Spring arrived in South Devon to coincide with The Starcross Steamer on Sunday 15th February. After several poor weekends, winter sailing suddenly seemed worthwhile. The race took place in bright sunshine and a light northerly breeze that went to the north east during the race.
There was a total entry of sixty-four dinghies of which seven were Merlin Rockets (three Easy Rollers and four Canterbury Tales). Two Merlins were missing, because they had been damaged in strong winds the previous weekend.

The Race Officer Nic Gough set an interesting course, using the river channel and so avoiding the possible problem of hitting sandbanks. The boats of Dave Lee/Matt Buckle and Sally/Paul Gilbert dominated the fleet, until nearly the end of the race, when Paul became a victim of local knowledge, allowing David to take the lead. David then went on to finish sixth overall. The rest of the Merlins, were fully occupied with local struggles. For on the last beat in particular, the light shifting wind and adverse current made it possible to gain or lose places at a distressing rate.

The Steamer was won by a National Twelve of “Crusader” design, with little crew weight! However all the Merlin Rockets finished in the top half of the fleet. It was pleasing to see two Starcross Yacht Club Members, sailing their first race in a Merlin. Sue and Liam McGrath (Canterbury Tales 3638) and John Murrell (Easy Roller 3601).

It was also good to see long time Merlin Rocket sailor Ben Jennings having a look, “checking out the competition” before bringing his Easy Roller to Starcross at Easter.

Justin Eddy

See also:
Y&Y report