Eric Archer Trophy at Minima 2007

A fine long course and a brisk south to south-westerly pleased the visitors to Minima Yacht Club’s Merlin Open on September 16th, so much that they took all the prizes.

Helms from close river neighbours Tamesis in Teddington, have dominated this meeting in recent years, and this time they took the first three places. Tammy’s Mike Stephens and Phil Plumtree were either first or second in every race, with the leaders stretching the fields out very quickly along the half-mile long reach, the top half open and perhaps force 2-3, but more sheltered nearer the start line with typical river wind shifts and holes as the breeze filtered through the trees on the Middlesex bank.

Mike Stephens in Luka, the eventual winner, cuts it fine with a pleasure steamer at Kingston

It felt as if it might be the last Sunday of summer, and the riverside crowds appreciated the spectacle. ‘There’s only one word for this: Mayhem!’ said one amazed passer-by, as the leaders weaved through a small fleet of rowing fours and eights, plus coaching craft, and a pleasure launch or two. Merlin Mayhem indeed.

There were no incidents, although pleasure boat captains were extremely considerate of dinghies which at times were concentrating on the race to the exclusion of safety. Minima has been fostering good relations with Turks, the biggest local operator, and this was one occasion when this paid off.

In his gracious speech of thanks, in which he congratulated the race officers for their course and repeated his pledge to move to Minima in the near future, Mike Stephens admitted he came to a dead stop when he hooked a sheet onto Turks’ flagpole, no doubt to the delight of any steamer skippers who happened to be watching.

The Minima Merlin Open prize is the Eric Archer memorial trophy, and Eric’s son Ben won the bottle of bubbly for making the longest journey to the meeting, from Parkstone, Poole. He finished just out off the prize list, fourth equal with Minima Commodore Dennis Lockwood.

Report and photos: John Forbes

See also:
    River Thames Series information
    Discuss the event (requires registering on Y&Y website)

Top 3: 
	1st 	Mike Stephens and Maxine Webb 	(Tamesis Club)
	2nd 	Phil Plumtree and Steph Brandt 	(Tamesis Club)
	3rd 	Ken Duffell and Brian Corkine 	(Tamesis Club)

Mayhem as Merlins, launches and training oarsmen mix it up above Kingston bridge