Day 4 of the Aspire Merlin Rocket National Champs arrived with high winds and rain leading to sailing being cancelled early on. As Merlin Rocket sailors are notoriously uncompetitive they all enjoyed the opportunity to have a day off… right? Wrong! The fleet split into two groups and headed off to enjoy the chance to beat each other at other sports.
The first group headed off to the golf, and after meeting for a 3pm warning signal the GK Engineering Golf Champs (the most important competition of the week) were swiftly split into teams for a very wet and windy golf match.
Team A consisted of William Warren, Alex Warren, Tim Saxton and George Bender, with late arrivals Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey flying over the start line to join in, just making the time limit.
Off the first tee you could sense the nerves of the competitors, with Will hitting it straight out of bounds off to the right, followed by George duffing his shot too. Alex controlled his nerves with a splendid drive down the middle, with Tim driving just off the to the right to lay him up nicely for the green.
It was a lovely golf day with tight competition between the teams. Highlight of the day consisted of Christian, Sam and George all having to drop their shorts on hole 6, George having to do this twice on the same hole!
Team B consisted of Geoff and Helen Kimber, John Meadowcroft and Jonty Freeman. A mixed ability team with the Kimbers having rounded many golf courses before and John and Jonty having very limited experience between the two of them.
At the first hole with some good solid advice from the Kimbers, John drove his ball off to a sensational start! Jonty walloped his ball straight into the trees and lost his first ball, which was the beginning of a tricky first 9 holes for him.
The Kimbers had a solid start, a consistent couple and once warmed up struck some very tasty balls. Meanwhile John and Jonty continued to improve with the highlight for them both on hole 8 driving both balls straight out of bounds never to be seen again, however they showed a vast improvement from hole 1.
Geoff’s highlight on hole 6 was driving a very difficult shot between two parallel tall tree lines, which was perfectly executed and Helen rounded off hole 8 with a birdie on a par 4.
Who won? We’ll find out tomorrow. But amazing organisation and a massive thanks go to Geoff and Helen Kimber for putting up with Jonty and John, and sponsoring the event with GK Engineering.
The other competitors gave the green seas of the golf course a miss and got their race suits on to battle it out at the go-karting track. Fourteen fearless racers set sail on their trusty go-karts, to discover which sailor had the quickest vessel.
The track felt akin to the ocean waves, given the heavy rain, and after a lap behind the safety car we were released. Racers were testing limits and finding the barriers as they drifted round corners, and it became apparent that some were more adept at driving than others. Chris Jennings and Tim Harms were notably racy with Tim leaping to the top of the timing sheets to win the first race.
There was a short break for a protest to be lodged against Matt Currell for a boat on boat collision but all was settled before we took to the track for race two. Helms were more at ease with their new vessels this time around and the timings quickly tumbled. Some racers were jockeying for position, vying to prove themselves on the track, whereas others were focusing on their own race, letting the numbers speak for themselves.
Chris Jennings was declared the winner of race two, winning the regatta overall with a 2nd and a 1st, followed in second overall by Tim Harms with a 1st and a 3rd, and Gavin Willis in third overall with a 3rd and a 2nd. Freya Lillywhite was the leading lady in both races, proving the racing stripes on her car are the real deal.
Congratulations to all our competitors and their endless pursuit of competition. Hopefully some energy has been left in the tank for the final day of racing.
Racing continues Thursday 3rd August, with three races scheduled watch live on Merlin Rocket Owners’ Association Facebook. Racing is followed by the Championship prizegiving this evening.
Thank you to our sponsors Aspire Financials Advisers, WEST SYSTEMS, GK Engineering and DinghyTec.