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.