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Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller races at Hayling Island Sailing Club

by Steve Storey 7 May 2013 12:32 BST 27-28 April 2013

A big welcome was again extended to the CraftInsure Silver Tiller competitors arriving to do battle for the sixth and seventh rounds of this year's premier race series.

Having hosted the 2011 National Championships (not to mention many previous Merlin championships going back to the first event in 1946), Hayling's experienced race teams always put on a great event for the class with support from top onshore facilities. This weekend was no exception, only the chill north easterly keeping most people - except these hardy competitors - indoors.

The 'Open Water' Silver Tiller – Saturday 27th April

Briefing was at 11am sharp with the race team keeping it short and to the point. Rigging then commenced and in the steady F3/4 breeze competitors sailed out to the committee boat moored on the east side of the harbour channel entrance.

Race One

With the spring tide still flooding and the north easterly creating choppy wind over tide conditions it was David Hayes & Jonny Ratcliffe (3734) first away (no general recall)? heading across the harbour to take maximum tide advantage. Stephen & Sarah Cockerill (3745) and the never to be discounted duo of Richard Whitworth & Sarah Bines (3703) made up the leading trio as they then tacked across the tide for the long beat up to the windward mark.

Maintaining their competitive edge David & Jonny were first round and first to hoist on the reach with Richard and Sarah now a constant presence and, watching their every move for any sign of a break were Tim Fells & Chris Downham in 3727.

With places changing throughout the top ten it was Richard & Sarah who after completing one triangle and one sausage came through for the first win of the afternoon, followed by David & Jonny with Andy Davis crewed by Tom Pygall, third.

Race Two

Slacker water at the top of the tide resulted in the sea moderating a little for the start of race two, and, having the competitors absolutely on the start button this weekend, they all left the line without any incidents

With Nick Craig & Alan Roberts from Frensham Pond having technical problems in race one they now had the measure of the course in race two, following Andy Davis & Richard Whitworth to a fine third place finish.

Lower down the fleet close racing ensued throughout, with groups of boats tussling continuously for places in a race that had consistent top ten winners further down than their expected finishing position. Such is the level of competitiveness in this fleet that places lost by only the slightest mistake or lack of concentration will let your nearest rival grab a boats length on you!

And so to race three where concentration and stamina were tested to limits as with race two now behind them helms and crews lined up for the ultimate race of the day – and what a race !

Race Three

14:03 and the start gun fires. Tide now firmly on the ebb, a bit of sunshine steady F4 - what more could a sailor want? With Nick Craig leading the fleet away from the line and after only 5 minutes into the race the wind picked up to F6 gusting F7 (peak wind timed 1410 was recorded at 32 mph).

Crews madly raked their masts and crammed on loads of kicker, tweaked their lowers and sat out just that little bit further as helms feathered their way upwind through the huge gusts. Brilliant sailing overall and not one capsize to the windward mark meant some pretty entertaining fleet battles as boats powered away down the all too familiar first reach. As they planed into the wing mark some elected for the riskier but quicker reach to reach gybe, though most took the safer reach to run to gybe option in the prevailing conditions.

By now with the wind strength further testing tired helms and crews, capsizes inevitably occurred (the Sayce/ Williamson spectacular providing great entertainment to Hisc's armchair sailors). A number of broken masts bore testament to the speed of the ebbing tide and the Chichester mud!

The wind moderated by 1430 but damage had been done and a fleet of 38 starters had been reduced to just 21 by the end of the final leg. With a considerable lead over the second placed boat of Jon Turner and Richard Parslow - whose development work is clearly resulting in improving pace on the water – it was Nick Craig & Alan Roberts (3749) who took the chequered flag with David Hayes & Jonny Ratcliffe in third and Will Warren crewed by Chris Robinson in 4th.

Hot showers and the excellent dinner served up in the HISC restaurant were never more welcome!

The 'Sea' Silver Tiller – Sunday 28th April

After the high winds on Saturday the immediate change on Sunday couldn't have been more noticeable! A glassy calm preceded the promised breeze which eventually filled in enough to enable a half hour sail out against the flood tide to the start in Hayling bay.

Race One

With 44 boats entered and two races to run – each of 1 hour 15 minutes- the race team needed a decent breeze to get the schedule completed on time, and, almost on cue, the wind built to a steady F3 giving close and exciting racing throughout the first event.

Early leaders were Tom Stewart and Phil Dalby (3733) in close contention with the boats of Dave Hayes, Andy Davis and Tim Fells. In fact at the gybe mark on the final triangle these four were within 15 metres of each other.

Upholding HISC honours at the finish the Hayes/Ratcliff boat dived down to leeward and squeezed the winning position from Andy Davis / Tom Pygall who themselves were conscious of the late charge made by Nick Craig/Alan Roberts in pressing their fast forward button on the final reach to take a fine third from Stewart/Dalby 4th.

Race Two

In the second and final race of the afternoon a shiftier wind increased to a F4 with the starboard end bias on the line triggering an individual recall. Very unfortunately in the ensuing melee^ of boats returning to the start 3684 was badly holed, and with a sinking hull beneath them Taxi & Tom had no alternative but to retire – fast they may be but submarines they ain't! With the wind flicking right and back on the first beat it was Nick Craig who hit the front early on and from that point was never challenged to the line.

The wind then proceeded to veer 40 degrees for a period on the second beat prompting a lot of place changing and with the run becoming more of a reach it was Tim Fells / Chris Downham back taking the silver ahead of Hayes/ Ratcliffe. David Winder/Ben Rayner were fourth with Judith Massey crewed by Sophie Mackley making up the top 5 placings.

Taxi appealed his unfortunate incident and was awarded average points amounting to a joint second place finish. This left the top three boats on equal points with the Craig/Roberts team taking the silverware overall.

The series overall

To see the current Silver Tiller placings so far, visit

In summary over the weekend – five races & four different winners with nine HISC home club boats out on Saturday and ten on Sunday. One of the biggest Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller events of the year so far. Can competitive dinghy racing get any better than this?

Next stop – Rutland sailing clubs open water event which ties in nicely with the highly popular training weekend where Mr Whitworth will no doubt be giving us the secrets of his race winning success. All of them? Let's hope so!

Saturday 'Open Water' Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
1st3703Richard WhitworthSarah BinesPYC12‑93
2nd3749Nick CraigAlan RobertsFrensham Pond(DNF)314
3rd3684Andy DavisTom PygallBlithfield SC31(DNC)4
4th3734David HayesJonny RatcliffeHISC2‑535
5th3729Jon TurnerRichard Parslow 7‑829
6th3727Tim FellsChris DownhamHISC4‑1559
7th3733Tom StewartPhil DalbyNorthampton54‑69
8th3670Will WarronChris RobinsonShoreham SC‑86410
9th3745Stephen CockerillSarah CockerillHISC9‑19716
10th3744Chris MartingRob KewaughBlithfield SC611(DNC)17
11th3736David SayceGraham WilliamsonHISC117(DNC)18
12th3724Martin JonesVicky JonesHISC10‑24818
13th3752Will RaineyCaroline CroftShorham SC‑14101020
14th373Chris JenningsAlly MartinBurghfield SC‑30121123
15th3746Dan WillettPete NicholsonBlithfield‑16141226
16th3656Olly TurnerAlex WarrenStarcross YC‑22131326
17th3723Nick BrookNicola BrookHollingworth Lake189(DNC)27
18th3708Jasper BarnhamGraham SextonSnettisham Beach SC‑21171431
19th3747James FawcettBruce GrantISC13‑282033
20th3566Paul JenkinsPeter JenkinsWeir Wood SC‑19161733
21st3741Simon LyttonJackie LyttonHISC1720(DNC)37
22nd3650Richard AdamsKatie‑Hannah WrightMidland1523(DNF)38
23rd3671Piers LambertAndy BinesBrightlingsea‑33211940
24th3738Simon BlakeJoll BlakeCookham Reach SC1229(DNC)41
25th3695Keith WalkerRhys PickettHISC25‑311641
26th3696Alan WarrenBill CarrollShoreham SC2318(DNC)41
27th3707Alex JacksonHannah RobinsonShoreham2622(DNC)48
28th3641Mark WaterhouseMatt CurrellParkstone‑32321850
29th3634B ArcherJames Warren 2725(DNC)52
30th3716Steve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield SC2430(DNC)54
31st3573Simon BondAlan GamblePaper Court SC2927(DNC)56
32nd3751Mark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town SC3126(DNC)57
33rd3690Andrew DalbyAndrea DeepyHSC(DNC)DNC1558
34th3585Mike PartridgeClaire DavisHISC2834(DNC)62
35th3743Matt BiggsJohn HackettBlithfield SC20(DNC)DNC63
36th3567Martin SmithKaren BestonBlithfield SC3435(DNC)69
37th3627Alex JonesKat BanksCookham Reach3536(DNC)71
38th3748Nigel BrookeSuzie BrookeLymington Town SC(DNC)33DNC76
39th3735David WinderBen Rayner (DNC)DNCDNC86
39th3555S MackenzieA MackenzieBlithfield(DNC)DNCDNC86
39th3442Mark StockbridgeRoop StockRanelagh(DNC)DNCDNC86
39th3532T EverardConway ParkeHISC(DNF)DNCDNC86

Sunday 'Sea' Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2Pts
1st3749Nick CraigAlan RobertsFrensham Pond314
2nd3734David HayesJonny RatcliffeHISC134
3rd3684Andy DavisTom PygallBlithfield SC2DGA4
4th3727Tim FellsChris DownhamHISC527
5th3733Tom StewartPhil DalbyNorthampton4711
6th373Chris JenningsAlly MartinBurghfield SC9615
7th3743Matt BiggsJohn HackettBlithfield SC8917
8th3736David SayceGraham WilliamsonHISC101121
9th3735David WinderBen Rayner 18422
10th3728Judith MasseySophie MackleyHISC17522
11th3729Jon TurnerRichard Parslow 61824
12th3741Simon LyttonJackie LyttonHISC111425
13th3738Simon BlakeJoll BlakeCookham Reach SC121628
14th3744Chris MartingRob KewaughBlithfield SC151328
15th3708Jasper BarnhamGraham SextonSnettisham Beach SC201030
16th3745Stephen CockerillSarah CockerillHISC23831
17th3656Olly TurnerAlex WarrenStarcross YC221234
18th3690Andrew DalbyAndrea DeepyHSC142034
19th3724Martin JonesVicky JonesHISC191534
20th3645Ian SharpsEllie MartinBurghfield SC132336
21st3707Alex JacksonHannah RobinsonShoreham212142
22nd3723Nick BrookNicola BrookHollingworth Lake241943
23rd3731Andy JonesBen JonesParkstone SC271744
24th3671Piers LambertAndy BinesBrightlingsea262248
25th3703Richard WhitworthSarah BinesPYC7DNC53
26th3748Nigel BrookeSuzie BrookeLymington Town SC302454
27th3641Mark WaterhouseMatt CurrellParkstone292554
28th3751Mark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town SC322759
29th3695Keith WalkerRhys PickettHISC342660
30th3670Will WarronChris RobinsonShoreham SC16DNF62
31st3566Paul JenkinsPeter JenkinsWeir Wood SC352863
32nd3696Alan WarrenBill CarrollShoreham SC362965
33rd3627Alex JonesKat BanksCookham Reach383169
34th3442Mark StockbridgeRoop StockRanelagh373269
35th3650Richard AdamsKatie‑Hannah WrightMidland25DNC71
36th3567Martin SmithKaren BestonBlithfield SC393372
37th3752Will RaineyCaroline CroftShorham SC28DNC74
38th3652Duncan BellJohn Bell DNC3076
39th3716Steve LeneyGill LeneyBlithfield SC31DNC77
40th3634B ArcherJames Warren 33DNC79
41st3555S MackenzieA MackenzieBlithfield40DNC86
42nd35   41DNC87
43rd3585Mike PartridgeClaire DavisHISCDNCDNC92
43rd3702Duncan SalmonJack Salmon DNCDNC92
43rd3532T EverardConway ParkeHISCDNCDNC92

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