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Ocean Elements 2016

Tiger Trophy celebrates its 21st year next February

by Dick Sanders on 12 Dec 2013 1-2 February 2014

Imitation the sincerest form of flattery as the Tiger celebrates its 21st year next February

The inaugural Badger's Datchet Flyer takes place this weekend as part of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Series with three Great Lakes handicap races on Saturday, a Black Tie dinner in the evening and a pursuit race on Sunday. Welcome fellow winter warriors!

The last event in this 8 regatta series, The Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy, booked as usual via SailRacer, will be staged in its 21st year by Rutland SC over the first weekend in February as normal. (1st & 2nd February). It is a challenge for over 150 entries, with the usual format of three races on Saturday, a pursuit race on Sunday and the Tiger Dinner on the Saturday night. This year there will be music from 'Mumford and Father', with Guest of Honour Chris Draper, helm of AC72 Luna Rossa, who will be recounting his recent experiences.

The principal purpose, however, is to raise funds for the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) and 50% of all entry fees and dinner tickets are donated to the Trust to help it support young sailors to get started in the sport.

John was killed in 1997 while competing at the Melges Europeans. A year before, with his partner Ian Walker, he brought home one of only two sailing silver medals out of a total of eight. Ben Ainslie won the other silver in his first Olympics.

This 36th position of Team GB was the low point in the country's achievements, so the success in sailing was particularly important. John helped promote the idea of Government funding for sports to John Major and the success of the Lottery funded Team GB is now established. He however had started as a Leicester schoolboy from the 'self help' sector with his dad building him a Mirror in their greenhouse.

Success racing this against Ian and others led to a casual conversation between Rutland Sailing Cchool proprietor Peter Parkinson and Tony Everard, then Chairman of the family Brewery. This resulted in Tony buying John and his crew, Rob Wilson, a 420 to enable him to continue his sailing career. This boat was called Rutland Challenge and the role of the JMST carries on this individual initiative of helping young people get started in the sport at a critical stage in their career.

Following a conversation with Rod Carr, last year's guest speaker at the Tiger Dinner and a JMST Trustee, a scheme was proposed to utilise the funds contributed to by all the winter warriors in the years following John's death. The Trust agreed to supply at least 10 #JMSTStarter boats a year for the next 5 years to be administered through the RYA OnBoard scheme and the first 14 have now been awarded.

An invitation is being sent to all these young sailors and their parents to join their club members at the Tiger Dinner to experience the fun and social side of sailing. It is this that reinforces the sport and facilitates those all important conversations that lead to fast and fair performance on the water.

More information at tiger-trophy.co.uk

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