Rutland Open 2009

Silver Tiller series sponsored by:
Speed Sails
Twenty-nine Merlin Rockets assembled at Rutland Sailing Club for the 6th Silver Tiller event of the 2009 season, sponsored by Speed Sails. Despite overnight forecasts of Force 3 winds, the competitors arrived to a Force 5, touching 6 at times. A high quality field included Matt Mee (current Fireball World champion) with Chris Robinson, the formidable pairing of Steve Goacher (current Flying Fifteen European champion) with Andy Tunnicliffe (GP14 World Champ) plus all the usual Merlin movers and shakers.

Any bleary heads from the previous night’s "van party" were soon cleared as race one commenced with Mee & Robinson leading to the windward mark closely followed by Mike Calvert & Christopher Downham and the rest of the field. Calvert & Downham took the lead on the first downwind leg and were closely pursued by Mee & Robinson. Behind, there was mayhem at the first gybe mark with 5 boats capsizing under spinnaker and this benefited some of the wily older heads who avoided them and chased Mee and Calvert who were by now pulling clear of the rest of the fleet.

As the wind eased marginally towards the end of the race Mee & Robinson overtook Calvert & Downham and broke Calvert’s overlap on the final gybe mark, winning the race by half a boat length on the finish line. Richard Whitworth & Sally Towell took third.

Race two saw Glen Truswell & Olly Turner lead the fleet to the windward mark after a big wind shift just before the start favoured the pin end. The wind continued to be shifty throughout the race and this meant that in the challenging conditions a number of boats jostled for the lead. The wind shifted left on the final beat which saw Calvert & Downham take advantage and move from around 10th to 2nd place. Truswell and Calvert battled it out to the finish with Truswell taking it on the line from Calvert in second. Mee followed up in third.

The wind freshened again for race three which was very tight with Matt Mee leading to the windward mark from Glen Truswell, Mike Calvert and Matt Biggs with Rob Kennaugh in close pursuit. The whole race saw these three jostling for position behind Matt Mee & Chris Robinson, who led from start to finish. Second place was closely fought out with Glen Trusswell recovering from a huge nose dive on the final run which was if caught on camera would surely have made it into a training manual somewhere! Trusswell, Calvert and Biggs rounded the final mark together with Biggs taking second place at the finish from Calvert in third.

Overall event winners were Matt Mee & Chris Robinson, with Mike Calvert & Christopher Downham second, and Glen Truswell & Olly Turner third.

Also worth a mention was Jennie King’s mending of a broken spinnaker pole between race one and two with the spare piece of tube Dan Alsop carries in his boat for such eventualities. Blue Peter badge for them! Other notable performances included John Holland & Ben Harley and John Buckley & William Anderson who were taking part in the Merlin training course over the same weekend. Both pairings completed all three races and finished an excellent 12th and 13th overall respectively.

Report: Paul Dean

See also:
    Full results
    Silver Tiller positions so far