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Merlin Rockets Midland Circuit meeting at Midland Sailing Club

by Ian Smith 31 Oct 2013 10:38 GMT 26 October 2013

On Saturday 26 October, Midland Sailing Club hosted the final event of the Merlin Rocket Midland Circuit, with the points counting towards the Craftinsure Silver Tiller series overall.

10 visitors, from as far afield as Brightlingsea, Parkstone and Hollingworth Lake, joined 6 home boats, on a blustery and overcast morning. Windfinder forecasting S to SW breeze of 11 knots gusting to 23 and likely to build throughout the day. The race team set a course with 3 beats, 1 run and 3 reaches in anticipation of some exciting racing.

Race 1 started with boats bunching at the pin end, the fast crews breaking clear up the first beat. Richard Whitworth and Fran Gifford leading around the windward mark, closely followed by Jon Gorringe and Nicky Bass and Ben Hollis and Caroline Croft. A tactical run on the next leg saw Richard and Jon sailing high, while Ben stayed low and picked up a strip of stronger breeze which carried him underneath and through the leaders and first into the bottom mark.

Ben and Caroline maintained their lead for a considerable portion of the race, leaving Richard and Jon battling for 2nd and 3rd and Dan Willett and Pete Nicholson nipping at their transoms. However the shifty conditions allowed Richard and Fran to gradually reel in the leaders, to take the win by a mere 5 seconds.

After a light lunch, not wanting to spoil appetites for the 'annual end of season dinner' planned for the evening, races 2 and 3 were sailed back to back. With the wind varying considerably in strength, but, unusually for Midland, remaining fairly constant in direction, the course remained the same, with only a minor tweak here and there.

Again, a port end bias saw an even bigger bunch at the pin end. With some quality sailing on display, at the front of the fleet. Ben and Caroline lead around the top mark, followed by Richard and Fran, Jon and Nicky and Dan and Pete, much place changing followed and even the odd capsize, with Ben eventually breaking clear and maintaining his composure to take the win by a fair margin.

Meanwhile, Chris Martin and Joe Tosh from Blithfield, entered the fray for the minor places. The finishing order being, Dan and Pete 2nd, Richard and Fran 3rd and Chris and Joe 4th.

With a win each for Ben and Richard, race 3 was to be the decider. The line was squared up a little, but still the contenders bunched at the pin end. At the gun, Richard was OCS, but was able to round the end quickly and clear the start.

By the windward mark, he and Fran had carved their way back to 3rd. The 3 leaders proceeded to break well clear of the chasing bunch early on. Once again Chris and Joe battled their way back into contention for the chocolates, until a swim forced their retirement.

The penultimate rounding of the last gybe mark on the course, was a very close run affair, with Ben trying to luff Richard in an attempt to keep clear air, allowing John to sail lower and take the lead. Richard was able to roll Ben to windward and Ben sensing that maybe he needed help from John in order to win the event, was to be disappointed when on the tight, 3 sail reach into the leeward mark, Jon and Nicky were flattened by a sizeable gust and chose to retire from the race.

On the last lap, Richard was able to gradually edge away from Ben, to take a second win. Ben and Caroline in 2nd, Dan and Pete in 3rd and creditable 4th place, for locals, Rob Kennaugh and Chris Gould, in their wooden Gnome design.

All in all, some great racing, before the sailors readied themselves for the Annual Dinner.

Overall Results:

13703Richard WhitworthFran GiffordParkstone/Hollingworth1312
23688Ben HollisCaroline CroftHampton2123
33746Dan WillettsPete NicholsonBrightlingsea3235
43744Chris MartinJoe ToshBlithfield54DNF9
53754Jon GorringeNicola BassParkstone45DNF9
63402Rob KennaughAbi SpurrMidland66410
73583Colin AndersonSean AndersonRedditch87512
83627Alex JamesJack DeungCookham Reach78613
93567Martin SmithKaren BeestonBlithfield1310717
103530Mike CollesMegan WardMidland11DNF819
113680Steve WatsonDan BarrettMidlandDNF9DNC26
123626Andy HayNix Middleton‑StewartRYA9DNFDNC26
133442Mark StockbridgeLynsey WilsonRanelagh1511DNC26
143674Mike AnslowJan KimberMidland10DNFDNF27
153582Malcolm HyamsYasmin GhaniMidland12DNCDNC29
163497Jan HollandAlex HomerMidland14DNFDNC31

These results contributed to the Midland Circuit 2013 and Silver Tiller 2013 series results.

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