Vintage Merlin sailing is a dichotomy of pride in appearance vs competitive racing, and this was apparent in the array of vintage Merlin Rockets lined up on the lawn at Tamesis for the CraftInsure Vintage & Classic Open on Saturday 21st May 2022.
The Concours d ’elegance ranged in style from the Dinghy show polished Adur 7, Hullaballoo of Rob Cage through the assorted weaponized Proctor 9B’s to a rather sad-looking 607 Crescendo newly purchased and currently complete with duct tape around the bow.
On Saturday the wind sadly decided to show its flakiest side with Surrey v Middlesex holes shifting around all over the place.
With 4 races scheduled, battle duly commenced with local spoilsports Andy Harris, Matty Key, and Crescendo leading the way in race 1 with visitor Rob Cage, circuit supremo in 2nd place.
For those following behind the ever-looming mid-fleet bunch would swallow you up at will and spit you out the back several times a race. Mid-fleet boats were changing places constantly as they took a mindful breath and climbed the ladder again.
Race 2 saw the polished hull of Hullabaloo slip away from the pack, chased by Crescendo but pipped for 2nd by Stuart Jenkins and Nicola Scadden sailing 723 Cindy on handicap taking advantage of their metal mast. Both races were sailed in fitful conditions with strong gusts interspersed with patches of calm allowing the leading boat to gain the advantage by reaching the new wind first. As ever, the rich get richer.
For those further back and finding a notch of boat-speed it was rewarding to play the gaps and shifts back through the fleet but to only ever scrape at the heels of the leading boats in whatever order was exhausting.
After a fabulous barbecue lunch which had a massive thumbs up from all competitors, the afternoon racing got underway. In much the same conditions the results followed the morning sequence with another win for the local lads in Crescendo.
However, with 4 races there was still a chance for Rob Cage and he duly obliged by snaffling up the result in a last race of snakes and ladders that saw fortunes lost and found on every leg of each lap. 2nd place was Ollie Houseman and Harriet Sandall, with Chris Martin and Ian Pratt in 3rd.
Congratulations to Rob and Hatty Cage 1st overall, Andy Harris and Matty key in 2nd overall, and Ollie Houseman and Harriet Sandall in 3rd.
The on-the-water competitive spirit was relaxed, and the breakfast and lunch were wonderful. There was no doubt everyone had a fabulous day and Tamesis, yet again, excelled in very positively demonstrating itself as a fun and friendly place to race.
The next event in the Merlin Rocket is Fishers Green on Sunday 28th May, followed by Draycote on 16th July. More information on www.merlinrocket.co.uk