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Merlin Rocket Open Meeting at Blithfield Sailing Club

By Ben Archer on 27 Oct 2011 22 October 2011
The final Silver Tiller open meeting of 2011
The final Silver Tiller open meeting of 2011
Photos © Don Stokes
The final Silver Tiller open meeting of 2011
The final Silver Tiller open meeting of 2011

The final race meeting in the prestigious Craftinsure Silver Tiller series was sailed at Blithfield SC. The thought of sailing in the Midlands in mid October wouldn’t necessarily inspire a great deal of enthusiasm, but on this day conditions were absolutely inspirational. The sun shone on the 38 teams gathered to compete on the shoreline, and the F3-4 S/SW wind made the jibs crackle, filling us all with anticipation of the glory to come, and a glorious day’s sailing it was; even the presence of a navigational hazard (a semi-submerged pipe) only added to the tactical challenge of the racetrack.

Race one got underway promptly, without even one general recall! Right was the favoured side of the first beat, the middle of the reservoir being avoided by all. Andy Davis/Tom Pygall mastered the beat and the 1-3 minute shifts to establish a commanding lead which they maintained to the finish. Jon Gorringe/Toby Lewis tried hard to overtake, but could only manage second, distracted as they were by the ferocity of the challenge mounted by Steve Leney/Gill Leney (in third) that they had to protect themselves from.

Race two should have been the race where Jon upset the applecart and took back the open for his own. Left was the way to go in the backing breeze. Such is the standard of the fleet that we would have to look to the very tail enders to find a boat out of phase. This time it was Gorringe who came out on top, closely followed by Davis, with Will Rainey/Kelly Miller showing us all the standard they can sail to, coming in third place.

For the third race, the wind had gone further left, and the course had to be revised, as did the line position…as did the expectations of several sailors, but despite a general recall and the deployment of the black flag, no-one had to go to the naughty step, and the fleet got away clean. There was no way that Andy Davis was going to soft-pedal at his home club, and he proved it by romping home to win the race and the open. Despite some aggressive sailing Gorringe/Lewis could only come up with a second place, and therefore second place overall, third was taken by Richard Dee/Chris Gould who had waited until this late hour to really shine.

Indeed, as we look at the results excluding Jon and Andy, we can see that the fleet is increasingly competitive, better equipped and is sailing better than ever before, as is evidenced by the three different teams coming in third position in three different races, and by the fact that the Merlin Rocket continues to attract top quality sailors from across the country.

Open Meeting Results:

PosSailNo Helm/CrewClub R1 R2 R3 Pts
13684Andy Davis / Tom PygallBlithfield1212
23712Jon Gorringe / Toby LewisParkstone2123
33610Richard Dee / Chris GouldMidland4537
43716Steve Leney / Gill LeneyBlithfield3747
53583Chris Martin / Dan MorganBlithfield16459
63693Will Rainey / Kelly MillerShoreham831311
73722Ben Hollis / Ben HendonBlithfield561211
83565Paul Keeling / Michelle Keeling Blithfield78613
93663Chris Haworth / Jonathan BullenBlackpool and Fleetwood 1710717
103729Jon Turner / Richard ParsloeBeer912918
113617Tom Chadfield / Andy Chadfield Blithfield1091019
123730Paul Hollis / James DawesBlithfield6141520
133539Dan Alsop / Jennie KingLyme Regis1415822
143547Peter Male / Jon Gibbons Blithfield23111425
153731Andy Jones / Maddie JonesParkstone12131625
163581Mark Reddington / Colin StaiteBartle11171728
173702Duncan Salmon / Harriet SalmonWembley 15162231
183339Tim Male / Rebecca MaleBlithfield24211132
193717David Charlton / Celia CharltonBrightlingsea 13191932
203634Ben Archer / Ian GarwoodParkstone19251837
213701S Hunt / Ruth Critchly Pilkington18222038
223705Geoff Wright / Katie WrightBlithfield20202340
233510Mike Raine / Janey HillRudyard LakeRt242145
243566Jon Wood / Heather WoodEarlswood 22232745
253662Mike Whitehouse / Karen WhitehouseChelmarsh21Rt2546
263598Robert Smith / Andrew SmithShustoke27Rt2451
273508Colin Anderson / Sean AndersonRedditch26262852
283567Martin Smith / Karen BestonBlithfield25282953
293612Andy Beardshaw / Charlie NoakesRedditch 32272653
303402Rob Kennaugh / Abi SpurrBlithfieldRt18Rt57
313591Terry Bridgewater / Estelle Bridgewater Earlswood28293057
323681Douglas Maxwell / Beate Pohler Wembley29313160
333541Norman Price / Luke TuckerBlithfield31303561
343489Richard Turner / Eric BanningBanbury30Rt3363
353530Mike Colles / Paul InsleyMidlandRt333265
363548Kieron Mason / Henry MasonBanburyRt323466
373346Ian Mackenzie / Angela MackenzieBanburyRtRtRt78
383675Nick Craig / James StewartFrensham PondRtRtNs78

Of course this was the final open in the Silver Tiller race series, and the occasion was marked by the MROA black tie dinner and prizegiving at BSC that evening. By winning on his home turf, Andy Davis had cemented his grip on this iconic trophy, and relegated Jon Gorringe to third overall. An appeal with the RYA might put his Championship victory in doubt, but there was no question about Andy Davis’ commanding second win in the Silver Tiller.

At the MROA Silver Tiller Dinner and prizegiving Chairman Louise Johnson gave a commendable speech, commenting on the high standards of sailing and the commitment of so many (94) quality sailing teams to this series. She also gave thanks to organisers behind the scenes who do such a vast amount of support work, not just in the MROA committee but also in sailing clubs all around the country, in order that we can all enjoy unparalleled Merlin Rocket racing.

Rod Daniels of Craftinsure, the sponsors of the 2011 Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller series, gave away the prizes.

Silver Tiller top 10:

PlaceScoreSail NoHelmCrew
14.33684Andy DavisTom Pygall
26.63705Matt BiggsBen Hollis
38.43712Jon GorringeToby Lewis
418.63716Steve LeneyGill Leney
522.63610Richard DeeChris Gould
622.73702Duncan SalmonHarriet Salmon
723.83583Chris MartinRob Kennaugh
827.93701Tom StewartSteve Hall
933.73703Richard WhitworthVarious
1033.93539Dan AlsopJennie King

Best Attendance : Chris Martin /Dan Morgan 3583 Back To The Future
Best Improver : 13th Ben Archer/Andy Brewer 3634 Ministry of Pleasure

Full Silver Tiller results, and rules

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