Starcross Yacht Club welcomed 26 teams early on Saturday morning, 21 April. For those who haven't been fortunate enough to visit, you will find this little gem of a club in a stunning setting on the Exe estuary accessing it by a small tunnel that goes underneath the railway!
Race one got underway after the wind managed to settle long enough for the race team to set a good square windward leeward course. The fleet split tactics with those utilising the right hand side of the beat coming out on top at the windward mark. Different tactics were used throughout the fleet downwind with those playing with the angles and others setting up for a run. Places were changing throughout the fleet as shifts and pressure came into play. First across the line was Christian Birrell and Tom Pygall, 2nd Matt Biggs and Beka Jones and 3rd was Olly Turner and Holly Scott.
Race two started in a nice sea breeze that slow built throughout. The fleet battled up the first beat with those picking the correct shifts coming out on top, however after the first downwind everything was to change. The front pack headed towards the shallows, which looking back seemed like a tour of the sandbanks (on a falling tide) to get out of the ripping current, however those who believed in the shortest distance being the fastest way to the leeward mark had an inside rounding on which saw 20-odd boats arriving to the leeward mark at the same time. The tables had turned, some of the front runners from the first race saw the majority of the fleet heading off upwind.
Will and Mary Henderson lead the majority of the fleet throughout the race with Christian Birrell and Tom Pygall, Olly Turner and Holly Scott, The Chris' and Caroline Croft and Matt Lullham-Robinson in hot pursuit. The last leeward mark (right in front of the club house) saw the Henderson's under pressure from Christian and Tom and Caroline and Matt which resulted in Will getting his tiller extension caught in the mainsheet allowing Caroline and Matt to take the inside line out of the mark. The last stint towards the finish saw split strategies from Christian and Tom, Will and Mary and Caroline and Matt. Caroline and Matt took the gun followed by Christian and Tom and in third Place Will and Mary.
Due to the lack of water, racing was called off for the rest of the day and the fleet headed a sure for some well deserved beers in the sunshine with the infamous Starcross curry for dinner!
Sunday morning saw thick fog over the estuary, so racing was postponed until it cleared. The race team managed to get the racing underway after a short delay and the fleet launched in to a clearing fog, although it did feel at the time like a scene out of Pirates of the Caribbean as you saw Merlin rigs appear out of the white fog. Light winds faced the fleet and it was all about boat speed to the first windward mark. The top 5 were constantly changing throughout the race but Matt and Beka came out on top followed by Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby, third was snapped by Mike and Jane Calvert who managed to sneak through from 5th to 3rd in the last stint to the finish.
The last race on Sunday saw the leaders (Matt and Beka) black flagged and headed ashore to await the last race (which was not to happen). Light winds and big windshifts were in play as the fleet lined up for the last time. Big gains were to be made on the first downwind leg as the majority of the fleet stayed on starboard gybe, the tailenders most of which had got tangled on the committee boat at the start decided to gybe set at the windward mark and over take the mid-fleet bundle. The first boat across the line were Mike and Jane Calvert followed by the Chris' and 3rd went to Olly Turner and Holly Scott.
The last race was abandoned after the wind completely died from the south. This left Matt and Beka to take the win with the Chris' pulling through to take second from Caroline and Matt.
A big thank you must go to all the volunteers at Starcross Yacht Club who made us all feel very welcome and the Galley team who kept us well fed throughout the weekend. Thank you to the race committee headed up by race officer Russel Gibs who put some great races on in some really light tough conditions. Lastly thank you the Merlin Rocket sponsors, Craftinsure and Magic Marine, the official clothing partner for the class.