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

Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller at Upper Thames Sailing Club

by Richard Pausey 5 Oct 2012 16:23 BST 30 September 2012
The Craftinsure Silver Tiller series continues at Upper Thames © Alex Pausey

Upper Thames Sailing Club were proud to host the Craftinsure Silver Tiller restricted water event on Sunday 30th September 2012. The club, founded in 1884, has a respectable fleet of both vintage and modern Merlins, continues to flourish, and is situated on one of the best and widest reaches of the non-tidal Thames in Bourne End Buckinghamshire.

The predicted forecast was for an increase in the south westerly wind to force 3-4 as the day progressed, and, with the sun shining for the start of the first race, the Race Officer - Derek Berry- opted for an upstream start near Spade Oak Wharf in order to give the competitors a true beat off the line. A fleet of eighteen boats then proceeded to line up for the first start marked by a lot of shouting and a couple of collisions!

With the windward mark nearly half a mile upstream and the leeward gybe mark being near the clubhouse, the race of three laps covered some four miles. The trees along the Berkshire (south) bank in true river sailing tradition were to cause more than a little difficulty for the competitors during the day, as boats decided where to position themselves on both legs of the course.

Andy and Phil Dalby in the distinctly orange "General Lee" reached the windward mark first, closely followed by Mike Stephens and Jodok Gerber in "Flinkidink" and Martin and Jacques Hunter in "Quiver". By the end of the first lap, Alex Jones and Jack Deung in "Make It So" had made up a lot of ground to be only some 100 yards behind Andy, with Mike Stephens hot on their heels.

On the last lap, and still fighting to stay ahead of "Make it So" the Dalby's once again decided to stay out of the current, (quite strong after all last week's rain), by keeping close to the Berkshire bank! Unfortunately this time the move was punished by a lack of wind getting through the trees resulting in Alex & Jack opting instead for the opposite shore. By half way up the windward leg they had closed the gap to the "General Lee" considerably. Mike continued to hound both the other boats and nearly got in front when Andy came to a grinding halt close to the Bucks bank. The final downwind leg saw Mike in first place closely followed by Andy and Alex, but in the final few hundred yards, Andy managed to get ahead of Mike on the leeward side, luffed him across the river and took the finish line just ahead of "Flinkidinck", with "Make It So" in third.

The second race saw a clean start, and after much calling for water and shouts of "starboard", Fran Gifford and Chris Downham in "Hot Totty" rounded the windward mark just ahead of Alex & Jack, with Mike & Jodok in third and Pat and Jilly Blake sailing "Why Ask" in fourth. By the leeward mark, and planning their comeback from fifth the "General Lee" was unfortunately yellow flagged by the on-the-water umpire, Greg Eaton, and ended the race well down the fleet. On the final downwind leg, Mike managed to pull ahead of Fran to take the honours, with Alex third closely followed by Pat & Jilly Blake in fourth.

The final race saw another clean start, with Andy getting ahead on the first beat to the windward mark, closely followed by Alan and Alice Markham in "Summit Fever", with Pat, Alex, Fran and Mike in hot pursuit. Still in the lead at the leeward mark Andy opted once again for the Berkshire bank, but this time with the wind shifting to a more westerly direction it was the Markham's in Summit Fever sailing on the opposite side of the river who took the advantage to lead round the windward mark for the start of lap 2. With much place changing throughout the course the last beat saw Fran round the windward mark ahead of Andy and Alan, and on the final run to the finish line and with the wind easing a little, keeping to the Bucks bank proved crucial. Fran and Chris took the final honours, ahead of Pat and Jilly, with Alex and Jack in third.

Our thanks go to all the competitors for attending the meeting, and special thanks to the race team, safety boat crews and umpire, who all did a great job in difficult gusty conditions. With Ashley in the galley keeping everyone fed a good time was had by all and the club looks forward to welcoming the fleet back next year.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
1st3676Fran GiffordChris DownhamRanelagh‑4213
2nd1097Mike StephensJodok GerberTamesis21‑63
3rd3690Andy DalbyPhil DalbyHampton1‑1056
4th3740Pat BlakeJilly BlakeCRSC‑7426
5th3556Alex JonesJack DeungCRSC‑3336
6th3594Alan MarkhamAlice MarkhamUTSC‑137411
7th774Martin HunterJacques HunterUTSC66‑712
8th3571John MeadowcroftKaty MeadowcroftUTSCDNS5813
9th3569John BellChris ParkerHampton59DNS14
10th901Laurie SmartVanessa PilonUTSC‑108917
11th3643Tim HarridgeMatt KiteHampton8‑121220
12th3371Paul DeanBeate PohlerWembley12‑141022
13th3637Alan BroadbentRussell HallWembley‑11111122
14th3465Graham WebbMary WebbCRSC‑14131326
15th3716Steve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield9DNFDNS28
16th1477Sel ShahBen MarshallThames‑17151429
17th2604Jeremy SteinSarah PercivalUTSC15DNSDNS34
18th2266Chris RathboneDaniel RathboneUTSC16DNSDNS35

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