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Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Open at Midland Sailing Club

by Paul Young on 14 Mar 12 March 2017

Twenty-two Merlin Rockets arrived at Midland Sailing Club (MSC) on this very calm and literally no wind morning to contest the first round of the Craftinsure Silver Tiller 2017. The fleet hit the water after a short briefing however the race was postponed for nearly an hour before the wind filled in to allow the race to get underway. Northerlies at Midland are never to be relied upon and snakes and ladders were to be the order of the day. A posse of local boats headed up by Richard Dee with Nancy Gudgeon led the fleet round the first mark, followed by Chris Martin and Oliver Maclean, Mike Colles and Louise Hassall, Richard Adams and Andrew Prosser. After some exchange of places, Chris Martin took a short lead towards the second mark before finding a short snake and being over taken by Richard Adams who then dominated the remaining of the race. Defending champion Mike and Jane Calvert from Axe Yacht Club gained an early third with Caroline Croft and Beka Jones from Blithfield SC following closely behind. Having gained a healthy lead early in the race, Richard Adams and Andrew Prosser finished first with a comfortable margin, Mike and Jane Calvert finished second, and Chris Martin and Oliver Maclean finished third.

The second race started after a super tasty beef lasagne lunch and got away under a black flag after one shift induced general recall. Newcomer to the fleet Adam Maclean crewed by Jared Lewis (MSC) were shocked to find themselves first at the windward mark followed by Mike and Jane Calvert with Rob Kennaugh and Tim Male third. Mike and Jane very soon took the lead on their way to the leeward mark. Matt Biggs crewed by Ben Hollis stayed in the middle of the run which paid off and helped them move up to the second place with Caroline and Beka third, Rob Kennaugh and Tim Male fourth. Adam and Jared were now lying fifth. Mike and Jane continued the lead from Matt and Ben; Caroline and Beka remained third. Later in the race Caroline and Beka managed to overtake Matt and Ben downwind and then Mike and Jane upwind to take the lead. On the last beat in a close battle Mike and Jane just managed to get the best of Caroline and Beka to reach the finish line first.

The third race went underway right after the second race (back-to-back). A large swing to the right caused a general recall and the race started under a black flag. The bulk of the fleet had headed for the port end but a gaggle of boats fancied the breeze that looked to be filling in from the right and these were the boats that led the fleet around the first mark headed up by Mike and Jane Calvert. Rolling back the years Paul Hollis crewed by Paula Mason rounded just behind with Chris and Oliver third. After a very tactical run Chris and Oliver then moved up to second at the leeward mark with Sam Hirst and Carl Martin fourth. On the third lap Chris and Oliver caught up Mike and Jane with Paul and Paula still third. Passing places were hard to come by at this stage with no one wanting to go out on a limb and no big gains in sight anywhere. Mike and Jane held on to their lead to take the race and the meeting. The battle for second place was intense as Chris and Oliver lost much of a comfortable lead over Paul and Paula who found a nice ladder at the leeward mark. Just squeezing ahead on the penultimate tack for the line it was Chris and Oliver who took second and also second overall on a good day for local boats with Rich Adams and Andrew Prosser from the host club taking third overall. Mike and Jane have won The Mug so often that they might as well be considered locals too!

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