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Merlin Rocket Nationals at Penzance Sailing Club - Overall

By Alex Jackson on 31 Aug 2010 15-20 August 2010
Photos © Tom Gruitt / www.fotoboat.com
Merlin Rocket nationals at Penzance day 1
Merlin Rocket nationals at Penzance day 1

The 65th National Championships

Brought to you with assistance from our Sponsors: Winder Boats, Harken, Allen, Marlow Ropes, Tacktick, Speed Sails, North Sails, Pinnell and Bax Sails, Goacher Sails, Hyde Sails, Phil Scott Boats, Synthesize Yachts & Design, Chipstow Masts, Baltic Lifejackets, MF Promotions, Marine Publications Partnership.

Penzance Sailing Club welcomed sixty five (just a coincidence!!) Merlin Rocket teams for the class' first ever visit to the waters of Mounts Bay. Once the weighing and scrutineering had taken place and the various searches for lead correctors, the competitors settled in to the town with ease. With the club conveniently located at the back of the harbour and a minute's walk from the town centre's restaurants, bars and clubs, it soon became apparent we were in for a cracking champs. It was even sunny!!

Sunday 15th August 2010

The practice race begun under a north easterly 15 knot breeze. Jon Gorringe and Pete Horn plus Simon Blake and Alex Jackson (recent winners at Merlin Salcombe Week) were first out of the blocks and this pair of boats showed the fleet a clean pair of heels. Jon took the gun while Simon peeled off before the finish to shake off any bad luck associated with winning the practice race. So with fleet and race team race ready the main event was all set to start.

Race 1 (Founders Trophy)

Under a clean start Tom Stewart & Liam Dempsey, Richard Whitworth & Ollie Turner, and Dave Winder & Pippa Taylor, established an early lead. With very shifty conditions this trio sailed a sensible and conservative race playing the shifts up the middle of the course. With little place changing going on downwind it was all about finding a ladder on the beats. Mike Calvert, crewed by Chris Downham, sailed the most impressive race clawing their way up to second with some great tactical sailing.

Also sailing well was Stu Bithel and Chris Burrel, with Stu fresh from a bronze medal at Sail for Gold. Stu made his way up to fourth, his crew Chris getting used to the front of a Merlin with apparent ease. Tom held his nerve to win the race ahead of Mike, Dave maintained third while Stu overhauled his Uncle Richard to take fourth.

Monday 16th August 2010
Race 2 (Beecher’s Cup)

After such a well behaved start to the week it was no surprise that the fleet quickly returned to its usual habits resulting in the black flag being deployed. This had the desired effect and the fleet eventually got away under a clean start. Stu Bithell nailed the pin and was off. However, the wind was again blowing off shore so the lead boats were quick to get themselves back in the middle of the race course and hence able to play the shifts, rather than being stuck out on a header on the approach to the windward lay. Tom and Liam recovered well to peel in behind Stu and Chris, Richard and Ollie were also showing their form and fought their way up to third while Willie Warren and Chris Robinson (recently finishing second at the GP14 Champs) recorded a fourth.

Tuesday 17th August 2010
Race 3 (Clyde Quaich Trophy)

Conditions remained very constant being north easterly veering north, 12-16 knots. This time with a slight committee boat bias Ian Dobson crewed by Andy Tunnicliffe (GP14 National Champs) won the start and worked the right hand side of the course to establish an unassailable lead over the chasing fleet. He rounded the windward mark, hoisted the spinny and was supplied with his own personal puff and was gone. First laps do not get better.

Further down it was all the usual suspects vying for the next best spot. Clearly spurred on by the sight of friend and arch rival, Stu and Chris pulled ahead of the chasing pack and did a fine job of catching Ian and Andy but ran out of time as the race reached it's 2 hour time limit. Andy Davis and Tom Pygnall finished third while Willie Warren recorded another fourth, continuing with a consistent series.

Wednesday 18th August 2010
Race 4 (West Country Trophy)

With the wind now veering to the north west for the first time the race committee struggled to set a course and get the race off in extremely hard conditions. Once the fronts had blown through with their 30 knot squalls and 40 degree shifts, the conditions settled and the race begun. Simon and Alex together with Rich Adams, crewed by Rob Kennaugh, started at the committee boat while the rest of the leading racers opted for the pin. Tacking off they headed inshore and sailed into a 20 degree header giving the two boats a comfortable lead.

The following pack lead by Ian Dobson, Richard Whitworth and Willie Warren made good of the filling breeze to close on the down-wind legs. Ian made the most gains and closed up on the leading pair eventually over-hauling Rich Adams to take second. In a close tacking battle up the final beat Richard snuck third, Willie yet another fourth while Rich were unfortunate to drop to fifth. Not an easy day to be Race Officer but in the end the fleet enjoyed some classic racing with champagne conditions.

Crews union

Although not counting towards the overall results there were some very obvious winners and losers. First out of the blocks, and indeed to bed before it was even dark, was Suzi Bell – loser. Richard Parslow at first refused to come to play, but when he did eventually turn up downed his drinks like the seasoned pro he is – winner. Pippa Taylor, crew’s union organiser did her best not to imbibe excessively but her ploy was discovered and duly punished – loser. Finally, a chap to remain un-named took a new girly crew under his wing and protected her from silly drinking games and nasty boys in fleet – winner.

Thursday 19th August 2010
Race 5 (Ranelagh Trophy, the champagne race)

What a difference a day makes. Boats are launched out of the harbour to be greeted with a steady but manageable 20 knots south westerly and finally some proper Mounts Bay style rollers. Stu and Chris came off the line below the inner distance mark with a virtual engine strapped to his transom and shot up the first beat to be challenged only by Jon Gorringe and Jon Turner, crewed by Richard Parslow, for boat speed.

As the race progressed the breeze freshened further with some unplanned on the water centreboard inspections. Jon Gorringe, Richard Whitworth and Tom Stewart all took part in this activity leaving the chasing pack to push for second. Ian held on to second after a closely fought battle with Simon Blake. Willie Warren finished, yes you guessed it, fourth again and Mike Calvert a well deserved fifth after a shaky start.

Thanks to the generosity of Winder Boats, the first 21 teams received a bottle of fizzy maintaining the Ranelagh Trophy tradition.

Going in to the final day it was Stu’s event to lose. He needed a sixth or better to secure the event, Ian could still win as could Willie Warren but both had to rely on others misfortune. Stu had a sensible night winning downing competitions against second placed Ian and Andy. However, as Ian and Andy later found out, Stu was not downing G&Ts but water.

Friday 20th August 2010
Race 6 (Silent World Trophy)

This tactic obviously had the desired effect and Stu yet again lead at the windward mark with Uncle Richard his closest rival. Richard and Ollie got in front of Stu and Chris for a few moments but Stu had the far superior upwind technique and boat speed (read fitness). Further down the fleet Ian’s hangover was clearing as he fought his way to third. Jon Turner and Richard Parslow had been having another strong race in their newly designed and built Turner boat before gear failure forced retirement and Jon Gorringe finally had a result he deserved after an unlucky regatta and finished fourth.

This year’s champs, with the exception of Stu Bithell and to an extent Ian Dobson, was very open and a high scoring regatta. It was noticeable that the top 15 were all capable of winning a race and equally recording a stinker reflecting the depth of talent the fleet is currently enjoying. Huge thanks must go to all our sponsors, Penzance SC and all associated volunteers and finally Ben & Lou Archer and Andy & Caroline Hay for organising the event.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Merlin Rocket nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewFounder's TrophyBeecher's CupClyde Quaich TrophyWest Country TrophyRanelagh TrophySilent World TrophyPts
1stDominatrix3699Stuart BithellChristian Burrel412-10119
2ndFilthy / Gorgeous3670Ian DobsonAndy Tonnicliffe9-11122317
3rdThe Black Pearl3685William WarrenChris Robinson64444-1022
4thFaithless3703Richard WhitworthOllie Turner53103-12223
5thSpank the Monkey3707Simon BlakeAlex Jackson77-913826
6thQuick Fix3691Mike CalvertChris Downham268-95526
7thStomper3701Tom StewartLiam Dempsey12-11810627
8thKeyser Soze3684Andy DavisTom Pygall810366-1133
9thAttack of the Clones3662David WinderPippa Taylor3967-231237
10thLoosed Cannon3655Richard AdamsRob Kennaugh111275-13742
11thSalmon En Croute3702Andy DalbyNicola Brook22812(DSQ)9960
12thOakey Dokey3712Jon GorringePete Horn17165(DSQ)20462
13thShmoozy Blue3661Graham ScroggieBen Scroggie19-221712111372
14thGansta Paradise3539Dan AlsopJennie King121519-22171982
15thTime & Tide3652John BellDuncan Bell18142014-241783
16thNeedlemakers3610Richard DeeChris Gould2713151516(DSQ)86
17thHot Totty3676Patrick BlakeJilly Blake101721-29222090
18thWicked3708Steven DunnRuth Johnson153218-40151595
19thStill Not Over3665Ross JacksonFran21182513-3226103
20thSnakey B3671Piers LambertPete Nicholson25192719-3016106
21st2 Pints of Lager3705Matt BiggsBen Hollis13516(DSQ)8DNF108
22ndDark Star3720Jon TurnerRichard Parslow16(DNF)13117DNF113
23rdTiger Tiger3696Alan WarrenWilliam Carroll142123-391939116
24thBluebird3683Dave HayesCharlotte Jones372622(DSQ)1418117
25thBack to the Future3583Chris MartinBen Hendon-413633171814118
26thRioja'n Roll3717David CharltonCelia Charlton-402826182621119
27thBrazilian3700Phil EmeryKaren Emery2325-44.5163634134
28thDjelibeybi3660Dave LeeLewis Turner28242925-3328134
29thCarbonfootprint3716Steve LeneyGill Leney323524(DNC)2525141
30thBronte3663Christopher HaworthMichael Hamilton36-3828302722143
31stShiny Happy People3695Matthew WinderNix Middleton-Stewart24293434-4332153
32ndCool Cookie3620Andy BinesDerick Gentry3827-53312830154
33rdDuck and Dive3713Steve HarlingTim Laws-464146272124159
34thDangerbatt3400James Middleton-StewartAndy Young34334021-5031159
35thParadigm Shift3710John ReesAndrea Ralph31313033-4037162
36thGeneral Lee3690Phil DalbySuzi Bell3337322048(DNF)170
37thHeadcase3650Lawrence ToshDan Watson49423628(DNF)27182
38thBusiness as Usual3626Andy HayJo Marlow5148-52262929183
39thLight Fantastic3555Tim HarridgeBen Harridge55523124(DNF)23185
40thSlippery When Wet3693Will RaineyKelly Miller202014(DNC)DNCDNC186
41stNearly All Over3617Tom ChadfieldAndy Chadfield4850382331(DNC)190
42ndJupiter3651Colin BrockbankHarriet Brandt2623(DNF)3541DNF191
43rdLeader3563Paul HollisLisa Scott3544433634(DNC)192
44thNemo3692Marinus ZilvoldJulie Nuthall30464737(DNF)33193
45thRevolution3657Antony LoftFrancesa Lofts4340-50383735193
46thKevin3714Charles DevenportElaine Aldis293035(DNC)35DNC195
47thMatrix3600Charles AndersonJames Warren42394142(DNF)36200
48thBola Bola3672John CooperHillary Bradshaw3934593238(DNC)202
49thHighlander3721Nicholas TurnerCarly Turner54-5842414238217
50thToo Dark 'n Stormy3697Richard PageLivvy Bell45-5956493940229
51stTwinkle Toes3698Bob O'TooleMaddie Jones565137(DNC)4541230
52ndTrigger Happy3628Robin CharlesMax Williams-584555464442232
53rdPoached Salmon3644Steve MitchellPolly Newman444339(DNC)DNF43235
54thWild Knight3632Marcus RobbBen Jones59-6257454744252
55thDark n Stormy3619Guy BrowneTommi Cluley6155-62444646252
56thDesperate Housewife3673Jane SeymourChristopher Seymour50(DNF)5143DNC45255
57thMonkey Puzzle3706Kevin AndersonSadie Anderson(DNF)54484851DNF267
58thMidnight Flight3681Douglas MaxwellAmanda Couper6261-63475248270
59thMellow Yellow3687Alan JacksonLorna Laval474949(DNC)DNCDNC277
60thAutumn Gold3674Mike AnslowChris Winters525344.5(OCS)DNFDNC281.5
61stOriginal Sin3688Craig BondJayne Bond534754(DNC)DNCDNC286
62ndMinistry of Pleasure3634Ben ArherChris O'Toole635660(DNC)DNF47292
63rdZero Gravity3629Peter BrowneDave Wigans646364(DNC)49DNC306
64thSkimbleshanks3474Andy HayesDave Parry576058(DNC)DNCDNC307
65thThe Edge3622Justin EddyDaniel Newman605761(DNC)DNCDNC310
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