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Merlin Rocket Open Meeting at Wembley Sailing Club

by Paul Dean on 8 Oct 2011 25 September 2011

The America’s Cup World Series having left Plymouth a week earlier, the eyes of the world’s dinghy and yachting fraternity fixed their gaze firmly on Wembley Sailing Club for the 15th round of the 2011 CraftInsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller.

Twenty six boats from eleven clubs were met by near champagne conditions as a gusty force 3-4 SSW blew in across the Welsh Harp Reservoir in glorious Autumn sunshine. The Race Officer set a course which included two beats heading in the direction of Wembley Stadium diagonally across the Harp and a long three sail broad reach along the full length of the Harp which tested the fleet in the gusty and often shifty conditions.

Race One (after an initial general recall) saw the fleet get away under Black Flag without incident. Local team, Duncan & Harriet Salmon led at the first windward mark closely followed by Peter & Nicki Horn from Jon Turner & Richard Parslow in 3rd and Andy Davis & Tom Pygall in 4th. Davis and Pygall managed to roll the two boats ahead on the top short reach at the dam end of the Harp and then this group, now joined by Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis who had entered the fray, planed under spinnaker line abreast, the length of the Harp still chasing the Duncan & Harriet Salmon who led at the end of lap 1.

Davis & Pygall overtook the Salmon pairing at the beginning of lap two with Biggs & Hollis moving into 3rd place. By the beginning of the final lap Biggs & Hollis were still trailing Davis & Pygall having moved now into 2nd place. Then Biggs & Hollis benefited from a lift and moved into the lead from which they took the win. Andy Davis & Tom Pygall were 2nd from Duncan & Harriet Salmon in 3rd.

Race Two was a textbook demonstration of inland sailing at the front with Andy Davis and Tom Pygall leading the fleet from the start line to the first windward mark and from there they powered to the win by 150 yards from Matt Biggs & Ben Hollis in 2nd. Third place was a three way scrap which changed hands on numerous occasions throughout the race eventually taken by Duncan & Harriett Salmon from Steve & Gillian Leney 4th and Pat & Jilly Blake in 5th.

Race Three looked like it was all set to be a decider between Blithfield club mates Davis & Pygall and Biggs & Hollis. Davis & Pygall made the perfect pin end start to lead the fleet at the first windward mark. By contrast Biggs & Hollis were near last off the line as they were traveling backwards when the gun went. To recover they immediately went right ducking half a dozen or more boats and found themselves (as much to their surprise they said afterwards) 2nd at the first windward mark. Paul Hollis & James Dawes led a pack of four boats vying for 3rd place which included Turner & Parlsow, the Blakes and the Rob Kennaugh & Abi Spur.

Davis & Pygall led to the finish to take the overall event followed closely by Biggs & Hollis who finished second in the race and second overall. Meanwhile behind, Hollis & Dawes dropped to 7th place in the chasing pack by the final lap when they threw caution to the wind and chose to soak close to the North shore under spinnaker and planed their way to leeward of the three boats ahead to take a hard fought 3rd place. Fourth place went to Kennaugh & Spur from Midland SC.

Despite a tenth place in the final race Duncan & Harriet Salmon took 3rd overall at the meeting maintaining some honour for the home club as Blithfield SC dominated filling four of the top seven places.

Overall Results:

PosSail no.HelmCrewClubR1R2R3
1st3684Andy DavisTom PygallBlithfield SC211
2nd3722Matt BiggsBen HollisBlithfield SC122
3rd3702Duncan SalmonHarriet SalmonWembley SC3310
4th3729Jon TurnerRichard PurscowBeer SC476
5th3716Steve LeneyGillian LeneyBlithfield SC647
6th3676Pat BlakeJilly BlakeCookham Reach SC855
7th3730Paul HollisJames DawesBlithfield SC983
8th3402Rob KennaughAbi SpurMidland SC10DNF4
9th3651Colin BrockbankMatilda HewitWembley SC5DNF9
10th3616Peter HornNiki HornGrafham Water SC7912
11th3715Paul RaysonJulie RaysonFishers Green SC11613
12th3573Simon BondAnna CarrHayling Island SC13138
13th3644Jon StewardNick YannakoyorgosFishers Green SC191011
14th3594Alan MarkhamAlice MarkhamUpper Thames SC151115
15th1097Mike StephensJodok GiertserTamesis SC1612DNF
16th3637Alan BroadbentRussel HallWembley SC141514
17th3667David BlandAmanda CouperWembley SC1217DNF
18th3561Richard CookeIona BrandtWembley SC181416
19th3371Paul DeanNicky Della PortaWembley SC251617
20th3574John DonoghueKate PinderLlandyfedd SC171820
21st3681Douglas MaxwellBeate PohlerWembley SC201918
22nd3535Marc HeritierRichard EastmondWembley SC23DNF19
23rd3602Anthony RickabyMayuri ShahWembley SC21DNF21
24th3523Gary StewartMartin CohenWembley SC24DNF22
25th3635Andrew MarlowDavid EvansWembley SC22DNFDNF
26th3583Chris MartinDan MorganBlithfield SCDNFDNFDNC

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