Hamble Warming Pan 2007

Returning to Hamble Sailing Club for their inaugural Warming Pan, the Merlin Rockets, Fireflys and Foxers all received the traditional warm welcome from the club and members alike. The Warming Pan marks the first major event in the Merlin calendar, traditionally when we brush away those winter blues for a cold but brisk yacht, poking our heads only briefly out in to Southampton waters. Not so this year, instead we were treated to bright sunshine and a fresh 20 knot breeze from the SW.

Race 1 got away cleanly with the fleet almost fetching out of the river on a starboard bias tack. Front runner Will Rainey, crewed by Vicki Tarbet with their shiny new Dynamic Sails rags, lead from the off and held their position all the way around. Richard Whitworth battled his way to second after a rather shaky start, having appeared only moments before the briefing following a mammoth early morning drive from Hollingworth Lake, Lancashire.

Lunchtime saw the late arrival of Chris Downham who had over-exerted himself the night before (having pressed the fun button a few hours too early in his university bar, tut tut).This meant team P&B would finally get on the water.

Race 2 got under way with a little more tide and even more breeze, freshening to a steady force 5-6. Set masts to full rake and centreboard to half (this inadvertently helped avoid the shingle banks by reducing draft) and although the beats were knackering due to hiking from the end of our toes, it was well worth it if only for the monster three-sail reach back into the harbour.

Tom Stewart and Chris Downham took line honours sailing their brand new Winder boat, Little Blue (although judging by Chrisís complexion perhaps it should now be called A Little Green). Current National Champions Willie Warren and Chris Robinson were second, revelling in the blustery conditions, while relative fleet newcomers Roger Gilbert and James Stuart, recent converts from the RS400 fleet, finished a commendable third.

The evenings entertainment consisted of: sailing club bar / King & Queen / The Bugle / King & Queen / food at Boomerangs / dance floor shenanigans at Boomerangs / second meal at an Indian / more Boomerangs...hangover.


Sunday morning brought us a force 2, loads of tide and warm bright sunshine. Attire was summer shorties and silly sunglasses; happy days.

Race 3 saw a mightily impressive start. Even with the light airs and vicious tide running against us we all (yes ALL) managed to be very much the wrong side of the line. So after a general recall the fleet finally got away, this time having to negotiate our way through a pack of Fireflys. It was nip and tuck all the way with Stewart, Whitworth, Warren and Alsop all in the hunt. Eventually it was Tom and Chris who took the gun just ahead of Whitworth, with his new crew for 2007, Nicola Brook. The champions of 2006 had to settle for third.

Basking in the sun during lunch we commented on what a shame it was Tom and Chris had lost their discard the previous day, after Chrisís somewhat lax attitude towards time management. Chris stormed off in a huff and we stole his chips.

The wind had abated slightly for race 4, and tacking furiously up the first beat we were relieved to find we didnít have to venture back up-river till the finish, following a course change. Overtaking was difficult with everyone sticking inshore for as long as possible to avoid the tide. The final run to the line saw Whitworth just sneak ahead of the chasing pack, Warren was second, and Stewart could only muster a fourth after recovering from a difficult start.

This gave overall victory to Hollingworthís Filthy/Gorgeous team - one of them being Gorgeous and the other being Richard Whitworth.

Report: Robert Lobson
Photos: Eddie Mays

See also:
    full results
    general event report on Y&Y
    other photos

Tom Stewart and Chris Downham