Upper Thames Sailing Club hosted the Craftinsure Vintage De May, Thames Series and for the first time the Allen South East series over the weekend of 16 and 17 September. The Craftinsure De May races were held on the Saturday with an easterly 6-7mph breeze in warm and humid conditions. The easterly wind meant an upstream committee boat start for all three races, with the course down to the home mark and finish line at the club house and a long mark upstream of the committee boat. The start line with 17 Merlins was quite tight but Race 1 got away cleanly with Andrew Harris and Sarah Warren finishing first in 607 Crescendo. After a short break the Race 2 start was much more competitive with crews competing for the Committee Boat end of the line and which resulted in 2 general recalls. The third start got away cleanly, and the race was won by Chris and Pippa Philby in 1996 Queen Philippa just ahead of Crescendo in second place and 1951 Bottle Rocket in third helmed by Mark Addison and crewed by Guy Jacobs.
After lunch the third race was also raced for the Spade Oak Bowl for all ages of Merlins and the fleet was joined by 3451 Deep Thought crewed by UTSC cadets Daniel Eddison and Jake Gould. For this race with the slightly stronger breeze the long mark had been moved further up stream and this stretched the fleet and reduced the bunching that had been occurring at the marks. The third start was clean, and the race was won by Crescendo, with 3560 Luka crewed by Ollie Housman and Egle Tumosa, in second place and Queen Philippa in third.
The overall De Amy final results were: first, Andrew Harris and Sarah Warren in Crescendo, second, Chris and Pippa Philby in Queen Philippa and in third Mark Addison and Guy Jacobs in Bottle Rocket.
The three Sunday Races were for the Thames Series and for the first time at UTSC the Allen South East Series. The breeze was again from the east, so the races followed the same format as Saturday with a downstream start from the committee boat. The breeze had picked up overnight and was now at a consistent 10 to 12mph so was more challenging but without any major gusts to really trouble the crews. Race 1 was a clean start and Kevin Rose and Tre Jacobs in 3686 If, led from the start to finish first with a clear lead over Crescendo in second and Queen Philippa in third. The second start was again clean, and this race was won by Mark Stockbridge and Charlie Ashley in 3727 Fragile. During the lunch break the forecasted rain arrived and unfortunately this also killed the breeze, which was reduced to no more than 3-4mph. As a result, the course for the third race was shortened with the long mark now only a short distance above the committee boat. There was a clean start and Andrew Harris in Crescendo took an early lead followed by Luka in second and further back Mark Stockbridge in Fragile. With the conditions the race had become a bit of a procession with Crescendo in a clear lead but as the rain faded away the breeze slowly started to return and as it did the main interest was whether Fragile which was now the fastest Merlin on the water would catch Luka before the finish. Unfortunately for Mark and Charlie they didn’t quite have enough time to make up the distance and so the race finished with Crescendo in first, Luka in second and Fragile in third.
The overall results for both the Thames Series and the Allen South East series were in first Andrew Harris and Sarah Warren in Crescendo, second place went to Mark Stockbridge and Charlie Ashley in Fragile and in third place was Ollie Housman and Egle Tumosa in Luka.
At the prize giving Andrew Harris and Sarah Warren were presented with the Allen Challenge Trophy for the Thames series and Paul Dean the organiser of the Allen South East Series presented four prizes from Allen to other members of the fleet, and these prizes were intended to celebrate and encourage wider participation in racing at Merlin Opens.