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Merlin Rocket Open Meeting at Trent Valley Sailing Club

by Rob Sloane on 23 May 2007 20 May 2007

The Trent Valley SC contingent decided that it would be a good idea to enlist the help of top Merlin crew (and no mean helm) Phil Dalby to hone their skills for this year’s open meeting. So on Saturday we all met up for some intensive tuition. It was blowing old boots and we all had a great time but the forecast for Sunday was for only 7 knots, so would we able to apply what we had learnt?

Overnight the forecast was revised down from 7 knots to 2, and on the ground (and water) even this seemed hopelessly optimistic. Given the relatively poor turnout over the last couple of years, and potential competition from Hayling Island, the day looked like it could be a complete waste. Early abandonment was on the cards…

…and then the visitors started to arrive. Ok, so they had really only come for lunch, but they had brought boats with them, so sailing was required to entertain them until the meal was on the table. A guest appearance from Richard Whitworth, with Master Blaster, added to the usual Midlands contingent. He had mislaid his crew on the journey South but a super lightweight was soon found from TVSC’s junior fleet.

Then we waited. Fortunately the sun was shining and nobody was too desperate to get onto the water. Young Jack Scott (aka Baby Dirty Hands) was the centre of attention – already attending his second Merlin open meeting at only two months old. Half an hour after the scheduled start time the wind (ok, a few zephyrs) decided to make an appearance and, after a quick test sail, it was decided that a race was definitely to be attempted. Given the lack of wind, the course was more Ragley sized than the normal one mile beat that TVSC can offer, but did at least have three buoys. So as not to overload the TVSC sailors, the race officer decided against Olympic triangles and sausages, and kept to a port-handed triangle course.

Despite the upstream start, a couple of boats were over the line. For those slightly more circumspect, it was a couple of minutes later before they managed to extract enough forward way to overcome the current and cross the start line. Richard Whitworth / Jos Richardson made an early get-away, as did Brian Cobb / Ros Nichols. Unfortunately the course was too complicated for Whitworth, who had to ask the way and re-round the first mark. This put Brian and Ros into an early lead, but they were unable to hold off Steve and Gill Leney, who eventually took first place.

The second race was held almost back-to-back with the first so as not to delay lunch, and the wind responded by increasing to at least 2.5 knots. The windward mark was brought even further downstream to reduce the frustration factor. Once again a number of boats overcompensated for the current and were over the line at the start. The Leneys took an early lead with Whitworth in close pursuit and the race looked like it would be over quite quickly. And then the wind died. The Leneys kept their position to take the meeting with two bullets. The next three places all depended on the last race.

After a rather long lunch break (roast chicken et al) the race officer was all ready to hoist ‘N’ over ‘A’ when the wind decided to make a return. There was no choice but to start the third race and Whitworth set off with Richard Dee / Phil Scott in close pursuit, and Phil Dalby / Richard Pilgrim not far behind. These three then proceeded to lap the rest of the fleet who were frustrated by the now virtually non-existent wind and unable to round the upstream buoy. Dee / Scott managed to sneak past Whitworth / Richardson to take overall second. Traumatised by being lapped, the remainder all retired except for James Clark / Lorna Orton, who battled on to claim a well-deserved finish.

This year is the centenary of the TVSC clubhouse and a vintage event and summer ball is being held at the end of June. All are welcome to attend. Please apply to

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