Minima Vintage Open 2008

Mike Stephens and Chris Johnson sailing Flinkidink, 1097, won Minima Yacht Club's Chindit Trophy for vintage Merlin Rockets on Saturday 7th June, ahead of Berry Ritchie and Suzy Harris in Crescendo, 607, both from Tamesis Club. Third was Nick Crickmore from Waveney & Oulton Broad YC in Nitro, 2972, with Ben Marshall and John Wilkie of Minima YC in Fat Marce, 2529, coming fourth in the fleet of nine boats.

Conditions were not ideal, with a strong rain-swollen stream turning the runs into drawn-out, bank-hugging lotteries. However, the northerly wind gradually strengthened to make the three races increasingly enjoyable.

The event also saw the introduction of a new handicap system, devised by Mervyn Allen, the godfather of the classic Merlin revival, and Ben Marshall, last year's winner of the De May trophy for the vintage series. This was a crafty attempt to penalize owners who have updated their old boats with modern gear. Carbon spars, Mylar sails, larger spinnakers and longer poles were all targeted. Crescendo was a particular victim, ending up with the heaviest handicap in the fleet, in spite of her 55 years. However, as Ben wryly confessed at the prize-giving, Mike Stephens unexpectedly avoided the trap by equipping his boat with a suit of terylene sails, albeit brand new, no spinnaker and, a master-stroke, a wooden mast. His reward was the lowest handicap of all.

To add insult to injury, Flinkidink was first across the line in both the races she finished. Unfortunately - but by then academically, she was unable to compete in the final race following the discovery during a pit-stop that the upper track of her wooden mast had split open causing the main luff to fall out. Sadly, this was a prelude to Mikeís misfortunes the next day when further gear failure at the end of race two put paid to his designs on retaining Minima YCís Eric Archer Memorial Trophy.

Report: Berry Ritichie and Richard Mourant

See also:
    Full results
    Current De May series results
    More photos (Y&Y website)