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Antipodean heaven

With the Contender now very much an established international class, many of the names and personalities who had been so much a part of the scene in the early years, now moved aside.

For a while Pitman’s place looked as if it would be taken by the new ‘young gun’ Geoff Whitfield, but the second decade would belong to the very fast and committed sailors from New Zealand and Australia. Tony Smith may have won the 1978 Garda Europeans, but when the fleet made their one and only trip to the ‘Land of the long white cloud’, for the Takapuna Worlds at Auckland, it was local Pete Newlands who best survived the conditions experienced in the tail of Tropical Cyclone ‘Henry’, to win a hard fought series.  


Peter Newlands put in many months of hard preparation, for the first Contender World Championship to be held in his homeland in New Zealand.
(Photo courtesy of Sea Spray Magazine)
One of the best heavy weather sailors the class has ever seen, Geoff Whitfield winning the Junior World Title at Takapuna Bay, Auckland.
(Photo courtesy of Sea Spray Magazine)
Then it was back to Hayling Island and that rarity in Championship racing, a dead heat, as Newlands held on to his title, albeit shared with Whitfield.

For those who couldn’t make the journey out to NZ, there were always the Europeans at Silverplana in Switzerland. Such a beautiful location with great breezes but capsize at your peril, the water was freezing. To add to the discomfort of the fleet, one night it snowed…in August! Whitfield raced away to his first full title, whilst behind him Schappi Harpprecht and Ray Collins battled it out for the runners up spot, with Collins just winning it on the last day!