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Nautilus Yachting Merlin Rocket Inland Championships at Blithfield Sailing Club

by Ben Archer 19 Sep 2012 21:52 BST 15-16 September 2012
Merlin Rocket Inland Championships 2012 sponsored by Nautilus Yachting © Don Stokes

The Merlin Rocket Inland Championships, sponsored by Nautilus Yachting, descended upon Blithfield SC over the 15th/16th September. 56 boats attended making the trip to the large Staffordshire water.

As is often the case when big events come round it was very much a "It's not normally like this here" weekend, and while the weather in general was very nice the breeze was fickle in direction. While never a drifter - variable in strength. It was certainly not a good weekend to be in the committee boat!

The first start of race 1 was a taste of things to come, a 30 degree shift to the left made the pin end unlayable with 30 seconds to go and led inevitably to a general recall. The restart under black flag claimed a number of victims, some prominent home club sailors finding membership was no guarantee of diplomatic immunity!

Richard Whitworth and Sarah Bines led at the windward mark and built up a large lead taking the bullet, Jon Gorringe and Toby Lewis came in second with home couple Steve and Gill "We always do rubbish at Blithfield" Leney taking third.

The second race was started under black flag, with a slight pin bias to tempt the fleet away from the committee boat. This race was serious snakes and ladders, with massive gains to be made if you found the right patch of breeze and just as easily lost if you were a few feet outside the gust. Rich Adams and Chris Gould from Midland SC took the bullet in this race, Jon and Toby proving consistent with another second and Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis third.

By race three, the wind had built slightly to about force three with the odd lump in it, but any thought of this being a steadying influence was put to bed 30 seconds before the start when a huge shift, this time right, really set the cat amongst the pigeons on the line. Chris Martin and Tom Dunne made a perfect, if somewhat fortuitous, start right on the committee boat and led at the first mark where knot failure set in.

In the process of sorting things out a small group of following boats assumed they were sailing the course - oops! Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis took over the lead at the second mark but had to settle for second as the charging Richard/Sarah took their third win placing one hand on the trophy overnight. Dave Hayes and Johnny Ratcliffe came in third.

It's well known that the Merlin fraternity like a good party, and the state of the club's bar stock on Sunday morning was testament to this, with two empty lager barrels and three empty casks of real ale. A pig roast, jazz band and bar diving kept the fleet entertained until the early hours, and Steve Leney's morning hoovering of the clubhouse floor must have seemed like a very early start to those asleep on it!

The breeze was slightly stronger than the previous day but though things looked promising at first, it turned out to be no steadier. Richard and Sarah were again flying and took the bullet with Andy Davies and Tom Pygall coming in close behind and Nick Craig and James Stewart third.

Their win in the previous race ended the rush for first place, but there were four boats in with a shout at second. Nick Craig and James Stewart led the fourth race from start to finish, the consistent team of Jon and Toby came in second taking second place overall and Taxi and Tom coming in third placing them third overall.

Thanks go to everyone who helped organise the event, Nautilus for sponsoring the prizes, and especially PRO Jim Woodward and his team for an excellent job in very trying conditions.

Overall Results:

13703Richard WhitworthSarah BinesParkstone1411 7
23712Jon GorringeToby LewisParkstone22 7213
33684Andy DavisTom PygallBlithfield45 2314
43722Matt BiggsBen HollisBlithfield 325818
53734David HayesJohnny RatcliffeHayling Island8123 528
63675Nick CraigJames StewartFrensham Pond 10163130
73716Steve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield36714 30
83735David WinderPippa TaylorHollingworth13 58430
93676Frances GiffordChris DownhamRanelagh91646 35
103658Chris JenningsChris MartinBurghfield10 174637
113708Tom JeffcotePenny JeffcoateNotts County 5 8161039
123732David WadeBen RaynerNorthampton1511 9944
133733Jon IbbotsonOli WellsRanelagh713 171451
143656Olly TurnerAlex WarrenStarcross619 201358
153702Duncan SalmonHarriet SalmonWembley1714622 59
163740Pat BlakeJill BlakeCookham Reach1292418 63
173688Dan AlsopSophie MackleyLyme Regis 2313121563
183729Jon TurnerRichard ParslowLyme Regis 1827111268
193685William WarrenChris RobinsonShoreham 2115 102571
203627Dan WillettPete NicholsonBrightlingsea19331413 79
213696Alan WarrenWilliam CarrollShoreham 820242880
223671Piers LambertAndy BinesBrightlingsea  2918231181
233659Julian ParryBen HendonHollingworth16252219 82
243690Andy DalbyAndrea RalphH.S.C.267 253088
253730Paul HollisJames DawesBlithfield2822 211788
263731Andy JonesMaddie JonesParkstone232123 2188
273650Rich AdamsChris GouldMidland18115 DNC91
283583Chris MartinTom DunneBlithfield 3211282697
293339Tim MaleRebecca MaleBlithfield112730 37105
303641Mark WaterhouseNicki BassParkstone143035 32111
313573Simon BondAnna Bond 29 382619112
323618Andy KerrGareth HallBewl Valley 34283320115
333643Tim HarridgeBug HarridgeHampton 37332723120
343663Chris HaworthJo HarveyBlackpool and Fleetwood22 323631121
353683Tony JohnsonLouise JohnsonLymington3535 3122123
363705Geoff WrightKatie WrightBlithfield24 362935124
373510Mike RaineJaney HillRudyard Lake25313435 125
383710John ReesMari ShepherdHayling Island3926 3429128
393644Steve HendonLizzie HendonBlithfield313812 DNC138
403442Mark StockbridgeMatt GreenfieldRanelagh 44373033144
413634Ben ArcherHugo PullenParkstone33 413736147
423547Peter MaleChristine MaleBlithfield2740 4338148
433402Rob KennaughAbi SpurrMidland372829 DNC151
443508Colin AndersonSean AndersonRedditch34 403941154
453674Mike AnslowJayden WoodMidland32474538 162
462997Richard CoulterChristian HillFishers Green4643 4139169
473662Mike WhitehouseKaren WhitehouseChelmarsh40503944 173
483597Peter JacksonAndyBlackpool and Fleetwood434646 40175
493567Martin SmithKaren BestonBlithfield44 494242177
503582Malcolm HyamsYasmin GhaniMidland42485046 186
513610Ian SmithMatt SmithMidland415144 DNC193
523541Norman PriceMat HartleyBlithfield5052 4843193
533548Kieron MasonGeorge MasonBlithfield49 DNC5044200
543555Ian MacKenzieAngela MacKenzieBlithfield48535247 200
553680Steve WatsonLuke TuckerMidland DNC5149DNC214
563565Paul KeelingMichelle KeelingBlithfield DNFDNCDNCDNC228

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