Results / Youth Championships

Itchenor SC
09/09/2023 - 10/09/2023
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Merlin Rocket Youth Championships

The hottest weekend of the year arrived, perfect for the hottest event on the calendar: the inaugural Merlin Rocket Youth Championships. Young sailors from many different fleets traipsed their way to Itchenor Sailing Club from across the country, some even making their way from the exotic lands of Scotland and Birmingham, and they were met by 16 beautiful (loaned) boats loaded up on double stackers. Word on the street is that Freya Lillywhite personally towed about 12 of them to the club herself.

We deployed the Merlin sailors to the boat park to aid with the rigging, as it turns out that setting up the 200 pieces of string on a Merlin is not intuitive, no matter how brilliant a sailor you are. Happy to report that most boats seemed to be set up correctly, although I couldn’t really tell seeing as no one has seen me rig a Merlin in about two years (thanks James). 

The weekend then started with some land-based coaching from the incomparable George Yeoman and Rob Henderson, generously loaning their time and expertise, before the illusive breeze finally appeared and we were thrown down the estuary for a bit of on-the-water coaching and practice.

As a south-westerly breeze was holding, the race team swiftly set up a windward-leeward course and set us in motion. It quickly became apparent that the left was paying with Ollie Meadowcroft and Anna Aylward, James and Fran Gifford, and Alice Davis and Oliver Rayner among the boats leading up the beat on the left.

Ollie and Anna lead round the windward mark and maintained the lead to the leeward mark. There were some changes in position around the leeward mark as the more experienced Merlin sailors, like Chloe Willars with super crew John Tailby were able to navigate the drops more quickly.

Most boats sensibly went left on the second beat, fighting to judge the layline with the tide and shifts. The second run was more entertaining with more gybes, again allowing the more experienced crews a slightly easier time. Ollie and Anna stayed ahead to cross the line first, followed by Chloe and John, then James and Fran. The wind was just holding on so another race was attempted, but two general recalls later and the race team judged the wind too light and called it a day.

The Saturday night social took place in the campsite, with a very healthy competition between crews and helms - crews obviously winning. Those that were camping fell asleep to the well-known lullaby ‘it’s a shoe’, and Day 2 arrived with everyone looking extremely fresh and perky. Whoever said young people don’t get hangovers has clearly never witnessed this group of sailors.

The sun was back out and we raced to rig in time to get on the water, ready to sit and wait for the wind. Another tricky forecast for the race team as the wind was due to begin spinning around in circles whilst also dropping. While we had an easterly breeze they set another windward-leeward course and attempted to send us off. However, the youth had quickly learnt how to start races like real Merlin sailors and two general recalls followed. Under a black flag the fleet was eventually away!

Halfway up the beat the wind had a big 50 degree shift around to the south, meaning it was now more luck of the draw where you started off the line. Those on the left lost out whilst those on the right were now pointing at the mark. James and Fran rounded the windward mark first, and held that position for the remainder of the race.

The run had become a reach, without quite enough power to attack the boats ahead. The ribs swooped in to move the windward mark but James and Fran were already back on the beat so they didn’t have much time to lay it. It obviously paid to go right this time, but you were quickly on the layline. The resulting race was somewhat processional, as there was another reach to the finish and given the shifty wind the race team finished the race early. Hannah Carruthers and Isobel Stewart crossed the line in 2nd place, and Hayden and Freya Sewell were in 3rd place.

The fleet were kept out for another few hours to see if any raceable wind materialised but sadly all that turned up was rain. Some follow my leader commenced around the estuary as the race team gamely tried several options but none stuck and we were sent back in. As it turns out the breeze that took us in was the best of the weekend and we enjoyed a lovely reach to the club!

Our 2023 Youth Champions are James and Fran Gifford!

2nd place was Alice Davis and Oliver Rayner, also winning the first youth team, the first female helm and first non-Merlin team. 

3rd place was Ollie Meadowcroft and Anna Aylward

4th place was Chloe Willars and John Tailby

5th place was Hayden and Freya Sewell


Thank you so much to In The Welsh Wind for sponsoring the event!

Thank you to Fernhurst Books for providing spot prizes for the event, awarded to:

Youngest helm: Samson Cross

Human outboard award: George Bender

Furthest travelled: Calum Bell and Oliver Maclean

Happiest boat: Tom Hartland Smith and Alex Warren

In love with the right: Will Wilkinson

Thank you also to Box PR and Creation Covers for sponsoring the event with some lovely water bottles.

Thank you to Itchenor Sailing Club for hosting us and to George Yeoman and Rob Henderson for coaching us. Thanks to our race team for dealing with the difficult conditions and the shore and house team!

Thank you Anna Aylward for the report.

Merlin Youth Championships



Results are provisional as of 15:51 on September 10, 2023

Merlin Rocket Fleet

Sailed: 2, Discards: 0, To count: 2, Entries: 17, Scoring system: Appendix A
Rank Fleet Boat Name Sail.No Home Club HelmName CrewName HelmAge CrewAge R1 09/09/23 R2 10/09/23 Total Nett
1st Merlin Rocket Hot Totty 3676 University of Strathclyde Sailing Club/S James Gifford Frances Gifford 19 46 3.0 1.0 4.0 4.0
2nd Merlin Rocket Stolen from Meds 3666 Yorkshire Dales SC / Draycote Alice Davis Oliver Rayner 18 18 4.0 5.0 9.0 9.0
3rd Merlin Rocket The Bear 3766 Upper Thames SC Oliver Meadowcroft Anna Aylward 19 26 1.0 9.0 10.0 10.0
4th Merlin Rocket Quicksilver 3787 Notts County SC Chloe Willars John Tailby 21 24 2.0 8.0 10.0 10.0
5th Merlin Rocket No idea 3707 WPNSA Hayden Sewell Freya Sewell 19 18 8.0 3.0 11.0 11.0
6th Merlin Rocket Stealth 3722 Frensham Pond Sailing Club Charlotte VIdelo Katrina Gilbert 20 51 9.0 4.0 13.0 13.0
7th Merlin Rocket Roberta 3796 Frensham Pond Sailing Club Rebecca Videlo Megan Pascoe 22 36 7.0 6.0 13.0 13.0
8th Merlin Rocket 3654 3654 Frensham Pond Sailing Club Hannah Carruthers Isobel Stewart 19 20 13.0 2.0 15.0 15.0
9th Merlin Rocket Tiger Tiger 3696 Shoreham SC Tom Hartland Smith Alex Warren 18 30 5.0 11.0 16.0 16.0
10th Merlin Rocket Moist 3643 Midland Sailing Club Calum Bell Oliver Maclean 22 22 6.0 10.0 16.0 16.0
11th Merlin Rocket Merlin Rocket 3658 Emsworth SC Megan Farrer Arthur Bailey 18 18 10.0 7.0 17.0 17.0
12th Merlin Rocket Keyser soze 3684 Royal Windermere yacht club Robert Richardson Ollie Hawkins 22 21 12.0 12.0 24.0 24.0
13th Merlin Rocket Easy Rider 3618 Midland Sailing Club Sebi Schmidt George Bender 23 26 11.0 14.0 25.0 25.0
14th Merlin Rocket Roberta 3756 Shoreham SC Samson Cross Jonty Freeman 14 30 14.0 13.0 27.0 27.0
15th Merlin Rocket Monkey Puzzle 3706 OCSS Alex Baxter Callum Farnden 24 24 15.0 15.0 30.0 30.0
16th Merlin Rocket Never Been to Salcombe 3812 WQSC - HLSC Will Wilkinson Oliver Winder 19 23 16.0 16.0 32.0 32.0
17th Merlin Rocket N/A 3732 Upper Thames Sailing Club Alex Pausey Ben Hollis 23 36 18.0 DNC 18.0 DNC 36.0 36.0


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