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Merlin Rocket Open at Royal Lymington Yacht Club

By B Archer and R Whitworth on 6 Aug 2010 31 July - 1 August 2010

Saturday morning’s briefing was delayed until 11.30hrs as half of the competitors were caught in Cowes week traffic on the way to the venue. However when the briefing began it was clear that RLYC had made a tremendous effort in terms of organisation and support crews both in terms of volume and efficiency. The O.D. was of very high calibre, as was demonstrated during the weekends sailing; having been asked for races of roughly 50 minutes, not one race of the six race series went over an hour.

The racetrack was left toward Cowes, and a 15 minute sail out provided the fleet with a perfect warm up in the steady F2-4 SW wind. The tide however was very strong (it proved stronger on Sunday), giving some interesting racing and tactical decisions. Setting a square course, the OD got Race 1 underway with a roughly ½ a mile beat back toward the RLYC starting box, port tack out to sea was favoured and four boats were in the mix from the beginning; Jon Gorringe/Pete Horn battled fellow the Parkstone YC boat of Richard Whitworth/Olly Turner whilst Simon Blake/Alex Jackson and Richard Dee/Chris Gould both challenged for the lead.

Gorringe and Whitworth managed to break away from the fleet, Jon Gorringe leebowed the tide as he sailed inshore and established a lead at the windward mark that no-one could break. One thing that was broken was the tiller of Andy Davies boat as Ben Hollis tested it for strength and found it wanting , his crew being dispatched for a replacement in a RIB.

The new stick must have been fast as Hollis/Calvert rounded the windward mark in 1st place in Race 2 only to head off in the wrong direction until advised of their error by the new leader of the race…The tide having turned all headed inshore to Lymington on a short reach then went on a long run against the tide, which made for some very interesting racing as the fleet sailed up the shoreline.

The strength of the tide made the leeward mark almost irrelevant as the fleet sailed far past it before venturing out into the tide to reach to mark 3. Richard Whitworth won Race 2 followed by Jon Gorringe then Ben Hollis, the course change having caught out several other boats including Simon Blake/Alex Jackson, who should know better. Indeed it was only Ben Hollis inexperience of “racecraft” which lost him the number one position, as his boatspeed and work rate was exemplary.

Saturday’s open all came down to the last race between Gorringe/Horn and Whitworth/Turner. The OD set a very long line with ample room for all the boats to start where and when they wanted, unfortunately for Jon Gorringe too many choices proved to be a bad thing and he sailed merrily into the outer distance mark. This allowed Blake/Jackson to make the most of the left shift and increased pressure on the left of the course, and lead the fleet into the first mark which they gaily sailed straight into, giving the lead away in the process…the run was once again very one sided, favouring the inshore route, and the race was won by Whitworth/Turner demonstrating the level of extra curricula practice before the Nationals at Penzance.

It is only unfortunate that the much touted new build Merlin by Jon Turner and Chris Lewis was a no-show, as there were other boats using the meeting as a testing ground for ”secret weapons” rather than sailing to their best…

The fleet doubled in size for Sunday’s racing which was for Silver tiller points, however it was only half the fleet which made it to the start at the correct time, the other half (which included the very-behind-schedule Richard Whitworth) arriving approximately 10 minutes late. Richard Dee/Chris Gould took a commanding lead from the beginning, only really ever challenged by Paul Hollis who is still waking up at night in a cold sweat remembering the time that he sailed straight into the windward mark of a Silver Tiller race whilst he was in second place. Richard Whitworth managed to work his way back up to 2nd place, but couldn’t truly threaten the lead of Dee/Gould who took the bullet.

The sunny F2-3 conditions with a backdrop of yachts arriving for Cowes week made for champagne sailing conditions as the fleet massed for Race 2. Because of the strengthening tide everyone headed inshore on port at the start and the race continued in order of starting, with Whitworth/Turner taking the gun.

Going into the third race of the day, both Whitworth and Dee could win but Dee was under threat from Ben Hollis. Rather than the third being the same as the second race, the OD lengthened the 1st reach and tightened the angle on the second, making for a more interesting course, especially as this meant that the last reach was on the layline for the channel buoy being used as a race mark by several Cowes week yachts, with many boats upping their game for the benefit of the rail riding spectators.

Unfortunately, Dee/Gould couldn’t break Whitworth/Turner’s hold on the lead, and the overall winner was Richard Whitworth, Richard Dee second and Ben Hollis third. Other fleet members showed greatly improved ability thanks to their recent training weekend on Rutland Water, and this weekend was exemplary of the basic rule of a race series that every sailor must learn; consistency pays.

The Silver Tiller series is sponsored by Speed Sails.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSailNoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stFaithless3703R WhitworthOlly Turner-2112116
2ndNeedlemakers3610Richard DeeChris Gould45(DNS)13215
3rdTwo Pints of Larger370Ben HollisMatt Calvert(DNS)3442518
4thLight Fantastic3555Tim HarridgeBen Harridge565-87629
5thHakuna Matata3571Andy JonesMaddie Jones776-106733
6thOakey Dokey3712Jon GorriugePete Horn123(DNC)DNCDNC40
7thMonkey Business3707Simon BlakeAlex Jackson342(DNC)DNCDNC43
8thSalmon en Croute3702Duncan SalmonIan Garwood(DNC)DNCDNC34344
9thCream Cracker2997Jonathan StewardNick Yannakoyrgos897-12121147
10thBack to the Future3583Chris MartinBen Hewdon(DNC)DNCDNC55448
11thEncore Fume3371Paul DeanNicki Della Porta9108-13131252
12thBlue Tit3683Mark BarwellLouise Johnson68(DNS)7DNSDNC55
13thLeader3563Paul HollisRichard Eliott(DNC)DNCDNC68957
14thAunty Fanny3604Stuart GurneyK. Tuchscherer(DNC)DNCDNC1110863
15thBlue Velvet3645Jeremy DeaconJoanne Deacon(DNC)DNCDNC9111064
16thTake It Easy3606Ian SandersonEmma Vaughton(DNC)DNCDNCDNS9DNC77

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