Brightlingsea Open 2009

Silver Tiller series sponsored by:
Speed Sails
A busy weekend for Merlin Rockets saw a strong fleet at Hayling Island for the Glyn Charles pursuit race, but this resulted in a somewhat depleted fleet of seventeen boats for the Brightlingsea Silver Tiller sponsored by Speed Sails, the first sea event of the series. However, dedication was rewarded with fantastic conditions and reaches to die for.

Taking the shifts seemed to pay on the first beat with Jon Gorringe & Pete Horn rounding first, followed closely by Chris Lewns & Tom Pygall, and this season's form boat so far, Glen Truswell & Olly Turner. Jon & Pete were soon out of the running though, as they went to drop the kite and found the downhaul was no longer attached. Lesson number one crews, never let your helm rig the spinnaker!

Chris and Glen fought out the rest of the race, with 2 other teams trying to join the fun; Andy Dalby & Fran Gifford, and Alex Jackson, trying out a new crew, Ben Hollis. The positions continued till the last run when Glen & Olly caught a wave and flew past Chris & Tom to win.

There was a bit of a wait for the second race while the course had to be moved out of the way of a monstrous barge used for wind farm construction. Glen & Olly decided not to give anyone else a chance in this one, and led from the start. Alex & Ben made an attempt at a port tack start, but just ended up being lobbed. Chris & Tom, Ross Jackson & Rob Kennaugh and Will Rainey & Kelly Miller, made up the tussle behind, until Ross & Rob rounded the gybe mark and the guy became detached from the kite. Repeat lesson one: crews, never let your helm rig the spinnaker!

The wind was now 'over tide' giving some properly lumpy bits of water, and some very exciting reaches. The race finished Glen, Alex (but OCS), Chris, Will.

Sunday came around with slightly less breeze and a few ropey heads. More boats arrived as only Sunday's points counted towards the Silver Tiller series (i.e. some boats could skip Saturday and still get a qualifying result for the series).

The fleet got away the first time, with Ross Jackson trying to follow his brother’s lead from the previous day, opting for a port tack flyer. He managed to avoid being lobbed this time, and somehow managed to avoid being protested too...just.

The same barge from the first day decided to motor through the middle of the course on the second beat, causing havoc for the leaders. Chris & Tom were on form now, and fought through to win, with Alex & ben second, Glen & Olly third. Phil Emery & Sophie Mackley were in the chasing pack in a boat called 'Brazilian', but were judged OCS. I didn’t think Phil was the type of bloke to have a Brazilian, but it takes all sorts...

The breeze picked up a bit for the second race of the day, and things were getting fruity again. Lots of boats were over the line, and everyone involved went back, including Jon Gorringe & Pete Horn, but they found a “get out of jail free” card on the beat and somehow rounded forth, close behind the usual group of Chris, Glen and Alex. Gear failure struck Jon & Pete again, when their tiller extension fell off on the second reach. The race finished: Chris, Glen, Alex, Will.

So Chris had won the Silver Tiller, but Glen could still win the meeting (counting points from bothdays) if he won the last race. Alex could get second in the Silver Tiller if he beat Glen. The wind was now perfect, with most crews having to depower (easy with the raking rig), and the reaches generally being full-on planing affairs.

Alex & Ben led off the start, closely followed by Jon & Pete, who found the conditions to their liking. These two pulled away with Glen & Olly and Chris & Tom chasing hard. With Alex covering Glen, Jon managed to finally get into the lead on the last beat and held it to the finish. Alex held off Glen to finish second.

Report: Pete Horn
Photos: Tim Bees / fotoboat

See also:
    Full results
    Pictures from fotoboat.com - 3 available
    Silver Tiller positions so far