|Open Meeting Reports 2002|
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.)
Index to reports:
Waveney & Oulton Broad, Championships, Salcombe Week, Weymouth, Whitstable, Midland, Earlswood Lake, Lyme Regis, Bala, Trent Valley, Thorpe Bay, Abersoch, Chichester, Salcombe, Bristol, Upper Thames, Ragley, Shustoke, Hamble Warming Pans, Banbury
Waveney & Oulton Broad - 31 August
A high class fleet arrived for the weekend's sailing at the UK's eastern-most Silver Tiller event. On Saturday, Oulton Broad provided typically testing inland conditions.
The first race cracked off in a fine NW force 4 breeze with former Olympian Alan Warren showing a very clear transom to the fleet. Simon Blake in second and Mike Calvert in third also stated their intentions for the day. The wind held a good strength, although its direction varied tremendously and subsequent races need to have the course tweaked around, eventually a full 90 degrees for the progressive veer.
Alan Warren mistimed his start to the second race, crossed early and had to re-start this much to the relief of the rest of the fleet. Mike Calvert, Simon Blake and Dan Alsop came home in that order. The final overall result was wide open with any one of five boats capable of winning the event.
The set course for race 3 was not simple and some said resembled a knitting pattern. Duncan Salmon stormed away to an enormous lead with local team Steve & Shirley Cole in second place holding on for an eventual third finish in that race. Gradually the class stars made their presence felt and Will Rainey took the winning gun but this only gave him third overall.
The results were so close that a tie break had to separate second place Simon Blake from overall winner Mike Calvert.
1st - 3549 Mike & Jane Calvert
2nd - 3612 Simon Blake & Linton Jenkins
3rd - 3601 Will Rainey & Jennie King
1st local (7th overall) - 3512 Steve & Shirley Cole
Local handicap winner - 3361 Chris Eager & Richard Holmes
CHAMPIONSHIPS AT WHITSTABLE - 18-23 August
Whitstable Yacht Club
hosted the Merlin Rocket National Championship from 18 - 23 August as part
of the club's centenary celebrations. Whitstable has long been associated
with the class and this was the ninth time that the club has run the
championships. The entry list of 54 included seven previous national
champions, two of whose sons were also competing in their own boats and
featured prominently in the prizes list. The very strong youth section of
the class enjoyed the week to the full, which bodes well for the class which
enjoys a very strong brand loyalty among sailors.
106 Merlins at Salcombe
13 –19 July 2001
The Merlins enjoyed another excellent week’s sailing at Salcombe in an event that continues to go from strength to strength. The fleet enjoyed brilliant sunshine all week, with the winds, which varied from very light to Force 4 as the predominantly north-westerly wind battled with the sea breeze, giving plenty of opportunity for the fleet to play snakes and ladders.
To accommodate the huge fleet, the week’s racing takes place in flights, with the boats being split into Gold and Silver fleets after the first three days’ racing.
By Friday morning, any one of three boats could have won the Gold fleet. Phil King and Kevin Driver, and John Bell and Graham Williamson had both secured four wins out of five races, and rising stars Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins with three wins could still have come out on top if either of the leaders slipped up on the last day. Ultimately, the result went down to the final beat of the last race as Bell struggled unsuccessfully to catch Blake, in a bid to match King’s win in the morning race. King and Driver were therefore worthy winners of one of the closest fought weeks for many years. To demonstrate the fine line between success and failure, King and Blake each won a race as a result of the race leader sailing the wrong course.
In the Silver fleet, James Middleton-Stewart kept his nerve on the final day to cement his overnight lead with a fine win, to lead by three points from Dave Townend, who once again somehow managed to just scrape into the Silver fleet when the cut was made.
Other highlights included Merlin legend and previous winner of Salcombe week, Harry Haynes presenting a new trophy in memory of his wife Beryl, for the crew of the winning boat, and the recognition of another previous winner, John Harris, attending his 40th Salcombe Merlin Week without a break.
On the gear front, the new boats from Full Wrecked’em Force continue to make their mark with three in the first six. Sails for the top six came from Rowsell, Pinnell and Bax, Alverbank and Batt, whilst five of the top six used masts from Chipstow.
Gold Fleet: 1st 3606 Phil King and Kevin Driver, Bowmoor SC, 2nd 3612 Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins, Cookham Reach SC, 3rd 3609 John Bell and Graham Williamson, Hampton SC, 4th 3549 Mike and Jane Calvert, Weymouth SC, 5th 3591 Tom Stewart and Chris Bishop, Royal Harwich YC, 6th 3601 Will Rainey and Jennie King, Cookham Reach SC.
Silver fleet: 1st 3400 James Middleton-Stewart and Zoe Donald, Weymouth SC, 2nd 3530 David Townend and Francesca Lofts, Salcombe YC, 3rd 3535 Richard Cooke and Sam Waddoups. Old Boat Prize: 3266 Rawson Pilon and Rachel Howe, Upper Thames SC.
Merlins at Weymouth -
& 7th July
The annual Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller open meeting at Weymouth Sailing Club
took place over the weekend of July 6/7th. The twenty entries on Saturday were greeted by overcast and misty conditions, however, by the time the fleet
had reached the race course some distance offshore, the day had blossomed into
a force 3 and bright sunshine. Two races were held on Saturday afternoon over
large triangle/sausage type courses. A closely fought first race saw Judith Massey and the Philly Factor taking the winners' gun followed by Phil
King/Kevin Driver and Dan Alsop/Jane Beaumont. In the second race, Pat and Anna Blake took an early lead which they extended throughout for a comfortable
victory. Second and third were Mike and Jane Calvert and Will Rainey with Jennie King.
(Thanks to Mike Fenwick for the report!)
Whitstable - 30 June
MIDLAND SAILING CLUB
23rd June 2002
A fine day greeted the crews of the 19 Merlin Rockets who attended the Silver Tiller event on Edgbaston Reservoir in Birmingham. The force 2 – 3 wind blew from the west straight down the reservoir and made for close racing.
Race Officer, Ian Smith, got the fleet away to a faultless start in the first race and Duncan Salmon broke clear from the pack to lead for the first 2 laps. Will Rainey, who had been buried at the start, worked his way through the fleet to pass Salmon on the short beat. These two held their places to finish in that order. Local hero, Chris Martin, climbed from sixth at the first mark to take third place.
Rainey made a clean start in the second race to lead at the first mark. Salmon led briefly on the second lap, but Rainey pulled away to finish first. Richard Dee, another local sailor, made up for a disappointing showing in the first race by pulling through from 8th place after the first lap to take third behind Salmon.
A changed course was set for race 3. Rainey, Salmon and Martin got to the front and these three sailed a close race, with places changing regularly. After a tense final beat Rainey crossed the line a boat length ahead of Salmon, with Martin two boat lengths behind. Judith Massey and Phil Dalby, who capsized when hoisting their spinnaker on the first reach, made the recovery of the day. They combined good sailing with better reading of the windshifts to finish fourth.
Earlswood Lake 16th June
June 15th & 16th 2002
Just like a misleading holiday brochure, a brilliant blue sea, sunny skies and a fresh breeze greeted the 37 Merlins who arrived at Lyme Regis on the Saturday morning. However the weather gods obviously disapproved of the jollity and by the time racing commenced grey skies and drizzle were the order of the day. Nevertheless two long races were held back-to-back in a perfect breeze on full championship size courses, made all the more interesting by the famous Lyme Bay waves, which as usual displayed the excellent characteristic of travelling faster than most of us can sail. Regrettably the wet afternoon was followed by such poor visibility on the Sunday that the second day's racing had to be cancelled. This was particularly galling as the fleet had already launched to find the wind and sea conditions even better than Saturday's.
Only two races meant no discard so consistency was everything. Those who had been caught out by Saturday's weather-going tidal stream and the dreaded black flag paid a heavy price, none less so than the fleet's top helmswoman Judith Massey who crossed the both the start line and the finishing line so far ahead of the rest of the fleet in race 1 that the silence as she crossed the finishing line seemed inevitable. Other famous names to suffer the same fate included Duncan Salmon, David Mellor, Mike Fenwick, John Bell, and (would you believe it?) all but one of the fleet of five boats with Warrens or Blakes aboard!
Simon however upheld the Blake family name by finishing 7th overall – perhaps he left the start line call to ace crew Linton Jenkins. Anyway they obviously sail a lot better than they write because they appeared on the results sheet as Stephen Drake and L Jennini. (Vanilla cornet, please Linton!)
Some while after the conclusion of the Saturday racing Dave Townend and Franchesca Lofts re-entered the harbour apparently having had a most successful fishing trip. The spinnaker was set beautifully under the bow and making a splendid trawl and the boat was so low in the water that we all assumed it to be nearly full to the gunwhales with fish. Regrettably any thoughts of barbecued sea bass for supper were quickly dispelled when the true explanation for their forlorn appearance became known (details available on payment of modest consideration).
The late start to the Saturday evening's jollifications was quickly made up for, the startline transgressors drowning their sorrows whilst still oblivious to the fact that they would be denied the opportunity of putting matters right on the following day. In pushing up the bar takings to unprecedented levels the fleet was ably assisted by the Scorpions and 420s who shared the event and the club barman was soon seen recruiting assistants to cope with the rush. Things became particularly relaxed for the 75 sailors partaking of the regatta supper who were treated to limitless food and waitress service. However for one or two of those who had arrived on the Friday and indulged in two very late nights on the trot, the fog-induced postponement on Sunday morning was more of a bonus than a disappointment.
International Judge Paul Withers lent some dignity to the proceedings by chairing the protest committee and duly did his bit by applying a bit of discipline in a fleet where it is more usual to minimise wasted drinking time by sorting any disputes out in the bar. Lesson number one – do sail under your correct sail numbers!
The general opinion seemed to be "please can we come back next year?". I'll see if I can find a (Vectran) string to pull!
Results (37 entries)
1st Phil King & Kevin Driver - Bowmoor
2nd Richard Whitworth and Matt Mee - Hollingworth
3rd Will Rainey & Jennie King – Cookham Reach
4th Dan Alsop & Jane Beaumont – Lyme Regis
5th Mike and Jane Calvert – Weymouth
6th Charlie Hadfield & Chris Downham – Shoreham
Junior prize John Hackett - Midland
Open Meeting and Silver Tiller - 8th and 9th June
TVSC 26th May 2002
The weather forecast for the Trent Valley Midland Circuit Open Meeting was warm with thunder showers but the day dawned cold and wet with 6 to 12 knots of wind from the south. With the entire Dalby family not racing through injury/ fast boat crewing duty/ attraction to the sea/ no good excuse at all, the visitors outnumbered the home boats 7 to 5. All got a good soaking whilst rigging.
Thorpe Bay - 25/26 May
It was windy when
the Merlin fleet arrived at Thorpe Bay on Saturday 25 May - so windy that
local guru and mastmaker Alan Jackson's beret blew off in the car park. That
was the signal for half the fleet to elect to stay ashore and watch the fun
from the comfort of the bar.
Chichester Open - April
Chichester Merlin Open brought a bit of sun, 17 merlins, but most importantly that familiar whistling sound you hear as the wind comes whistling through the trees.. building for a big one! This was it .. BIG SUNDAY. Once an esteemed gentleman yotter said "At Chichester, when it blows it ****ing blows". The forecast predicted building upto an 8 throughout the day..... CYC generously decided not to use a typical club course but opted for a standard Olympic triangle-sausage as more ground around the harbour could be covered with less gybes!
Racing started at 11:30 on a rising tide. Tom Stewart got off well and after playing the shifts had a good lead over the rest of the pack. He rounded the mark and blasted off on the reach only to capsize at the gybe mark on a gust. This left King and Driver to take the lead, which the maintained to the finish. Behind them was a lot of swimming and place swapping. The gybe mark was making spectating very exciting. One interesting point to note was the interesting "water-skiing" start made by David Downs crew Simon McCleery. The starting officials gave him 7/10 for style! Will Rainey also did well to come back from a capsize, aided by the ferocious Jen King flying the kite no matter how hairy it got!
The top 6 after the first race were: King, BlakioooOO Snr, John Bell, Dave Windy, Andy Bownes, Will Rainey.
After a bite to eat the wind was substantially stronger... the eerie whistling was also getting louder. Prior to going out Dan Aslop could be heard saying "Please tell an old man it's calming down a bit.."!
Most boats ventured out again for some seriously quick yotting. Alsop took the starboard end at the start and peeled over the top of everyone. King closed in by playing the shifts correctly and just managed an inside overlap on the first windward mark. Alsop caught up slightly at the gybe mark leaving utter carnage behind. Winder pressing hard passed Alsop but fell into windward. Plop! With King still chalking out a lead, Rainey, who was the only boat flying a kite (It was going to be a case or Hero or Zero!) passed Alsop to take second. Pat Blakioo blew it when he managed to rip his sail. This race sadly led to many early retirements and a couple of snapped masts).
1st 3606 Phil King and Kevin Driver
2nd 3601 Will Rainey and Jenny Fearless King
3rd 3611 Dave Windy and Jilly Blakioo
4th 3539 Dan Aslop and Jane Beaumont
5th 3559 Pat Blakioo and Anna Blakioo
6th 3609 John Bell and Graham Williamson
7th 3397 David Downs and Simon McCleery (<- good work fella's).
Salcombe Open Meeting - 20 & 21 April 2002
Once again Salcombe proved what a popular sailing venue it is with 50 boats turning up for the club’s fourth Silver Tiller event. Many sailors now take the opportunity of having a long weekend and travel down on Friday evening, as evidenced by the number of boats in the dinghy park and sailors in the pub and club !!! The serious drinkers (Guy Wood, Andy Dalby etc) simply abandoned their cars on the road outside the club in order to maximise drinking time before Brian, the Club’s Bar Steward, rang last orders.
The event format is quite simple with one race Saturday afternoon and one Sunday morning, thus enabling a very relaxed weekend and a prompt getaway come Sunday afternoon.
Saturday’s race was held in beautiful sunny conditions with a pleasant force 2 to 3 from the south and the tide running out. The obligatory general recall occurred and so the fleet started after the club race had started. It was very nip and tuck up the first beat and a tight bunch of 10 boats headed round the top mark. Pat Blake headed for the town side closely followed by the pack. Those that plumped for the Mill Bay side of the estuary were to be deeply disappointed and with the racing so tight and close, a significant comeback would be nigh on impossible.
After a few tactical gybes in the bag on the way to Gerston, Paul Davies and Will Rainey had pulled out a small lead on John Bell, Richard Whitworth, Simon Blake and Phil King. Rainey passed Davies on the beat back to Blackstone but there was never more than a few boat lengths in it. Bell was secure in the third but the situation for fourth was much more fluid with several place changes. On the run back to Gerston, the leading Merlins had to pass the leading Salcombe Yawls and were advised by the leader to overtake to leeward, as he was the Race Officer on Sunday and therefore, we would not want to get on the wrong side of him……point taken !!!! Davies retook Rainey on the run and so it would be a battle royal to the finish. Although Davies held the initiative, a duff tack enabled Rainey to sneak through and win by 3 seconds at the line. Bell held on to third, with Whitworth fourth, Simon Blake fifth and Mike Calvert sixth.
Saturday evening is renown for a huge knees up and this year was no exception. The competitors were treated to an excellent supper at the club, prepared by the club’s new chef. In addition, Ian Stewart organised three skittles lanes to keep everyone amused and away from the bar.......not !!! The Hampton Youths just pipped the Hampton Wrinkles to be the winning team and Paul Davies won a pint for the highest individual score, some consolation for being pipped at the post earlier.
Sunday morning was yet another sunny day with similar wind conditions but this time the tide was coming in. However the fleet was still too eager and the inevitable general recall happened. As both races were to count consistency was always going to be the key, clearly illustrated by Davies’ bad start leaving him in the early thirties round the top mark. Mike Calvert hit the front and stayed there with Simon Blake, Frank Rowsell, Phil King, Dan Alsop and John Bell in hot pursuit. The former would have been closer to Calvert had he not hooked a fishing line by Mill Bay which took valuable seconds to untangle. Rainey held second for a while which would have given him the meeting, but slipped to an eventual eighth. Then it was the turn of Bell to take over whilst holding second but he also dropped back. Whitworth’s game plan was to beat Bell and was not overly worried when King passed him for second because he was still in front of Bell. However, he had failed to take into account Calvert who had scored a sixth the previous day. The finishing order for the race was Calvert, King, Whitworth, Bell, Alsop and Blake (Simon).
Calvert, Whitworth and Bell were all equal on seven points but Calvert won the meeting by virtue of the fact he had the best individual result.
1 3549 Unfinished Business Mike and Jane Calvert
2 3593 Insomnia Richard Whitworth and Sally Townend
3 3609 Time Lord John Bell and Graham Williamson
4 3601 Millenium Falcon Will Rainey and Jennie King
5 3606 Take it Easy Phil and Christine King
6 3612 Manyarna Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins
7 3539 Gangsta Paradise Dan Alsop and Jane Beaumont
8 3573 Rong Number Paul Davies and Sara Warren
A great weekend was had by all with great sailing, good company and plenty of sunshine pints...........roll on Salcombe week in July !!!!
(Muchos Thanks to Davo
for this report. )
Report by Phil (ask the man) King
who studied the weather forecasts might have expected a quiet and restful
weekend’s entertainment, but only if they did not know Cheddar.
West OK. East OK. South OK. North not OK. Any wind with north in it
can send a bloke madder than Hampton SC at a Cripple Cock tasting session.
But wind there was, somewhat unsteady,
even and a certainty for 12 months off the road if given a breath test.
So, twenty one Merlins, including Frank Rowsell in the un-named (as yet) scarlet painted new Driver easy roller (Frankenstein…?), tackled the shifty, chilly conditions at Axebridge on 13/14 April. Tom Stewart and Keiron Collocot from Northampton sailed away with an enviable lead and the Saturday race earning them the Plimsoll Vase. In the following pack, Pat Blake, King, Winder and Rainey scrapped for the next few places. Frank and Liam retired to the bar.
Sunday morning arrived, chilly and windless. Two out of three races to count for Silver Tiller points. Ken Falcon, race officer, was pessimistic about the prospects. The chat was in full swing when at about noon, some boy scout pointed out that a F2/3 from the West had rolled in. Race on, as Ken broke the record from bar to boat to bang. But then the Cripple Cock kicked in, and the breeze staggered round a bit to the north. Tom Stewart skillfully exploited its’alcoholic flatulence fending off the drunken advances of Dan Alsop and John Bell to take the race Officer’s blast, having lorded it over the fleet from opening time.
Uncle Ken obliged us with the next round on the house so promptly that the 5 minute gun was barely audible above the reports of Velcro ripping open and YKK zippers closing. The fleet stormed the bar in the excitement but a race officer would have had to be blind drunk to let the fleet go. Judge Ken soberly pulled out the Black flag and a semblance of order was restored. The cripple cock had reached parts of the fleet that the 6X had not the night before and fortunes were reversed. Dave Winder and Phil King scuffled relentlessly until a snap shackle let go on Mr. Winder’s spi up-haul giving King the gun. Uncle Tom was in his cabin.
With last orders looming, there was some doubt whether Judge Ken would extend the opening hours. With Tom, John Bell and King on the same points, the party had to go on. After a quick pie & beans break, wind was now in good supply. The Cripple Cock had more tricks to play, even taking time out to lay an egg. King lead from start to finish hotly pursued by Frankenstein, Simon Blake and John Bell but not without each thinking at sometime that they could score a bull’s eye.
Uncle Tom was in his cabin.
All good parties finish late and this was no exception. The racing was tighter than ever with over half the fleet on the pace. Cock on BCYC & Judge Ken!
Results for Saturday
1st 3591 Tom Stewart & Keiron Collicot
2nd 3559 Pat & Anna Blake
3rd 3606 Phil King & Kevin Driver
Results for Silver Tiller
1st 3606 Phil King & Kevin Driver
2nd 3612 Simon Blake & Linton Jenkins
3rd 3591 Tom Stewart & Keiron Collicot
4th 3613 Frank Rowsell & Liam Dempsey
5th 3609 John Bell & Graham Williamson
6th 3611 Dave Winder & Jilly Blake
Merlins at Upper Thames (April 6th/7th)
Twenty-four brave souls took to the water for the Saturday race for the Spade Oak Bowl in a force five North Easterly that seemed to shift to just about every other point of the compass. This combined with the gusts ensured that every single member of the fleet went for at least one swim. The seven boats that finished had certainly seen enough of the river for one day!
Sunday was the third round of the Silver Tiller Series and twenty-eight boats were split into two flights for three races. The wind was slightly less than Saturday but still from the North East with gusts to match. After lots of place swapping and general mayhem Duncan Salmon & Will Rainey won their respective flights in the first race from Pat Blake & Phil King. The second races fell to Simon Blake and Will Rainey. Whilst Simon Blake and Duncan Salmon took the third. The resulting three way tie was broken in Simon's favour and some very tired limbs adjourned to the bar to reflect on how boring river sailing really is.
Spade Oak Bowl:
1st Laurie Smart/Chris Dowland (Upper Thames)
2nd Terry & Jo Curtis (Upper Thames)
3rd Rawson Pilon/Peter Walker (Upper Thames)
Allen Challenge Cup:
1st Simon & Jillie Blake (Cookham Reach)
2nd Duncan Salmon/Ian Garwood (Wembley)
3rd Will Rainey/Jennie King (Cookham Reach)
MIDLAND MERLINS AT RAGLEY
6TH APRIL 2002
Set in the heart of Shakespeare’s country, Ragley Sailing Club hosted five visiting boats on a glorious spring day with an easterly force 4 gusting 6, causing many capsizes and gear failures.
It is no doubt, that the visitors found “short-circuit, high speed” racing on Ragley’s 10 acre ‘pond’ something of an experience!
The fleet included some 4 championship ‘thoroughbreds, inc. 3065 Psychic – ‘smokers’; 3296 ‘Seventh Heaven’ – NSM2; 3339 ‘ The Flame’ Summerwine; and 3569 ‘Time Zulu’ – Winder Canterbury; proving that the Midland Circuit offers good homes to boats with ‘form’.
The first race was comfortably won by Paul Hollis and Sarah Duval in their new Winder machine 3610, with Dave Fowler and Adam Hollis 3296, 2nd place. Jim and Robert Hopton 3598 in 3rd, Peter and Tim Male 3339 4th, and Mike Barnes and Wendy Pickler 3489 5th after performing a broken rudder ‘pit-stop’ that even the Ferrari works team would have been proud of!
The second race with strengthening wind, the gusty conditions caught most of the fleet and at one stage only three boats were upright and sailing. With three eventual retirements, the race was won by Hopton with Male 2nd, Fowler 3rd, and Bernard and David Prickett, 3487, 4th.
This left the event wide open for the final race, giving any one of four contenders a chance for the trophy. Race Officer, Tony Archer sympathetically changed the downwind distance mark from a port gybe to a starboard rounding and an exciting race ensued with Male off to a flying start and leading for 2 ½ laps, hotly pursued by Barnes (now crewed by Chris Hurlston – Wendy Pickler being a second race casualty, thankfully not serious), with Hopton in 3rd place. Hollis was way back in 7th position, having filled up on the first leg. Male lost out badly with spinnaker system failure, leaving Barnes and Hopton battling for the lead. Meantime, Hollis worked his way back to 3rd place, then 2nd, only to drop back to 3rd. On the last downward leg, Hollis took the leeward line and caught the leaders at the mark, the final windward leg proving a tremendous tussle between Hopton and Hollis. Hollis found a favourable (local knowledge?) shift, rounded the mark to finish two lengths ahead of Hopton. A great finale to an excellent day’ sailing.
|1st||3610||Paul Hollis and Sarah Duval||Ragley|
|2nd||3598||Jim and Robert Hopton*||Shustoke|
|3rd||3296||Dave Fowler and Adam Hollis*||RYA|
|4th||3339||Peter and Tim Male||Blithfield|
|5th||3489||Mike Barnes and Wendy Pickler/Chris Hurlston||Ragley|
|6th||}3569||Steve Watson and John Sleightholme||Midland|
|}3487||Bernard and David Prickett||Ragley|
|8th||3065||Hugh Fulton and Debra Rowlinson||Ragley|
*Special Easter egg prizes for youngsters Robert Hopton (age 12) and Adam Hollis (age 11) for crewing in all three races.
Ragley Sailing Club
Merlins at Shustoke, 24th March 2002
Thanks to Mr Bean for this speedy report!
River Sailing club hosted the 40th Warming Pans race over the
weekend of the 16th 17th March.
The forecast was for light south/south easterlies which would have
made for a welcome change to the force 6s and 7s we had been sailing in over
the previous few weeks.
dawned as forecast and the fleet of International 14s, Laser 4000s, a hot
fleet of 19 Merlin Rockets, RS 200’s, 400’s and Fireflys rigged in the
shelter of the dinghy park. The format was to be as in previous years, with the 14’s
400’s and 4000’s racing out to sea off Solent Breezes with the rest of
the fleet being set a course starting from a club line in the river, taking
us out through the moorings, turning right round a channel marker, followed
by a short windward/leeward leg and then back up the river. The conditions out to sea gave us a fantastic race in a
southerly force 4.
strong flooding tide and ultra competitive fleet failed to hold back from
the first start and the obligatory general recall was sounded.
Second time we got away (despite the usual gin palace on the start
line with 20 seconds to go problem!) and the testing conditions quickly
sorted the men from the boys. Mike
and Jane Calvert, fresh from the “Grizzley” the weekend before, were in
the lead round the first mark and lead to the end.
of the fleet were caught out by the short break for lunch and missed the
start for of the second race. Pat and Anna Blake had built a comfortable lead by the second
lap however, being a little too eager to avoid the strong ebbing tide, hit
the bottom and were forced to take off their rudder to save the transom.
This let through Dave Winder and Jill Blake who went on to win from
Will Rainey and Jennie King.
sailing club put on a 40th birthday dinner on the Saturday night
with famous names from past and present to re-live stories and memories.
This was combined with the usual trip to the King and Queen where a
donation to the Get Flipper Pickled Fund was organised by, I think,
Chris Downham and Hywel Perkins Snr. Flipper,
master of guile and cunning, saw straight through this game and politely
declined their generous gift.
following day dawned similar to the Saturday and the fleet were set a more
straight forward “out and back” course.
The morning race was not incident free – Nigel and Suzie Brook
being involved in two port and starboard incidents within 5 minutes (they
were on starboard both times!!). Any damage caused by the first was kindly removed by Laurie
Smart and Chris Downham who T-boned them at full speed and removed their
gunwale. We couldn’t decide
whether this had anything to do with the several gallons of beer these two
had drunk the night before or not…….
end of this race saw the Blakes, Rainey/King and Stewart/Dempsey jostling
for position, Rainey/King led into the river, however the Blakes and
Stewart/Dempsey picked up a gust and used it to overtake Will & Jennie
giving Tom & Liam their first win from Pat & Anna with Will &
Jenny suffering in third.
wind had died down a fraction for the second race on Sunday and the course
had been shortened to enable us to finish at a reasonable time (not to
mention giving our poor overworked bodies less of a beating!).
Once again the racing was tight right to the line with Pat and Anna
winning from Stewart/Dempsey.
the Merlin fleet had a fantastic weekend of close racing (5 points separated
the top five boats) with well set courses, well managed races and plenty of
1st Tom Stewart & Liam Dempsey
Pat Blake & Anna Blake
Will Rainey & Jennie King
Mike Calvert & Jane Calvert
5th Dave Winder & Jill Blake
to Gilbo for this great report!
9/10th March 2002
weekend of 9/10th March saw some 28 Merlin Rockets visiting
Banbury Sailing Club for a weekend of Merlin Rockets activities.
A Race Training day was scheduled for the Saturday and 14 boats came
together with the expectation of being able to improve their racing skills
on the water under the expert guidance of
Jennie King, Phil King and Will Rainey.
Unfortunately, the weather gods were unkind and no sooner had the
boats been rigged in a strong but sailable wind than the wind decided to
increase in strength to gale force. The
training continued in the clubhouse whilst admiring the sheets of spray
arcing over the pontoons from the westerly gale.
For the first Silver Tiller meeting of the 2002 season, the 28 boats were greeted by a strong southerly wind of around 20 knots which promised some exciting sailing. However as on the Saturday, by the time of the first race, the wind speed had increased to such an extent that only 14 of the 28 entrants considered it sensible to start with the others opting to watch the activities from the bank. Unusually for a Merlin Rocket race, the start line was not particularly crowded as the starters concentrated on actually starting while staying upright in the extreme gusts that were sweeping down the lake.
Richard Whitworth and Sally Townend in 3593 were first to the windward mark and after a short reach to the second mark, took off down the lake on a broad reach closely followed by Will Rainey and Jennie King in 3601 and Tom Stewart and Keiran Collacot in 3591 while others were still either struggling up the first beat or trying to get back upright. Spinnakers were unusually absent but in spite of this, most of the boats on this downwind leg seemed to be almost as much in the air as the water in real rocket style.
The order at the front remained the same and was maintained until the end of the race which the PDO prudently stopped after two laps as the wind showed no sign of abating and indeed had increased significantly during the race. Seven out of the fourteen starters survived to finish and it is perhaps a tribute to the strength of the modern designs that the only damage sustained was a broken spreader despite the gale force winds experienced by the fleet and the multiple capsizes suffered by some of the starters. The duty team were kept busy throughout in assisting capsized boats and retrieving those who had taken gardening leave in the surrounding foliage.
As the conditions showed no sign of abating, no further races were run and the competitors were generally relieved to adjourn to the bar for a drink and a meal.