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Merlin Rockets Thames Series meeting at Ranelagh Sailing Club

by Fran Gifford 22 Oct 2013 13:50 BST 20 October 2013

31 boats arrived at the birthplace of the Merlin Rocket to race for a very large silver urn, presented by Royal Thames YC many years ago. Boats came from far and away, including Francoir and Benoir who had brought their vintage Merlin No.1711 on the train from Brussels.

But the 15 visitors were joining 16 home boats, from a resurging and thriving merlin fleet at Ranelagh. The age range of boats was amazing from No.214 built in 1950 to No.3702 from 2008 (approximately), and absolutely everything in between.

A running start with a big spring tide under the fleet made starting extremely tricky and locals who should have known better were caught out, with the unfortunate consequence that getting back from the course side took what felt like an hour but probably wasn't.

So the fleet were swept upriver, all abreast, kites up, to a buoy up by the Crabtree pub in Hammersmith. The mark rounding always looked like it was going to be pretty busy and so it turned out. And then the beat against the tide began. And what a beat it was.

Tosh and Joe Tosh had led round the first mark, in a group including Alex Jones and Jack Deung and Tim Harridge and Alex Jackson. These three were to battle it out for the duration of the race, occasionally joined by others, including Andy Dalby and Abigail Croft, Ben Hollis and Caroline Croft, and Frances Gifford and Alex Warren. These three interlopers to the leading pack would join in briefly only to find the tide was too strong and be swept back to their rightful places.

The windward mark was really very difficult to get round, timing your boat to be on the right tack when the next gust arrived was genuinely critical, there was no point being on port coming out from the bank in a gust if it had gone by the time you were on starboard trying to make some gains up the wall. And it was necessary to get this right approximately ten times in a row, to successfully round the buoy, otherwise it was back to square one.

But the leading three did it best and off they flew up to the Crabtree buoy again.

So up until this point the sun had kind of shone, with the odd light shower. By the second beat (we had now been going for well over an hour) the rain started to get pretty heavy. And then the lightning came. And some thunder. And some really very heavy rain. And the wind did a full 180, so kites were up and rather than short tacking up the football club, we were now plugging tide with kites up.....

So the race was shortened - the full six laps might have taken us through to Wednesday. And at the all important moment, Moist, sailed by Tim Harridge and Alex Jackson were leading and took the winners bell, closely followed by Alex Jones and Jack Deung in Snorter and not far behind them were the Toshes.

Rob and Hattie Cage, in 1693 took 4th having found the lighter winds to their liking, once it had dropped off a little and passed people like they weren't moving.

So all ashore, except the shore wasn't there, with the tide up over the road, boats packed up and inside for some more Ranelagh hospitality of French Cassoulet with French bread and a lager on the side.

Ranelagh loved having so many visitors and it appeared that the visitors had a nice time too. It was a bit rainy but people seemed to laugh that off.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmCrewClubRound 1Round 2Finish time
13643MoistTim HarridgeAlex JacksonHampton SC5115:23:21
23627SnorterAlex JonesJack DeungCookham Reach SC1215:23:57
33559Smart CookierToshJoe ToshVISC3315:27:35
41692HullabalooRob CageHattie CageThames SC7415:28:08
53676Hot TottyFrances GiffordAlex WarrenRanelagh SC4515:28:48
63702Salmon n CrouteDuncan SalmonHarriet SalmonWembley8615:35:13
72444Scoobee DooThomas StolperSonia StolperRanelagh SC10715:36:33
83637DeliriumAlan BroadbentRussell HallWembley6815:37:23
93556Make it SoJodok GerberDaniel GerberTamesis11915:43:08
102406Merlins MoonChristopher EdwardsUna HodgkinsRanelagh SC131015:46:32
113106EurekaBrian ClarkeKatie McInnesRanelagh SC151115:46:44
123422Just PracticingMartin WollnyNatalya WollnyRanelagh SC161215:47:04
131944Flying WildJon IbbotsonYouri StolperRanelagh SC141315:47:19
143569Time ZuluDuncan BellJohn BellHampton SC91416:14:15
153489Love on the RocksHenri SchrickeMilan StolperRanelagh SC181516:15:30
162744Phantom SpinnerNeil DaviesSarah EdwardsRanelagh SC171616:15:56
173442Armed ForcesMark StockbridgeLynsey WilsonRanelagh SC191716:16:36
181189PoohSal ShahBen MarshallThames SC211816:18:47
193606Take it EasyRichard MourantJoe WoodsTamesis201916:18:59
203579Old SocksMichael AireyFenella WilliamsRanelagh SC222016:20:22
213061UndineNick LongBenedicte LongRanelagh SC252116:21:29
223073Birthday SuitPierre DunoyerDennis LongRanelagh SC242216:22:12
23214DiaboloNick PriceCatherine PriceRanelagh SCrtd  
231711FearlessPodevyn FrancoisKersten BenoitGenval YC28rtd 
231993JokerLeonardo SalvatoreGianpetro FabreRanelagh SC27rtd 
232636PerplexedJeremy KahnAlex EyreSouth Bank SC26rtd 
232848AnarchyGuillaume de RiberollesPauline de RiberollesRanelagh SC23rtd 
233682Red WizardJon StewardHarry StewardWembley12rtd 
233688Who dares WinsBen HollisCaroline CroftHampton SC2rtd 
233690General LeeAndy DalbyAbigail CroftHampton SCocs  

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