Inland Championships 2005
Over the weekend of September 10th and 11th, 38 Merlin Rockets made the trek up to Bala Sailing Club in deepest, darkest North Wales where most competitors suddenly thought that winter had arrived as they were greeted by mizzly rain and cloud. The fleet was depleted of some notable people due to clashes with other events, some yotting and some personal, although it was good to see several new faces to this event. |
Winds all weekend were mainly Force 2 from the northeast with the odd gust, which meant that it was very shifty – some big gains and losses to be made by all! There was lots of place changing throughout the weekend and it was nice to sail “round the cans” on club courses rather than the familiar Olympic style courses . The fleet set off in heavy rain on Saturday but the sun was shining by the close of play Sunday.
With the Merlin fleet being a keen bunch on the starting line, there were several general recalls over the weekend, but the race officer was very generous as he didn’t want to disqualify competitors unnecessarily, and therefore didn’t use the black flag until the second recall of the final race. Instead, he used the round the ends penalty together with the 20% penalty which meant that a sinner would automatically have 8 places awarded to their final position. As this was not something that anyone relished, the 20% penalty flag was treated with the same decorum as the black flag.
The plan was to run three races on Saturday and two on Sunday in order to allow those who had travelled a distance to get home at a reasonable hour. This plan took a bit of a knock with the need to sail three races on Sunday as well following confusion at the finish of the second race on Saturday. Although not sailing the full course, there was no flag ‘S’ and ambiguity as to which side of the final mark to pass. There were boats all over the place, some trying to finish round the mark to port, some to starboard, and some trying to “unwind” themselves when they hadn’t got a gun at first attempt With half the fleet not getting a result, two protests against the race committee were lodged and the race was canned. A further protest for redress was then lodged which enabled the race committee to make alternative arrangements which would be fair for all competitors and allowed that race to be re-sailed on Sunday.
During the weekend there were four race winners over the five races, these being Mike and Jane Calvert who won two races, with David Winder/Jillie Blake, William Warren/Tom Perkins (who had a massive lead) and Andy Davis/Johnny McGovern (got the port line bias completely right and were waving at all those who were clamouring at the starboard end as they shot off!) all winning one race apiece.
There was serious competition for the Old Boats Prize with nine boats contesting this, including Jon Embrey & Jenny Jones who had just invested in a new deck stepped carbon mast for the famous “White Whale”, and in the last race on Sunday got the first beat completely right to be 4th at the windward mark. However, the final winners of the trophy were Mark Fuller and Ben Harridge.
With the Merlin Rocket originally being designed for women to crew, this criterion still holds good with 25% of the competitors being female. Eight of these were in the top ten boats, including two out of the three lady helms competing. Christina King, with Dad and ace Merlin helm Phil crewing for her, had two top five results to count and had also been first around the windward mark in the first race.
The “yoof” were also well represented within this fleet with 4 helms under the age of 21 competing for the Fossil Bowl which was won by Stuart Bithell. Apart from the four helms there were also numerous “yoof” crews – a great testament to the all round appeal of the boat and the health of the Merlin Rocket class in general.
Report: Judith Massey
See also - full results
Special Prizes: Maritime Plate (Helm and crew related by blood or marriage) Mike & Jane Calvert 3626 Business as Usual Tinker Trophy (First lady – helm or crew) Jane Calvert 3626 Business as Usual Bald Head (Helm over the age of 50) Dan Alsop 3539 Gangsta Paradise Fossil Bowl (Helm aged 21 or under) Stuart Bithell 3614 Vitesse Old Boat’s Prize Mark Fuller & Ben Harridge 3394 Best Improver over the weekend (1st race = 40 points; Last race = 15th place) Tim Male & John Gibbons 3547 Moondance Assassin