Open Meeting Reports 2001

All Merlin Race results will be appearing here. Please do write-ups promptly as they will be sent on to many sailing web sites - it would be be even better if we can include a picture! ( + lets make the reports lively and interesting.)

Lots of missing reports - please send them in!

                                              Merlin Rockets at Blithfield, Staffs 

Nineteen Merlins from six Clubs, all from north of Oxford, blazed their way round a windy Silver Tiller meeting on 16th September.  This followed an even windier Club Sailors Championships held on the Saturday.  The first race of the day showed the promise of dark horse Matt Biggs and Davy Crockett (sic) who shot off with a good start with their new boat, 3582 fresh from second place honours at the Nationals.  The first mark showed the dominance of the far north with Whitworth and King, David Winder and the peripatetic Downham, Parry and Taylor breaking into a commanding lead over the fleet but with neck and neck racing. Dave Fowler was with them, sailing with 11year old Adam Hollis but capsized to end the opportunity. John Andrews, parting company with his 25 year love affair with his old boat to live with a new Winder boat, also parted company with his sail.  Pete Smith and David Pick, in the aging but famous 3317, did well against the supremacy of the newer boats.  Despite lots of harry by Parry, Whitworth kept his lead to win. 

Race two showed Jim Hopton and 13 year old son Robert sneak a brief lead off the start but soon to be overwhelmed by the Northern muscle.  Biggs was in there, fending off attacks from Guy Winder and crew  Essex, as Parry and David Winder swapped places on a regular basis.  Parry destroyed himself at the last gybe mark leaving Whitworth to win by 50 seconds over the Winder family flotilla. Montoya, in the Italian Grand Prix, finished at exactly the same time with only a 5 second lead! 

Race 3 saw the third new course of the day with a premature flying start by a few boats, some of whom returned to take off again.  Whitworth was seemingly finished as he commenced the first leg last.  Andrews took second place at the first mark, closely followed by Biggs.  David Winder had a brilliant lap developing a 65 second lead.  Whitworth's sheer class showed through having now swathed through the fleet to fourth place seemingly throwing caution away and throwing in every bit of sailpower he could muster. Others were more prudent choosing to keep spinnies under decks. Disaster strikes Winder at the gybe mark as the spinnaker sheet comes undone allowing Andrews to take the lead.  But excitement overcomes Andrews and the ruthless Whitworth demolishes him and the fleet and generates his own 25 second lead by the next windward mark.  Jules Parry, with gear breakage, left the duel on the water to return to his new jewel of a daughter. Winder's problems were not over and the spinnaker sheets lost him more places in the next lap. 

Biggs continuously hassled local rival Andrews and took the advantage but hit the windward mark.  Whitworth stormed off to achieve a 90 second win, with the jubilant Andrews gaining a well deserved second place.  Biggs, third on the water but OCS, left the Winders to follow, with Smith securing a super fifth place to show there is life in old boats yet!   Talking of which, the valiant Steve Ward and Alistaire Simpson battled around in the equally famous 2824 and did not come last! 

Overall results 

1st  Richard Whitworth & Jennie King.         3593      Hollingworth Lake

2nd  David Winder & Cris Downham         3557      Hollingworth Lake 

3rd  Guy Winder & Chris Essex      3590  Hollingworth Lake 

4th  Matt Biggs & Dave Crockett          3582      Blithfield 

5th  John & Linda Andrews                3583      Blithfield 

6th  Peter Smith & David Pick            3317      Blithfield

(Fantastic report by Steve Watson - the man with the fastest purple coffee table in the land)


                                                            MERLINS AT DATCHET WATER

 The Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller meeting at Datchet on 2 September was held in a shifty Force 2-3 with enough sunshine to cheer those who got the wrong side of the beat.

 Judith Massey and The Philly Factor from Parkstone YC dominated the fleet, which included 3 of the top 5 from the recent National Championships, from start to finish recording two firsts and a second in the three races.

 The first race was led from the start by Massey and The Factor from Phil and Melanie Feibusch, who have recently made a welcome return to the class, with Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins third.

 Race 2 was won by Will Rainey and Liese Ward, who worked hard to hold off Massey and The Factor on the final round.  Blake and Jenkins, sailing consistently, were third again.

 Going into the final race Rainey and Ward were still in with a shout but after challenging on the first round, they faded to finish fourth.  Massey and The Factor were first, thereby clinching the meeting, with Blake and Jenkins second and Phil King and Christina King third.

 This was an overdue return to Datchet for the Merlins, and the fleet was rewarded with some excellent racing on well laid courses.

 Overall results: 1st Judith Massey and The Philly Factor 2pts, 2nd Will Rainey and Liese Ward 5 pts, 3rd Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins 5 pts, 4th Phil and Melanie Feibusch 7pts, 5th Phil King and Christina King 7 pts.

Report Author: Will Rainey

(Man of the race: Clearly The Philly Factor - photo attached. Please 'Click here' for The Philly Factors Top Tips.  Also big congrats to Jude the dude! - Web Bloke)



Shoreham Open 4th and 5th August

Author: Rachel Pooper-Scooper

What a fantastic weekend for the Merlins on the 4th and 5th of August. An 
entry of 30 boats was enough without the monster seas, testing winds and 
beautiful sunshine - classic Shoreham sailing! The high standard of racing 
in the fleet was again evident with three different race winners over the 
weekend. Race officer Alan Chaplin and his team provided excellent courses 
with spinnaker reaches to die for! Race 1 was won by the current National 
Champions John Bell & Graham Williamson who were off to flying starts and led from the first mark. Close in pursuit were Pat & Anna Blake who fought to take 2nd place from William Warren & Rachel Cooper. The second race, started within minutes of the last boat finishing, turned into a comedy of errors with John and Graham capsizing only minutes up the first beat! However they weren't the only ones to turn back as only 9 of the 30 competitors managed to finish the race as the conditions worsened. 

Hungry and tired sailors had their appetites satisfied by a delicious BBQ on Saturday night. For those who really needed to let their hair down DJ's and Merlin sailors Linton Jenkins and Simon Blake were on hand to liven up the evening for the many youth of the fleet, and for those who just thought they were! 

A shoal of Dolphins joined in on Sundays action by escorting a number of 
boats blasting down one of the reaches. John and Graham went through to an eventual win after a tight battle with William and Rachel who were revelling in the big seas, especially downwind. Race four was one of the tightest this year with five boats able to win the meeting. Will Rainey & Liese Ward fought hard to win the last race and narrowly won the meeting from Will and Rachel who were equal on points. Again the class showed its outstanding equality between the sexes with four ladies in the top five placings! 

1st Will Rainey and Liese Ward, Cookham Reach, 8pts
2nd William Warren and Rachel Cooper, Shoreham, 8pts
3rd John Bell and Graham Williamson, Hampton, 10pts
4th Phil Plumtree and Jill Blake, Shoreham, 12pts
5th Pat Blake and Anna Blake, Cookham Reach, 12 pts 
6th David Winder and Steve Denison, Hollingworth,12pts
7th Glen Truswell and Alex Jackson - Beaver s.c. 18pts 
8th Judith Massey & Julian/Philly Factor - Parkstone 28pts 
9th Ben Cooper and Mary Cooper - shoreham 32pts 
10th Charlie Hadfield and Michelle Chadwick - Shoreham 32pts 

Starcross Open July 28th/29th

This year’s tides dictated that the Starcross YC open meeting and Silver Tiller event could only be held the week after Salcombe, which probably explained the fairly small turnout. However, eleven competitors were greeted with superb weather and a steady force 2 sea breeze. For all of the weekend’s races, Race Officer Andy Woolner set an inverted ‘P’ shaped course to make best use of the available water and to provide a long windward leg, a run and two reaches.

In the first race, local sailor Dave Lee (3501) made a well timed port end start and, after opting for the weaker tide on the port side of the course, established a good lead by the weather mark. After floundering around on the start line, Frank Rowsell (3539) made an excellent recovery to third place at the weather mark by following Mike Fenwick (3459) in short tacking up the opposite shore. The fleet settled down for the next two rounds with very little place changing. Rowsell gradually reeled in Fenwick, and after a long tussle, broke through to chase Lee. Rowsell just managed to obtain an overlap on Lee at the last mark, but was promptly squeezed out after rounding and forced to tack off. However, in the last 150 metres to the finish, Lee touched bottom on a tack inshore and enabled Rowsell to break through by a length at the finish.

There were similar conditions for the second race, but with the tide now dropping there were more options for the route to windward. Rowsell made a good start from the port end and worked out a small lead by the weather mark. Fenwick rounded next, followed closely by Lee and the newly arrived Alan Warren (3563). The leaders gradually pulled away from the rest of the fleet and the race again settled down to a procession with little place changing. However, in the last round Warren moved up a gear and started gaining on the first three. Lee was caught again at the last mark rounding, but Fenwick was able to hold his position to finish second behind Rowsell. 

Having sailed through the hottest part of the day, the competitors were then grateful to be able to collapse in the shade of the clubhouse and sink a few beers before the evening meal and entertainment.

The second day saw the arrival of Phil King (3606) and Mike Calvert (3549), bringing the fleet to thirteen for the Silver Tiller points races. The even hotter conditions resulted in a stronger force three sea breeze. King claimed an early lead in race three, closely followed at the weather mark by Calvert, Rowsell and Lee. These four broke clear away from the rest of the fleet, but no place changing took place and King and Calvert extended their leads to the finish, leaving Rowsell to cover Lee closely.

After a brief lunch, the fourth race was started just after high water to provide possibly the best conditions of the weekend. Dave Lee made another well-timed port end start, and was eventually able to tack to cross the fleet. Lee rounded the weather mark first, closely followed by Fenwick and King. Lee held starboard gybe on the run back up river, aiming to use the weaker tide in the shallows, whilst the rest of the fleet gybed to follow Fenwick to take the more direct route uptide. At the first downwind mark, Fenwick was just able to round ahead of the returning Lee, who in turn was closely followed by King and Calvert.

Both King and Calvert rolled over Lee on the next reach to give chase to Fenwick, who they finally caught towards the end of the next windward leg. Once again King pulled clear ahead to win the race and the Silver Tiller points, but without a third result could only manage fifth overall. Slightly further back, Alan Warren started to move up in the final round to threaten Lee and Fenwick. However, this time Lee made no mistake and covered Warren to finish fourth behind Fenwick.

Overall, the event ran smoothly and the fleet enjoyed some excellent weather and close competition. Suitable tides permitting, the Starcross Yacht Club open will occupy a more convenient date in next year’s calendar, and the local fleet will look forward to another great weekend’s racing in a larger fleet.

Overall Results: - 

1st 3539, Frank Rowsell / Ben Rhodes, Exe (JK crewing on Sunday)
2nd 3459 Mike Fenwick / Andy Maynard, Weymouth
3rd 3501 Dave Lee / Ian Smith, Starcross (first metal mast)
4th 3563 Alan Warren / Lucy Burns, Shoreham
5th 3606 Phil King / Kev Driver, Bowmoor (1st Silver Tiller)
6th 3525 Robin Charles / Matt Buckle, Starcross
7th 3549 Mike Calvert / Alex Jackson, Weymouth (2nd Silver Tiller)
8th 3570 Chris Rathbone / Sonia Rathbone, Upper Thames
9th 3576 Ben Jennings / Liz Poulter, Exe
10th 3260 Justin Eddy / Roger Spurr, Starcross
11th 3466 Paul Gilbert / Sally Gilbert, Ranelagh
12th 3125 Andy Hayes / Dave Parry, Starcross
13th 3397 David Downs / Simon McCleery, Llandegfedd

(Thanks to Dave Lee for this report - and well done Dave!)

                                         Whhheymouth Open 

An impressive fleet of 33 Merlins made the journey to Weymouth on July 8th for the three race open meeting run by Weymouth Sailing Club.

Alan Warren and Liam Dempsey (White Leader 3563) made the perfect pin end start. They then capitalised on a left hand wind shift to lead at the windward mark from Tom Stewart & Kieran Collacott (3591). Stewart and Collacott were passed on the reaches by John Bell & Graham Williamson (3569) as well as Richard Estaugh & Andy Hateley (3582). On the second beat plenty of shifts meant plenty of place changes within the top few boats, but Alan Warren and Liam Dempsey held firmly on to first place. The leading pack of four were able to get some distance from the rest of the fleet on the run and subsequent beat with the exception of Richard Whitworth and Sally Townsend (3593) who managed to move up to the leading boats and then to third by the end of the second set of reaches. The final beat was very tight with lots of wind shifts making it almost impossible for Alan Warren and Liam Dempsey to cover safely, and in the final frantic yards to the finish they lost out to Richard Whitworth and Sally Townsend (3593) who gained on the right hand side of the course. John Bell & Graham Williamson gambled on the left hand end of the line and just lost out to Stewart & Collacott for third place.

Paul Davies (3573) showed excellent upwind boat speed to lead at the top mark in the second race from Phil King and Kev Driver (3606), with Alan Warren & Liam up there in third yet again. Stewart and Collacott passed Warren and Dempsey on the first reach and after a messy gybe mark were briefly up to second. Driver and King recovered and got back to second before the leeward mark. The beat again brought place changes but by the windward mark the previous order had been restored. Stewart and Collacott had the best speed on the run and passed Driver and King and were closing on Davies. Davo then had a wobble at the leeward mark allowing both boats passed, and they finished in that order.

The final race was started with a slight starboard bias bunching the fleet and causing a couple of general recalls and several boats falling foul of the black flag. Richard Whitworth and Sally Townsend made the best start at the third and final attempt and dragged out to the right of the race course, a header let them safely cross the fleet to lead at the first mark. Mike Calvert (3549) passed them on the reach but second place was enough for them to win overall.

1st R Whitworth and S Townsend 3593
2nd T Stewart and K Collacott 3591
3rd M Calvert and his crew 3549
4th A Warren and L Dempsey 3563

Piccies of King's New Ship - Launched at Weymouth!


                     Whitstable Open

A record entry of 39 Merlins assembled at Whitstable for the 2 day Silver
Tiller meeting over the weekend of 30 June/1 July.  The conditions could not
have been more varied, with a very strong shifty Westerly on Saturday that
registered 25 knots in the gusts on Whitstable Windsurfing's waterfront
anemometer.  Big, championship sized courses with amazing reaches left
competitors happy but shattered for the evening's socialising.  Sunday was
the complete opposite with the median wind battling with the sea breeze to
make for very frustrating, patchy and light conditions.

Winner overall was "Millennium Falcon" sailed by Will Rainey and Liese Ward
with 2 wins, one in the strong and one in the light winds and and third,
discarding a fifth.  Tom Stewart and Kieran Collacut were second in "Ra"
with a win on Saturday, and a second and a third on Sunday.  They were very
consistent discarding a third in the very windy Saturday afternoon race.
Third overall was Whitstable's own "Snorting", John Cooper and Jane Beaumont
with a second, fifth and a sixth and David Winder and Steve Dennison were
fourth.  This Hollingworth pair did not have a happy weekend being pipped at
the post by 2 feet in Race 2  by Will Rainey, and picking up an OCS in Race
4.  William Warren only attended on Sunday to win Race 4  but his crew,
Rachel Cooper, made an old man happy by crewing for Mike Fitzpatrick on his
birthday on the Saturday.

There were no design or equipment pointers.  Glen Truswell and Tim Holden,
who finished fifth might have done better without rudder problems on
Saturday, and  Laurie Smart and Rachel Howe, who were sixth, seemed happier
in the light conditions on Sunday.  There were four different designs and
builders, four different mast makers and five different sailmakers
represented in the top six.  The class could hardly be healthier.

1st: 3601 Will Rainey - Cookham Reach - 5 points
2cd: 3591 Tom Stewart -  Northampton - 6 points
3rd: 3561 John Cooper -  Whitstable - 13 points
4th: 3557 David Winder -  Hollingworth Lake - 15 points
5th: 3585 Glen Truswell -  Beaver -  17 points
6th: 3556 Laurie Smart - Shoreham - 18 points
7th: 3594 Phil Plumtree - Tamesis - 18 points
8th: 3554 Julian Parry - Hollingworth - 21 points
9th: 3559 Pat Blake - Cookham Reach - 23 points
10th: Liam Dempsey/Alan Warren - Shoreham - 27 points


                                                       Thorpe Bay

33 Merlins descended on Thorpe Bay over the weekend of 23/24 June.  They were greeted by perfect sailing conditions.  Sunshine and Force 4 easterlies for the three races on Saturday led to many capsizes and retirements as the sea breeze built. There was slightly less wind on Sunday when two races were sailed that counted for Silver Tiller points.

 The overall winner was Richard Estaugh and Andy Hasely sailing their Winder/Speed sails "Never been to Salcombe"  Second overall and winners of the Silver Tiller were John Bell and Graham Williamson in "Time Zulu" (Winder/Batt).  John and Graham had an eventful weekend.  They broke their Proctor mast in Race 1, capsized in Race 2 and jammed their spinnaker halyard and hit the leeward mark in Race 3.  On the Sunday they hit the windward mark in Race 4 but still managed to finish third.  They won the last race after overtaking  Judith Massey and Phil Dalby who had sailed the race of their lives and  led for much of the race.  As Judith and Graham had traveled to Thorpe Bay in the same car, Judith said that it was just as well it was Graham's, otherwise he would have been walking home. 

Others to feature at the front were Duncan Salmon and Liam Dempsey who won the first race, Phil Plumtree and Jilly Blake who won the second, and Will Rainey and Liese Ward who won Race 3.  7 of the top 10 boats  were built by Winder, Rainey's was built by Wrecked Em, Pat Blake was sailing a Smart boat and Andy Dalby was sailing a 10 year old Rowsell .

 Thanks go to Thorpe Bay Sailing Club for a very well run and friendly meeting.  The Merlin fleet hope that they will be invited back next year. Overall Results: 

1st:  Richard Estaugh and Andy Hasely 

2nd:  John Bell and Graham Williamson 

3rd:  Will Rainey and Liese Ward 

4th:  Duncan Salmon and Liam Dempsey/Ian Garwood 

5th=:  Tom Stewart and Kieran Collacut 

5th=:  Judith Massey and Phil Dalby 

7th:  John Cooper and Jane Beaumont/David Cooper 

8th:  Pat and Anna Blake 

9th:  Phil Plumtree and Jilly Blake 

10th:  Andy Dalby and Chris Downham 


Silver Tiller: 

1st:  Bell and Williamson 

2nd:  Estaugh and Hasely 

3rd:  William Warren and Rachel Cooper 

4th:  Rainey and Ward


               Parkstone Yacht Club Silver Tiller

Parkstone Yacht Club held it’s first Merlin sea meeting for quite a number of years on Sunday 17th June with a total of 23 boats on the water. For the previous two years the normal October meeting, held within Poole Harbour, has seen races cancelled or abandoned due to extreme weather. However, a bright day ensued, attracting visitors from as far away as Hollingsworth Lake to join the small Parkstone fleet in three short races back-to-back around Olympic courses out in Bournemouth Bay. Winds were variable North Westerly Force two to three, with a tide line through the middle of the course that offered competitors some testing conditions. The first two races finished on the downwind leg of the second triangle so as to quicken up the turn around between races.

The first race got away without incident with those picking the left hand side of the course paying off. Phil King & Kevin Driver, in 3539, took an early lead and never really looked back until, that is, the end of the second triangle when they rounded the leeward mark and started off up the beat again, forgetting that the finish line was in fact a short reach away from the leeward mark. This allowed Laurie Smart and Jilly Blake in 3556 through to take the honours with Phil and Kevin second, and Mike Calvert & Alex Jackson, in 3549, third.

The second race saw Phil and Kevin (3539) back out in front, but this time remembering the position of the finish line, they kept their first place. Mike & Alex (3549) were second and Julian Parry & Chris Taylor, in 3554, third. By the third race, Phil and Kevin had got into their stride and finished some four minutes ahead of the field. Will Rainey & Liese Ward in 3601 came in second with William Warren & Rachel Cooper in 3580 third.

In all three races, no one side of the course remained favoured, and the majority of the fleet were locked in very tight racing with places being traded all the time. 

Overall Results:

1st 3539 Phil King & Kevin Driver
2nd 3549 Mike Calvert & Alex Jackson
3rd 3601 Will Rainey & Liese Ward
4th 3380 William Warren & Rachel Cooper
5th 3556 Laurie Smart & Jilly Blake
6th 3554 Julian Parry & Chris Taylor 
Home Win for Blakes in Cookham Silver Tiller

A gusty North-Westerly wind, force 3-4, ideal racing conditions at Cookham on Sunday 10 June with 24 Merlin Rockets competing for the Cookham Shield. The event attracted 13 visitors as well as a good club turnout. With a crowded start line in prospect Race officer Bob Deacon chose the 4 flight, 6 race format for the day - each boat sailing 3 races and counting 2 results. 

The first race was won by Laurie Smart and Rosie Frost from Upper Thames who led most of the way in 3557 “Make It So”. They were followed by last years winner Phil Plumtree with Jill Blake crewing in 1631 Splattor” from Tamesis, with Martin and Diane Evans from Cookham in 3rd place, but Plumtree later retired when Evans protested over an alleged rule infringement on the water. Pat Blake, several times past winner of the trophy took first place for Cookham in 3559 “Smart Cookie” crewed by daughter Anna. After a poor start Duncan Salmon and Ian Garwood from Wembley, in 3575 “Gravadlax”, worked up through the fleet to second place followed by Terry Curtis and Jo Burnham from Upper Thames in 3544 “S.O.A.S.” 

Race 3 gave Duncan a first place with Richard Gray and John Dyas in 3479 “Ragtime” from Upper Thames taking second - having retired in the previous race. Paul and Steve Roberts from Cookham in 3290 “Mornington Crescent” pushed Laurie into fourth place. Race 4 gave the Blakes another first place, Plumtree a second, with Phil and Melanie Feibusch taking third in 3577 “Brandy Bang” . 

The competition intensified throughout the fleet in the final two races. At the top Duncan gained another first place in Race 5 to equal Pat’s two firsts; but Pat had beaten him when they sailed in the same heat and won the trophy on the tie break. Plumtree was second again and fith overall, Andy Jones and Ben Jones were third in 3571 “Hukana Matata”, and Martin and Diane fourth. Richard won Race 6 to finish fourth place overall. Laurie was second in the race and third overall with a better discard than Richard. Phil Feibusch was third. 

Results: 1) 3559 P and A Blake, Cookham Reach; 2) 3575 D Salmon/I Garwood, Wembley; 3) 3557 L Smart/R Frost , Upper Thames; 4) 3479 R Gray/J Dyas, Upper Thames; 5) 1631 R Plumtree/J Blake, Tamesis. 



                   Merlin-Rocket Silver Tiller Meeting at Hampton Sailing Club

Visitors came from as far away as Lowestoft to join a big home fleet for this meeting, which counted for the Silver Tiller series and the Thames River series. The wreckage of the previous night’s party was duly cleared away or woken up, depending, and boats were moved to make space on the island for the visiting boats. There was bright sunshine but a turbulent northerly wind that gave the entry of 30 boats testing conditions. There was a notable old boat present, Kate, no. 1, sailing in the Silver Tiller series for the first time since restoration, and now 56 years old. The most recent boat sailing was the coral-coloured Boadicea, another of the successful Winder-built Canterbury Tales designs and not yet even a year old. The entry was divided into 4 flights for the three races. Two flights started together each time.

In the first race the green and blue flights set off first. John Bell and Graham Williamson in 3569 led early on but were chased hard by Hywel Bowen-Perkins and Ariane Edwards in 3574, who passed them a couple of times but had to be content with 2nd. Reds and yellows set off ten minutes behind. Richard Parslow, sailing his father’s boat 3354, took an early lead and kept it, with 2nd going to Joe and Tom McLaughlin in 3457 who gradually pulled up after a mediocre start. At the end of the race some entertainment was laid on by Andrew Mills’s gentle capsize on the way back after finishing, right in front of the clubhouse.

Suitably invigorated by lunch, but in no better wind, the greens and yellows were first to start the 2nd race. This was led all the way round by 3569, with 3354 following. Blues and reds had a more complicated time with Judith Massey and Phil Dalby working their way past Hywel Bowen-Perkins, who managed to capsize when leading. An old boat, 847, Berry Ritchie and Susan Harris, took third.

Blues and yellows set off after a brief break for the last race. This time 3574 hit the front early and stayed there to win, chased by 3354. Third was Richard and Elizabeth Page in 1222, a multiple championship winner from the 1960’s. In the red and green fleets it was another win for 3569 with 3489, Mike Barnes and Wendy Pickler in 2nd and 3rd for 3457. The wind gradually died off at the end of the race and the large tea after the finish was most welcome. Both the tea counter and the bar did brisk business and the prizegiving was suitably brief, with the triumph of the home club’s National Champions duly celebrated in Hampton style with the consumption of bitter ale.

1st Time Zulu John Bell and Graham Williamson
2nd The Holy Grail Hywel Bowen-Perkins and Ariane Edwards
3rd Desiree Richard Parslow and Hamish
4th Boadicea Judith Massey and Phil Dalby
5th Love on the Rocks Mike Barnes and Wendy Pickler

Thanks to Andrew Mills for this report.

                                    Merlins at Abersoch

The South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club held the first sea meeting of the
Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller competition over the weekend of 19/20 May. 30
boats made the long trip to Abersoch but were rewarded with a beautiful
sailing day, at least on the Saturday.

After boxing the compass in the morning, a pleasant force 2-3 south-westerly
set in for the afternoon and gave perfect conditions for the two scheduled
races. Race 1 saw the obligatory general recall, after which, the second
start was less pressured with only one boat premature. Unfortunately for
Richard Whitworth, who thought he was over the line and returned to find
that he wasn¹t. Not the best of starts. Paul Davies and Sara Warren (3573 - Rong Number) took an early lead and extended it to the finish. Newcomer to the Merlin fleet, but son of one of its sages, Steve Morrison crewed by Andy Hately (3582 - a boat with no name) were an impressive second and, miraculously, Richard Whitworth and Sally Townend (3593 -Insomnia) fought back up the fleet to third.

The second race saw a well behaved fleet at the start with no incidents but
class chairman, Will Rainey, chanced his arm (and his new Wrecked¹em) at the
windward mark and ended up second best to David Winder who T-boned him on
starboard causing a lot of damage and work for Kevin for a week. Steve
Morrison, revelling in the light conditions, was ahead at the first mark and
was never headed, though he had to do some tight covering up the last beat
to stay ahead of Whitworth. Julian Parry and Chris Taylor (3554 - Stud
Muffin) were third and Davies fourth.

Sunday dawned, cloudy and windless, and so it stayed until the N flag was
hoisted at 13:00 whereupon it promptly blew up and sun shone on the
competitors packing their boats away. The results were calculated on the Saturday¹s races and the winner was Steve
Morrison. Paul Davies was second and Richard Whitworth third.


(Thanks to Pete Richards for this report!)


Wembley Report yet to come in...

(Tosh Face - what's going on!!)


Chichester S.C. Silver Tiller Open Meeting

There was a splendid entry of thirty-two Merlins for the Open Meeting at Chichester Yacht Club this Sunday. The conditions were almost equally satisfactory, with a gradually increasing breeze throughout the day from the ten-fifteen start time, over a fairly complex and testing course (set by John Miles, the Club’s most experienced Race Officer) to provide two beats, a run and three reaches, to make best use of the water and to combat as far as possible the vagaries of the wind direction. It swung unpredictably as the boats approached the first weather mark, and had a good number of gusts which, as the day wore on, took their toll among the fleets on the down-wind legs as tiredness slowed reactions and capsizes followed.

Among the Merlins things were tight. Three boats went out for the final race with four points each and "everything to play for." John Bell and Graham Williamson, with a third and a win, made a slight nonsense of the start ("In irons and going backwards : not in chapter one of How to Win" as Graham reported) and were uncomfortably far back at the end of the first beat. However, they fought back to fifth. Luckily for them one of their closest rivals, Patrick and Anna Blake, had made the opposite error at the start, and were over the line and failed to return and so were disqualified, while the other, Tom Stewart and Kieran Collacott, could only manage sixth. So these three finished still with four points each, and their final places were settled by the "who beat whom" rule, while Will Rainey and Liese Ward and William Warren and Rachel Cooper secured fourth and fifth places by taking first and second in the final race. Sixth prize went to Paul Davies and Sara Warren, who had a fifth and a fourth, but who were forced to retire in the last race when Paul cut his forehead badly on the corner of the mainsheet hoop.

At the prize-giving Penny Yeoman presented the various trophies. These included the new "Nick’s Boat" trophy, a beautifully-made half-model of the hull of her late husband’s former boat "Rising Tsar," presented in his memory, and it was with special pleasure that she handed it to John Bell and Graham Williamson, who were sailing Time Zulu, the boat with which Nick had replaced "Rising Tsar" shortly before his untimely death.

Overall Results:

Pos Boat Sail No. Helm Crew Club Pts
1st Time Zulu 3569 John Bell Graham Williamson Hampton S.C. 4
2nd Smart Cookie 3559 Patrick Blake Anna Blake Cookham Reach S.C. 4
3rd Ra! 3591 Tom Stewart Kieran Collacott Northampton S.C. 4
4th Gilt Complex 3546 Will Rainey Liese Ward Cookham Reach S.C. 5
5th Chambulls 3580 William Warren Rachel Cooper Shoreham S.C. 8
6th Rong Number 3573 Paul Davies Sara Warren Shustoke S.C. 9




4 visiting boats joined 8 club boats at Upper Thames Sailing Club, Bourne End at the weekend to compete in the Merlin Rocket Open meeting, part of the River Thames Series. Racers were faced with high water and a surging stream, however a good southerly breeze helped the entrants get round the course. Saturday was a one-off cup race for the 'Spade Oak Bowl' and visitors Phil Plumtree and Jilly Blake, a Tamesis SC /Cookham SC combination, sailed away from the fleet to take 1st place. Lawrie Smart and Rosie Frost (Upper Thames SC) recovered impressively from a poor start to take 2nd place, with Andy Jones & Ben Jones (Cookham Reach SC) in 3rd.

On Sunday the wind swung to the North West but was still sufficient to complete 3 races in the Allen Challenge. Lawrie led the fleet from the start in the first race to win from Chris & Sonia Rathbone (UTSC). Conditions were difficult, and a large proportion of the fleet retired, unable to fight the current at the home mark.
Lawrie went on to take the 2nd race ahead of Simon & Jilly Blake, but the final race saw Simon take advantage of the shifty conditions and despite being recalled at the start came through to win the race.

Final results: Spade Oak Bowl: Phil Plumtree & Jilly Blake (Tamsis/Cookham SC), Lawrie Smart & Rosie Frost (UTSC), Andy & Ben Jones (Cookham SC).
Allen Challenge: Lawrie Smart & Rosie Frost (UTSC), Simon & Jilly Blake (Cookham SC), Peter & Debbie Walker (UTSC).

(Unfortunately the pictures sent in didn't come out - thanks to Sarah Deacon for the report).



8th APRIL 2001

27 boats graced the full water at Midland Sailing Club, Birmingham, on 8th
April to do battle again in constantly inconsistent winds. The first race began
with a short scuffle at the front between Richard Whitworth and Dave Winder
which, once resolved left Whitworth in front by a good margin. A clear
supporter of first place, Whitworth went on to win the race, never losing the
lead again. Dave Winder was second in the lunch queue, followed by Tom Stewart
who'd spent all race wavering around 4th position.
The second start gave the spectators something to talk about as an
inspirational first beat from Paul Hollis and Sarah Duval (3536) left him
following an avengeful Winder round the windward mark. Gradually, however he
was expelled from this top bunch and Whitworth, Winder, Julian Parry and Will
Rainey were left to their own fight at the front. And they sure did fight as
all but Rainey reminded themselves what luffing is for, to their own detriment
and Rainey's half-leg gain. Two laps later and Whitworth has suddenly taken the
lead again - fourth to first in one ingenious stroke. One dirty handed
spectator was heard to say "he's just a bit good", but this had to be revoked
when Whitworth wrecked the last beat watching Parry take line honors and
finishing a mere second himself. Will Rainey won out over Dave Winder to finish
Sailed back to back, race three was still left open to a number of
contenders. A general recall gave time to relax and calm the tensions of the
fleet, and the black flag ensured a clean start. Whitworth began badly, finally
finishing fifth, but retained first place overall with Duncan Salmon leaving
Winder second and Parry crossing fourth behind Will Rainey. 54 sailors were
then left to de-rig in a cold rain before a beer during prize giving.

1st 3593Richard Whitworth and Sally Townend (1,2,5) Hollingworth SC
2nd 3557 Dave Winder and Steve Denison (2,4,2) Hollingworth SC
3rd 3575 Duncan Salmon and Ian Garwood (4,5,1) Wembley SC
4th 3554 Julian Parry and Chris Taylor (28,1,4) Hollingworth SC
5th 3546 Will Rainey and Liese Ward (5,3,3) Cookham Reach


Merlin Rockets at Salcombe

Despite the arrival of Foot & Mouth in south Devon and the forecast of strong winds and heavy rain for the weekend of 30th March/ 1st April, 51 Merlin Rockets made the annual spring trip down to Salcombe for the Silver Tiller Open Meeting weekend hosted by Salcombe Yacht Club and sponsored by Coast & Country Cottages. The venue has been popular in the fleet for the annual Merlin Rocket Week in the summer for decades, but the Spring Open Meeting has only been a feature of the calendar for three years. Entries in the first year were 35, last year 42, and this year topped 50 – a quite remarkable observation on the high morale in the fleet.

The strength in depth in the fleet means that in a fleet of this size, there are at least 15 boats perfectly capable of winning, and poor starts are punished very hard!

Saturday fulfilled the forecast with rain and mist and strong winds, which at Salcombe inevitably means very difficult sailing conditions as the gusts back and veer around the steep sides of the estuary seemingly at random. There were many capsizes and retirements as competitors sensibly recognised the limitations of themselves and their gear. The stars of the day's race were the new pairing of Simon Blake and Dave Dobrijevic (Bosnia for short) who broke clear early on and sailed very smoothly to hold a comfortable lead for most of the long race. However when Blake & Bosnia capsized during a difficult gybe, the pursuing group were quick to take advantage with Mike Calvert & new crew Alex Jackson taking the bell at the finish just ahead of Will Rainey & Liese Ward and Richard Whitworth & Sally Townend (back in the boat after becoming Mum to Zoe).

The fleet all gathered at the club for the now legendary evening meal provided by Mark Sculley, the club chef, who broke all his records to feed 135 with a superb carvery, and a treacle tart to die for! The bar was utterly taken over by the youth of the fleet, until they tired and the old hands had to move in the show the youngsters true stamina. What on earth persuaded retired steward Brian out of retirement to take up bar diving again after the heavy bruising sustained last time may never be known, however on this occasion he was caught on the second bounce with little harm done!

Sunday dawned damp but a lot less windy and it was practically a full fleet that met on the start line. Newcomer Phil Plumtree sailing with Jilly Blake for this year, timed the first beat perfectly and emerged clear leader at the first mark, sailing into a clear lead on the long run up the estuary to Yalton. Stars of this race though were Duncan Salmon & Ian Garwood who after being immersed in the pack at the first mark picked a very favourable line on the long downwind leg to climb from a position in the teens at the first mark, to third at the second mark. Relentlessly reeling in Plumtree & Blake, Salmon & Garwood won the race ahead of Calvert & Jackson. This was enough for Calvert & Jackson to win the Pettit Trophy for the meeting, presented this year for the first time in memory of Audrey Pettit who was pivotal in establishing the Merlin Rocket Class’s long association with Salcombe.

Second place went to Whitworth & Townend, ahead of Stevie Morrison sailing in the fleet, at Salcombe, and with Liam Dempsey, all for the first time, a case of overcoming all obstacles to record an excellent result at an excellent regatta!


1st Mike Calvert & Alex Jackson 3549 2nd Richard Whitworth & Sally Townend 3593 3rd Steve Morrison & Liam Dempsey 3582 4th Julian Parry & Chris Taylor 3554 5th Duncan Salmon & Ian Garwood 3575.

(Thanks to GGGG for this report)


Shustoke Merlin Open, 25th March.

Richard Whitworth and Sally Townend were winners of the Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller event sailed at Shustoke Sailing Club on Sunday 25th March.  Going into the third race, their victory was by no means assured, such was the strength in depth of the fleet.

Thirty-five helms left the shore for the first start, disappointed that race officer Alan Bennett had used only nine of the possible eleven marks.  In a shifty force two to three north easterly, the fleet got cleanly away with Richard Estaugh, Steve Crook and Julian Parry showing early pace.  Crook rounded the windward mark first followed by Parry and Estaugh.  Chasing these three were Whitworth and local sailor, Jim Hopton. 

By the end of the first lap, Whitworth had reeled in both Crook and Estaugh and was closing on Parry, whilst Duncan Salmon, recovering from penalty turns on the start line was mounting a mid-race recovery.  As Parry and Whitworth opened out a leg lead from the following pack, Salmon closed on Estaugh.  In the closing stages of the race, Whitworth took Parry and the gun, whilst Salmon got the better of the shifts on the final beat, passing Estaugh and taking third place.

Fortified by an excellent lunch, and relieved to find that now all eleven marks were being used, the fleet again started cleanly, encouraged, no doubt, by the presence of the black flag.  Having become embroiled in a mid-fleet duel with old rival Phil King in the first race, Mike Calvert stamped his authority on the second to secure victory.  Parry showed good consistency finishing second again, with Whitworth third.  King and Estaugh fought to the line with King eventually dominant. 

Into Race 3 and in a fading breeze Estaugh made a perfect start from the port end of the line and shot into a lead which was never seriously challenged. Whitworth chased in vain, but could content himself that second place would be enough to secure the meeting.  Although beaten across the line into fourth place by King, Parry’s earlier consistency gave him four points to Estaugh’s 4 ¾, and second place overall.

The slightly lower turnout must be in part due to movement restrictions imposed by the Foot and Mouth crisis.  However, an entry boasting six national and inland champions, and at least a dozen helms with open meeting wins to their name reflects a class that is in the bloom of health and looking forward to another year of intensely competitive sailing.



R Whitworth and S Townsend

3593, Winder, RPS


J Parry and C Taylor

3554, Winder, RPS


R Estaugh and A Hateley

3582, Winder, RPS


M Calvert and A Jackson

3549, Driver, Wood


P King and J King

3539, Driver, Wood


S Crook and A Smith

3597, Winder, RPS


T Stewart and K Collacut

3591, Winder, RPS


D Salmon and I Garwood

3576, Winder, RPS


W Rainey and L Ward

3546, Driver, Wood


P Scott and S Hydon

3505, Turner, RPS/Wood

Thanks to Julian Harms-Miester  for the great report.


Hamble River Warming Pan

10th – 11th March 2001

25 Merlins ignored the weather forecast and arrived on a cold and wet morning to the Hamble River Sailing Club’s Warming Pans over the weekend of the 10th and 11th March.  The forecast for Saturday was for a SW 4 to 5 increasing 6 with Sunday’s forecast being 5 to 6 increasing 7 from the same direction.

It turned out that early arrival to the club was required to avoid the unusually high spring tide which flooded the road, half the dinghy park and nearly got into the clubhouse itself!

As in previous years, the club split the fleet into “inside” classes, Merlins and Firefly’s this year, and an “outside” fleet consisting of assymetric boats including 14s and Laser 4000’s .  The first start on Saturday was at 1200 with the tide on the turn.  A beat out of the river was set with the first mark set just off Hamble Point marina.  The closeness of this mark, coupled with the fact it was a mooring buoy and not an inflatable racing mark confused the majority of the fleet who overstood and sailed out to sea.  To add to the confusion, it was laid just out from the lee of the land in the full force of the South Westerly wind.  After one or two swims at this mark, the race settled down with Mike Calvert sailing with new crew Alex Jackson establishing a good lead and Tom Stewart leading the chase pack.  Stewart took the lead when Calvert lost his spinnaker over the side and went on to take victory.

The second race was sailed in similar conditions to the first, however Hamble Point buoy was used as the windward mark giving more sailing in the windier conditions out to sea.  By this time the tide was in full ebb and the challenge was to be on the return leg downwind against the flow. Mike and Alex were first to the mark and, having learnt from their error in the morning, made no mistakes to take the second race with a comfortable lead.

The main race in the evening was to be who could get a table in the curry house. This required speed, guile and tact, not to mention good persuasion skills.

Sunday dawned damp and drizzly with a SW 1-2 refusing to blow away the hangover.  The same course was set as on Saturday but, with the start being 1 hour before high water, the trick was to make headway against it in the light winds.  Dan Alsop and Jane Bowmore made the best start on the Warsash shore, however Calvert and Jackson were first to Hamble Point and never looked back. The second race was sailed with a stand in the Solent making the tide less of an issue.  Once again, Calvert led at the first mark, never to be headed.

Thanks must go to HRSC who put on a well organised event and provided us with good river racing, plenty of Mount Gay punch in the evening and a good lunch on both days.  The stars were also on display for the eagle eyed with Ian Walker racing in the Firefly class.

Results Table to come!  - Thanks again to Paul Gilbert for this write up!


Ranelagh Merlin Trophy.

Presented in 1946 by W E Morris.

1st Race 2001 for the Graham Donald River Thames Trophy.

25th February 2001

With a poor weather forecast and a dusting of snow in London during the night the omens for Ranelagh’s first open meeting of the year could have been better.  The stalwarts who turned up were greeted with near perfect conditions – clear blue sky, sunshine, NW wind force 3 giving a beat to the Hammersmith Crabtree mark with the tide and a run back to Putney against the flood which was due at 1600hrs.

Course set to 6 laps, marks to starboard, start 1415hrs.

The start was made more interesting at the ten minute bell by the universities rowing eights with Cambridge clashing blades with Molesey and coming to a grinding halt on our start line.

History was made by the return of MR 1 “Kate” to the event.  Restored by Mervin Allen, he was forced to retire after the start when the centre plate refused to roll into the slot.  Better luck next time!

The 17 strong fleet got away to a perfect close packed starboard tack start with all boats clear.  By Crabtree the race pattern was emerging and at the end of lap 1 four boats helmed by Hywel Perkins, Andy Dalby, Andrew Harris, and Duncan Salmon had broken clear.  On subsequent laps Duncan established a small lead with the following pack covering one another relentlessly.  The run back to Putney was fluky with Chris Rathbone and Andrew Harris crossing the tide to the Putney shore.  Duncan held his nerve and a small lead on the other bank.  Meanwhile Andy Jones came through from 9th place to hold 2nd place for 3 laps.

Overall results:






3575 – Gravadlax

Duncan Salmon & Ian Garwood

Wembley SC


3571 – Hakuna Matata

Andy & Alison Jones

Cookham Reach SC


3578 - Rabbit

Andrew Harris & Rob Wilden



3574 – Holy Grail

Hywell Perkins & Arianne Edwards

Hampton SC

 Many thanks to John Stokes for the colourful report and to Paul Gilbert for typing it up. You can see a photo of the event in the picture gallery.


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