Merlins at Weymouth
Weymouth hosted a two day open meeting for the Merlin Rocket fleet over the 2nd / 3rd August. The conditions were superb for working on a tan, but the wind was generally light with only a force two breeze on Saturday, and somewhat lighter winds on the Sunday. With only the Sunday to count for Silver Tiller points, the Saturday turnout was slightly disappointing with a small, but high quality, fleet of 16 boats making the long sail out to the start line in Weymouth Bay. Upholding a fine Merlin tradition, the first start resulted in a general recall as a significant proportion of the fleet mistook the leeward mark for the pin. Unusually, the Race Committee then succeeded in getting the fleet away on the second attempt without recourse to the black flag.
Portland Bill lay directly upwind of the course, so a good start and working the shifts upwind initially seemed to be the key in both races. However, despite the Race Committee having postponed both starts to enable conditions to settle, the wind direction steadily changed to make the beats somewhat one sided and also moved the downwind legs out of kilter. Tom Stewart / Chris Downham made the best of the conditions to win both races, holding off Simon Blake / Linton Jenkins who finished second.
On the Sunday, an expanded fleet of 25 boats took to the water to compete in three races for Silver Tiller points. The racing was initially postponed to allow a light southerly sea breeze to develop, which proved a steadier wind direction than the previous day. However, for the first two races a significantly biased line made for some antics by the Committee boat, whilst the first reach was again broad enough to provide an option on which gybe to take! Despite the tricky conditions, Tom Stewart again broke clear to win the first two races, this time fighting off challenges from Phil King / Kevin Driver, a consistency he will no doubt hope to repeat at the Championships later this month.
After two longish races in the light winds, plus the various delays as the Race Committee struggled with conditions, the majority of the fleet elected to start the long sail home after the second race. As the wind started to die off late in the afternoon, the few die hards who had run back down to the start line were rewarded only with a longer sail home as the decision was taken to abandon the third race.
Open Meeting overall
Silver Tiller only