The Class

Competitive high spirits

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The Europeans at Hayling were won by one of the sailors from the early days of the class, Joachim Harpprecht, who beat a newcomer to the class, Keith Paul, in one of the few weeks of light airs. Then, in 1978, to end the decade, the class headed off to the sun at Lake Garda, an event that became famous for the emergence of Tony Smith as the new man to beat at the front of the fleet.

Geoff Whitfield leading David Pitman, as they race out towards the top mark at Lake Garda in the 1978 Europeans. The pressures of being front runners at this regatta kept them out of the high spirited behaviour ashore.

Garda also went down in history, as the location of some of the highest spirited behaviour the class had seen. The sight of the 'British Contender Team’ Transit van, parked in the town centre flower beds was ample testimony to the fun that could be had in the class.

Yet, as the Contenders moved into their second decade, some of the relaxed atmosphere would be lost, as the Contender matured into a top international dinghy, albeit one that was still being denied its place in the Olympic Regatta scene.

Feared throughout dinghy parks across Europe, not
to mention the odd ornamental flower bed or two
(and a post box), the social hub of the fleet
revolved around the British Team van.
 teamvan.jpg

First world championships

1970_worldchamps.jpg

  An action (?) shot from the first World Championships at Hayling Island in 1970.
The boat on the left is K1, the original ‘Contention’!

In 1970, the first World Championships were held at Hayling Island, an event won by ‘wild man’ Dick Jobbins.

Dick was destined not to stay on in the class and for the next few years, it was the Australian sailor, Peter Hollis, who was the man to beat on the International circuit.

The UK though had a secret weapon in the form of the an aggressively physical sailor, who would answer to the name of David Pitman – before going afloat and doing a total horizon job on the whole fleet.

The Class Constitution called for the World Championships to rotate between the North and South Hemispheres, plus, where possible, events in the Americas. When the Worlds went south for the first time, Pitman beat Hollis on his home water to take the World Championship title for the first time. With the Worlds being held out of Europe, the first European Championship was held, with Kiel, up on the Baltic as the chosen location.

As the first ten years of the class drew to a close, the UK was very much the place to be, with many of the top New Zealand and Australian sailors basing themselves at Weston Sailing Club, to sharpen up their skills on the excellent competition there. The sailors and their boats were now becoming far more proficient at racing in breeze, which was just as well, as the summers of 1976 and 1977 were very hot and sunny…but breezy.

The class is launched

To help the Contender along, through the difficult early days, a Launch Committee was formed from the ‘movers and shakers’ of the day to see the Contender through the process of getting builders and National Associations formed.

In this task they were soon to be joined by an irrepressible bundle of perpetual motion that went under the name of Freddie Gale. Freddie did not just get the boat established in the UK, as with his ever present partner in crime, Mike Baker, they promoted the new boat throughout Europe, making sure that the class had a true ‘international’ flavour.

Freddie Gale, 3rd from left, complete with friends,
a cigar clamped between the teeth, and a drink,
at an event either in the Netherlands or Germany.

Note Mike Beggs (with hair) in Slick Chick / K16 overall.
(picture courtesy of Mike Baker / Suzie Gale)
freddie_gale.jpg

 

The Contender today

The International Contender class now has fleets in more than twelve countries throughout the world. There are over 2400 Contenders built in various parts of the world, with 148 boats built in the last five years.

contender2117.jpg
Gil Woolley in action.  (Photo with kind permission from www.aussiesinaction.com.au)

A star is born

La Baule was hot, sunny and with light winds. This suited some of the competitors, but not those boats with a high wetted area. The Contender looked very racy; very light and with an incredibly low freeboard, and showed flashes of form when the wind did briefly arrive.  For the rest of the time the helm was either in the cockpit or hunched up on the side deck, a feeling that we all know is hardly conducive to sparkling sailing. With this second set of Trials again inconclusive, the IYRU called for yet more, this time at Medemblik.

A revised Contender, with more sail area and freeboard competed and once the breeze arrived, ran away with the Selection Committee’s nomination.  With the Contender now selected by the IYRU, the powerful ‘Finn = Olympic singlehander’ lobby defended their self interest, in preserving the status quo of classes selected for the Games. 

How would the IYRU turn their new singlehander into a fully fledged class with international appeal?
contender147.jpg
"Okay - where are the other 146 boats?"
By putting the number 147 on the sail,
Bob Miller tried to give the impression
that this was an existing class.
The IYRU were 'not amused'
contender273.jpg
Bob Miller sailing ‘Skippy’, the boat that would eventually win the IYRU Selection Trials at Medemblik.
 

Dorothy is dropped

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, an Australian Skiff designer and sailor had also picked up on the IYRU search for a new dinghy. Away from the European influences that had resulted in boats such as the Trapez and Unit, Bob Miller instead drew on his skiff background to produce a boat that became known as ‘Miller’s Missile’.

With a simple box section hull, featuring little rocker in the keel line, a fully battened main and a trapeze for the helm, the boat flew in breeze, but as Bob was to later admit, the boat “Sucked in the light stuff”.

When it came to the next phase of the design process, Bob simply lifted the hull shape of the Flying Dutchman and shrunk it down until it met the design criteria. This was a far more seaworthy and practical boat, that Bob was to name the Dorothy, after his wife.

millersmissile.jpg
A very old but rare picture of ‘Miller’s missile’,
Bob’s first attempt at designing a single hander.
With the next Trials as La Baule approaching, Bob needed to get his boat to Europe and being short of money, sought out a sponsor. An Australian company had recently launched a new sailcloth, that they had named ‘Contender’. They offered financial support to the new boat, which underwent a name change; Dorothy was dropped and the boat that was despatched to La Baule was now known as the ‘Contender’.

On trial

To choose their new class, the IYRU held a set of trials at Weymouth in the autumn of 1965. The International Canoe was there, despite having been told in advance that even if it were to win the Trial Series, that it would not be selected.

The Finn was there, as a benchmark of performance.  Solos, OKs and single handed Fireballs were sailed, along with a host of new designs. There was some consternation at Weymouth when Paul Elvstrøm turned up with his new Trapez dinghy, which as it utilised the trapeze, was clearly outside of the design remit. With four consecutive gold medals in the Finn, sailing in a boat that was hi-tech when compared with most of the other entries and that he knew very well, Elvstrøm was expected to race away with the nomination, but only if he was allowed to compete.

Faced with prospect of turning away the biggest name in dinghy racing, the organisers relented. Elvstrøm raced, but although he quickly proved the potential of racing a dinghy from the trapeze, his performances were far from the expected horizon job. As the series progressed, it was the Canoe out in front, race after race, followed by the Trapez. Behind these two came the star turn of the series, David Thomas in his own designed ‘Unit’ dinghy.

The IYRU now had a problem, as the Unit had a very valid claim, that having been the best of the correctly designed boats, that it should be rewarded with International status. The response of the IYRU was to call for a second set of Trials, this time to be held at La Baule.

trapez.jpg
Elvstrøm practising in his Trapez dinghy at
Lymington, on the South Coast of England.
The rig was incredibly complex, with two sets of diamonds that Elvstrøm could adjust whilst sailing.
The boat also featured some novel features, such as a one piece moulded rudder and tiller.

AGM Minutes 2008

Draft Minutes of Annual General Meeting 2008
21 August, 2008 at Kingston, Ontario, Canada


Meeting started at 1740 hrs and ended at 2000 hrs
The meeting was opened by chairman Neil Smith.
Apologies from: President Jan von der Bank and Treasurer Tim Holden
The draft minutes of the 2007 AGM were approved as posted.



Chairman's report


Canada continues to use its club boat to help build the class - we have seen two members join after using for a while.
Have used Duncan Ellis to generate content and are looking for help managing content on our website - we will pay for it.
Tim Holden is stepping down as Treasurer, we need a new treasurer.
Mol Mollatt is stepping down as Technical Chairman. Need a new TC.
The class is growing in most sectors of the World, this last year we saw that Italy, Denmark, North America are doing well.  The UK scene seems a bit stalled but should be helped with a Worlds coming up in Weymouth.
A big focus for the ICA will be trying to find out how to help builders access new clients and make more boats.



Treasurer's report


Payments of dues have been received from the following countries:

  • Australia. In addition, payments have been received from Australia for 9 boats built in the moulds paid for by the ICA. That leaves a balance of 11 more payments expected until the cost of the moulds is fully amortized.
  • Great Britain
  • France
  • Italy
  • North America.


Current bank balances include approximately 21000 Euros and 280 Sterling (British pounds)



Technical Report


Alan Mollatt reported that the ISAF started a project to rewrite the Contender class rules but the
project person had been retasked with other work. Technical Chairman will endevour to have the
ISAF renew and complete the task. The reason for the rewrite is to bring the rules in line with
ISAF model rules practices.



President's report
Read by Chairman Neil Smith

Firstly, as the PRESIDENT of the class I would like to give everyone sailing in Canada my warmest greetings. You are the core of the class!  At the moment I strongly regret I can't be with you racing (And that is despite of sitting in warm and calm sundown-conditions outside of Corfu-Yacht-Club). Now I will have to wait till cold and most likely rainy Denmark next year to have a go on another title - and for sure will have to battle hard against Sören... ;.)  Anyway... for my part of the business I must say I'm quite satisfied with how we have performed and what we have achieved. Several big turnout-events and a very important Worlds on the American Continent show everyone outside our circle, we are a very lively class. Let's keep it going that way!
Now into some details...

First
When I started, I wanted to help the French to establish sth. like a Contender-fleet in France. This is just starting to happen and I am very grateful to welcome the French with their just established national association.
I will try and put even more of my focus (and class money... at least 2000 Euros - please discuss this under "treasurers business"!!!) on their Europeans in 2010. I think we should support them by displaying the Contender on the Paris boat show, accompanied by sth like a class portrait in any French yachting magazine., plus invitations and free charter boats for some top french sailors (from 505? Hobie cats? Lasers? Europe?) Again, please discuss and let me know the outcome!!!

Second
As for our Internet-presence, I still have the feeling we urgently need to "sex up"... both from the contents and from the presentation! We still need someone being an editor for articles on our page, as seemingly none of us "officials" seems to have the will or skill to do it... I remember our discussions about how much money Jan Tofaute from Germany should be allowed for maintaining the page on the technical side... We should come up with at least the same amount of money to find someone helping to advertise the class!
My feeling still is: The Contender will only survive the severe changes within the Dinghy scene, if we make sure we present ourselves as a young, attractive SKIFF-LIKE class. We desperately have to work on our Image to attract young sailors. It does not help much to gather old farts like Neil and myself... We need the Kids! People like Christoph Homeier or Marcus, or Marco Versari!

Third
There has been some quarrel about the interpretation of our class rules.
In the Championship-rules, for instance, we seem to be desperately needing something clarifying the need and the use of fleet- or qualifying-races. My feeling is: We shall not have qualifying-races in fleets under a minimum size of 120 Boats! This number has proved to be still quite manageable off one starting line in recent years and it saves a lot of people feeling stuck in the strongest group or in the second best fleet only.
Another important issue will be a more efficient management of the class. Here we shall have to have a close look (and maybe propose some refreshments and changes) on our rules that were designed some 40 years ago. Especially regarding the use or the function of "national representatives" within the AGM-elected ICA-Committee (as we knew it in recent years). Neil will probably give a shortcut of what has happened lately... We need a good information-structure on the one hand, that makes sure nobody feels left outside. But we also need a very limited circle of persons that really are allowed "to talk". Otherwise, that is my feeling, it will be even harder in the future, to recruit volunteers for doing ICA-jobs!
But I am sure we can work out sth. before the next AGM that will find a majority of Contender sailors approval.
So much from me this time,
good sailing to you all in Canada and see you all next year!
Jan von der Bank



Secretary's report


Currently there are 590 members of yahoo-groups compared with 513 in 2007, 664 in 2006, 559 members in 2005 and 386 members in 2004.  Note, we count email addresses. There are certainly duplicate and/or abandoned email addresses in the count.

New boat sales figures
29    2007
35    2006
43    2005
28    2004
16    2003
26    2002
50    2001
18    2000
33    1999
25    1998

2424 boats have been issued plaques representing new boats since the inception of the Contender class in 1969. (Through the end of 2007)


< Go back to main list           Go to page 2 >
                                                  (Contender Class Rules 2008, Business Arising, Election of Officers,
                                                   Upcoming Events, Proposals for Rules Changes)

The Boat

The Contender is a high performance racing dinghy, light, fast, spectacular. A single hander, where the helmsman controls the boat from the trapeze wire to balance the forces from the large sail. Its excellent performance in stronger winds and waves reflects its Australian origin. The Contender was designed as a potential successor to the Finn dinghy as a class for Olympic single handed racing. For the last 40 years, the Contender has been the only high performance single-handed dinghy that offers international racing in competitive fleets. Worldwide, about 2,400 boats have been built and sailed in 17 countries.

The Contender has been a recognised International Class by the International Sailing Federation since 1968. It has proven to be suitable for a wide variety of sailors, both male and female. The weight of successful sailors range from 55kg to 95kg (120lbs to 210lbs) and heights from 165cm to 200cm (5ft 4 to 6ft 4). Sailing a Contender requires a good deal of agility and athletic ability. The close racing during championships rewards outstanding boat handling as well as tactical skill. A race in a Contender is a combination of physical and mental challenge, with equal chances for the fittest youngsters and the more experienced sailors. Contender champions' ages vary from 20 to 50 years. The developments of the boat have enabled the boat to be raced even in rough open sea conditions.


Design: Ben Lexcen
(Australia, 1967)
Length: 4.87 m
Beam: 1.50 m
Hull weight: 83 kg
Sail area: 10.8 m2
PN: 994


If you want to know why the top 10 Contenders at the 2008 Worlds were so fast, take a look at the boat data below.
pdf Worlds 2008 Boat Data

contenderlines.jpg

The early years B.C?(Before Contenders)

There are so many classes today, that it is hard to imagine a time when the choice of dinghy for a single handed sailor wanting to race internationally consisted of the International Canoe, the Finn or the OK.

The Finn of course was very much ‘top dog’ as since 1952, it had been the Olympic dinghy, difficult to tune and with the then unsophisticated rig, making it something of a brute to sail.

No wonder then that as the 1960s started to swing, sailors started looking for a boat where agility, rather than weight and body strength, would play a greater part in determining results. The path to improved performance had already been highlighted in 1962, with the lightweight flying scow from Peter Milne, the Fireball. This was a boat that was fun, fun, fun.

What was now needed was a single handed dinghy that could offer the same thrills and spills.

Eventually, the IYRU (now ISAF) agreed to sponsor a new performance single handed dinghy and published a set of criteria that allowed for a more powerful rig than was set on the Finn, that could be balanced by a sitting out ‘aid’. The choice of words is important, as sliding seats and other aids to extending the helm's weight outboard were deemed acceptable, but a trapeze was not. The view of the yachtsmen of the day, who ran sailing as a sport, was that sailing a boat single handed from the trapeze, let alone racing it, was ‘unseamanlike’!
 .

finnlores.jpg

  In the early 1960s, Finns, like this restored Fairey boat from that era, were very much the top singlehander.
The IYRU wanted a more modern boat and would accept a sliding seat but not a boat rigged with a trapeze.

2007 Class Rules Approved and Published! Effective Now!

           Hi Contender sailors       
Contender Class Rules 2007 
             Have been Published          
                  Best Regards            
 Gil Woolley, Soren Andreasen  

Continue Reading

National Associations

Austria
 oesterr.gif      
 Finland
finn.gif      
New Zealand
 neuseel.gif
                       
Australia
 austral.gif      
 France
 frankr.gif      
 Norway
flag_norway.jpg
                       
Belgium
 belgien.gif      
 Germany
 dtl.gif      
 Spain
  flag españa
                       
Canada
 kanada.gif      
Great Britain
 gb.gif      
Sweden
 schwed.gif
                       
Denmark
 daenem.gif      
Italy
 italien.gif      
Switzerland
schweiz.gif
                       
Estonia
estonia      
Netherlands
 nieder.gif      
USA
 usa.gif

 

Class Rules

The International Contender Class Rules are regularly reviewed. The aim is to both develop the class and keep old boats competitive. 

The latest class rules of the International Contender Class are available on World Sailing: http://www.sailing.org/28191.php

Every year a World Championship is being held. These truely international events as well as European Championships are governed by the following rules:  ICA Championship Rules 2018

Jason Beebe Runner Up

Facts and Figures


The Class Rules

The International Contender Class Rules are regularly reviewed in order to prohibit the
use of exotic materials or expensive equipment. This prevents the escalating cost of sailing
"the Ultimate Singlehander".

In recent year the costs of spars from aluminium have been rising while availability
is decreasing, the cost of carbon fibre spars has been decreasing, therefore the class
has approved the use of carbon fibre masts and booms. Loose footed sails are now permitted.

Class members have repeatedly refused to reduce the bare hull weight because members
wish to preserve the market value of older hulls. Change the rig, protect the hull
investment.

The rules permit licensed and amateur builders to construct this boat. Hulls are
built successfully in all wood, composite glassfibre hull/ wood deck and all glassfibre.

You can view or download the Class Rules by clicking here.


Racing

The International Contender has proven to be suitable for a wide variety of sailors,
both male and female. The weight of successful sailors range from 55kg to 95kg (120lbs to 210lbs) and
heights from 165cm to 200cm (5ft 4 to 6ft 4). Contender champions' ages vary from 20 to 50 years.
The developments of the boat have enabled the boat to be raced even in rough open
sea conditions.


World Championships 2008 Boat Data

If you want to know why the top 10 Contenders at the 2008 Worlds were so fast, take a look at the boat data below.
pdf Worlds 2008 Boat Data