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Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller at Brightlingsea Sailing Club

by Piers Lambert 20 May 2014 18:45 BST 17-18 May 2014

Part of the Silver Tiller series sponsored by Craftinsure

The fleet of 5 local boats and 8 travellers were pleased to be greeted with clear blue skies, sunshine and the promise of a light breeze at Brightlingsea after the last few breezy opens and an eye popping Inlands last week!

The first race got underway behind the OK and Fireball fleets, with a beat against the tide in a gentle 5 knots with a few tricky shifts. Many locals headed right and those going closer to the tide left included Andy 'Taxi' Davis and Alex Warren who tacked behind most of the fleet to go furthest were rewarded with better pressure and a lift. There was a close rounding with Taxi and Alex, Ben Hollis and Caroline Croft, Matt Biggs and John Hackett and Alex Jackson and local super-crew Sarah Bines all in the mix.

Taxi and Alex pulled away for a bullet with Ben and Caroline in second and Alex and Sarah in third.

The sea breeze fought to strengthen but a few light clouds formed and the fickle light breeze stayed for the next race. As the tide had now just changed both the preceding Fireballs and Merlins were a little too eager and had recalls and the race officer Phil Rust raised the black flag.

The fleet got away second time, this time with Ian Sharps and Alley Martin getting away for a win, with Taxi and Alex, Alex and Sarah and Ben and Caroline next.

So overnight Taxi and Alex led from Ian and Alley, with Ben and Caroline in third. The fleet headed to the bar, then cottage pie at the club, or off for a curry, to find the OK fleet had filled the nearest restaurant so a short stroll to another was needed to sate the hunger (apparently our curry was much tastier!)

Sunday there was not a cloud to be seen, and also very little water as the fleet launched from the oyster bank. We were happy to be joined with 3 more visitors coming for the Silver Tiller (points for the series were taken from Sunday races only).

A long beat against the light breeze and current to get to the start and enough water for the PRO to get a good course still meant a prompt start on time though!

Again shifty conditions made for tactical beating and at the first mark the tide caught out many. With Matt Biggs and John Hackett judging it best, while Taxi and Alex hit the mark trying to tack under them and had to spin! They were closely chased by Piers Lambert and Tim Bees, Alex and Sarah and Dan Willett and Pete Nicholson.

Up the next beat Matt and John found a few snakes while Taxi and Alex and Piers and Tim found a ladder, with Dan and Pete in close attendance. Alex and Sarah overtook Piers on the reach, and Dan snuck past on the last run, but Alex and Sarah were unfortunately OCS. Thus another bullet for Taxi and Alex, second for Dan and Pete and third for Piers and Tim.

The fourth race the breeze freshened and the tide started ripping, and the start line was adjusted by a Fireball who hooked the pin with his rudder and dragged it giving a starboard bias! Ian and Alley, Taxi and Alex took off from the pin, rolling Piers and Tim who couldn't make the pin and had to gybe out!

The fleet hooked into increasing pressure on the left and giving the windward mark more respect the fleet started enjoying tight kite reaches and tactical downwind gybing with the result of Taxi and Alex, with Ian and Alley and Alex and Sarah in hot pursuit.

For the final race the sea breeze was working properly with a fun 10 knots, and the PRO moved the race course into the extra water provided by the flooding tide to get away from the main stream and a less vicious windward mark tide.

Close at the top mark were Taxi and Alex, Alex and Sarah, Fergus Barnham and Graham Sexton, and Ian and Alley. The kite reach and breeze had strengthened with the flooding tide to make a very tight first reach and some having to drop kites to make the wing mark. Up the next beat Alex and Sarah found the turbo button and passed Taxi and Alex to have a healthy lead that was briefly threatened by an altercation (they tried calling starboard) with a very large yacht that had the 'Might is Right' mentality. This caused them to go head to wind to miss it. Fortunately they held on to the finish with Taxi and Alex second, Ian and Alley third and Fergus and Graham fourth.

The PRO Phil Rust did a great job with good courses and fast turnarounds and the fleet all wanted to thank him for the weekend.

So Taxi and Alex were victorious in both the overall Open Meeting and the (Sunday points only) Silver Tiller!

Overall Results for 2 day open meeting:

PosSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st3684Andy DavisAlex Warren1‑21125
2nd3707Alex JacksonSarah Bines33(OCS)3110
3rd3712Ian SharpsAlley Martin‑5152311
4th3688Ben HollisCaroline Croft24‑84616
5th3743Matt BiggsJohn Hackett454‑7518
6th3746Dan WilletPete Nicholson‑121025724
7th3758Fergus BarnhamGraham Sexton7‑1296426
8th3671Piers LambertTim Bees‑106310827
9th3641Mark WaterhouseNix Middleton‑Stewart976‑111032
10th3620Andy BinesRebecca Bines6117‑121135
11th3686Ed GibbonsMaddy Anderson119108(DNC)38
12th3750David ConlonFinbar Anderson8811‑131340
13th3702D Salmon (DNC)DNC149949
14th3634Ben ArcherPhilippa Daniels131313‑15RDG50
15th370Alan MarkhamAlice Markham(DNC)DNC12141255
16th3682Jon StewardHarry Steward(DNC)DNC15DNCDNC66

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