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Merlin Rocket vintage racing at Hampton Sailing Club

by Phil Dalby 1 Oct 2013 11:18 BST 21 September 2013
Racing for points in the Silver Tiller and Thames Series at Hampton © Paul Howat

Racing for points in the De May series

Saturday proved to be mild but overcast, with a pleasant SW breeze blowing. Giving us a port-sided beat and a run which became a reach further down the track.

Ten boats lined up for the first race. After some confusion on the start line, John and Livvy Bell led out on the right hand side of the river. Only for Phil Dalby and Fran Gifford to appear ahead of them at the windward mark, having sniggled down the Surrey bank on a port lift. John/Liv stayed close to the leaders for the first couple of laps but Phil/Fran eventually shook them off to take the race comfortably. Richard Page and Alice Rook were third.

Race two saw the fleet augmented by Kevin and Charles Anderson, who had managed to turn up in time for lunch. This time Phil/Fran led out to the right of the river, picking up a super right shift as they hit the bank, allowing them to round first. The early challenge came from Ben Hollis and Caroline Croft, who had spent their lunch re-tuning their boat to some effect. However they soon faded and John/Liv started really pushing for the lead.

They overtook Phil/Fran by playing the shifts better off the leeward mark, only to be re-passed on the run. It stayed close until Phil/Fran luffed them hard off the windward mark, picked up a gust and sailed away to take the win and the meeting. Ben/Caroline were third.

By race three the wind had started to drop. John/Liv won the start and eked out a bit of a lead by the first buoy, enabling them to get away on the run while everyone else spread out in a line across the river. Phil/Fran managed to keep calm and stayed low, allowing them to gain the inside rounding at the leeward mark to maintain second place, but were never able to attack the leaders. Thus they finished, with Ben/Caroline once again third.

Special mention should be made of Tim Harridge and Dave Reid who sailed 3560, Luka, which is a recent copy of a famous vintage boat. This year is the first year such boats have been allowed to compete in the De May series. While they were sailing well and scoring thirds and fourths on the water, they were penalised on handicap due to various factors.

Prize winners:

1. 1761, Onions, Phil Dalby and Fran Gifford, 2 points
2. 1201, Grand Teton, John Bell and Olivia Bell, 3 points
3. 201, Celery, Ben Hollis and Caroline Croft, 6 points
4. 1222, Restless IV, Richard Page and Alice Rook, 7 points

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