Cookham Open 2009

Vintage racing and Guy Pearce Memorial Trophy
Cookham Reach Sailing Club played host the the Merlin Vintage 'de May' Series on Saturday the 16th May. A number of the regular competitors obviously had opted to stay away owing the the forecast fresh 16 knot winds from the South. In reality, the gusts were to be closer to 35 knots.

The fleet comprised mainly of visitors from Tamesis Club lead by Berry Richie in Crescendo, Charlie Morgan in Lady Anne and Mike Stephens in Flinkidink. Cookham's very own Clive Evison in Warp Seven made a very strong defence for his Club's honour, sailing with his wife Tricia in in a vintage Merlin which had we are told been stored in a garage for 12 years.

Pat Blake acting as Officer of the Day set an excellent course with a beat downstream towards the Club and then a long downwind leg which started as a reach, broadened to a run and then a gybe before the final turning mark. The severe gusts meant that there were times the crew had to be prepared to dump the jib on the beat. The wind could veer or indeed disappear unexpectedly to create challenging conditions.

Planing on a dead run in a 49 year old Merlin with the crew sitting on the opposite side deck aft of the thwart, with an old rules pocket spinnaker, seemed hard to believe, unless that is, you were there to see it. Mike Stephens crewed by Dave Bosnia in Flinkidink 1097 won both of the first two races to win the Vintage Event without having to count race 3's results.

Clive and his Tricia were 2nd in both these races to take 2nd overall and Charlie Morgan took a well deserved 3rd overall beating Berry Richie for the first time I believe, following his four days of Merlin Race Training up at Rutland the previous weekend. Well done Charlie and his relatively inexperienced crew Amanda Batlen.

The third race on Saturday was open to all Merlins, but to be strictly on an age handicap for the boat, for the Guy Pearce Memorial Trophy. Had it been based on the age of crew and helm then Berry Richie and Sue Harris would surely have won. This final race was to see more visiting yachts including Andrew Harris crewed by Liam Dempsey in their Let it Ride called Millie, Marcus Robb, Pat Davey and Jeremy Deacon all from Cookham, join the vintage fleet.

The race started off with Andy and Liam in Millie shooting off the line for an early lead closely followed by Mike and Dave in Flinkidink. These two boats stayed fairly close over three rounds until firstly Mike and Dave capsized, broke their tiller and with no transom flaps withdrew from racing. Shortly after this Millie also capsized leaving Clive and Tricia to deservedly win the race by staying upright.

It was very fitting that the trophy remaining in Club hands and especially so after they had been second overall in the Vintage Wing. Andy and Liam recovered to come 2nd and the Marcus Robb of Cookham took 3rd overall. This final race was certainly one of attrition. A very memorable day's sailing was enjoyed by all.

Report: Mike Stephens

See also:
    Full results from the weekend
    Report of Sunday's racing
    More photos at Cookham SC website
    Silver Tiller, and 'de May' series, positions so far
    Vintage series information