Thorpe Bay Open 2007

Twelve Merlin Rockets entered for the Silver Tiller Event at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club on Sunday 16th September. The late tide and the schedule of three races back-to-back left little scope for a postponement, and the fleet had to sail out some way before fitting those fixed rudders.

After a breezy launch Race 1 started in a pleasant force 3 to 4 and saw Will Warren and Chris Downham (Shoreham SC) in 3685 power to a win over Judith Massey and Phil Dalby (Hayling Island SC) in 3653. Will Rainey and Vicki Tarbet (Cookham Reach SC) in 3660 were third, class legend Alan Warren came in fourth crewed by James Warren. In a steadily increasing wind Tom Stewart and Liam Dempsey (Northampton) retired to sort out the knitting after their kite and poles became irretrievably tangled after a difficult gybe. Glen Truswell and Chris Lewns also called it a day and retired back to the beach before the end of the race.


Race 2 started in still more breeze and Will Warren and Chris Downham powered to another win, this time followed by Tom Stewart in 3583 and local helm Charles Devenport with Steve Brown (TBYC) in 3564 turning in a third place.

The wind for the start of Race 3 was now averaging 25 knots with gusts into the low 30's coupled with the infamous Thames Estuary chop conditions became very testing indeed. Will Warren flirted briefly with the idea of retiring back to the beach before the last race until he realised that the three race format allowed for no discards. Tom Stewart now with nothing to lose and everything to gain powered to victory ahead of Will Rainey, Stewart nearly throwing it away on the penultimate leg with a capsize after a wobbly gybe, however a quick recovery kept them just ahead of the pursuing pack. Charles Devenport turned in another excellent third place. Behind them nearly everyone else sampled the waters. Sadly just after the race committee shorted the course, Alan Markham and Debbie Walker in 3594 (Upper Thames SC) managed a sucession of capsizes that culminated in a very broken mast and a long arduous tow back to the shore.

Will Warren's first capsize of the day left him 7th but this was still enough to give him victory on countback, a feat even more impressive given that crew Chris Downham had spent the morning at Southend A&E after getting on the wrong side of particularly unfriendly hound at his digs in Westcliff, sailing the whole day with a blooded dressing and bandage covering a nasty wound on his thumb.

Report: Ian Little
Photos: Paul Clarke

See also:
    Full results
    More photos
    Discuss the event (requires registering on Y&Y website)