Whitstable Open 2004

There were 30 entries for the annual visit by the Merlin Rocket fleet to Whitstable for the Silver Tiller on 19/20 June.

Bright sunshine and a Northerly force 3 greeted the fleet on Saturday although the omens did not look good with the sea breeze battling the gradient wind The first race started at the second attempt under the black flag. At the first mark Tom Stewart led from Dan Alsop and John Bell. Bell and Alsop swapped places but Stewart was never really troubled winning a shortened race in a dying breeze from Alsop who sniggled through into second on the run. Simon Potts sailing a brand new Winder boat was fourth. The wind died leaving the backmarkers struggling to make against a strengthening tide so Chris Lewns the race officer wisely called it a day and sent the fleet ashore.

Sunday was a different matter altogether with a brisk but shifty westerley blowing in under threatening clouds.
Tom Stewart was in commanding form leading round the first mark only to throw the race away by rounding the pin rather than the leeward mark at the end of the first reach. This gave the race to Simon Blake from David Winder and William Warren.

The second race started promptly, too promptly for Simon Blake who, overcome with the emotion of winning sat chatting to crew Linton Jenkins way upwind of the line and missed the start! A huge shift on the first beat made the reach too tight for kites but he race team were quick to relay the course in time for the second beat and a lively race was experienced in some seriously windy conditions as the gusts came in under the clouds. Once again Tom Stewart mastered the conditions and made no mistake to take an easy win from Simon Potts and class chairman Pat Blake.

Overall it was an impressive display by Tom Stewart and Chris Downham who took the Holden Cup for first overall. Pat Blake and Alex Jackson won the Melbourne Cup for the no discard, Sunday only Silver Tiller points.

John Cooper

See full results for 2 days,
and the ST points for Sunday.