Please select your home edition
Edition
Craftinsure 2012

Aspire 72nd Merlin Rocket Championship - Runners & Riders

by Chris Martin on 9 Aug 12-18 August 2017
Selden Merlin Rocket Nationals 2016 at Penzance © Lee Whitehead / www.photolounge.co.uk

The 72nd Merlin Rocket Championship kicks off this Sunday at Plas Heli, North Wales. As is becoming customary, trying to pick a potential overall winner from so many potential race winners is proving to be difficult! Based entirely on performances so far this season here goes!

Hot favourites:

Looking at what's gone on so far this year I can identify three boats who have gone consistently quickly at most events. Sam and Megan Pascoe are currently leading the Silver Tiller, and after a masterclass in consistency at the Salcombe (51 boats!) and Chichester open meetings in particular are certain to be there or thereabouts in most races.

Chris' Gould and Kilsby have also been going very fast. Without the distraction of an Osprey campaign so far this year due to crew injury they have been able to focus on the Merlin and that time put in is sure to reap a reward.

Andy Davies and Alex Warren's season got off to somewhat shaky start after an accident in the garage left them rig-less. That's now been sorted out and after coming narrowly second at Salcombe week have proved that they are back on the pace. After coming in second at the Solo nationals Taxi in particular will be looking to avoid a hat-trick of seconds this season.

Good outside bets:

Nick Craig and Alan Roberts you would normally expect to see in the group above, but a lack of time in the boat together could prove costly at the start of the week. No doubt they will get better and better as the week goes on - they were not slow at the Weymouth ST which was their only outing this season.

Simon Potts and Pippa Taylor are another team you'd expect to find in the group above. Extra curricular activities mean that wife Ally is unable to crew this week, but if you had to choose an alternative i can't think of too many better choices than Pippa! Again lack of time in the boat together could be an issue, expect improvement as the week goes on.

Chris Jennings and Pete Horn are consistently quick but not done much this season. Clear second at the Pwllheli Silver Tiller, definitely ones to watch, like a bit of wind.

Mike and Jane Calvert are rumoured as a last minute entry and if it's not honking this pair will be in the mix.

Good for a flutter:

Dave and Oliver Winder - Dave is no stranger to the front of the fleet, and son Oliver is improving all the time.

William Warren and Mark Oakey - William is a former champion and they've done a fair bit of sailing this season. Could easily cause an upset.

Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis - Probably need a windy day but can be very fast. New helm's toe straps fitted for the occasion.

Ian and Ellie Sharps - Good starter and the new short race format could work in their favour - just need to avoid the black flag.

Tom Gillard and Tom Lonsdale - To my knowledge Tom Gillard has never sailed a Merlin. I don't think I've ever seen Tom Lonsdale crew one either - sounds like a recipe for an upset! No shortage of ability in the team, just need to get working together.

Other outsiders include Jon Turner and Richard Parslow, Dave Wade and Rachel Rhodes, Dave Hayes and Jonny Ratcliffe, Tim Saxton and Jodie Green, Caroline Croft and Matt Lulham-Robinson - all teams who can win races and need to find consistency to maximise their chances against the three favourites.

I'm not even going to try to do the Silver fleet which also comprises of people who won't win the week, but could easily cause an upset in a race or two such is the strength in depth of the Merlin feet at the moment.

Thanks to our lead sponsor, Aspire and all our other sponsors who are too numerous to list! Keep and eye on YachtsandYachting.com for results as they come in.

Further details at merlinrocketchamps.com

Related Articles

Merlin Rockets at Lymington
Silver Tiller Series continues Arriving at Lymington on the Saturday morning, the Merlin and Scorpion sailors were blessed with superb sailing conditions once the sea breeze kicked in. Posted on 6 Sep
Minima Regatta 2017
Full range of sailing conditions at Kingston Crews at the Minima regatta, which is sponsored by TWM solicitors, faced pretty well the full range of sailing conditions at Kingston at the weekend. Posted on 5 Sep
adidas Poole Week 2017 overall
What a week that was! Poole Week 2017 was notable on a number of counts. Despite the generally light and perpetually shifty conditions that tested the skill and patience of the race officers to the limit, no racing was lost to the weather. Posted on 3 Sep
adidas Poole Week 2017 day 5
The full gamut of wind and weather Thursday saw Poole Harbour provide the full gamut of wind and weather to delight and occasionally confound the competitors and Race Officers - with a full 360 degree shift in the wind, a band of rain, lightning, rainbows and glorious sunshine. Posted on 1 Sep
adidas Poole Week 2017 day 4
Race Officer's rain dance does the trick The forecast for today did not look ideal with little wind and rain promised. However, the PROs had clearly done their rain dances as the weather improved ahead of the 1400hrs start and we managed to get some good racing in. Posted on 31 Aug
adidas Poole Week 2017 day 3
Wind fills in after a slow start After a slow start to the afternoon's racing while those in the Top Triangle looked on enviously from a flat calm at the 6 to 8 knots of breeze at the Race Platform, the wind eventually filled in from the west and racing got underway. Posted on 29 Aug
We lucky few...
Or Pwllheli reviewed, through a glass darkly To coin the popular phrase from that strange game men play with their balls (and now, even more successfully, ladies too) the 2017 season is shaping up to be a game of two halves. Posted on 23 Aug
Merlin Rocket Championship overall
Nick Craig & Alan Roberts confirmed as winners Dinghytec Friday or the Aspire Merlin Rocket national championships had been the subject of much debate for a number of days. Posted on 18 Aug
Merlin Rocket Championship day 5
Something of a revolution! Winder Thursday a.k.a. Ranelagh Thursday a.k.a Champagne Day of the Aspire Merlin Rocket Nationals saw something of a revolution in race format with three races scheduled in an attempt to get the full nine races in for the series. Posted on 18 Aug
Merlin Rocket Championship day 4
One race held before the wind became too strong HD Wednesday of the Aspire Merlin Rocket Nationals saw two races scheduled. Most in the dinghy park considered even one race to be optimistic given the forecast. Posted on 16 Aug