11 Merlins sail HD Sails Midland Circuit at Banbury

This year the Banbury open did not hold ST status so this the second event of the  HD Sails 2018 Midland Circuit was mixed in with normal club racing and this proved to work very well for both the open event and the club sailors who did not loose a days sailing by hosting the visiting Merlins. 

A prompt start to first race saw majority of the fleet making the first start. However someone who will remain nameless locked their boat on the front drive in order to make a prompt get away in the morning but (accidently) threw the key into the bushes for safe keeping and failed to make it to the first race. 

The first race was a short course using only half of the reservoir whilst the OD waited for the breeze to settle, this proved to make it difficult to pass, making a great start very important in deciding overall positions.  Race 1 was led by Paul Hollis and Paula Mason until a freak gust propelled Steve and Gill Leney down the run and past Paul & Paula and on to win.

The second race was back to back over an extended course and eventually won by Richard Dee and Nancy Gudgeon, followed by Chris Martin and Jamie Mason then Steve & Gill Leney.  

This left the whole meeting down to the last race with potentially 4 boats that could win.  

After some discussion with the O.D. over lunch, the fleet (and OD) decided on a windward, leeward course using the full length of the reservoir.  

From a scrambled start, the windward mark saw a lot of surprised competitors finding themselves unusually far up the fleet. 

Chris Martin rounded the leeward mark the wrong way and then tried to unwind and threw the whole fleet into disarray.  

Martin Smith & Karen Beston thus found themselves leading race 3.

Richard Dee then took the lead but was himself tracked down by Paul Hollis who held the lead to the end to take the race and the meeting.

Racing was close and competitive all through the fleet with places changing on a regular basis on every leg, this meant that not only was the event winner decided in the final race but also the very minor places at the rear of fleet providing just as much fun for the lower order competitors as those at the front.


Tea and cakes were served after the event as per the usual Banbury hospitality.


Posted: 16/04/2018 10:30:41

Big fleet at Salcombe

The Salcombe Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller on 7th and 8th April comprised of 59 entries, making it one of the largest open meetings of the year and causing the usual mayhem on the start line we normally see from Merlin Week!

On the Friday before the meeting, many of the sailors celebrated the marriage of James and Gina Warren, which was also the cause for some very sore heads on the Saturday morning! Along with the fuzzy heads, there were some very light sailing conditions forecast creating some very challenging racing. The first race went underway with a blistering start from Tim Fells and Fran Gifford close to the Portlemouth shore, followed closely by Chris Jennings and Oli Wells. There was a close battle throughout the race, which saw Chris and Oli nip past to take the win followed by Tim and Fran. In 3rd place were sisters Pippa Taylor and Jen Dodds.

The breeze filled in slightly for the start of the second race and after shaking their hangovers, Andy 'Taxi' Davis and Alex Warren got off to a cracking start. They extended their lead by quite a margin, however with a lack of breeze through the bag, Christian Birrell and Ian Dobson managed to creep their way back to them and claim the win. 2nd place was Taxi and Alex followed by Simon and Ally Potts.

On the Sunday morning there was a strong lack of wind, but the sailors were hopeful and were greeted with a slight increase in pressure on the way out to the start. Matt Biggs and Becka Jones lead round the windward mark followed by Taxi and Alex, who dropped back to fourth place. A fierce duel between the Calvert's, Mike and Jane, the Henderson's, Will and Mary and Matt and Becka commenced throughout the majority of the race. Mike and Jane managed to come out on top, followed by Matt and Becka and in 3rd were Will and Mary.

It was all to play for in the final race and with another great start, Matt and Becka took the lead early on. Rob Henderson and Alice Markham, with the theme tune to strictly come dancing humming in their heads, made the tactical decision to cross over to Salcombe side, against the current and the odds. This paid for them massively, which saw them pile the pressure onto Matt and Becka. They managed to keep cool heads to remain in the lead and take the win, 2nd was Rob and Alice and in 3rd was Caroline Croft and Matt Lullham-Robinson.

The final results of this relatively high scoring weekend were in 3rd Taxi and Alex, 2nd Mike and Jane and the winners of Salcombe Open Meeting 2018 were Christian and Ian. Many thanks from all the Merlin sailors to Salcombe Yacht Club for a superb event!

Thank you to sponsors Doombar, Salcombe Gin, Magic Marine and Craftinsure.

Posted: 10/04/2018 15:35:51

28 Merlins sail Chicester ST

Chichester Yacht Club's first open event of the "Summer" season was a combined event for the Merlins and the Hadron H2. The day started with many travelling boats being assembled in the car park of the sailing club on a cold and overcast morning with a light to medium wind from the west.

The Race Officer, Richard Anderton, set a triangle-sausage course across the lake, trying to maximise the length of the beat in the westerly wind. The racing started at 11am as soon as the water was deep enough for the Merlins to sail over Monkey Island in the middle of the lake.

There was a good turn out of 28 Merlins to attend the first race in their Silver Tiller series. At quality of the fleet was demonstrated by half the fleet claiming a top 5 result in one or more races. In Race 1, the winner was Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby. The course had to be relaid before race two due to a southerly shift in the wind, Race 2 was won by Christian Birrell and Sam Bevoy. Race three was won by Ben and Roz McGrane from Netley SC.

When the series results were calculated Ben and Roz McGrane were the winners with 4 points, then three boats had 5 points, with Christian Birrel and Sam Bevoy taking second place, Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby taking third and Roger and Jane Gilbert fourth.

For the second year, the event was shared with the Hadron H2 open meeting. This year 7 boats travelled to the event. The clear winner with three first places was Ian Dawson from Warsash SC, Second was Simon Hipkin from Walton and Frinton SC and third was Richard Holden from Arun YC. At the prize giving the designer of the Hadron boats, Keith Callaghan, donated prizes to award to each of the competitors.

Posted: 03/04/2018 09:17:09

16 Merlins sail the Warming Pan

This year the 56th Hamble Warming Pan was part of the Craftinsure Silver Tiller, that saw 16 Merlins entered for the Saturday and 18 on the Sunday with a couple of late arrivals. Even though there were only 18 entered, they were an exceptionally strong bunch of sailors, who would be tested against the light elements forecast for the weekend.

The first race kicked off with sharp tacking towards the mouth of the estuary with a windward, leeward course set up just outside. Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby had a fantastic start to put them into the lead early on, closely followed by Andy 'Taxi' Davis and Alex Warren and then Caroline Croft crewed by Matt Lullham-Robinson. These positions remained till the end of the race, with Caroline and Matt managing to hold off Stuart Bithell and Tom Pygall who finished fouth.

After a scrumptious lunch on shore the sailors set out again for the second race with conditions becoming slightly lighter and making it even more challenging. Chris and Chris, despite the challenging conditions, managed to punch out on the start again to settle into a comfortable lead. Closely followed again by Taxi and Alex with Stu and Tom in third. During the second beat of the race, a slight mistake by Taxi an Alex gave Stu and Tom the chance to slip through. The finishing boats were Chris and Chris first, Stu and Tom second and Taxi and Alex in third.

Day 2 of the Open saw the arrival of two more boats: Christian Birrell crewed by Matt Mee, and Richard Whitworth crewed by Edward Scroggie, which boosted the strength of the fleet even more so! The first race started with a very tricky running start, however with much experience and skill Will Henderson crewed by Mary Henderson managed to take to lead, closely followed by Stu and Tom. With a lot of tacking up the river, Stu and Tom just managed to pip Will and Mary to win the race, with Cristian and Matt in third.

After another delightful lunch it was all to play for in the afternoon. With the windward mark set a mile further up the river it displayed further challenges to the competitors. Up the first beat Taxi and Alex took the lead, followed by Chris and Chris, who ended up the wrong side of a pontoon causing them to tack every few seconds due to the lack of water. Taxi and Alex managed to take charge of the lead for the remainder of the race with Stu and Tom finishing second and Christian and Matt finishing in third again. Finishing in the top two was just enough for Stu and Tom meaning they won the weekend, second overall was Chris and Chris, and in third was Taxi and Alex.

On behalf of all the competitors we would like to thank Hamble River Sailing Club for hosting such a great event and producing some brilliant racing.

The 2018 Silver Tiller is sponsored by Craftinsure, with Magic Marine as the official clothing partner for the class.

Posted: 26/03/2018 16:56:30

20 Merlins race at Wembley

Chilly out and chilli in - a bracing day sailing at Wembley.

Despite the truly awful weather forecast 20 Merlin Rockets turned out for the second Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller open meeting of the season on Sunday 18 March 2018.

Of the 20 boats there were 11 visitors from as far afield as Salcombe, Bartley, Blithfield, Hayling Island, Trent Valley and closer to home from Fishers' Green.

After the welcoming mugs of hot tea and bacon rolls, John and Judy Gill organised three shortish races run back to back to try and keep things going and the 40 competitors from being frozen in the Arctic conditions. With the wind from the favourable north east direction but ranging from 18 to 30mph gusts with big shifts these were challenging conditions over the windward leeward course.

The first race was led from start to finish by Andy Davies and Alex Warren with Matt Biggs and Becca Jones in pursuit. Tim Fells and Fran Gifford recovered from an early infringement to come third. Jon Gorringe and Pete Gray put down a marker by coming forth. As John Gill promised the sequence second race started immediately after the last finisher had crossed the line and this time Jon Gorringe set off around the windward mark first and established a reasonably comfortable lead only to be hunted down by Andy and Alex, who closed the gap to the last run only to capsise during a gybe (claims of frozen spinnaker sheets were later heard) and Jon and Pete sailed to victory.

By the third race the challenging conditions were taking their toll and a total of 11 boats lined up to start with only 10 finishing. With a win apiece, it was close between Andy and Jon with Matt and Tim both in the frame. Jon made (too) good a start and was disqualified for being over. Andy and Alex were in the lead only this time to be challenged by Matt and Becca who overtook them down the last run only to lose out at the penultimate mark where Andy was able to get water to take the lead again and after that made no mistake crossing the line 1st.

On reaching the shore the frozen but exhilarated Merlin sailors were met with a cup of hot vegetable soup to warm them up, followed by the famous Wembley chilli con carne for a late lunch and the prize-giving.

Thanks to our Silver Tiller sponsors Craftinsure and Magic Marine, to the Wembley RS200 and Laser fleets for providing the much-used rescue service and the catering and to Anthony Rickaby the Wembley Merlin class captain for organizing it all.

The final results were Andy and Alex in first, Matt and Becca second, Jon and Pete third with Tim Fells and Fran fourth (also winning the Century Cup for having a combined age of 100 or more – amazingly enough!), Caroline Croft and Matt Lulham Robinson were fifth and Jack Holden and Rob Henderson in sixth place.

Posted: 19/03/2018 08:55:55

23 Merlins visit Bartley

Sunshine and light winds welcomed 23 Merlin Rockets to Bartley Sailing Club on Sunday the 11th March for the first event of the Craftinsure Silver Tiller and the HD Midland Circuit. Howard Eeles our race officer and Mike Gibson our assistant race officer briefed all the competitors on the warm sunny patio which has been a nice change compared to the sub 5 degrees and snow!

Race one got a way cleanly with Matt Biggs and Beka Jones winning the port end of the line, but Rob Kennaugh and Andrew Prosser picked out the winning shift up the first beat to be the first boat to round the windward mark. Throughout the race the top 5 boats were constantly changing positions through the varying shifts and gusts that Bartley had to offer. Matt and Beka got through Rob and Andrew to take the first race win. Caroline Croft and Chris Gould pulled through to take second place on the last beat; Andy (Taxi) Davis and Pete Gray came through to take third. Duncan and Harriet Salmon sailed a good race holding on to fourth place having sailed the majority of the race in third. Carl Whitehill and Alan Robinson had their best result of the weekend in one of the three wooden boats that took to the water finishing in 18th.

After the first race we all headed back ashore for some well earned jacket potatoes with a variety of fillings which went down very well for all the hungry sailors, so thank you to Sophie and her team!

The conditions as forecasted picked up after lunch with some nice big black gusts fanning out as they hit the water, the temperature dropping slightly as the sun disappeared behind the grey clouds. Race two also started cleanly but with a different winner at the port end, Taxi and Pete. As many of us were finding out our raking systems were not as slick as last year. Taxi and Pete lead from mark one onwards, extending their lead to win race two. Caroline and Chris finished second after having a long hard battle with Matt and Beka who came in third. Fourth place was highly contested for throughout the race after the top three broke away. Colin Anderson and John Hackett came out on top in fourth place followed by Steve and Gill Leney in fifth, Rob and Andrew in sixth and Paul Hollis and Paula Mason in seventh. Stuart Harris and Rebecca Baker had their best result in 3229 (one of the other wooden Merlins) finishing in 17th.

After two races Taxi and Pete, Matt and Beka and Caroline and Chris were all joint on 4 points, so all was to play for going into the last race. With the last course of the day set, the wind building and the lead boat in position, race three was ready to get underway. It was down to the sailors to decide which end they thought was going to give the biggest advantage. Taxi and Pete went for the port end again which had paid in the previous two races, Matt and Beka went for the starboard end of the line and Caroline and Chris started a quarter of the way down from the starboard end. The wind was shifting as much as 40 degrees and the race was on to see who would get to the windward mark first. Halfway up the first beat, the wind came in on the right lifting the whole fleet on starboard, however as the wind dropped towards the dam, it shifted left helping out Taxi and Pete who led to the windward mark. Caroline and Chris rounded in second with Rob and Andrew in third. Some big gusts treated the sailors to a nice broad reach down to the bottom of the reservoir. Taxi and Pete sailed on to extend their lead and win race 3. Matt and Beka came through the fleet to take second and Rob and Andrew took third with Caroline and Chris taking up fourth.

Rob Kennaugh and Andrew Prosser were the first visiting boat, Richard Cooke and Russel Hall were the furthest travelled Merlin and Stuart Harris and Rebecca Baker won the oldest boats prize in 3229. A big thank you must go out to Howard Eeles our race officer and his assistant Mike Gibson for setting some great courses which were different for each race. A big thanks to Simon Hardiman and his safety boat team and being the lead boat. Lastly a big thank you to Mark Reddington for organising the opening of this year's Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller and the HD Midland Circuit as well as to Bartley Sailing Club for putting on a great event, and Magic Marine, the official clothing partner for the class.

Posted: 15/03/2018 11:43:46

2017 HD Sails Midland Circuit Party

After a season of steely determination without securing a single victory at any HD Sails Midland Circuit events Caroline Croft secured Midland Circuit history by becoming the first female helm to win the circuit in its 50 year history. Caroline was never out of the top three and even discarded podium finishes in the final points calculations, it was this consistency that secured her win. Yesterday evening Class Chairman Chris presented her with her trophy.
Gill Leney was delighted to win the headline sponsors prize draw jib which was presented to her by Andy TAXI Davis 

Posted: 08/03/2018 09:02:20

Aspire 2018 Champs Website

Latest update to the Champs website. Only 74 places left.
6 entries already
New, easy complete, Entry Form 
Remember - Early Entry Fee ends 1 May 2018
Maximum Entry - 80 

Posted: 07/03/2018 13:52:06

Aspire 2018 Champs Website

The Aspire 2018 Merlin Rocket Championship website is now open. Check out details of the event, our hosts (Lyme Regis SC), the local area, NoR, Entry form and lots more. 

Posted: 02/03/2018 14:02:47

Aspire 2018 Nationals - Early Entry Fee

Early Entry Fee - see details on the Forum. Champs website will be on line shortly. Date to be announced on Forum

Posted: 16/02/2018 21:59:33