Hayling Open 2006
For the culmination of the ever-busy Silver Tiller series, 30 Merlin Rockets attended the Hayling Island Sailing Club open meeting on 29/30th October. A welcome return after a highly successful championships in 2005, the class always enjoy competitive racing and a thirst to please bar managers at all the clubs they visit. This was further enhanced by the annual Silver Tiller dinner and prize-giving being hosted at this event. More on this later. |
As a consequence, the racing programme was ordered to accommodate the last Silver Tiller results from racing on the Saturday. The Sunday racing was held for those who survived the dinner (only about half the fleet as it turned out - bar takings were good).
The fleet launched on a sunny afternoon with a 12 knot breeze blowing from the West, which steadily increased to 20 knots at times. It provided a fabulous spectacle to those of us lucky enough to be watching these aesthetically pleasing racing boats at speed. Being classified as an open water event (not sea) in the Silver Tiller series, racing was held in the lee of East Head, near the Ellanore harbour racing mark.
The Merlin Rockets are lively starters, every championship race officer would testify, and for PRO Paul Maxfield and his team, they provided the usual challenge. Fortunately a rising tide held the fleet back a little in race 1, but it didn't stop a few offenders to creep over, notably Richard Whitworth and Ellie Bremer in Filthy/Gorgeous, and newly wedded Dave and Rachel Dobrijevic in Smart Tart. Filthy/Gorgeous realised the error and rounded the ends to re-start. Smart Tart failed to do so, convinced they were clear. They led at the first mark, unaware of their fate.
Near the finish, a few of the race leaders hadn't counted the required laps, and carried on up the next beat. Proving that an old sea dog can keep his marbles, Pat Blake (aided by Alex Jackson) in Hot Totty, saw the error and sailed the dogleg finish to take the win. Other beneficiaries were John Bell and Graham Williamson (Time & Tide), followed by Dan Alsop and Jennie King (Gangsta Paradise – there's a song in there somewhere).
Keeping up the Merlin tradition, a few boats were a little too quick out of the blocks in race 2, namely the Gangsta pair and Mark Ampleforth. Leading the race was Smart Tart followed by Simon Potts (a guest helm for National Champ Chris Robinson), with a hard charging Whitworth and Bremer taking advantage of the gusts in the lee of East Head, storming up to the leading pair. They took second after the gybe mark. Leading still was Hot Totty, finally overhauled by Filthy/Gorgeous. This meant a showdown between the Hot Totty boys on 1,2 and Filthy/Gorgeous with 4,1. Will age win over Filthy and Gorgeous?!
As tiredness in the breezy and cooling conditions crept in, the fleet reduced in size. The final race was shortened to two laps, to the relief of all - energy required for the fast approaching drinkin', eatin', dancin' and drinkin'. The showdown winners were the Filthy/Gorgeous pair, with tight race from the Hot Totties, Smart Tarts and fourth (first mention in this report) Glenn Truswell and Paul Davies in Storm Cloud.
A consistent set of scores saw the Filthy/Gorgeous pair (which one's which?) take the overall win for the meeting, and also deserved winners of the overall Silver Tiller series for 2006.
The Merlin Rocket Annual Dinner
For some unknown reason, my memory of the evening's frivolities is somewhat sketchy...
Another lovely day! But hardly any wind greeted the sore headed fleet of about 15 boats as Paul Maxfield led them out of the harbour like Mother Duck. The choice to race in the bay was made because the racing was non-Silver Tiller and would give better space than a crowded Sunday Chichester Harbour.
The North Westerly breeze rose to 8 to 10 knots for the start of the first race, which later dropped to 5 knots. The initial leader was Judith Massey and Ellie Bremer in Artemis, but showing that competition comes before marital vows, husband Graham Williamson (with guest helm Hector Cisneros) took the lead to the finish.
Perhaps determined not to let hubby get the best start, Judith was over-eager in race 2, and was over within the minute, so Artemis had to round the ends. In a dying breeze, they headed upwind and didn't stop until the beach. After a tight race, Dan Alsop and Jennie King out-crept the others to sneak over the downwind finish line first, with Hector and Graham second, and Will Rainey and Vicki Tarbet (boat name illegible, but sounds something like Jelly Baby!) in third.
Overall victory went to Mirror Champion Hector, and Graham, for the gentlemanly hangover cure that was Sunday's racing.
Report: Mark Nicholson