Open Meeting Reports 2002

Click here for Silver Tiller Results


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.)
Index to reports:

Waveney & Oulton Broad, Championships, Salcombe WeekWeymouth, 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

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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.

With all the arrangements and support in place it was a pity that the week was dogged with light winds. Nevertheless, Alan Chaplin, the PRO imported from Shoreham, did a fantastic job of getting all the races sailed on the right days. He managed to fit the races round the changing land breeze/sea breeze patterns so with a couple of exceptions the beats remained beats and the reaches and runs remained downwind. The championship was therefore a fair test of light weather skill.

Overall winners, with a day to spare were Mike and Jane Calvert sailing their five year old wooden Driver built Let it Ride design. They counted two wins, two seconds and an eighth, a remarkably consistent performance in the very difficult conditions. This was a well-earned success as they have been competing at the highest level for many years. They used a Chipstow (Jackson) mast and Alverbanks sails which Mike has been developing with the mast and sailmaker since the introduction of carbon rigs in the 1990s.

Second overall were class chairman Will Rainey and Jennie King sailing a FRP Easy Roller design, built by Driver/Jenkins, also using a
Chipstow/Alverbanks rig. Third placed David Winder, crewed by Jilly Blake, was using one of his own very popular FRP Canterbury Tales with a Superspars/Pinnel & Bax rig. These boats also finished fourth in the hands of John Bell and Graham Williamson and sixth with William Warren and Rachael Cooper. Bell used a Chipstow/Batt rig and Warren a Chipstow/ Pinnel & Bax combination. In fifth place were Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins in an Easy Roller built by Jenkins with Superspars/Relling/Pinnel & Bax rig. Both Blake and Warren are the sons of previous champions, Pat and Alan, who were
also both competing and finished in the teens.

Another son of a famous Merlin father was Stevie Morrison sailing in his first Merlin championship. He borrowed Lawrie Smart's "Make it So" and crewed by Dave Dobrijevic finished seventh. They won one race and were third in another but a couple of 12th places put paid to their chances.  Nevertheless this was a very impressive debut. Other race winners were Richard Whitworth and Phil King.

The championship was generously sponsored by Shepherd Neame, the local Faversham Brewery, which hosted a memorable brewery trip for competitors on the Monday evening, Chavereys Chartered Accountants of Ashford (Kent), SEGTA Management Services of Redditch, Winder Boats and The Dinghy Store of Whitstable.


Overall results:

1st: 3549 "Unfinished Business" Mike and Jane Calvert (Weymouth) - 14 pts
2nd: 3601 "Millennium Falcon" Will Rainey and Jennie King (Cookham) - 22 pts
3rd: 3611 "The Phantom Menace" David Winder and Jilly Blake (Hollingworth) - 23 pts
4th: 3609 "Time Lords" John Bell and Graham Williamson (Hampton) - 26 pts
5th: 3612 "Manana" Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins (Cookham) - 28 pts
6th: 3580 "Chambulls" William Warren and Rachael Cooper (Shoreham) - 31 pts

7th: 3556 "Make it So" Stevie Morrison and Dave Dobrijevic (Exe) - 35 pts
8th: 3593 "Insomnia" Richard Whitworth and Stuart Bithell (Hollingworth) - 40 pts
9th: 3593 "Gangsta Paradise" Dan Alsop and Jane Beaumont (Lyme Regis) - 50 pts
10th: 3618 "Easy Rider" Glen Truswell and Tom Bowen Perkins (Hampton) - 54 pts


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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.

Results

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.

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Merlins at Weymouth  - 6th & 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.

With the Sunday racing counting toward the Silver Tiller, the fleet was bolstered by a number of additional entries. The three Sunday races were again over triangle/sausage type courses but over much shorter legs than the previous day. Combined with stronger and shifty winds, this resulted in much closer racing with an emphasis on boat handling and close quarter tactics. While the conditions uncovered issues for some, others reveled in the conditions. Will Rainey and Jennie King won two of the three races with Phil King/Kevin Driver second in both. The last race was won by Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins with the seasoned veteran Alan Warren and sprightly crew Liam Dempsey second.

The overall results showing five of the first six boats built by Wrecked'em Boatyard, a very pleasing result for Kevin Driver. The new shape spinnaker was also trialed over the weekend. The spinnaker complies with a maximum area base rule rather than one based on maximum dimensions. It once again proved easier to handle and faster than the current kite.

Overall Result:
1st Millennium Falcon Will Rainey and Jennie King (9)
2nd Take it Easy Phil King and Kevin Driver (10)
3rd Manana Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins (16)
4th Unfinished Business Mike Calvert and Jane Calvert (19)
5th Boadicea Judith Massey and Phil Dalby (21)
6th Gangsta Paradise Dan Alsop and Jane Beaumont (24)

(Thanks to Mike Fenwick for the report!)

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Merlins at Whitstable - 30 June

There were 31 entrants for Whitstable's annual Silver Tiller meeting on 29 and 30 June. Sunshine and a shifty, patchy force 3 ­ 4 gave the race officer, Chris Lewns a headache on the Saturday, but a much more robust force 4 ­ 5 gave competitors some sparkling sailing on Sunday.

The overall winners, Tom Stewart and Kieron Collacot put together a solid series with two firsts and a third. The winners on the water on Saturday were Will Rainey and Jennie King but they were using the new "proposed rules" experimental spinnaker and so retired from both races. Using their legal kite they made no mistake on Sunday to take the Silver Tiller points with a first and a second, the latter being an amazing charge through the fleet from 15th at the first mark, but they couldn't do enough to catch Alan Warren who has been coming to Whitstable for more years than he cares to remember and revels in such conditions.

The talking point of the weekend was the "Big green monster". This was the first outing of the experimental spinnaker, made by Pinnell & Bax, designed to the rule change tabled for the AGM in August. On Sunday Phil and Karen Emery used the sail and the general consensus was that it is a "good thing". Jenny King has been crewing Merlins for years and as a championship winning crew could probably manage anything. Karen, on the other hand, is relatively new to sailing but reported no problems with either launching or recovering the sail. Both said it was no more difficult on close reaches, and there were some extremely tight breezy reaches on the Sunday, and it was definitely quicker than conventional sails. Some adjustments are necessary to pole height to cope with the longer leeches but these are easy enough to implement. The sail goes for further testing on the circuit prior to the AGM.

Overall results

1st 3591 Tom Stewart and Kieron Collacot - Northampton (Winder Canterbury Tales)
2nd 3539 Dan Alsop and Jane Beaumont - Lyme Regis (Driver wood Let it Ride)
3rd 3620 Pat and Anna Blake - Cookham Reach (Winder Canterbury Tales)
4th 3611 David Winder and Jilly Blake - Hollingworth Lake (Winder
Canterbury Tales)
5th 3592 Judith Massey and Phil Dalby - Parkstone (Winder Canterbury Tales)
6th 3561 John Cooper and Geraldine Marks - Whitstable (Winder Canterbury Tales)
7th 3466 Paul Gilbert and Chris Downham Ranalagh - (Chipstow Canterbury Tales)
8th 3558 Charlie Hadfield and David Reid Shoreham - (Driver Let it Ride)

Silver Tiller

1st 3601 Will Rainey and Jennie King - Cookham (Driver/Jenkins Easy
Roller)
2nd Alan Warren and Liam Dempsey - Shoreham (Winder Canterbury Tales)

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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. 

RESULTS

1st

Will Rainey

Jennie King

Cookham

 2pts

2nd

Duncan Salmon

Ian Garwood

Wembley

 4pts

3rd

Chris Martin

Rob Kennaugh

Midland

 6pts

4th

Judith Massey

Phil Dalby

Parkstone

 8pts

5th

Richard Dee

Nicky Dee

Midland

 9pts

6th

Paul Hollis

Sarah Duval

Ragley

 9pts

7th

Andy Jones

Ben Jones

Cookham

12pts

8th

Matt Biggs

Dave Crocket

Blithfield

16pts

9th

Steve Watson

John Sleightholme

Midland

18pts

10th

Tony Johnson

Louise Johnson

Cam

18pts

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Earlswood Lake 16th June

Thirteen local Merlins from five Clubs came to fight the 5th event in the Midland Circuit series. The wind, supportive of sailing at this testing Midland lake, blew reasonably all day with the usual frustrating puff and lull that tests the best and kills the rest.

The day belonged comprehensively to Chris Martin and Rob Kennaugh who came from behind in the first race to win easily in a dizzying six or seven lap tour de force that left Paul Hollis and Sarah Duval pondering what they had done wrong. Chris and Rob then showed how to really do it the second race leaving the fleet behind and ashore watching the football before Richard and Nicky Dee arrived next a mere second or so ahead of Hollis and Duval. The third race left the winning team on shore with the penalty shoot out, leaving the sailing race shooting for second and third place. No mistakes by Hollis and Duval grabbed a win and second place in the event.

1st 3442 Chris Martin and Rob Kennaugh Midland Sailing Club
2nd 3610 Paul Hollis and Sarah Duval Ragley Sailing Club
3rd 3517 Richard Dee and Nicky Dee Midland Sailing Club
4th 3582 Matt Biggs and Davy Crockit Blithfield Sailing Club

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 Lyme Regis

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!

Dan Alsop

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

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Bala Open Meeting and Silver Tiller - 8th and 9th June

The Merlin Silver Tiller fleet made a long overdue return to Bala Sailing Club for a week-end that will be remembered for the extremes of weather and an all-pervading dampness.

Two races were to be held on the Saturday as part of the Open meeting, but although the fleet appeared, the breeze didn't, and the first start was delayed. Racing eventually started in a swinging and unpredictable force 2 southerly which channelled off the hills onto the lake, making for a challenging first beat. Dave Winder, crewed by Jilly Blake, arrived at the windward mark some 100 yards ahead of Pat and Anna Blake in their new Winder boat, and there was then some distance to the pursuing boats (Julian Harms and Dave Fowler). Blake closed on, but was unable to catch Winder as the wind rose a force and swung to the south west, and the race became somewhat processional and one sided. Winder took the gun and, in third, Fowler passed Harms after rounding the final windward mark and led him to the finish.

Having decided that it had done enough, the breeze faded as the remainder of the fleet finished, leaving a glassy lake, and little prospect of any more racing. Sponsors for the event, Pioneer Rafting had provided a free white water trip for those not already wet enough, and so a number of the fleet took up the opportunity to pass on boat handling tips to the uninitiated rafting guides.

A fleet of twenty boats assembled for the Silver Tiller event on Sunday, and launched in a building Force 4 southerly. The long beat up the middle of the lake was initially very one-sided, resulting in a long port tack beat.  Richard Whitworth led the fleet from the windward mark to the first gybe mark, but then an uncharacteristic navigational error took him off to the northern shore of the lake, and out of contention. The close fought battle for first place fell to the two Hollingworth boats of Winder and Bates.  Bates was eventually successful, with Winder second and then Blake third, passing Phil and Melanie Feibusch in the latter stages of the race as a sustained squall brought rain and a strengthening wind out of the south west.

There were a number of capsizes and some gear failure and a slightly depleted fleet started the second race in a steady force 5. The courses set gave plenty of opportunity for spectacular three sail reaching and even though bereft of his normal crew, Whitworth made good this time, winning the race from Blake and Bates. Winder was forced to retire when his tiller was broken, and Biggs and Crocket of Blithfield took fourth place.

After a break for lunch, the final race was sailed on a shorter course within view of the club house. Four boats were in a position to win the meeting, but again Whitworth was able to get clear ahead, pursued by Blake.  The breeze, which initially enforced two sailing on the majority of the reaches, lessened slightly in the latter stages of the race, but Whitworth held onto his lead and thus took the Silver Tiller meeting, with Bates, level on points with Blake, taking second by dint of his first place in Race One. Winder, fourth in the Silver Tiller was able to take some consolation from winning the two day Open meeting and getting the beer.

Silver Tiller

1 R Whitworth M Mee 3593 Hollingworth
2 S Bates A Hilton 3615 Hollingworth
3 P Blake A Blake 3559 Cookham Reach
4 D Winder J Blake 3611 Hollingworth
5 M Biggs D Crockett 3582 Blithfield
6 P Feibusch M Feibusch 3577 Papercourt

Open Meeting

1 D Winder J Blake 3611 Hollingworth
2 P Blake A Blake 3559 Cookham Reach
3 S Bates A Hilton 3615 Hollingworth

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                                      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.

The first race got going on schedule, Richard Dee just making the start after arriving with only 25 minutes to spare. The predicted recall on the downstream start failed to materialise and Jim and Robert Hopton took an early lead to the first mark in the borrowed and very non-original 2623. Despite local knowledge, and with the exception of Patrick and Edward Eaton, the home boats were very line shy and failed to make an impression at the start. The Hoptons broke clear, followed closely by Paul Hollis and Sarah Duval in second, the Eatons in third and the rest of the fleet trailing behind. These positions were kept to the finish. The wind dropped just after the leading boats had rounded the upstream mark, so the race officer was forced to shorten to one lap to give the fleet a chance of making the second start.

The second start was made upstream into a very light and shifty wind with the temperature finally increasing. The odd roll of thunder proved that the weather forecasters get it right some of the time. Some frantic tacking ensued to make use of the shifts and stay out of the current. This time Paul Hollis made the best of the conditions, followed by Mike Barnes and Wendy Pickler in second and the Hoptons in third. Richard Dee’s exertions in getting to the first start had caused a blood vessel to burst in his eye and so he was, unfortunately, unable to start this race or the third. The fickle conditions frustrated all, three boats retiring as a consequence.

The competitors tucked into the roast beef lunch, temporarily forgetting the traumas of the previous races. The third start was delayed to allow some digestion to take place and the wind to return, whether from the south or the cauliflower. The race finally got away upstream in a freshening breeze with Hollis and Duval taking the lead and the Hoptons in hot pursuit, as this was the deciding race. Surprisingly, given their poor showing in the other races, Rob Sloane and Alice Bellamy made a well judged start, kept out of the melee and were soon in third position. The battle for the front was close fought with the Hoptons finally establishing the lead half way through the second round. Meanwhile the rest of the fleet had closed up on Sloane and Bellamy whose lack of practice was beginning to show. Barnes and Pickler took third place half way through the second lap and held this to the finish.

The wind had become quite strong by the end of the meeting and the rain returned as the leading boats got ashore. The day finished, as it had started, with everyone getting a good soaking.

Final positions were:

1st Jim and Robert Hopton 2623 Chuft Shustoke
2nd Paul Hollis and Sarah Duval 3610 Neddles Ragley
3rd Mike Barnes and Wendy Pickler 3489 Love on the Rocks Ragley
4th Dave Fowler and Various 3269 Seventh Heaven RYA
5th* Patrick and Edward Eaton 1541 Archimedes TVSC
6th Rob Sloane and Alice Bellamy 3430 Fat Pig TVSC

* Old Boat Prize

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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.

After a postponement to allow the wind to drop (it didn't) 6 intrepid crews put to sea in deteriorating conditions. At the first mark Tom Stewart led but struggled to set his kite and was passed by Will Rainey and Jennie King, David Winder and Jilly Blake and Pat and Anna Blake who didn't try. A fast and furious race followed with the order maintained until the last reach when Winder capsized and Anna Blake abandoned ship requiring Pat to tack round and sail back singlehanded to recover her in what was by then over 30 knots of wind. Will Rainey won, Winder recovered to second and Glen
Truswell and Tim Holden were third. At this stage the race officer wisely called it a day and sent the fleet ashore. It was a great credit to the skill of the crews and the strength of the boats and rigs that there was no damage or gear failure. When asked about the conditions after the race, class chairman Rainey commented "Bl**dy windy".

The fleet doubled in size for Silver Tiller points on Sunday, but it was
even windier and Jacko reported that his beret blew off when he opened the sunroof of his car. The race officer had no choice but to abandon racing at midday. It was a great pity as Thorpe Bay is a wonderful venue and the club made the fleet really welcome. The Merlin Class hopes to be invited back next year.

Results:
1st: 3601 "Millennium Falcon" Will Rainey and Jennie King - Cookham Reach
2nd: 3611 "Phantom Menace" David Winder and Jilly Blake - Hollingworth Lake
3rd: 3585 "After Hours" Glen Truswell and Tim Holden - Glossop

Report by John Cooper

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Merlins at Abersoch

23 Merlins made the trip to South Caernavonshire YC for the first Silver Tiller Sea Meeting of 2002 on the 18/19 May. After rigging in a dismal drizzle, the skies cleared, the sun shone and a freshening force 5 from the southwest greeted the fleet for the first race. Two general recalls prompted use of the black flag and the fleet were perfectly behaved from then on.

The first boat to round the weather mark bore off and found that the
pathfinder rib had done his job and returned to the committee boat. The resulting search for the correct wing mark on a screaming reach made interesting viewing as the fleet turned itself inside out, finally returning to the committe boat to find the cancellation flag flying and a restart scheduled.

A clean start and a shortened race saw Cookham's Pat and Anna Blake just pip Will Rainey and Jennie King to the finish. Richard Whitworth and Sally Townend from Hollingworth Lake were third.

The second race saw new leaders as the Dalby girls stormed up the beat to lead at the windward mark. Unfortunately. Andy must have forgotten that you have to play the mainsheet downwind and they were rapidly overhauled by the three previous leaders. After much place changing Pat Blake was first to the last leeward mark but then hardened onto a beat instead of reaching to the finishing line. Richard Whitworth took advantage of this to win and Pat quickly recovered to second. Will Rainey and Jenny King narrowly beating
David Winder crewed by Jill Blake to third place.

Sunday dawned with the wind blowing even harder from the south, gusts topping 30 knots. An inshore course starting on the Club line was thought prudent and 16 hardy boats put to sea.
Hollingworth Lake's Steve Crook and Andy Smith were on the pace and led from start to finish followed by the ever present Blake. David Winder was third and Whitworth fourth. The last race would decide the meeting.

Glen Truswell crewed by Tim Holden sailed a perfect race to win easily from Crook and Winder. Whitworth suffered gear failure. Blake fell in and retired. Rainey could only manage 4th place. So Pat and Anna Blake won the meeting by 3 clear points.

1st Pat and Anna Blake   Smart Cookie   3559
Cookham Reach SC   5 pts.
2nd Richard Whitworth / Sally Townend   Insomnia   3593
Hollingworth Lake SC   8 pts.
3 rd Will Rainey / Jennie King   Millennium Falcon   3601
Cookham Reach SC   9 pts.
4 th Glen Truswell / Tim Holden   After Hours   3585
Glossop SC   10 pts.
5th Dave Winder / Jill Blake   Phantom Menace   3611
Hollingworth Lake SC   10 pts.
6th Tom Stewart / Keiron Collacott  3591   Northampton SC   17 pts.
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                                       Chichester Open - April 28th 2002

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).

Final Results:-

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).

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            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.
Overall results

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. ) 
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                                      MERLINS AT BRISTOL

 

                                                 Report by Phil (ask the man) King

 

Anyone 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,

legless 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

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                        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)


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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.

 

Overall results

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.

 John Bingham

Rear Commodore

Ragley Sailing Club

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Merlins at Shustoke, 24th March 2002


Mike Calvert returned from the ranks to take the Shustoke Silver Tiller meeting with wins in the last two races of the three race series.
Officer of the Day, Robin Webb had his work cut out in the very shifty
force 1 to 3 southerly which trickled around the club house and across the pond, but somehow managed three very fair races for the 36 strong fleet.   His race management style was characterised by prompt starts and use of the black flag which spared no prisoners.

The first race started after a general recall, with Phil King, crewed by
his daughter Christina showing a clean pair of transom flaps to the
remainder of the fleet and never looking threatened. Short beats and a very tight competitive fleet punished some of the fleet luminaries who had failed to get a good start and who were left languishing in the lower orders. However, notable exceptions were Paul Davies who managed to pull through from fifth to second in the course of the race, to the chagrin of Will Rainey who slipped from second to fourth allowing William Warren to gain third at the finish. Mike Calvert struggled through the fleet from fifteenth place at the end of the first lap, but could only manage tenth at the gun.

In the Second race, after another general recall, the fleet was again
away, and Calvert rounded clear ahead at the windward mark. Leading boats mysteriously began to disappear from the running as Race Officer Webb stamped his authority on the unruly fleet. No less than seven boats had been black flagged, and for potential contenders such as Tom Stewart, fresh from success at the Warming Pan, this and an Rtd. in the first race spelt the end of the affair.
 
Calvert was chased hard by Rainey and Richard Whitworth, but neither could better Calvert's mastery of the difficult conditions, and so they finished. King, who had been safe at the start, but unable to extricate himself from the melee at the committee boat end of the line, was unable to improve beyond fifth by the end of the race.

Lunch saw much speculation on the final result, given the relative
inconsistency of the race winners so far and the closeness of the points.  However, in the final race, the new course, set to exploit the vagaries of the swinging breeze, saw Calvert at the windward mark first. King was second, but was unable to reel him in. Davies was third and Whitworth fourth. Calvert had kept his cool under considerable pressure, and taken the meeting.

Results:

Position Boat No Helm Crew Club
1 3549  M Calvert J Calvert Weymouth
2 3606  P King C King Bowmoor
3 3573   P Davies L Ward Bowmoor
4 3601   W Rainey J King Cookham
5 3593 R Whitworth S Townend Hollingworth Lake
6 3580   W Warren R Cooper Shoreham
7 3575   D Salmon I Garwood Wembley
8 3554   J Parry C Taylor Hollingworth Lake
9 3611   D Winder J Blake Hollingworth Lake
10 2623   P Scott S Hydon Shustoke

 Thanks to Mr Bean for this speedy report!

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Hamble Warming Pans

Hamble 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. 

Saturday 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.

The 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.

Some 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.

The 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. 

The 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…….

The 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.

The 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.

Overall 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 social happenings. 

Final Results:

1st        Tom Stewart & Liam Dempsey

2nd        Pat Blake & Anna Blake

3rd        Will Rainey & Jennie King

4th       Mike Calvert & Jane Calvert

5th        Dave Winder & Jill Blake

Thanks to Gilbo for this great report!

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Banbury Open 

9/10th March 2002

The 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.

Results - The Finishers

 

 

 

 

1st

Richard Whitworth

Sally Townend

3593

Hollingsworth Lake SC

 

2nd

Will Rainey

Jennie King

3601

Cookham Reach

 

3rd

Tom Stewart

Keiran Collacot

3591

Northampton SC

 

4th

Dave Fowler

Adam Hollis

3296

 

 

5th

Julian Parry

Cris Taylor

3554

Hollingsworth Lake SC

 

6th

Laurence Tosh

Chloe Edwards

3604

Wembley SC

 

7th

Mat Biggs

Dave Crockett

3582

Blithfield SC

 

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