Please select your home edition
Noble Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Merlin Rocket Down River race at Ranelagh Sailing Club

by Fran Gifford 19 Apr 2012 09:05 BST 15 April 2012

Eighteen Merlin Rockets were enticed to Putney by the prospect of a down river race into London in a forecast 15 knots with the sun shining. Well, there were 15 knots sometimes and the sun sometimes shone and we definitely raced down river under a lot of bridges. But there was also sometimes a lot more wind, sometimes a lot less and it also rained and hailed sometimes.

So the plan was to start at the club and take the ebbing tide down towards the area of Battersea Power Station, turn round and come back against the end of the ebb and then the start of the flood. The start was delayed to ensure there was enough mast clearance under Putney Bridge, and a rule was in place preventing use of spinnakers until clear of this, the lowest of all the bridges. But the tide didn’t start flooding until we were all back and enjoying a lovely chilli. So it was quite a long race. Well over two hours for most.

The results aren’t too important, the general feeling in the clubhouse afterwards was that it had been a fantastic race, sightseeing eight bridges (approximately), avoiding the numerous shallow areas, or not really avoiding them but hitting them quite hard. There were a few capsizes and plenty of fill-ups. The wind was gusty and often came from a minimum of three different directions at once.

The fleet at times appeared well spread but then came the bridges! A full concertina effect as the leaders struggled to fight the strong tide, having had to come into the middle of the river to go through the correct arch. While the tide was strong under the bridges, the wind doesn’t quite get all the way through, so sometimes you could get half way through only to drift back again.

David Vines and Fran Gifford led for most of the race, at one point overtaken by Andy Dalby and Andrea Ralph, but ultimately built a large enough lead that was too great for the fast approaching Mike Stephens and Jodok Gerber to reel in on the long leg home. MJ Gifford and Jon Ibbotson sailed a great race having not even bothered to take a spinnaker with them, to come 5th and Duncan Salmon appeared to be pretty much last before scooting through to 4th at some point...

Bring on more 'Down River' races was the popular consensus, and a big thanks to the Ranelagh committee for making it possible.


1st 3347 David Vines / Fran Gifford - Tamesis
2nd 1097 Mike Stephens / Jodok Gerber - Tamesis
3rd 370 Andy Dalby / Andrea Ralph - Hampton
4th 3702 Duncan Salmon / Harriet Salmon - Wembley
5th 3374 MJ Gifford / Jon Ibbotson - Ranelagh
6th 3058 Andy Harris / Abigail Croft - Tamesis
7th 3694 Alan Markham / Alice Markham - Upper Thames
8th 3682 Tony Johnson / Louise Johnson - Lymington
9th 3556 Alex Jones / Jack Deung - Cookham
10th 3697 Phil Dalby / James Wazzer - Hampton
11th 3555 Tim Harridge / Maria Gray - Hampton
12th 3682 John Steward / Nick Yannakoyorges - Fishers Green
13th 3422 Martin Wollny / Natalija Wollny - Ranelagh
14th 3106 Brian Clarke / James Hayward - Ranelagh
15th 2744 Michael Airey / Nick Wilson - Ranelagh
RTD 3073 Christopher Edwards / Una Hodgkins - Ranelagh
RTD Alan Broadbent / Amanda Cook - Wembley
RTD Colin Brockbank / Matilda Hewitt - Wembley

Related Articles

Merlin Rockets at Whitstable
23 boats enjoy sunshine for Craftinsure Silver Tiller Round 1 The weekend of the 5th and 6th June saw 23 Merlin Rockets descend on Whitstable Yacht Club for a glorious weekend in the sunshine for the first Craftinsure Silver Tiller of 2021. Posted on 8 Jun
Merlin Rockets at Medley
First Race to the Trout Inn The Merlin Rocket De May Vintage & Thames Series made its first visit to the picturesque Medley Sailing Club, perched on the banks of the River Thames above Oxford. Posted on 18 May
Merlins at Parkstone
A fresh to frightening south-westerly forecast Parkstone Yacht Club welcomed the Merlin Rocket Class for an open meeting on Sunday 16th May 2021. The forecast was a fresh to frightening south-westerly with frequent rain showers to wash the salt out of our eyes. Posted on 18 May
Bartley Merlin Rocket Open
First event in the Midland Circuit 2021 A heavy wind was forecast for the Bartley SC Open meeting on Sunday 9th May, the first event in the Midland Circuit 2021. The duty officer Steve Ward and Fleet Captain Mark Reddington stood strong and ran back-to-back races before and after lunch. Posted on 13 May
Getting set for Poole Week 2021
Having had to take a year out, Poole Week is back this August! Sponsored by Bournemouth Digital, Poole Week is one of the country's most popular sailing weeks for dinghies and small keelboats, offering friendly yet competitive racing, great social events and much more. Posted on 6 May
Merlins at Ranelagh
The first event in the 2021 Thames Series Far outweighing the joy of the long awaited ending of lockdown, and the re-opening of pubs was the thrill and anticipation of the first Ranelagh Sailing Club Merlin Rocket open meeting of the year. Posted on 30 Apr
Merlins renew sponsorship deal with Craftinsure
Long-standing support as Silver Tiller series title sponsor The Merlin Rocket Owners' Association is delighted to announce the continued support from Cratinsure, as it prepares for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller 2021. Posted on 25 Apr
Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Open
A very healthy fleet of 32 teams on an insanely beautiful spring day Salcombe Yacht Club, despite the privations of the recent past, has been lucky to host the Merlin Fleet as one of the last official events of 2020 and for SYC, the first permitted in 2021. Posted on 20 Apr
Vintage Merlin Rockets at Fishers Green
13 boats of 7 different designs take part After some deliberation whether to hold the De May vintage Merlin open, the decision was to go for it, offering the use of an outside toilet (no clubhouse access permitted) plus a very pretty venue. Posted on 13 Apr
The Missing Foils?
Development continues on 1967 Chippendale Merlin Rocket I've been thinking about fitting foils to my 1967 Chippendale Merlin Rocket for some time since the class changed the rules in a bold initiative last year called "Levelling Up - Let the Development Continue!". Posted on 1 Apr