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Merlin Rocket Open at Blithfield Sailing Club

by Chris Martin 18 Oct 2010 09:18 BST 17 October 2010
Merlins at Blithfield © Don Stokes

33 boats braved a dire forecast, with one team travelling all the way from Brightlingsea, to compete for the GKN Trophy at Blithfield Sailing Club. It must be said things did not look promising. The vertical steam from the nearby cooling towers being an indication that the few ripples on the lake surface were just thermals and a half hour postponement was announced at the briefing. Half an hour became an hour, which rapidly became after lunch. With the fleet tucked up in the clubhouse ripples started form and jibs began to flap and sailing began to look like a possibility. The fleet took to the water at 12:30 in a reasonable 5 knots, albeit from a very awkward direction.

Race one kicked off with the wind yet to truly settle but in order to get three races in the race team had no real choice. A tempting port bias and no black flag led to an inevitable general recall and a restart under black flag. The fleet behaved themselves and got underway with a 50/50 split in paths taken up the first beat. Strangely in such fluky conditions both extremeties seemed to pay equally and the fleet was still fairly close round the first mark. Andy Davis and Tom Pygall managed to creep out to the front and stayed there building a huge lead by the finish, followed home by Dave Winder and Pippa Taylor with Richard Whitworth and Olly Turner third. With thermals and gusts appearing fairly randomly it was snakes and ladders all through the fleet.

Race two was held immediately after race one, with a now much better force 1-2 though still from the south west. Again a little port bias made the line interesting and congested at the pin but this time hard left seemed to pay, though giving a risky port tack approach. Taxi and Tom again broke clear early on, but did not have this race all their own way, indeed the whole fleet was much tighter with a run down the width of the lake proving challenging and compressing the fleet. Taxi and Tom took the race and the meeting, Dave Winder and Pippa again second and Tom Stewart and Steve Graham Third.

After a short comfort break, race three got underway with significant port bias due to a windshift with a minuite to go. Matt Winder lead aroud the first mark, followed by Dave Winder and Pippa. However a navigation error half way through with the correct mark hidden by a strong low sun took them out of contention. This left Chris Martin and Ben Hendon leading, with Richard Whitworth and Olly Turner close behind. A close battle down the run saw Richard and Olly get through, and veterans Pat and Jilly blake wriggled through on the last beat in a dying breeze. Richard and Olly won the race, Pat and Jilly second and Chris and Ben third.

Overall Andy Davis and Tom Pygall won the meeting, Richard Whitworth and Olly Turner were second and Dave Winder and Pippa Taylor Third. Thanks go to Steve Hendon and his team for a great job in very tricky conditions, Jayne Tatton for providing lunch and husband Steve for manning the bar. Thanks also to everyone for coming, hopefully we'll have better breeze next year!

Overall Results:

1st 3684, Andy Davis & Tom Pygall
2nd 3703, Richard Whitworth & Olly Turner
3rd 3662, Dave Winder & Pippa Taylor
4th 3676, Pat & Jilly Blake
5th 3701, Tom Stewart and Steve Graham
6th 3691, Mike Calvert and crew
7th 3705, Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis
8th 3583, Chris Martin & Ben Hendon
9th 3695, Matt Winder & crew
10th 3617, Tom and Andy Chadfield

See full results on the Blithfield SC website.

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