The saying goes, ‘It’s always sunny in Salcombe’. On Saturday,17 boats put that theory to the test and were greeted with some incredibly testing conditions. While rain is uncharacteristic of the beautiful seaside town, crazy gusts and wind-shifts are certainly not.
As the first start sounded away, Tim Saxton and Beka Jones showed the fleet their starboard side as they crossed from the beach to take an early lead round number 2. The tide was especially springy however, and with it ebbing out the harbour, the fleet compressed as they headed down towards Crossways (mark number 3). As the pack jostled back and forth in the 20 knot gusts, it was Ollie Meadowcroft and Rob Allen who snuck away as the wind dropped off by Ditch End, pursued by Jon Gorringe and Matt Currell who were seeking the overall win of the Silver Tiller. In the meantime, carnage ensued at the Ferry steps where a huge zephyr knocked over a group of boats, including the returning Nick Craig and Tobytastic Lewis who were learning how to gybe again.
Ollie and Rob took this lead until the very final downwind where disaster struck as they were knocked flat by a huge gust, and Jon and Matt snapped up the win with relish. Mike and Jane Calvert sailed with them through in to 2nd, with Tim and Beka in 3rd.
The fleet, suffering from an overt case of amnesia seemed to forget Tim and Beka’s startline heroics in the previous race and simply allowed them to do it again in race 2. This time he was in the company of Ollie and Rob, as well as Salcombe Grandmasters Will and Mary Henderson. It was those three who led round number 2, with Mike and Jane hunting down the pack. This time it was Tim and Beka’s turn for some Ferry steps calamity, and sadly they were not seen at the front again for that race after a brief swim. Ollie and Rob stretched out in front to take the win by the end, with the Calvert’s taking a second and Jon and Matt keeping their dreams alive by sailing all the way back into 3rd.
Victory for the event was on offer for a number of boats for the overall win as we went into the final race, as well as a unique battle between the Calvert’s and Gorringe/Currell for the Silver Tiller overall itself. It had truly shaped up to be a worthy finale. The wind did not care for our theatrics though, as we found 25 knots had become 5 knots, and we were drifting our way up to mark number 1.
William Warren and Oliver Rayner remembered their favourite thing in the world and took the pin end to port fly the fleet. Jon and Matt followed them in hot pursuit, with the Calvert’s and Ollie and Rob close behind.
On the final beat/run/reach (the wind was entirely unsure as were we), it was Alex Warren and Jonty Freeman who remembered the profound existence of the tide in Salcombe and trickled their way through up the town side. Jon and Matt held on for dear life to take 2nd, with William and Oliver in 3rd.
This therefore sealed the overall win in Salcombe for Jon and Matt, and more importantly gave them the win of both the Craftinsure Silver Tiller (first helm) and the Silver Pole (first crew) – truly an exceptional victory for both. Mike and Jane took 2nd for both the event and the Silver Tiller, demonstrating some impressive consistency in the quality fleet, and giving the spectators a fantastic battle to watch. 3rd was taken by Ollie and Rob who were left to wonder what could’ve been if they had kept their boat upright in race 1!
The competitors then donned their Black-Tie attire and enjoyed a three-course meal courtesy of Salcombe Yacht Club, proceeding to party the night away. Awards were presented for the South-West traveller series as well as the Craftinsure Silver Tiller, as we all reflected on a fantastic year of Merlin Rocket sailing.
Many thanks to Graham Cranford Smith the Race Office team at Salcombe Yacht Club for a spectacular grand finale. Thank you to our series sponsors, Craftinsure, Allen, Aspire Financial Advisers and HD Sails as well as our many supporting sponsors. A huge thank you to everyone on the Merlin Rocket Owner’ Association Committee for all their hard work in bringing the series togethers, with a special mention to Ross Jackson for once again pulling all the results together!
Both Jon Gorringe and Matt Currall said a few words on the night clearly delighted to be taking home this highly coveted trophy for the first time. Jon praised the class for the new events brought in for 2023 especially the Youth and Women’s Championships and how it is wonderful to see the class doing more to create these opportunities.
Congratulations Jon and Matt and all the winners throughout the year.
There is one event left for 2023, our Allen Series Inland Championships which is due to take place at Bartley Sailing Club on 10th December.
The dates for 2024 are now on the Merlin Rocket Website.
Coverage from the event can be found on the MR Facebook page
Thank you Ollie Meadowcroft for the report.