A quality fleet of Merlin Rockets linked up in Plymouth sound, venue of choice for Sail GP and for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller and South West Series Event on the 10th and 11th June. With most open meeting winners in attendance Matt Biggs an Beka Jones, Jon Gorringe and Matt Currell, Caroline Croft and Peter Gray, and Tom Gillard sailing with Rachel Gray it promised to be a great weekend of racing!
Race 1 started with a very long beat across the sound, two thirds of the way up the very long beat it was anyone's race, but in it was newly formed pairing of Mike Calvert and Chris Gould who mastered the top of the course under the cliffs to take the lead down the first run which to everyone surprise was the end to race one!
Race 2 and the wind picked up and shifted dramatically so the Race Officer could set a course away from the cave. Races 2 and 3 blended into one long saga… note to self don't complain about the length of race one! The fickle conditions were mastered buy Tom and Rachael with Matt an Beka and Mike an Chris hot on their heels.
Race three saw some premature starters resulting in three black flags Inc Mr Biggs and Beka an Mr Gorringe and Matt. Race 4 and now the wind had dropped, and the tide increased underneath the fleet and there were more casualties at the start, a third of the fleet returned to restart including Matt Curell now crewed by John Gorringe.
Three frantic laps of a tighter sausage triangle course ensued with Mike and Chris taking the win! A tired fleet returned to shore many of which explored the delights of Plymouth across the harbour!
Sunday dawned to sea fog as dense as City supporters’ hangovers, much shore work was done before the race committee launched the fleet into the sound to a parade of the Navy's finest vessels. Some of the fleet claimed to have seem dolphins but buy the time Race 5 started on Sunday you could barely see both ends of the line the sea fog had rolled in that deep. The fleet set off up windward-ish into the fog like trepid explorers of old navigating by nothing more than a Tacktic compass all the hairs on your face depending on if you remembered your compass. Three laps of very tight racing with lots of place changing between Mike and Chris, Tom and Rachael, Caroline and Peter with Tom sneaking the win at the final mark and Caroline and Peter coming in third after having done all the hard work guiding the fleet round the first lap in the dense fog.
The final race late into the afternoon in the glorious Plymouth sound crews finally hiking all dead level and the windward mark is removed some competitors were unsure on the flags that followed but do not fear race six was soon to start again. Once one of her majesty's finest had moored at the top of the race course.
Race 6 finally got away, and it looked like local knowledge had finally paid off for James Wells sailing with Anna Aylward taking a slender lead around the first mark closely followed by Mike and Chris needing a victory in the last race to secure the win from Tom and Rachael!
Three more laps of snakes ladder and avoiding the frigate moored slightly to the right of the windward mark and some flailing buzzes coming down wind Mike and Chris emerged as victors of the sound. Some say they have been in training so secret even they were unaware some say mike paid of the captain of the ship in his local village poker game or that they were powered to victory by Jane Calvert's Flapjack!
We hope is Jane and her Flapjack make a safe return to Salcombe next month!
Gold fleet winners were James Wells and Anna Aylward, with Tim Parsons and Andy Service taking the Silver Fleet.
The next Craftinsure Silver Tiller is at Shoreham Sailing Club on 17th and 18th June, with the next South West Series event at Parkstone Yacht Club on 30th September.
Thank you Peter Gray for the report.