|Salcombe Yacht Club was proud to have been chosen to run the final Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Event of the year, and also hosted the Silver Tiller Prize Giving Black Tie dinner for the first time. |
However the weekend kicked off on Friday with a retirement party for Brian Chegwyn, a legend to all visiting dinghy sailors and yachtsmen, who has retired after thirty years of service as Steward to the club, at a little short of eighty years of age.
Over two hundred and fifty past and present members turned up to toast Brian and Sylvia, following a speech by Solo Class Captain, Adrian Griffin, who recounted Brian's long and colourful history.
It was fitting that this celebration coincided with the Merlin Rocket event; since they have had a particular mutual fondness for Brian's welcome and for Bar Diving, which it is now learnt, was a hand down from the antics of Looe Rugby Club with whom Brian had been previously involved.
Saturday dawned, with a twenty five knot breeze in the race area at sea, with a forecast for the speed to increase to well into the thirties; Race Officer David Greening rescheduled what was meant to be a Sea Event, into two inside-of-the-harbour races starting at the originally advertised starting time of 12 o'clock.
By abandoning the sea event, any challenge to Andy 'Taxi' Davis's grasp of the Silver Tiller title evaporated.
By this time the 25 knots and increasing was blowing down the harbour, and the 23 entries faced challenging conditions. A course was set around the creeks.
Davis, sailing with Rob Kennaugh were the class act, they port tacked the start, and built up a good lead by Blackstone, and then sailed an epic run, on the front of a monster gust, with spinnaker pinned down and helm and crew perched on the edge of the transom. By the time that they had planed into Yalton, it was game over.
Of the pursuers, Silver Tiller challenger Richard Whitworth, sailing with Hamish Kilburn was first to hear the cracking of carbon as his rig collapsed at Gerston. The Salcombe boat of Tim Fells and Fran Gifford came home second chased by Jon Gorringe and Nicky Bass.
The second race convened in a rapidly strengthening breeze, and despite protestations from the competitors who wanted to go to Blackstone, the race officer chose discretion and changed the windward mark to the closer Mill Bay mark.
Taxi once again won the port end of the line, and repeated his master class, followed by William Warren and Tim Fells, with their spinnakers up, a monster gust hit, causing the Fells' mast to explode, and Taxi and Warren having to duck to avoid the shards of carbon fibre.
Davis and Warren kept upright to the finish of a much shortened course in that order, followed by Sam Thompson sailing with local Keri Harris.
Meanwhile it had been the intention to run regular club racing in the strengthening breeze, but in light of the number of capsized boats before the racing had commenced, the Race Officer decided to abandon club racing for the day.
The 100+ Merlin Rocket sailors reconvened at Cliff House in the evening for the Silver Tiller Dinner, and Brian Chegwyn was honoured by being invited to present the prizes, and was presented with a print of Merlin Rockets sailing at Salcombe by artist and Olympic Silver Medallist Alan Warren.
By David Greening