Bourne End Week 2009Merlin Rocket River Championships
A greater number of Merlin sailors than in recent years read the splendid weather forecast for the River Championships and packed their tents and boats, setting off for Bourne End. |
After a few introductory beverages on the Friday evening, Saturday dawned sunny and warm. And an unfortunate lack of wind. Lack of breeze not being a reason to not go sailing on the Thames, the fleet launched. Phil Dalby and the soon-to-be Mrs Liz Dalby won the first race in a Proctor IX using their combined Trent Valley and Hampton skills to great effect. Perennial river sniggler Mike Stephens of Tamesis, crewed by Jennie King were second, again in a 1960s vintage boat. The first modern ‘wide’ boat was that of Alex Jackson and Chris Downham of Shoreham in 3rd. After an enjoyable lunch break, albeit with no improvement in the wind, the fleet again launched. This time it was Stephens/King in Flinkidink who won from Tosh/Dempsey in a wide boat, and Jackson/Downham.
An enjoyable evening’s merriment was had, and the fleet again awoke to a fine Spring day, with minimal wind. In a repeat of the previous day’s racing, Stephens/King were dominant, with Bourne End regulars Pat and Jilly Blake putting their skills to good effect to come second. Jackson/Downham were nothing if not consistent and finished 3rd. The afternoon race was again a Flinkidink benefit, with the Holt ‘banana’ boat Crescendo, replete with carbon rig, of Berrie Ritchie/Suzi Harris rising like cream to 2nd. Tosh/Dempsey were 3rd.
That evening the fleet thoroughly capitalised on the infamous Upper Thames ‘cocktail’ (gin and tonic) evening, and after sampling several local hostelries and creating a small stir in the campsite, feeling a good job had been done, retired to their nylon homes. Some (Tom Perkins) clearly had difficulties following the construction rules required!
The third day was again characterised by light winds, excepting a force 4 start to the first race, and glorious sunshine, and was dominated by Flinkidink with two firsts. The Blakes and Crescendo finished with a 3rd and a 2nd each. Many of the woriking members of the fleet elected to return home that evening as they had already qualified for the series, which had been won by Stephens/King.
The final day of racing dawned wet, cold, grey, and, windy! Some spectacular spectating was enjoyed as nose-dives, struggling older Merlins and exciting gybes were the order of the day. This was clearly a day favouring the modern boats, and both races were won easily by the Blakes in Hot Totty. Thus concluded a thoroughly enjoyable River Championships, and we would all like to extend thanks to UTSC for their characteristic enthusiastic support. See you next year!
Report: Chris Downham