and allowed Red Fox and Jaldi (Mary Sturgess) to catch up again. With the Brixham finish line obscured by a dinghy training fleet there was place changing till the end, but everyone one agreed it was a great day of sailing and good competition for all.

The reception at BYC, sponsored by Simon Turl Mooring Services, was extremely well attended and fun was had highlighting the various nonsenses of the day.

Race organiser Rex Frost commented that this was almost a record entry with 54 boats (and 47 finishers).

Yet again the event had run without any cancellation due to weather and arrived in Brixham in sunshine. Almost every club from Brixham to the Axe was represented and the newcomers from TCYC were well represented at the front of the fleet. The wide variety of competitors was noted, with many boats having small children in the crew, others having visitors from the Antipodes and a few having one adult and a couple of young teenagers onboard. Boats ranged from small open Catamarans and gaffers to large 45ft racing yachts, but all had greatly enjoyed racing in the big fleet and the sociable atmosphere of the pontoon gathering post-race.

Boats drifting around the start line of the 2018 Exe SC Champagne Challenge. Picture CONTRIBUTEDBoats drifting around the start line of the 2018 Exe SC Champagne Challenge. Picture CONTRIBUTED

Prizes were presented by James Turl; the winner of the Club class being Roobella, Mark (Spoons) Jenkins sailing single-handed, and in the Fast class, Snow Storm, Chris Clarance of Teignmouth. Second in the Club class was Shalom (Peter Fellowes) and third was Lucina (Tom Dunstan).

In Fast class, Juno (George Rock-Evans) came second and Red Fox (Colin Leach) was third.

Thanks to BYC for hosting the dinner and dealing with the huge crowd of competitors for the evening. Full results will be on www.exe-sailing-club.org

On the start line of the 2018 Exe SC Champagne Challenge. Picture CONTRIBUTEDOn the start line of the 2018 Exe SC Champagne Challenge. Picture CONTRIBUTED

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