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Merlin Rocket Open at Shoreham Sailing Club

by Alex Jackson 22 Aug 2012 11:45 BST 11-12 August 2012

As the class prepares for the Championships, a fleet of 30 Merlins made the annual trip to Shoreham for 'real sea sailing'. That's what it said on the promotional flyer and that's what it delivered... again! PRO Alan Chaplin ran back-to-back Championship courses in a 15-18 knots South easterly with 5 foot swell and blazing sunshine, perfect.

First out of the blocks and continuing their dominant open water form were Jon Gorringe and Toby Lewis, leading from the off the chasing pair of Jon Turner, Simon Blake could not quite match them for boat speed and handling. This order held to the finish while further down the fleet Geoff Carveth made a strong fight back from a poor first lap to finish fourth.

The breeze freshened marginally and veered to the East as boats came in from the port lay line to round the windward mark. David Hayes and Jonny Radcliffe had worked the percentages up the middle and were unduly nobbled on the approach, however, a well-executed spinny hoist and gybe saw them in the lead by the leeward mark, after which their boat handling delivered an equivalent 'extra gear' and they disappeared off to a convincing victory. Geoff Carveth and Graham Williamson were finding their feet and sailed the remainder of the race in a three way battle with Gorringe and Blake for second place. On the last lap Blake fouled at the windward mark and dropped back to fourth, Carveth showed Gorringe a clear pair of heels on the final set of screaming reaches and won first runner up.

Bar chat was not just of achy bones and stiff legs but how well Stu Bithell (Merlin 2010 Champ and long-term Hollingworth Merlin super-crew), was performing at the Olympics. It was also refreshing to see the two new designs (Jon Turners 'Genii' and Jo Richards 'Dead Line') mixing it up at the front of the fleet. Jon and Richard 'yappy' Parslow have worked relentlessly on their new design for the past two years, this effort is really starting to bear fruit and the pair is showing some seriously impressive form.

Sunday came and almost went. The wind started from the SE and looked at one point to drop off, however, the faithful sea breeze was to kick in from the SW but not before the first race had finished.

David Hayes was again the front runner and played the shifts and tide to sneak an early lead. However, as the pressure abated it was William Warren and Pat Blake who capitalized on the shifts. Many boats hit the right corner on the final beat as the wind went South, the majority underestimated the extent of the shift and eventually came reaching in on starboard. Pat and Jilly Blake judged it correctly to lead down the final run, holding position to the line. David Hayes held on to second by the skin of his teeth while newcomers to the fleet Ben & Roz McGrane having improved consistently throughout the weekend, recorded third with Willie Warren recovering well to finish fourth.

The deciding race saw a head to head between Gorringe and Hayes. However, with such a depth of talent in the fleet it was Richard Whitworths time to shine. A full on horizon job left the fleet in his wake, Jon and Toby battled up to second and thus won the weekend while Hayes, Blake Jnr, McGrane and Carveth all finished a few boat lengths of each other as they fought for the lower ranks.

A perfect training event before our Championchipss and an encouraging one for all the contenders. Although Jon and Toby sailed to a deserved victory it appeared nobody had it entirely their way, therefore predictions are for a high scoring Nationals with pundits struggling to predict a favourite.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
13712Jon GorringeToby LewisParkstone13926
23734David HayesJonny RatcliffeHayling Island51247
33733Geoff CarvethGraham WilliamsonHayling Island422839
43738Simon BlakeAlex JacksonShoreham 3428613
53739Ben McGraneRoz McGraneNetley863514
63729Jon TurnerRichard ParslowLyme Regis 297716
73703Richard WhitworthSarah BinesParkstone11511117
83685Will WarrenChris RobinsonShoreham 974920
93658Chris JenningsTom PygallBurghfield61081024
103741Simon LyttonJackie LyttonHayling Island10861124
113740Pat Blake Jill BlakeCookham Reach 131511829
123735David WinderPippa TaylorHollingworth Lake 27165829
133693Will RaineyJohn HackettShoreham 711121430
143656Olly TurnerRichard CainStarCross1913101639
153728Judith MasseyOli WellsHayling Island1412141540
163645Ian SharpsEllie MaskinBurghfield1614281343
173696Alan WarrenAndy BinesShoreham 1717131747
183643Tim HarridgeBug HarridgeHampton1219171948
193730Paul HollisAlex WarrenShoreham 1518152048
203731Andy JonesMaddie JonesParkstone2727161255
213634B ArcherHugo PullenParkstone1823182157
223682Jon StewardNick YannakoyorkosFishers Green 2020202360
233625Richard BramleyTony ChealShoreham 2221212464
243556Alex JonesJack DeungCookham Reach 2427192265
253559L ToshJoe ToshUpper Thames2122222765
263371Paul DeanNicki Della PortaWembley 2324232570

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