Final Craftinsure Silver Tiller 2021 hosted by Itchenor Sailing Club
Saturday (4th December) morning dawned at Itchenor sailing club for the last silver tiller event of the year. 13 boats arrived to rig with the sun shinning and a chill to the air. All the boats launched and headed to find the committee boat which was just around the corner.
The line up was similar to the Endeavour with Olympians, World and National champions making up the majority. Much discussion was going on in the changing rooms before the fleet launched about the competition and who would come out on top!
For race one, the spring tide was ripping in, so the decision had to be made about which shore to go up as at some point you had to cross the channel to get to the windward mark. The pin end was heavily biased and in the shallows, so seemed like a good place to start. The first start was a general recall with everyone just a bit too eager to start racing. Second start got away cleanly, Caroline Croft and Chris Gould won the pin after bailing out on the line at the last minute and managed to tack across the fleet. There was a 50/50 split of the fleet as several boats decided to cross the channel straight after the start. Those who went up the left side found out the shallows very quickly, with a number of rudders pinging up and centreboards in the cases in order to get over the mud flats. At the first mark, Caroline and Chris led the left bunch and the fleet, whilst George Yeoman and Pete Grey lead the right side and came in second to the windward mark.
Downwind was all about finding the pressure and the angle to keep the boat planning. Chris and Caroline held their lead round the leeward mark and the bunch behind were closing in fast as they came down in a lovely gust. You wouldn’t be surprised when I say the racing was extremely close when you look at the line-up, the slightest mistake and you’d lose a load of boats. The fleet headed over to the right-hand side of the course to get out of the tide up the second and third beats. Chris and Caroline extended their lead and took the win. The battle for 2nd – 5th was extremely tight with James Goss and Chris White taking second, George and Pete third, Ben Saxton and Charlotte Fildes fourth and Tim Saxton and Mary Henderson fifth.
The wind started to build for the second race and the tide has slackened off ready to turn. It started without anyone over the line, Ian Dobson and Arran Holman won the pin and were the first to tack onto port and cross the fleet in Ian’s new ship 3784. Richard Whitworth and Jemima Scroggie, Ben and Charlotte and Ian Walker and Chris Kilsby rounded out the top 5 round the first windward mark. On the first downwind leg, James and Chris managed to find the mud bank whilst planning in 25+ knots. Unfortunately, the boom hit James after the capsize and he ended up spending the afternoon in A&E awaiting stiches. Chris and the boat were unhurt, and James made it back for the dinner and prizegiving. The second beat saw the wind build with gusts coming through at 27 knots. Thankfully this squall didn’t hit whist the fleet was heading downwind, Ian and Arran leading with their minion spinnaker flying away from the rest of the fleet with Richard and Jemima being chased down by Ben and Charlotte. The battle for 4-7th was extremely tight with the four boats pilling into the line together.
The fleet headed in after the second race which meant that Ben and Charlotte took first spot with Ian and Arran and second and Caroline and Chris in third. With only 4 points splitting up the top 7, it’s safe to say it was fantastic racing! A big thank you to George Yeoman and Itchenor sailing club for putting on a fantastic days racing.
The Merlin Rocket Craftinsure Silver Tiller Dinner prizegiving was set to start at 7pm with all the sailors dusting off their tuxes and dresses for what was going to be a fantastic way to end the season. For those who aren’t aware, the Silver Tiller is a series that runs through out the year where it aims to find the best sailors across three different categories, Sea, Open and Restricted venues. Five races in total are needed to count one of each category and your next best two. With Covid still affecting our season at the beginning of the year events were moved to still get a full series in.
Our Craftinsure Silver Tiller winners for 2021 are Matt Biggs and Beka Jones who have sailed brilliantly all season. Andy Davis and Pippa Taylor were close behind in second and Caroline Croft and Chris Gould took home third.
The top 15 were as follows:
4th Tim Saxton and Mary Henderson
5th James Wells and Anna Aylward
6th Steve and Gill Leney
7th Chris Martin and Sam Bailey
8th Paul Dean and Hannah Burt
9th Arthur Henderson and Livvy Bell
10th Colin and Sean Anderson
11th Jemma Horwood and Nicola Bass
12th Tom Gillard and Rachel Grey
13th Mike and Jane Calvert
14th Ian Dobson and Charlotte Fildes
15th James Goss and Chris White
Top Man Trophy – Wembley Sailing Club
Grand Slam Winners – Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby
Old Boat – Dan Alsop & Jenny King
Best Newcomer – Tom Gillard and Rachel Grey
Most Improved – Jemma Horwood and Nicola Bass
1st Silver Fleet – James Wells and Anna Aylward
2nd Silver Fleet – Chris Martin and Sam Bailey
3rd Silver Fleet –
1st Bronze Fleet – Jemma Horwood and Nicola Bass
2nd Bronze Fleet – Richard Cooke and Various
3rd Bonze Fleet – Tom and Ed Low
A big thank you our title sponsor Craftinsure and to all the clubs that hosted a Silver Tiller this year in challenging times, we look forward to seeing you in 2022. The fixtures for the 2022 Craftinsure Silver Tiller can be found on the Merlin Class website (https://www.merlinrocket.co.uk/index.asp?pg=fixtures) so, get the dates booked in your diaries and we look forward to seeing you all on the water in March 2022!
Thank you to Caroline Croft for the report.