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Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Event at Hampton Sailing Club

by B Archer 1 Oct 2013 22:10 BST 22 September 2013

Sunday the 22nd September was the second day of the ever entertaining Hampton Merlin weekender. Saturday was the turn of the vintage Merlins racing for the De May series and Sunday was for the Thames Series and was this year part of the Craftinsure Silver Tiller circuit.

For many of those who had enjoyed the legendary Hampton hospitality on the Saturday night, Sunday morning looked even bleaker than it did for those who hadn't. A fine drizzle with only an occasional wind flurry to disturb the otherwise smooth river was what met us as we rigged. Fortunately tea and bacon butties were on hand to help with the hangover as we sat out the half hour postponement implemented by the RO.

To the surprise of many a race was attempted after this time. Racing was to be in flights, with the 22 boats split into 4 groups. International judge, Chris Simon had manfully agreed to umpire the event, with special emphasis on rule 42 infringement and we expected him to have a busy day.

The first flight to start were so surprised to be racing that only one boat got to the line, which saw that start pushed back to after the second flight. Several boats were caught over the line. Duncan Bell and Alice Markham followed closely by Ben Hollis and Caroline Croft pulled away from the rest of the bunch. Ben and Caroline managed to slip past to take the win after completing only 2 laps.

The first flight which started second got away cleanly, only to sit waiting for the wind for several minutes. Phil Dalby and Alex Jackson managed to pick up a faint zephyr on the Surrey side and edged away from the stationary crowd to a commanding lead. However, Rob and Hattie Cage in their beautifully restored Adur 7 were not going to give up, it took them a lap and a half, but they reeled in and passed the leaders to take the win.

After lunch, a reduced fleet took to the water, to enjoy the best breeze of the day, however it was still very light. In the first flight, Phil/Alex made a good start and led at the windward mark, Ben/Caroline chased hard for the first part of the race but fell back, leaving Phil/Alex to win the race. Olly Turner and Alex Warren squeezed past Ben/Caroline to take second place.

The second flight saw a contest between Rob/Hattie and Stuart and Imogen Jenkins, the battle of the father/ daughter teams. Stuart/Imogen were never able to get ahead of Rob/Hattie, meaning that they now had two wins under their belt, which put them in a strong position going into the final race.

By race three more competitors were watching from the club balcony than out sailing. The first flight saw Rob/Hattie in a close race with Ben/Caroline, who were neck a neck on the final short beat to the line, but it was Rob/Hattie who got their bow ahead for the win.

Stuart/Imogen picked up some good pressure on the right hand end of the second start, they soon were too far ahead for anyone to catch. Three boats raced for second Andy Dalby and Andrea Ralph, Duncan and Harriet Salmon and Phil/Alex. Duncan/Harriet snuck through on the run to clinch second and Alex bribed Phil with beer to retire.

Not everyone's idea of a great sail, but the race team did amazingly well to get three races in and Rob and Hattie Cage left happy. We all enjoyed the Hampton hospitality, laid on by a team of willing Hampton members. Special mention also goes to Olly Turner, who towed his boat all the way from Exeter to be there.

Prize winners:

1. 1692, Rob Cage/Hattie Cage
2. 3560, Stuart Jenkins/Imogen Jenkins
3. 3688, Ben Hollis/Caroline Croft
4. 1761, Phil Dalby/Alex Jackson

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