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Helming to Win by Nick Craig
Helming to Win by Nick Craig

Merlin Rocket Open Meeting at Salcombe Yacht Club

by Ben Archer 31 Mar 2011 10:05 BST 26-27 March 2011

A bumper fleet of 33 National Merlin Rockets descended on the sleepy Devon town of Salcombe for the second open meeting of what has already become an exhilarating Silver Tiller series, sponsored by Craftinsure.

Whilst the majority of the fleet arrived on Friday night, in order to sample the ambiance of the place, some chose to bat off a steadier wicket; indeed competitors were arriving and still rigging as the first boats left the slip.

The first day of the open, Saturday, was sunny with a F1/F2 southerly wind which increased the importance of the tide in everyone’s race plan as it was ebbing strongly throughout both races. Following a general recall and the subsequent deployment of the black flag, the fleet got away, sticking firmly to the middle two thirds of the estuary. A few ventured over to the town side in the latter part of the beat, but the hugely tactical cat and mouse runs down from Blackstone to The Bag split the fleet, with some hugging the Portlemouth shore and some cutting across to Snapes and reaching up to buoy 3 from there at very hot angles.

The course suited Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis who won the first race, despite a strong challenge from Olympic hopeful Stu Bithell crewed by Sophie Weg (who were second), and Parkstone YC heroes Jon Gorringe and Toby Lewis who sailed hard to come third.

Bithell/Weg were warming to their theme however, as they took the second race win in fine style. The OD clearly wanted to test the fleet’s light air ability, sending them through The Bag up to buoy 7 (Gerston), for a long and testing beat home to the line. Ian Dobson and Andy Tunniclife were starting to get into gear coming second, with Jon Gorringe a consistent third.

Sunday was a very different day. A gusty, shifty F3/4 easterly wind meant for some aggressive starting and a difficult beat up to Yarlton (buoy 4) followed by a fetch up to 7 and an exciting run up to Blackstone. Dobson/Tunnicliffe revelled in the conditions winning from Bithell/Weg with Gorringe/Lewis third again.

By race four the wind in the estuary had built significantly and the Gerston reach which had seemed so demanding the previous day had become the thing sailing dreams are made of, with ecstatic sailors planing end to end in clouds of spray. Ian Dobson kept his cool to win and took the overall win. Mike Calvert, with new crew Ian Garwood, showed some form to come second. With Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis mounting the podium in third, this meant that the Blithfield duo were third overall, with Stuart Bithell and Sophie Weg second.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSailHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st-3670Ian DobsonAndy TunnicliffeRoyal Windemere-52114
2ndKeyser Soze3684Stuart BithellSophie WegHillingworth Lake212-45
3rd2 Pints of Lager3705Matt BiggsBen HollisBlithfield1-5539
4thOakey Dokey3712Jon GorringeToby LewisParkstone333-109
5thQuick Fix3691Mike ClavertIan GarwoodAxe6-84212
6thFaithless3703Richard WhitworthHelen TaylorHLSC / PYC476-1317
7thGeneral Lee3702Andy DalbyPhil DalbyHampton-868620
8thGangsta Paradice3539Dan AlsopJennie KingLyme Regis949-1122
9thBack to the Future3583Chris MartinRob KennaughBlithfield10-1311526
10thCarbonfootprint3716Steve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield-12117927
11thSlippery when wet3693Will RaineyKelly MillerShoreham71210-1529
12thLeader3563Paul HollisChris GouldBlithfield-171014731
13thHot Totty3676Pat BlakeJilly BlakeCookham111712(34.0 DNC)40
14thNostradormouse3577Derek DaviesHelen HilditchExe / Salcombe1815-20841
15thScallywag3565Paul KeelingMichelle KeelingBlithfield13-19171242
16thPuff the Magic Dragon3641Mark WaterhouseClaire LangholeParkstone199-241644
17th-3547Peter MaleTim MaleSalcombe14-22131845
18thDjeibeybi3660David LeeJuliet PealingStarcross161618-1950
19thShmoozy Blue3661Graham ScroggieBen ScroggieParkstone22(34.0 BFD)161452
20th-3590Chris WinzarRoss BorneSalcombe211815(34.0 DNC)54
21stChill Out3633David BurseyFrances LovellParkstone15-24192155
22ndHeadcase3650Lawrence ToshJoe Tosh--2514232057
23rdLight fantastic3555Tim HarridgeFran Tastic-202121(34.0 DNC)62
24thToo Dark 'n' Stormy3697Richard PageLizzy DalbyHampton-2726251768
25thMinistry of Pleasure3634Ben ArcherChris O'TooleParkstone2620-282571
26thDuck & Dive3713Steve HarlingEleanor ThomasStarcross-2825222471
27thTwinkle Toes3698Robert O'TooleRichard O'TooleParkstone-3128262276
28th-3647Hywel PorkinsRachael BosniaHampton232727(34.0 DNC)77
29thSpace odd at sea3544David DownsRos DownsTata Steel-3230292382
30thMonkey Puzzle3706Kevin AndersonSadie AndersonHampton on Sea302330(34.0 DNC)83
31st-3689Gareth Bowen PerkinsTom Bowen PerkinsHampton2429(34.0 DNF)34.0 DNC87
32ndBluebird3683Mark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town2931(34.0 DNF)34.0 DNC94
33rdRaunchy3621Tristam SquireTom MorrisSalcombe3332(34.0 DNC)34.0 DNC99

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