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Merlin Rocket Open at Blackpool & Fleetwood Yacht Club

by Chris Haworth 13 Aug 2012 17:08 BST 4-5 August 2012

Saturday 4th August

The second consecutive Craftinsure Silver Tiller event in two weeks took place again in northern waters this time hosted by the Blackpool & Fleetwood Yacht Club.

With the Saturday sea event involving launching from the beach at Fleetwood (after an early competitors lunch) and a two race back to back format, hopes were high for a steady F3-4 and some good broad spinnaker reaches. Enthusiastic Blackpool and Fleetwood competitors keen to establish some good results on home turf launched early for the fifteen minute sail to the starting area.

In the event and for race one, a light south easterly wind greeted the fleet of thirteen Merlin Rockets as they arrived at the committee boat. The Race team decided on an Olympic style triangle sausage course with a beat towards the shore, and after the usual Merlin Rocket first general recall the boats raced away cleanly, but only after the black flag rule was implemented! With significant wind shifts on the beat to the top mark Matt Biggs rounded first, followed by Pat Blake, Chris Martin and David Winder.

The Leneys moved up on the reaches, and the Blakes dropped back (going too far left) on the runs, with little change in positions on the beat. On the first reach of the 3rd lap with the wind becoming variable and starting to shift dramatically, the fleet began to close up. Matt had anxious moments in the lead but held on to round the next mark first, followed by the Leneys and Dave Winder. The reaching leg had now become a beat towards the end of which the race officer wisely shortened the course. Unfortunately Dave Winder hit the last mark before the finish allowing Chris Martin, Chris Haworth and Paul Hollis to overtake! So race one to Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis.

For the second race the race officer reversed the course as the wind had shifted through 180 degrees. Making amends for his last minute indiscretion in race one, Dave Winder led for the first lap and up the second beat. The fleet then separated on the run with Matt Biggs going hard right and the Leneys hard left.

At the leeward mark just as the Leneys were establishing an overlap inside Matt the wind died. With the fleet now virtually at a standstill and the tide against them, the race officer on the wrong side of the mark decided at the last minute to shorten the race to try and get a result.

Pat Blake, assessing the situation first, made the right moves to win with Matt second and Paul Hollis third. Coming from behind and now with a little wind Mike Hamilton grabbed 4th followed by Tim Male in 5th. From a potential first the Leneys finally crossed an unhappy 9th. No-one chose to protest so the results stood as recorded.

Saturday's Results:

PosSail noHelmCrewR1R2Pts
13722Matt BiggsBen Hollis123
23740Pat BlakeJilly Blake718
33730Paul HollisJames Dawes538
43583Chris Martin3710
53716Steve LeneyGill Leney2911
63663Chris HaworthJo Harvey4812
73735Dave WinderHannah Marsden6612
83339Tim Male Rebecca Male8513
93493Mike Hamilton Jonathan Bullen11415
103597Peter JacksonAndy Airnes91019
113574John DonoghueJohn Pammenter101121
123548Kieron MasonHenry Mason131225
133346Ian MacKenzieAngela MacKenzie121325

Sunday 5th August

With the second day of the weekend being classified as an open water meeting the event was run from the club’s premises on the River Wyre.

Sunday morning actually dawned with little if any wind up the river at Skippool. Certainly marginal for the proposed race around the buoys! After a postponement and with the race officer sensing some wind on top of the tide, the first race was eventually started.

Apart from a few lapses, the breeze filled in enough for just 2 laps to be completed. The Leneys rounded the windward mark first, followed by Julian Parry in 3659 leading Dave Winder and Hannah Marsden. Going down the first reach Paul Hollis crept up from fourth to second, a position he managed to hold to the end of the race.

Meanwhile Steve & Gill Leney found the best wind pressure in the conditions to eventually take a well-deserved win, after managing to stay in lead position throughout with Dave Winder finishing in third. With little wind and the tide ebbing and getting stronger by the minute meant unfortunately a second race was out of the question, and so the meeting concluded.

Overall winners - Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis in 3722 followed in joint second place by Pat and Jilly Blake sailing 3740 and Paul Hollis and James Dawes in 3730.

Race 3 Results:

PosSail noHelmCrew
13716Steve LeneyGill Leney
23730Paul HollisJames Dawes
33735Dave Winder Hannah Marsden
43659Julian ParryChris Robinson
53740Pat BlakeJilly Blake
63663Chris HaworthJo Harvey
73493Mike HamiltonJonathan Bullen
83494Crain AllwoodJules Allwood
93597Peter JacksonAndy Airnes
103574John DonoghueJohn Pammenter
113346Ian MacKenzieAngela MacKenzie
DNS3722Matt Biggs
DNS3339Tim Male

Well done to all who competed and to all who hosted the event and looking forward to seeing lots of entries for next years Silver Tiller at Blackpool & Fleetwood Yacht Club!

Next stop - Shoreham on the south coast - a good steady Force 4, wind with tide and gentle sweeping rollers are bound to prevail - we hope?

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