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Merlin Rocket Open at Banbury Sailing Club

by Richard Turner on 19 Apr 2010 18 April 2010

In the run-up to an Open, the host club always watches the weather quite closely. Is it going to be a good sailing breeze from the south west or a howling gale or a horrible easterly? This year, we also had dust from Icelandic volcanoes resulting in UK flights being cancelled (and also a lot of dust on my car!) but on the all important weather forecast, the wind strength just got less and less.

The end result on the Sunday morning at 8.30am was that the waters of Boddington Reservoir were like the proverbial mill pond – absolutely flat calm and only good for looking at your reflection while you improved your sun tan. You begin to wonder how many have looked at the forecast and decided to spend the day at home?

However, this event was part of both the Midland Circuit and the Silver Tiller (sponsored by Speed Sails) and despite the dire forecast and the pesky Icelanders, the travelling circus soon rolled into town as 26 visitors turned up to join 6 Banbury boats to give a very respectable turnout of 32 boats. Fortunately, by the time that they arrived a gentle easterly breeze had set in across the reservoir so that the race officer was able to get the fleet away on time for the first race at 11.00am.

The fleet got away cleanly with Attack of the Clones (Dave Winder & Pippa Taylor) taking an early lead from Two Pints of Lager (Matt Biggs & Ben Hollis), Monkey Business (Simon Blake & Alex Jackson) and Salmon en Croûte (Duncan Salmon & Ian Garwood). On the second lap, Faithless (Richard Whitworth & Olly Turner) came through from 5th place to take the lead which they held to the gun on the third lap. In second place was Monkey Business followed by Two Pints of Lager and Attack of the Clones.

The second race was run back to back and by this time, the wind had started to drop even further and become more variable such that just before the start, the direction changed considerably so that the initial beat to the first mark became a reach broad enough for several boats to fly spinnakers. Monkey Business took an early lead over Two Pints of Lager, Filthy / Gorgeous (Matt Mee & Chris Robinson), Stomper (Tom Stewart & Liam Dempsey) and Salmon en Croûte with this order being held to the finish. Unfortunately as the leading boats finished, what little wind there was died virtually completely so that it was some time before more than half of the fleet finished although a number gave up the struggle.

After an extended lunch, the fleet decided that it wanted another race as three boats were in a position to win the day so a reduced fleet of 24 boats took to the water in a very light northerly breeze on a reset and shortened course. Needless to say, the first start ended in a general recall and when the black flag was used for the second start, 5 boats were over the line in the last minute including one of the possible winners.

Monkey Business took the lead from the start from Filthy / Gorgeous and Faithless with this order remaining for the two laps to the gun. This gave the overall meeting to Simon Blake and Alex Jackson in 3707, Monkey Business with Richard Whitworth and Olly Turner in 3703, Faithless in second place and Matt Mee & Chris Robinson in 3703, Filthy / Gorgeous in third.

The prize for first Prime of Life Boat (boat aged 10 – 20 years) went to Paul Hollis and Richard Elliot in 3563, Leader and the prize for the first Mature Boat (boat over 20 years old) went to Jon Steward and Nick Yannakoyorgos in 2997, Cream Cracker.

Thanks to the duty crew ably led by Club President, Dave Cornish, the catering team who kept everybody fed, those behind the bar and to Rod Bowes for the excellent photos. Without such helpers the day would not have been possible nor as enjoyable for everyone.

The Midland Circuit sponsors deserve a mention too: Dirtyhands, Dunoon Ceramics, MF Promotions, Paintcraft, Pinnell & Bax, Speed Sails and Winder Boats. Thanks to all.

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