Ranelagh Autumn Trophy 2008

A quality fleet of 21 Merlin Rockets raced on the Thames at Putney in near perfect conditions. A moderate North/North Easterly breeze strengthened somewhat by the weather going flood tide gave a dead beat to the first mark and a spinnaker run back to Putney. Although it remained cold all day the rain stopped before the start and several oldies were seen strolling along the riverbank handing out unheard advice to the youth on the water.

Pat and Jilly Blake were first at the weather mark, they sailed straight to the Surrey shore to avoid the tide but were overtaken by several boats, including their son Simon who found more wind in the centre of the river. That first run decided which boats would finish in the prizes. Although there were was close racing and many position changes in the middle of the fleet, the three leading boats were out of reach by half-way through the race.


Towards the end of the race spectators concentrated on the close battle for first place between Simon Blake & Phil Dalby in 'Dark and Stormy' 3697, and Alex Jackson & Chris Downham sailing 'Moist' 3643. Alex led at the end of the 1st round but Simon closed up on the 2nd and with both of them gybing several times Simon moved into 1st place opposite Fulham football ground. Alex was in front again at the end of the 3rd round but at the finish Simon and Phil beat Alex and Chris by 42 seconds. William Warren & Chris Robinson in 'Black Pearl' 3685 were an isolated 3rd between the first two boats and the rest of the fleet. "Boring race," said William, "but a nice sail."

Pat and Jilly Blake were 4th in 'Hot Totty' 3676, 5th were Andy Dalby and Fran Gifford in 'General Lee' 3690. Duncan Salmon and Ian Garwood in brand new 'Salmon en Croute' 3702 were 6th. Phil Plumtree and Charlie Morgan were 9th in 45 year-old 'Splatter' 1631 and won the Vintage prize.

Report and Photos: Robert Harris

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