The weekend of 12/13 April saw the first of the Merlin’s two trips to Salcombe this year – their weekend open meeting of two races, one on Saturday afternoon and one on Sunday morning. The fleet of 37 boats were greeted by sunny skies on Saturday and a gentle force 1-2 easterly wind which gave a sharp nip to the air. This also set the blueprint for the weekend being a real game of snakes and ladders with the wind playing it’s usual tricks in the middle of the estuary around the start/finish line – referred to as the “washing machine” and meaning that there was a general recall on both starts before the black flag was enforced.

Saturday’s race was sailed at high tide ensuring a complete tour of the estuary with John Bell/Graham Williamson getting their nose out first. Simon Blake/Linton Jenkins managed to get clear ahead by Yalton and led for the rest of the race until they got back to the “washing machine” where they got becalmed and were passed on all sides by boats on all points of sail. Richard Whitworth/Matt Mee were well down at the start but emerged to take line honours after a close tussle for places, followed closely by Dan Alsop/Jane Beaumont. Blake/Jenkins were unlucky to finish 6th.

Sunday dawned grey with rain in the air and more wind, but the washing machine was still very much in evidence with little wind for the start. Bell/Williamson were first out of the blocks again, pulling well clear in a patch of breeze, although nearly making a fatal error of forgetting the first mark, but correcting themselves in time. Simon Potts/Lizzie Pugh were well on their heels by this time. Going through The Bag, there was lots of tussling for places with Judith Massey/Phil Dalby leading the pack on the blast to Gerston in hot pursuit of Bell/Williamson. Steady place changing meant that Tom Stewart/Chris Downham worked their way to the front and pulled out a good lead. This all fell apart for them in a replay of Saturdays finish when class notables worked their way through the jostling for places with the winners being Whitworth/Mee followed by Phil King/Kevin Driver.

Judith Massey

See also - full results