Results :: Upper Thames S.C. Open Meeting
|A Silver Tiller restricted event was held on Sunday 11th September 2016 at Upper Thames Sailing Club. The club, in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, is fortunate to have the widest section of the non-tidal Thames and has been promoting sailing for 130 years. The class is flourishing, with a respectable fleet of both vintage and modern Merlins enjoying river racing. |
The Silver Tiller was held on the second day of the Open and the sunny conditions were in stark contrast to the constant rain on the Saturday when the De May series was held. Unfortunately the breeze had departed with the rain so racing was delayed till 12.30pm.
The first race involving a fleet of 22 Merlins was held on a relatively short course up to the windward long mark at Spade Oak and a dog leg from the short to medium marks on the return to the club. At the start the wind was shifting 90 degrees from east to south and back which caused some problems for the competitors with three boats over the line at the start – and unfortunately Tiercel helmed by Pippa Taylor didn't return and so remained OCS.
Despite the good start the breeze dropped just as the leaders reached the tree cover on the Berkshire bank and the fleet quickly rafted up. Passing Cloud helmed by Richard Harris, Satisfaction helmed by Martin Hunter and the OCS Tiercel worked their way free of the fleet and rounded the long mark in that order but immediately came to a halt as the wind died again allowing the rest of the fleet to catch up. On the return leg Passing Cloud took advantage of the returning breeze and developed a clear lead with Satisfaction and Katy Lou helmed by Alex Jackson head to head and leading the following bunch. Passing Cloud continued to stretch its lead and had negotiated the dog leg before Satisfaction and Katy Lou had reached the short mark. The box decided to shorten the race with lunch for the fleet in mind and Passing Cloud crossed the line at some speed. Katy Lou came out on top in the tussle with Satisfaction and came home in second with Satisfaction third and the rest of the fleet coming home over the next 15 minutes.
After the lunch break with the wind now firmly from the south and continuing to fill, the long mark was moved further up-stream beyond Spade Oak. At the start the only boat over the line was Flipside helmed by Laurie Smart who quickly doubled back and lost virtually no time re-joining the race almost in mid fleet. The majority of the fleet then hugged the Berkshire bank apart from Chris Rathbone in Exquisite and Kevin Rose in Firestarter who gambled with their local knowledge that the Buckinghamshire bank can have a distinct advantage if a southerly breeze is strong enough. Initially it looked as though their gamble would work but half way to the long mark it became clear that the Berkshire bank was proving to be stronger with Exquisite and Firestarter falling back. Mike Calvert in Unfinished Business was first round the long mark followed by Passing Cloud and Flipside and this order was maintained through to the home mark with the rest of the fleet spread out. Unfinished Business maintained its lead through the second leg with Passing Could and Flipside fighting for second place. The race was shortened on the second lap with Unfinished Business coming through in first and with Flipside winning the tussle with Passing Cloud for second place.
The preparation for the third race saw the best wind conditions of the day and the start was keenly contested but with at least seven boats OCS on the start a general recall was given. The second start was a black flag start but some of the fleet hadn't noticed and both Martin Hunter in Satisfaction and Grace helmed by Alan Markham were over the line at the one minute and Snorter helmed by Alex Jones was OCS at the start - all three were black flagged. The rest of the fleet had been more cautious and had hung well back so got away cleanly. The stronger wind meant that the fleet could at last break away from the Berkshire Bank and could beat their way to the long mark with Clone Wars helmed by Chris Gould going round in first followed by Flipside and Passing Cloud. The stronger wind meant that spinnakers could now be used productively on the way back to the home mark and Clone Wars maintained its lead to the home mark with Flipside in second and Unfinished Business moving up to third. This order was maintained up to the long mark for the second time but on the return Laurie Smart in Flipside worked his way into the lead.
The leading three had now broken away from the rest of the fleet and on the third lap were involved in their own battle, which Flipside seemed to be winning and with it the Allen Challenge Cup up until Flipside hit the short mark on the return. Unfinished Business took advantage to take and keep the lead to the finish with Flipside following in second and Clone Wars coming home in third. This last minute change meant that the Allen Challenge Cup went to Mike Calvert and Jane Calvert in Unfinished Business; second place went to Richard Harris and Harry Harris in Passing Cloud and third place went to Laurie Smart and Vanessa Pilon in Flipside.
Our thanks go to all the competitors for attending the meeting, the race team and safety boat crews and the club looks forward to welcoming the fleet back next year.