The March open meeting gives the Merlin fleet a pratice ahead of Salcombe Week
Photo © John Murrell
A bumper fleet of 33 National Merlin Rockets descended on the sleepy Devon town of Salcombe for the second open meeting of what has already become an exhilarating Silver Tiller series, sponsored by Craftinsure.
Whilst the majority of the fleet arrived on Friday night, in order to sample the ambiance of the place, some chose to bat off a steadier wicket; indeed competitors were arriving and still rigging as the first boats left the slip.
The first day of the open, Saturday, was sunny with a F1/F2 southerly wind which increased the importance of the tide in everyone’s race plan as it was ebbing strongly throughout both races. Following a general recall and the subsequent deployment of the black flag, the fleet got away, sticking firmly to the middle two thirds of the estuary. A few ventured over to the town side in the latter part of the beat, but the hugely tactical cat and mouse runs down from Blackstone to The Bag split the fleet, with some hugging the Portlemouth shore and some cutting across to Snapes and reaching up to buoy 3 from there at very hot angles.
The course suited Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis who won the first race, despite a strong challenge from Olympic hopeful Stu Bithell crewed by Sophie Weg (who were second), and Parkstone YC heroes Jon Gorringe and Toby Lewis who sailed hard to come third.
Bithell/Weg were warming to their theme however, as they took the second race win in fine style. The OD clearly wanted to test the fleet’s light air ability, sending them through The Bag up to buoy 7 (Gerston), for a long and testing beat home to the line. Ian Dobson and Andy Tunniclife were starting to get into gear coming second, with Jon Gorringe a consistent third.
Sunday was a very different day. A gusty, shifty F3/4 easterly wind meant for some aggressive starting and a difficult beat up to Yarlton (buoy 4) followed by a fetch up to 7 and an exciting run up to Blackstone. Dobson/Tunnicliffe revelled in the conditions winning from Bithell/Weg with Gorringe/Lewis third again.
By race four the wind in the estuary had built significantly and the Gerston reach which had seemed so demanding the previous day had become the thing sailing dreams are made of, with ecstatic sailors planing end to end in clouds of spray. Ian Dobson kept his cool to win and took the overall win. Mike Calvert, with new crew Ian Garwood, showed some form to come second. With Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis mounting the podium in third, this meant that the Blithfield duo were third overall, with Stuart Bithell and Sophie Weg second.
|1st||-||3670||Ian Dobson||Andy Tunnicliffe||Royal Windemere||-5||2||1||1||4|
|2nd||Keyser Soze||3684||Stuart Bithell||Sophie Weg||Hillingworth Lake||2||1||2||-4||5|
|3rd||2 Pints of Lager||3705||Matt Biggs||Ben Hollis||Blithfield||1||-5||5||3||9|
|4th||Oakey Dokey||3712||Jon Gorringe||Toby Lewis||Parkstone||3||3||3||-10||9|
|5th||Quick Fix||3691||Mike Clavert||Ian Garwood||Axe||6||-8||4||2||12|
|6th||Faithless||3703||Richard Whitworth||Helen Taylor||HLSC / PYC||4||7||6||-13||17|
|7th||General Lee||3702||Andy Dalby||Phil Dalby||Hampton||-8||6||8||6||20|
|8th||Gangsta Paradice||3539||Dan Alsop||Jennie King||Lyme Regis||9||4||9||-11||22|
|9th||Back to the Future||3583||Chris Martin||Rob Kennaugh||Blithfield||10||-13||11||5||26|
|10th||Carbonfootprint||3716||Steve Leney||Gill Leney||Blithfield||-12||11||7||9||27|
|11th||Slippery when wet||3693||Will Rainey||Kelly Miller||Shoreham||7||12||10||-15||29|
|12th||Leader||3563||Paul Hollis||Chris Gould||Blithfield||-17||10||14||7||31|
|13th||Hot Totty||3676||Pat Blake||Jilly Blake||Cookham||11||17||12||(34.0 DNC)||40|
|14th||Nostradormouse||3577||Derek Davies||Helen Hilditch||Exe / Salcombe||18||15||-20||8||41|
|15th||Scallywag||3565||Paul Keeling||Michelle Keeling||Blithfield||13||-19||17||12||42|
|16th||Puff the Magic Dragon||3641||Mark Waterhouse||Claire Langhole||Parkstone||19||9||-24||16||44|
|17th||-||3547||Peter Male||Tim Male||Salcombe||14||-22||13||18||45|
|18th||Djeibeybi||3660||David Lee||Juliet Pealing||Starcross||16||16||18||-19||50|
|19th||Shmoozy Blue||3661||Graham Scroggie||Ben Scroggie||Parkstone||22||(34.0 BFD)||16||14||52|
|20th||-||3590||Chris Winzar||Ross Borne||Salcombe||21||18||15||(34.0 DNC)||54|
|21st||Chill Out||3633||David Bursey||Frances Lovell||Parkstone||15||-24||19||21||55|
|22nd||Headcase||3650||Lawrence Tosh||Joe Tosh||-||-25||14||23||20||57|
|23rd||Light fantastic||3555||Tim Harridge||Fran Tastic||-||20||21||21||(34.0 DNC)||62|
|24th||Too Dark 'n' Stormy||3697||Richard Page||Lizzy Dalby||Hampton||-27||26||25||17||68|
|25th||Ministry of Pleasure||3634||Ben Archer||Chris O'Toole||Parkstone||26||20||-28||25||71|
|26th||Duck & Dive||3713||Steve Harling||Eleanor Thomas||Starcross||-28||25||22||24||71|
|27th||Twinkle Toes||3698||Robert O'Toole||Richard O'Toole||Parkstone||-31||28||26||22||76|
|28th||-||3647||Hywel Porkins||Rachael Bosnia||Hampton||23||27||27||(34.0 DNC)||77|
|29th||Space odd at sea||3544||David Downs||Ros Downs||Tata Steel||-32||30||29||23||82|
|30th||Monkey Puzzle||3706||Kevin Anderson||Sadie Anderson||Hampton on Sea||30||23||30||(34.0 DNC)||83|
|31st||-||3689||Gareth Bowen Perkins||Tom Bowen Perkins||Hampton||24||29||(34.0 DNF)||34.0 DNC||87|
|32nd||Bluebird||3683||Mark Barwell||Louise Johnson||Lymington Town||29||31||(34.0 DNF)||34.0 DNC||94|
|33rd||Raunchy||3621||Tristam Squire||Tom Morris||Salcombe||33||32||(34.0 DNC)||34.0 DNC||99|