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Merlin Rocket Open Meeting at Banbury Sailing Club

By Ben Archer on 14 Apr 2011 10 April 2011

The twenty seven boats which arrived at Boddington reservoir on Sunday morning for the fifth meeting in the Craftinsure Merlin Rocket travellers series were greeted with glorious sunshine, and very little, very shifty wind, coming (mainly) from the club side of the lake. Undaunted, the OD set a course which, during the briefing, looked like spaghetti thrown at the blackboard, but on the water turned into a beat, close reaches, runs, indeed a really decent racetrack.

The Reservoir itself is not the largest sailing area in the UK and on this occasion, there wasn’t much wind, but these factors made this event.

The yachting press are always keen to feature exciting photographs of sailors being tested by extremely strong winds and raging seas, yet the conditions on this reservoir on Sunday were equally a test of windsense, racecraft, boat handling and mental strength as any F6 race on the sea, and the sailing standard in this fleet is extremely high.

Race one got away cleanly. The first beat was to buoy 4 in the NE corner of the reservoir, and a start in clear wind with pace allowed the leading pack to round and be halfway down the second leg whilst the mid fleeters were still rounding the first mark. Spinnakers went up and down with the shifts as the reaches tightened and broadened. The race was won by Speed Sails dream team Matt Biggs and Andy Davies, closely followed by Steve and Gill Leney – back on form after a patchy open performance at Salcombe- and in third was evergreen Richard Whitworth with guest crew Jack Tosh.

As the wind was forecast to die off completely, the OD ran the second race back to back with the first. The breeze filled in slightly, but shifted and the fleet beat up to buoy seven (NW corner) but four (it should have been more) boats were discounted from the chocolates by being adjudged to be OCS. The Biggs/Davies combination again came in first with Chris Martin showing what a good sailor he can be to come second, with Simon Blake third.

After a super club lunch, the fleet sailed off for the final race.

The wind had shifted and dropped, indeed there were patches of wind no more than 15 metres in diameter moving across the lake as well as the general wind backing between NE and NW. Putting yourself in the right place for the wind in relation to the course was vital and after a last minute change of course then a general recall, the new pairing Duncan and Harriet Salmon showed how it was done to take the win, followed by Tom Stewart and Rich Hall second, with Blake/Jackson third.

This meant that Biggs/Davies won overall, Salmon/Salmon were second and Blake was third, after a challenging days racing at this most hospitable of Midland clubs. First Prime of Life (10 - 20 years old) boat was Back to the Future (3583) sailed by Chris Martin & Matt Smith and first Mature (20+ years old) boat was Riders on the Storm (3382) sailed by Tim Bury & Pat Kuenzler.

Thanks to the duty crew ably led by Club President, Dave Cornish, the catering team of Wendy, Shirley, John and Jane who kept everybody fed, Rebecca who signed everyone in and kept everyone watered from 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.

Many sponsors deserve a mention here to - Craftinsure who sponsor the Silver Tiller series, and the Midland Circuit sponsors: Dirtyhands, MF Promotions, Paintcraft, Pinnell & Bax, and Winder Boats. Thanks to all.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
13705Two Pints of LagerMatt BiggsAndy DaviesBlithfield SC11-282
23702Salmon en CroûteDuncan SalmonHarriet SalmonWembley SC4-2815
33707Monkey BusinessSimon BlakeLiam DempseyCookham SC5336
43716CarbonfootprintSteve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield SC25-287
53703FaithlessRichard WhitworthJack ToshHollingworth Lake SC3-447
63583Back to the FutureChris MartinMatt SmithBlithfield SC-9268
73701StomperTom StewartSteve HallNorthampton SC7-2829
83563LeaderPaul HollisJames DawesBlithfield SC-86511
93650HeadcaseToshLiese ScottBanbury SC6-28814
103695Shiny Happy PeopleMatthew WinderNix Middleton- StewartHollingworth Lake SC-109716
113684Keyser SozeTom JeffcoateBen RaynerNotts County SC-258917
123645Blue VelvetJeremy DeaconJoanne DeaconCookham Reach SC-1371219
133637DeliriumAlan BroadbentRussell HallWembley SC-21111021
143492Empty PocketsSteve WardL WilsonBartley Green SC-12101121
153674Autumn GoldMike AnslowIan SmithMidland SC11-281324
163591RaTerry BridgewaterEstelle BridgewaterEarlswood Lakes SC-17121426
173508Red DragonColin AndersonSean AndersonRedditch SC-16131629
183634Ministry of PleasureBen ArcherC O'TooleParkstone YC14-171529
193489Love on the RocksRichard TurnerEric BanningBanbury SC1515-1730
203530Sir TopazMike CollesSteph ReevesMidland SC-19141832
213382Riders on the StormTim BuryPat KuenzlerBanbury SC2016-2136
223496Smokin'Martin SmithKaren BestonBlithfield SC18-191937
233683BluebirdMark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town Sc-28182038
243548FirestarterKieron MasonHenry MasonBanbury SC2321-2444
253346Galactic GnuIan MackenzieAngela MackenzieBanbury SC2222-2344
263361NirvanaSimon SawyerAndy WarwoodBanbury SC-28202545
273412Easy OverAndy RaftryNina RaftryRedditch SC-24232245

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