Cookham Open 2008

Guy Pearce Memorial Trophy - Sat 10th May

Andrew Harris and Liam Dempsey, sailing Millie (3649), won the Guy Pearce Memorial Trophy - a single handicap race at Cookham Reach SC. Four 'home' boats also entered this event, now in its third year, held in honour of the late Guy Pearce, a dedicated Merlin sailor and founder member of CRSC in 1947.

Winds were lighter than those on the Sunday, but westerly/southwesterly and a little less shifty. The Trophy was presented by Guy's daughter, Dena Pearce


Merlin Open (Thames Series) - Sun 11th May

Tamesis boats took the first three places in an 18 strong fleet at the Merlin Rocket Thames series open meeting at Cookham Reach SC on Sunday 11 May. Richard Harris and Jason Stokes were first overall in Passing Cloud (1079) with two firsts, winning the Cookham Shield; Berry Ritchie and Sue Harris were second in Crescendo (607), counting a first and second; and Andrew Harris and Liam Dempsey were third in Millie (3649), counting two seconds. Interestingly, Richardís victory repeated that of his father, John, in the same boat exactly 40 years ago in 1968.

With beautiful, warm sunshine and a light, variable and extremely shifty east/north-easterly breeze, all three races were contested around a straightforward sausage course with windward and leeward marks left to port. Race one began with a beat downstream towards Cookham Road Bridge. With the transit line diagonally across the river, boats (including the raceís eventual winners Harris/Stokes) that positioned themselves towards the opposite bank were forward of those starting on the club side and appeared to have an advantage in terms of clear air and the race to the windward mark. For those tacking up the Berkshire bank, extreme caution also had to be taken with overhanging tree branches and moored motor cruisers.

After a break for lunch and refreshments, races two and three were held back-to-back, with the course moved upstream around the bend in the river and now in a generally north/south direction. The start/finish line moved upstream as well and the river widened to reveal open fields to the left and the hope of freer conditions. If anything however, the breeze seemed shiftier and more variable, and matters werenít helped by the shallow reed beds on the Berkshire side. Making progress was tricky and all depended on correctly anticipating the prolonged wind shifts and ignoring the see-saw variety. Again, Harris/Stokes led from the start but were harried along the way by Ritchie/S Harris, who carried on to finish second ahead of Richardís younger brother Andrew.

The final race saw a somewhat depleted fleet of 11 boats with R Harris/Stokes sitting it out, having secured the overall winning result. Second place, however, was still up for grabs for either A Harris/Dempsey in a thoroughly modern Millie, or Ritchie/S Harris in another vintage Jack Holt design . In the end experience won over, with Ritchie/S Harris taking line honours ahead of A Harris/Dempsey.

Report: Richard Mourant and Nigel Webb
Photos: Erica Webb and Carole Dixon

See also:
    Full results
    More photos