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21 today!

Steve Daniels, showing the poise and form
that brought him two world titles.
But still no key to the Olympic door for the Contender!

The third decade of the Contender started with the fleet back in Europe (just) as they travelled north to the Swedish town of Hamburgsund. The usual suspects were there, Barry Watson, Keith Paul, Schappi Harpprecht, but so too were the forerunners of a new breed of Contender sailor. Conditions that week varied from rough to ‘interesting’, a term that failed to do justice to some of the jury decisions about what constituted pumping. Watson, looking for revenge after Santa Cruz, found what he described as the “biggest ****ing hole in the history of sailing”. No such problems for Jon Webb, who sailed a consistent series to take the title ahead of Frank Suchanek.

Watson took solace by winning the next Europeans, then it was a case of ‘off to Brisbane’. In very windy and testing conditions that should have favoured the fearless Australian sailors, it was another Brit, Steve Daniels, that blew them away on their home turf. Steve retained his title when the fleet went to Travemünde; other hopefuls John Browett, Steve Grimes and Nigel Walbank failed to pull together good results across the series.

At about this time, the old chestnut of Olympic status became a hot topic once more. Despite the obvious charms of the Contender and some excellent lobbying by the class, the entrenched Finn clung on to its position.

The whole sailing scene was changing though as skiffs started to appear in many shapes and sizes, including a number of single handed versions. Suddenly and through no fault of its own, the Contender was no longer the hottest trapeze harness in town.

1990… and with a zero at the end of the number, it had to be Hayling Island.  Steve Daniel was the next sailor to aim to ‘do the Pitman’ and go for three titles in a row. A rapidly improving Andrea Bonezzi could also have won, but got a horror story redress judgement after another boat damaged his rig. Chris Burrough joined John Browett as the fastest sailors NOT to win the Championships, which instead went to John Hardman.

It was Stuart Jones who was best known for his liking for lamb; John Hardman preferred his prey to get their own drinks. Well, if you’ve just won the World Championship, what is a man to do?
(Photo courtesy of Jim and Dee Mackonochie)