Salcombe Week 2003

What a fantastic week! 100 Merlins travelled down to South Devon for a sunny week of racing, with great winds.
Let us know what you enjoyed about the week, or any other comments, on the forum.
There has been a large debate over the format - number of races, flights, gold/silver fleet split etc. In a poll of website users, a fair percentage voted to change the format in some way:

  126 people polled, 65% wanted to change the format


Results:

The final results are available for you to peruse.


Photos:

Got any?
Thanks to Demelza for those below:

Guy and Gareth:
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Richard and Matt:
photo
John and Graham:
photo

Can you answer Jacko's conundrum?
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Report:

July 12-18 saw the Merlin fleet annual return to Salcombe for this legendary, Marchand Petit sponsored, sailing week with all the promise of being a classic with so many boats on the pace .. would the King lose his crown this year?

The weather bought a varied mixture of wind and sun together with some tricky light and shifty stuff, which, with the spring tides, made for some very crowded estuary banks. With the new regatta format, revised to cope with the increasing entry of 100+ boats, four races were held a day with competitors seeded into flights for the first three days then split into gold and silver fleets for the remaining three.

Sunday morning saw strong sunny winds with the existing champions Phil King/ Kevin Driver winning the first race with William Warren / Rachel Cooper enjoying the strong conditions winning the second race. The afternoon races, starting with a flooding tide, created the first starting mêlée with both fleets being pushed over the line and the black flag catching a number of contenders. The national Champions Mike/Jane Calvert took the first race with Tom Stewart/Chris Downham winning the second.

Monday’s weather was a repeat of Sunday with sun and an increasing force 5. First race became a Blake family battle with Simon Blake/Linton Jenkins securing the honours and ex National Champions John Bell/ Graham Williamson taking the second race gun. The afternoon saw the wind increasing, more black flags and a course out the estuary, over the bar, which caught a number of boats with spectacular capsizes. King notched up his second win in the first afternoon race with Tom Stewart winning the second.

Tuesday saw lighter winds which, coupled with the spring tide rip, created very close tactical racing. Judith Massey and Phil Dalby read the conditions brilliantly to the first race and Tom Stewart producing an equally impressive result and his third straight win in the second morning race. The afternoon was lighter and saw the torturous Bag claim many victims, Simon Blake won first race very smothly with another ex champion, Richard Whitworth / Matt Mee, taking the second. With the win droping and tide increasing the fleets were towed back from a rare up estuary finish.

With the first three race series completed the fleet was split into gold and sliver hotting up the pace seeing Stewart with three firsts then King and Blake each with two firsts and a second.

Wednesday am gold fleet saw Will Rainey/Jenny King break through to take the honours after much place changing in very light and shifty conditions. The silver am fleet was led home by Tony/Louise Johnson. The wind filled slightly for the afternoon with Phil King notching up his third win and David/Yvonne Bland taking the silver fleet honours.

The big wind was back Thursday and saw Nick Heginbottom storming to take the am gold fleet with Tony Johnson claiming his second silver win. The afternoon saw Simon Blake secure a vital gold win and Alan Jackson/Claire Stops the silver both crews having benefited from going ‘town side’ down the run. The overnight position saw the gold fleet open with King and Blake tying and Stewart in close contention. Johnson was looking comfortable in the Silver fleet.

Friday’s moderate southerly breeze set the stage for nail biting racing. The morning was a deciding gold race with King and Blake head to head. King won the start with Blake caught in the pack. King pulled away to take the honours comfortably. Alan Jackson repeated his form in the silver fleet. The afternoon gold fleet saw another tactical race between Clavert and Stewart with Stewart taking the gun and Johnson collecting his third win in the silver fleet.

With the entertainment continuing through a Ministry enquiry at the prize giving and thanks to excellent race management by Salcombe Yacht Club the week ended another great Merlin success. With tight racing for both modern and classic boats Salcombe Week further underlines the depth and quality of this fun loving, must sail, class.


Andy Jones


Next year:

The date has been set already - 11th to 16th July.
Entry forms can be requested from at SYC, during 2004.