Starcross Open 2006

Despite the poor weather forecast, a small but hardy group of Merlin sailors, including visitors from Wembley, Tamesis and Blithfield, gathered at Starcross for a training event and one day Silver Tiller over the weekend 20th/21st May.

On the Saturday, eight boats took to the water for the training, which was expertly led by Dan Alsop and ably assisted by Mike and Jane Calvert. With big wind shifts and heavy gusts of up to force 5, conditions in the morning proved tough, but many lessons on survival sailing were gained from later analysis of the video which had been taken by Jane. When the wind moderated during the afternoon the fleet was able to work on general tacking, gybing and start line techniques. The day finished with a short race based on a channel course and was won by SYC fleet newcomer Don Parker. Despite the difficult conditions, all of the fleet gained valuable experience from the training, so many thanks again to Dan, Mike and Jane for their expert advice and help.

Sunday dawned with strong winds, gusting up to 30 knots, and the heavy rain which had been consistently forecast by the Met Office, causing several competitors to pack up and depart. For those that remained, a short postponement brought a window of opportunity as the wind eased somewhat, enabling Race Officer Andy Woolner to set a course from the club line and tempt four boats to take to the water. In the first race, Mike and Jane Calvert in 3626 took an early lead, but on a stunningly quick three sail reach across the river, Dan Alsop and Paul Gilbert in 3539 blasted into the lead and continued to pull ahead until the finish. Steve and Gill Leney (3639) had a close tussle with local sailors Tony Blackmore and Charlotte Jones (3466), Steve eventually pulling through to take third place.

A second race was planned back to back and although the rain had stopped and the sun started to appear, the wind was building again, prompting Mike and Steve to call it a day. This time Tony Blackmore led from the start, but in another superb display of heavy air downwind technique, Dan again pulled through on the reach, driving on to take a second convincing win. With first place decided, there was no enthusiasm for a third race and all competitors returned to shore for hot showers, tea and an excellent lasagne produced by the SYC galley team. Despite the very challenging conditions, there were no breakages and surprisingly few capsizes to attend for the rescue boat crews, whose dedication for turning out in such weather deserves a special thank you.

Report: Dave Lee

1st		3539 	Gangsta Paradise		Dan Alsop & Flipper
2nd		3466 	Thunderclap			Tony Blackmore & Charlotte Jones
3rd		3626 	Business as Usual		Mike & Jane Clavert
4th		3639 	Carbonator			Steve & Gill Leney