Blithfield Open 2005
Those turning up on Blithfields hallowed shores may have been forgiven
for thinking that the misty start to the day would lead to sedate sailing
conditions. However, the shelter of the clubhouse gave a false sense of
security – once out in the racing area, it was a proper sitting-out
breeze, and a real test of Man and Machine. There were a few breakages
and a few capsizes to keep the safety team on their toes.|
It is a true testament to the Merlin Association that so many boats turned up to fight it out at Blithfield. Not only was the turnout brilliant, but the standard of the competitors was truly outstanding. As ever, the facilities off and organisation on the water on were outstanding, and the racing was extremely close throughout the field of almost 40 boats. Race 1 got under way with a clean start with locals Peter and Nicky Smith taking the early lead in their 8 year old 'Let it Ride' only to be overhauled by another LIR of marginally younger vintage, crewed by Glen Truswell and Paul Davies. They extended their lead to the finish while David Winder and Jilly Blake crept up to second in their plastic fantastic. Team Smith held third pipping Al Warren to the line. Afterwards lunch was taken in the clubhouse and the competitors were able to evaluate their rivals and tweak boats/sails. Then, everyone was back out on the water for more racing. The wind had piped up significantly and Glen and Davo were beginning to enjoy themselves winning by over a leg as they powered around the course. Pat Blake and Alex Jackson took second managing just ahead of Dave and Jilly (Pat's better half). A short break between races 2 & 3 allowed food and water to be replenished as appropriate. When the sailing's that hard work, a quick respite is VERY welcome!!
Although having won the open with two bullets Glen and Davo returned to the water to battle it out for the last race. The wind abated slightly and this time Dave and Jilly made the most of the conditions to squeeze Glen and Davo to second, Richard Whitworth and Elena Bremer took third with fellow Hollingworth lake sailors Jules Parry and Pippa Taylor fourth. At the end of the day, the battle was comprehensively won by Glen and Davo in their (quite old) wooden boat - proving that you don't need to sail the latest plastic (carbon) fantastic to win! With prizes going down to 6th place, the home boat of Peter and (the ever suffering) Nicky (also sailing in wood) deserve a mention for taking a prize home, especially as they don't regularly compete on the circuit.
As ever the event wouldn't have been possible without the army of volunteers who were critical to the success of the day - Christine Price in the galley and Steve Hendon on the water with their respective teams. - Thank you.
It all looks very promising for a Storming Merlin Inlands in 2006!
Report: Tim Male
Photos: Don Stokes