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Rain and Sun Merlin Rocket Under Cover
Rain and Sun Merlin Rocket Under Cover

Merlin Rocket Vintage and Open Weekend at Hampton Sailing Club

by Phil Dalby 15 Oct 2012 00:42 BST 6-7 October 2012

Yet another great weekend was had at Hampton. Not necessarily for the sailing as the wind struggled to combat the stream. The excellent eating and drinking was interspersed with long periods of sitting still next to a very familiar piece of bank, occasionally being wafted forward by a slightly stronger zephyr.

In Saturday's vintage racing Richard Page and Lizzy Dalby took the first race by taking a risk on the Middlesex bank on the run/reach coming upstream from the windward mark, this paid off and they sailed home to an easy win, with Martin and Jack Hunter second and Hywel perkins with George Thomas pipping Mike Stephens and Constantine Gerber on corrected time.

Race two saw the best of the wind as it freshened slightly and spent more time in the east. Very close racing saw the lead change on every lap, ultimately the top three boats finished within seconds of each other. Meaning that Hywel Perkins was promoted from third place on the water to first on corrected time, Mike Stephens was second and Martin Hunter lost out, being third on handicap despite taking line honours.

The wind started to drop at this point, with some prolonged holes, where it became very hard to stem the current. Dominant were Hywel Perkins in his newly restored Proctor MkIV handicap bandit and Mike Stephens, who were only briefly challenged for the lead by Phil Dalby and James Page. Hywel cruised home to an easy win, taking the overall trophy, with Mike second and Phil third.

Saturday's top four:

1. Hywel Perkins and George Thomas. 2 points
2. Mike Stephens and Constantine Gerber. 4 points
3. Martin and Jack Hunter. 5 points
4. Richard Page and Liz Dalby. 7 points


Sunday dawned another lovely sunny day. Lovely that is, unless you were planning to run or compete in an open meeting on the river. Whilst the stream had actually increased in pace, so that the club house created a bow wave, the breeze had all but perished.

Still, the fifteen plucky competitors had to do something to while away the time until lunch. After a short postponement the breeze appeared to be filling in from the west, we launched and things looked quite promising until the start gun went. After quite a while, it became apparent to many that they were not likely to cross even the start line, never mind the finish.

All but two hardy and determined yachters returned to the bar to finish off the barrels of Pride from the previous evening. Mike Stephens and Jodock Gerber demonstrated a supernatural ability to sail against wind and current and quickly completed two laps, For Stuart and Imogen Jenkins, it was more dogged determination in the face of adversity (and the promise of new shoes for Imogen from her father) that kept them battling on to finish just inside the time limit.

After lunch, little had changed, but it was still quite a long time till tea would be served. The light breeze had clocked round into the north, occasionally wheezing with slightly greater vigour. This meant that a few more boats found themselves able to round the upstream mark. Alan Broadbent and Russel Hall led after the first lap, but once again Mike Stephens blazed a trail round the course, however this time he was dogged all the way by Hywel Perkins/Oliver Jenkins. Yet again, determination and the promise of shoes kept Stuart and Imogen Jenkins racing right up to the time limit.

There were no complaints when the duty team decided not to attempt a third race. They had done very well to squeeze two races out of the day and tea time was upon us.

Sunday's top four:

1. Mike Stephens and Jodock Gerber. 2 points
2. Stuart and Imogen Jenkins. 5 points
3. Hywel Perkins and Oliver Jenkins. 19 points
4. Alan Broadbent and Russell Hall. 20 points

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