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Merlin Rocket Felucca Open at Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club

By Graham Knox on 11 Oct 2011 8-9 October 2011

The weather forecast was not kind to this event. The known low water level of the Lake may have put off some sailors the chance to sail with some of the best in the MR Class. The event has been won so often before by Richard Whitworth that it may seem like a foregone conclusion. Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis would need all the Stealth of their new boat to unseat Tricky Dicky. Perhaps with 15 entries it was not so surprising that there were no general recalls or need for the Black Flag!

Saturday began with a light wind, some drizzle and low cloud. These are the ideal conditions for 'snakes and ladders' racing. Stephen Crook and Sally Townend took the early lead. Matt Biggs was always ready to pounce and, at the leeward mark, tacked early to get back into better wind. Others, including Steve and Gill Leney came up, while Steve Crook dropped to sixth place. Richard Whitworth, crewed by Nicola Brook, was in the catching pack too, but Biggs held the lead to the finish. The Leneys ought to have finished second in the shortened race but let Whitworth in for that spot.

For the second race, a little more wind allowed some to sit on the deck, as Whitworth quickly established a convincing lead, followed by Crook with the Leneys showing good speed for third place. Biggs did not get going in this race and suffered a lowly 9th place.

The third race of the day proved that it can all go wrong unexpectedly, as this was almost Whitworth's bad luck race. There was clear indecision on the start line about the best way to tackle the first beat. Nick Heginbotham, and Becca Jones, starting at the port end held on starboard as long as possible to take the early lead. Whitworth's good judgement gave him the chance to overtake on a long run. However the decision to run on port or starboard gybe allowed Heginbotham to retake the lead with the Leneys following. The Leneys now got through to the lead, while Whitworth caught up. In the second lap, Whitworth gained an inside overlap at a gybe mark, but the next windward leg proved tricky with much cover tacking. Whitworth, bearing away to pass behind the Leneys on starboard misjudged the distance and had to take a 720' turn. This gave a clear lead to the Leneys to the finish, while Heginbotham had second for a while, until Whitworth gained inside place at the leeward mark to finish second after all!

Saturday finished in the usual convivial style with an excellent meal at the Club and reminder of an early start next day. The forecast was now for heavy rain and strong winds which fortunately did not materialise to that extent.

Race four soon saw home club boats in full control in a good sailing breeze. Whitworth was overtaken by Crook early, but regained the lead which he steadily built to hold to the finish. Crook had a secure second place until a spinnaker that refused to drop at the leeward mark cost him the place and led to a retirement. David Winder and Pippa Taylor looked to be set for third place but some gear failure also led to a retirement on the penultimate windward leg. Biggs and Heginbotham were ideally placed to take advantage for second and third places, while the Leneys came in fourth.

For the final race, sailed back-to-back, there was to be a new challenge up front. Jon Gorringe and Nicola Bass read the shifts well on the first beat, although Biggs had looked to be in control at half-way. Gorringe looked to get clear away until Whitworth caught up on the second beat and put Gorringe about at the windward mark. These two sailed high on the run while Biggs behind was able to sail lower and gain the lead at the leeward mark.

Whitworth's local knowledge and experience of the shifts got the better of Biggs and he sped away in to a clear lead. David Winder, sailing a wooden boat built by his father Guy, was going fast and overtook Gorringe for third place.

So, once again, Richard Whitworth won the Felucca Trophy. Now sailing at Parkstone, Whitworth thanked his old Club for a successful event with good race management, good food and a great weekend.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1stFaithless3703Richard WhitworthNicola BrookHLSC-212115
2ndStealth3722Matt BiggsBen HollisBlithfield SC1-94229
3rdCarbon Footprint3716Steve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield SC3314-611
4thDaddy's Boat3679Nick HeginbothamBecca JonesHLSC5633-917
5thNora3678Stephen CrookSally TownendHLSC625(DNF)518
6th 3662David WinderPippa TaylorHLSC4710(DNF)324
7thBack to the Future3583Chris MartinDan MorganBlithfield SC7598(DNF)29
8thZeno3659Julian ParryNichola Middleton-StewartHLSC8-1487730
9thFreebird3596Martin WattsRene Watts/James DavisHLSC101075-1132
10thOakey Dokey3712Jon GorringeNicola BassParkstone YC11(OCS)6RAF437
11thLaid Back3603Les BithellLaura AshworthHLSC1341210(DNF)39
12thBronte3663Christopher HaworthJonathan BullenBlackpool & Fleetwood YC-1411139841
13thOut of the Blue3557Guy WinderThomas DanielHLSC(DNF)121461042
14thHot Totty3676Patrick BlakeJen TaylorCookham Reach SC9811(DNC)DNC44
15thCarpe Diem3630Bruce MagerRyan RichardsHLSC1213-15111248
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