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Vintage Merlin Rocket Open at Upper Thames Sailing Club

by Richard Pausey 12 Oct 2012 09:36 BST 29 September 2012
Vintage Merlin Rockets at Upper Thames © Sherine Pausey

Upper Thames' open meeting this year hosted a De May series vintage event on Saturday 29th September 2012. Sixteen eligible boats took to the water in a moderate Force 2-3 from the Northwest, a great direction for short tacking up the river.

The Race Officer, Derek Berry, set a course with the windward mark some distance upstream of Spade Oak Wharf and a gybe mark opposite the club frontage, some ¾ mile downstream. With the sun out and the breeze filling the first race got underway with a couple over the line and further controversy ensued when Mike Stephens and Judy Fu in Flinkidink and Laurie Smart and Vanessa Pilon in Abstraction collided on the first beat up the favoured bank.

Martin and Jacques Hunter in Quiver took a commanding lead over Mike by the end of the first lap and it was unfortunate when Mike lost his spinnaker under the bow at the gybe mark on the 2nd lap and retired. Martin cruised home with Pat and Jilly Blake 2nd in Tiercel and Jeremy and Joe Deacon in Panatella were 3rd.

The second race started after lunch and this time, Martin was over the line and Mike got clear ahead on the first beat. Maintaining his lead, he rounded the leeward mark ahead of Pat, with Pete and Debbie Walker in Wild Waters and Chris Rathbone and Kim Breckenbridge in Exequsite fighting it out for 3rd. Mike kept his lead over Pat on the 3rd lap to take the finish line with Pete Walker in 3rd and Martin clawing his way up into 4th.

The final race saw Mike take a substantial lead over Pat, with Martin close behind. Mike kept out in front, with Martin moving ahead of Pat by the gybe mark, but Mike romped home on the final lap, with Pat regaining ground to take 2nd with Martin finishing 3rd.

Overall Results:

1st Mike Stephens and Judy Fu, 1097, Flinkidink
2nd Pat and Jilly Blake, 901, Tiercel
3rd Martin and Jacques Hunter, 774, Quiver
4th Richard and Alex Pausey, 2040, Robin Hood
5th Pete and Debbie Walker, 1700, Wild Waters

The day was a great success for the vintage fleet, with many beautiful narrow river Merlins taking to the water. Our thanks go to Derek and his team, the safety boat crews and Ashley in the galley for keeping us well fed. The club is looking forward to the fleet returning next season.

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