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Merlin Rocket Open Meeting at Wembley Sailing Club

by Paul Dean 22 Sep 2010 10:50 BST 19 September 2010
The Silver Tiller series comes to the Welsh Harp © Ben Shorten

Whilst pilgrims from around the UK were descending upon Birmingham for the Papal visit, the faithful from the Merlin Rocket class assembled at the Welsh Harp Reservoir in North London for the 46th running of Wembley Sailing Club’s Silver Tiller Open Meeting.

The Race Officer warned at the briefing of the “goal line technology” in use on the start lines and the threat of the video camera appeared to make competitors line-shy as many held back from the start for race one and the fleet got away at the first time of asking.

A gusty and shifty force two to three Easterly meant for a decent beat along the Harp towards the backdrop of Wembley Stadium followed by a fairly tight reach and a long run back up the Harp towards the leeward mark. Simon Blake & Alex Jackson led at the end of the first lap into the leeward mark with Chris Martin & Ben Hendon close behind pursued by two other boats only to round the wrong way. Confusion ensued as they realized and tried to unwind which let Matt Biggs & Ben Hollis, who had previously been lying in fifth place, through into the lead. Biggs & Hollis then took an unassailable lead to the finish line of the three lap race. Blake & Jackson finished second some way behind Biggs. Pat & Jilly Blake having arrived at the first windward mark in around ninth or tenth place worked their through the fleet and benefited from the leaders’ rounding mistake to finish third ahead of local Wembley stars Colin Brockbank & Martin Hughes and Duncan Salmon & Ian Garwood in fourth and fifth.

All boats made a clean start for race two as Biggs & Hollis powered upwind in phase with the shifts along the North shore of the Harp to arrive first at the windward mark. Biggs & Hollis took their lead right on to the finish to take the win and secure the overall event victory with a race in hand. Second to fourth was a closely fought battle with numerous place changes between Blake & Jackson, who edged the place, over Martin & Hendon from Blithfield in third with Lawrence Tosh & Liese Scott taking fourth.

The wind had moved round slightly for the final race and the fleet set off from a near perfectly square line and immediately moved to the now favoured South (North Circular road) shore towards the windward mark. Blake & Jackson led the fleet with the pack in close pursuit. On the run on lap two Blake & Jackson benefited from a huge gust which enabled them to power away from Salmon & Garwood in second with Blakes Senior running in third. It was still all to play for on lap three as Simon Blake stayed narrowly ahead of Pat & Jilly Blake who had passed Salmon & Garwood and edged back into contention for the lead. On the fourth and final lap approaching the windward mark any one of these three boats could still take the race. Pat & Jilly Blake ducked Simon Blake & Alex Jackson’s stern while crossing on the beat and moved narrowly ahead, but by the next crossing, Simon & Alex had fought back to ensure they arrived first at the windward mark. From there, Simon & Alex took the win. In the battle for second, Duncan Salmon & Ian Garwood were still very much in contention behind Pat & Jilly. Duncan & Ian gybed on the final run and secured an inside overlap on Pat & Jilly Blake at the final leeward mark. Pat & Jilly immediately tacked onto part after the rounding and Salmon & Garwood followed suit to loose cover them into the finish line. Chris Martin & Ben Hendon finished fourth.

The fleet then headed for the clubhouse for their chilli con carne tea and to watch the video of the day’s action on the TV.

Overall event winners were Matt Biggs & Ben Hollis, Simon Blake & Alex Jackson finished second, Pat & Jilly Blake were third. Other prize winners included Tim & Ben Harridge from Hampton SC who took the 10 – 20 year old boat prize with ninth place overall. Prizes were provided by Speed Sails, who sponsor the Silver Tiller series.

Competitors would like to thank the club for swift turnaround between races, and the abundance of free food - particularly the Mars bars provided on the water.

Overall Results:

PosSail noHelmCrewClubR1R2R3
1st3705Matt BiggsBen HollisBlithfield SC11DNF
2nd3707Simon BlakeAlex JacksonShoreham SC221
3rd3676Pat BlakeJill BlakeCookham Reach SC383
4th3702Duncan SalmonIan GarwoodWembley SC592
5th3583Chris MartinBen HendonBlithfield SC734
6th3651Colin BrockbankMartin HughesWembley SC466
7th3650Laurence ToshLiese ScottBanbury64DNF
8th3716Steve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield SC955
9th3555Tim HarridgeBen HarridgeHamton SC1278
10th3563Paul HollisJohn HacketBlithfield SC11117
11th3668Mark SmythMartin ThompsonWembley SC10209
12th3637Alan BroadbentRussell HallWembley SC131010
13th3717David CharltonCelia CharltonBrightlingsea SC81413
14th3561Richard CookeRichard EastwoodWembley SC171211
15th3635Andrew MarlowMagnus SmithWembley SC141314
16th3371Paul DeanNicki Della PortaWembley SC161812
17th3681Douglas MaxwellNigel HarnimanWembley SC181515
18th3574John DonaghueCarolineWembley SC151716
19th3667David BlandAmanda CooperWembley SC201617
20th3535Anthony RickabyCarolyne JoyceWembley SC191918
21st3442Chris IlesKathy IlesPortsmouth SC232119
22nd2997Jon StewardHarry StewardFishers Green SC212220
23rd3523Gary StewardMartin CohenWembley SC242322
24th3680Steve WatsonChloe SidarisMidland SCDNFDNC21
25th3682Ken DanielsD KintonFishers Green SC22DNCDNC
26th3502John GreenAnna DionelloWembley SCDNFDNCDNC

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