Merlin Rocket Vintage & Thames Series open meetings were held at Thames Sailing Club 29th April 2023 and Minima Sailing Club on 30th April 2023. The De May and Thames Series are sponsored by Craftinsure.
The last weekend in April 2023 was the combined Thames Sailing Club and Minima Yacht Club Merlin Open events for the Thames and Vintage De May series.
Wind was light at Thames on the Saturday. The strong stream that had been running hard for many weeks and had prevented sailing at many of the non-tidal Thames River clubs was still evident and made upstream progress challenging for much of the day. However, there was just enough breeze to run 3 races with 6 Merlin’s competing. The event was won by Andrew Harris and Lyra Wade sailing Crescendo from Tamesis SC.
Sunday produced better conditions and with the stream decreasing and a light southerly wind, the first race got underway as planned at 1100. 9 boats were on the start line from 6 clubs, joining 3 Minima Merlins. Neighbouring river clubs of Tamesis, Thames and Hampton were represented, with further afield sailors from Parkstone YC and Chew Valley Lake SC.
The first race start, upwind and upstream was ‘timid’, probably due to the helms underestimating the strength of the stream or maybe because with 9 boats competing nobody wanted to end up OCS. A long beat up to Ravens Ait started to split the boats and as the leading pack rounded the windward mark the wind strength decreased which gave the 4 leading boats a bigger lead.
With spinnakers raised, but not always filling due to the strength of the stream the leading boats 607 Crescendo, sailed by Andy Harris and Matty Key from Tamesis, 3560 Luka sailed by Ollie Houseman Egle Tumosaite from CVLSC, 2152 Dipsomania sailed by Miles Palmer and Chris Martin from Thames and 723 Cindy sailed by Stuart Jenkins and Nicola Scadden from Hampton sailed away from the fleet on the downstream leg.
These 4 boats were to battle out the positions at the front of the fleet throughout the event with places changing as boats played the better or worse wind and stream conditions.
The second race start was livelier and with everything to go for the boats were bunched off the line more tightly. The leading 4 took a dominant position early on but with less of a lead. Minima’s Nick Armfield and Zoe van den Bosch sailing Teragram overhauled Ben and Louisa Archer in his high tech ‘One Love’, pushing them down to 6th place. One Love was the only Merlin not sailing in the De May. Ben has history at Minima, donating the Eric Archer Memorial Trophy for the Thames River Series several years previously.
After a lunch break, with food and refreshments being provided by Minima’s excellent ‘shore team’ the final race of the day got underway. The course was changed to include a short ‘dog leg’ reach across the river. Winds were light at the start, Erica Bishop and Ed Cubitt sailing 685 Bowbelle owned by Denis Lockwood took the early lead, helped by some local knowledge. Coming faster off the line at the port end making use of a slight westerly wind shift and slacker stream on the Surrey bank. They were gradually overhaled by the top 4 boats but held on to a respectable 5th position for race 3.
Prize giving took place in the clubhouse bar after tea and cake, relaxing on Minima’s West facing balcony overlooking the Thames, boat park and Hampton Court estate.
Thank you Robin Broomfield for the report.
Thames SC Results
Vintage De May Series and Thames Series
1st 607 Crescendo Andrew Harris & Lyra Wade Tamesis SC
2nd 1692 Hullabaloo Rob & Hattie Cage Thames SC
3rd 3560 Luka Ollie Houseman & Egle Tumosa Chew Valley SC
4th 2152 Dipsomania Miles & Sue Palmer Thames SC
5th 723 Cindy Stuart Jenkins & Nicola Scaddan Hampton / UTSC
6th 1939 War Horse Peter Impey & Tim Ginn Tamesis SC