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Competitive high spirits



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.