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Merlin Rocket Open at Rutland Sailing Club

by Pat Blake 10 May 2010 10:28 BST 2 May 2010

It was a very cold bleak morning that greeted the 50 or so Merlin Rockets preparing for the 7th Speed Sails Silver Tiller meeting of the season at Rutland Water on Sunday May 2nd.

This event is held in the middle of a four day training event that the Merlin Rocket class hold every year, so there were over 20 ‘trainee’ boats there as well as the hardcore Silver Tiller Sailors, and a few visiting stars too!

With the NE wind gusting over 30 knots and the temperature at 8degrees C it certainly felt more like winter than the beginning of May. As the wind was forecast to drop slightly the race committee wisely decided to postpone for a while and in fact only 26 boats were on the line for the first race at 1pm.

After a clean start and a shifty beat it was Simon Blake and Alex Jackson in ‘Monkey Business’ that popped out of the right hand side with quite a comfortable lead at the windward mark. The first reach was shy and it was only the fit and strong that could hold the spinnakers to windward of the water tower which was in the course! Blake and Jackson managed well and extended their lead from the following pack ; Ian Pinnell, standing in for Tom Stewart, with Liam Dempsey.

Unfortunately they had to retire with gear failure on the next lap so they never got to show their true form. David Winder and Pippa Taylor were smoking along and got to comfortable second place on the first run – the course was triangle sausage twice. Disaster struck Simon and Alex at the leeward mark when they rolled in on the last gybe. This left Dave and Pippa defending the lead from Mike Calvert and Chris Downham, Matt Biggs and Rob Kennaugh and Richard Whitworth and Ollie Turner. By the final windward mark Calvert and Downham had closed to round just 5 seconds behind Dave and Pippa but try as they did they couldn’t quite get past and Dave Winder took the first race – a fitting present as it was his birthday!

It was Richard Whitworth and Ollie Turner who were first away from the line in race two. They shot out of the port end and banged out to the left to be rewarded with a nice left hand shift which put the whole fleet in their window when they tacked onto port. They rounded the windward mark comfortably ahead of those more conservative souls who were working the shifts towards the right of the course and those who had gone all the way left and found themselves overstood. So chasing them were a close group of boats which included our Olympic hopefuls from the 470 Class – Matt Mee and Johnny McGovern who had just come back from the big French regatta at Hyres to borrow Steve Goacher’s Merlin. But it was Calvert and Downham who got second position at the gun.

Going into the last race there four boats that could still win – basically whoever won the race would win the meeting. Then the committee boat dragged its anchor and there was a wait whilst the RO reset the line. Unfortunately the chill factor got to many competitors and there were only 14 boats left on the start line. Whitworth and Turner were down at the port end again but this time they had more company. They did round first but only just ahead of the lighter weight crews of Dave and Pippa and Matt and Johnny. The first reach was too shy for spinnakers at first so the lightweights could hang on and Calvert and Downham who had missed out on the last shift coming into the windward mark were chasing hard.

This is Merlin racing at its most exciting and those of us watching couldn’t help but impressed by the standard of boat handling. Whitworth and Turner made no mistakes and try as the others did there was no catching them. So Richard Whitworth an ex national champion,and Ollie Turner our current champion crew, a new pairing this year, won their second Silver Tiller this year. The excitement builds for the next Silver Tiller event at Hayling Island on May 16th.

Overall Results:

RankSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Nett
1st3703Richard WhitworthOlly TurnerHollingworth Lake/Parkstone/Starcross-4112
2nd3691Mike CalvertChris DownhamAxe/Castaways22-34
3rd3662David WinderPippa TaylorHollingworth Lake SC1-645
4th3670Matt MeeJonny McgovernHollingworth Lake SC-6325
5th3705Matt BiggsBen HollisBlithfield SC3-558
6th3655Rich AdamsRob KennaughMidland SC54(31 DNC)9
7th3583Chris MartinJohn HuckettBlithfield SC(31 DNC)8614
8th3665Ross JacksonPeter HornShoreham SC7-13815
9th361David CharltonCelia CharltonBrightlingsea SC-109716
10th3702Duncan SalmonIan GarwoodWembley SC9-10918
11th3620Andy BinesDerick GentryBrightlingsea SC812(31 DNC)20
12th3627Dan WilletPete NicholsonBrightlingsea SC-17111021
13th3650ToshLisa Scott LieseBanbury SC11-201122
14th3695Matthew WinderNicola Middleton-StewartHollingworth Lake SC(31 DNC)151227
15th3480Jon StewardNick YannakoyorgosFishers Green SC14-231327
16th3692Marinus ZilvoldJulie NuttallWhitstable YC1314(31 DNC)27
17th3403James DawesKen JohnsonRedditch SC15-221429
18th3663Chris HaworthJo HarveyBlackpool & Fleetwood YC1218(31 DNC)30
19th3671Piers LambertSarah BinesBrightlingsea SC1617(31 DNC)33
20th3496Martin SmithKaren BestonRedditch SC20-211535
21st3674Mike AnslowChris WintersMidland SC1916(31 DNC)35
22nd3707Simon BlakeAlex JacksonShoreham SC(31 DNF)731 DNC38
23rd3668Mark SmythJemma HorwoodWembley SC2119(31 DNC)40
24th3508Colin AndersonSean AndersonRedditch SC1824(31 DNC)42
25th3629Peter BrowneDavidTrent Valley SC22(31 DNC)31 DNC53
26th3701Ian PinnellLiamNorthampton SC(31 DNF)31 DNC31 DNC62
26th3619Guy BrowneTommi CluleyTrent Valley SC(31 DNF)31 DNF31 DNC62
26th3430Rob SloaneBelinda BramhallTrent Valley SC(31 DNC)31 DNC31 DNC62
26th3563Paul HollisRichard ElliotBlithfield SC(31 DNF)31 DNC31 DNC62
26th3716Steven LeneyGillian LeneyBlithfield SC(31 DNC)31 DNC31 DNC62

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