Please select your home edition
Edition
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club LEADERBOARD

Merlin Rocket Downriver Race at Ranelagh Sailing Club

by Frances Gifford 9 Jun 2014 19:13 BST 7 June 2014

Saturday 7th June saw twenty Merlin Rockets rig in glorious sunshine, in preparation for a downriver race, which would take them under the eight bridges from Putney to Battersea Power Station. Racing was for a trophy first presented in 1946 and therefore probably one of the very first Merlin trophies. Visitors were warmly welcomed from as far as Lymington and as near as South Bank Sailing Club, and many in-between (Tamesis, Wembley, Hampton, Cookham and Minima).

Following a complicated briefing, regarding which arch of Battersea Rail Bridge would result in a DSQ, and when we would be permitted to hoist spinnakers (after clearing Putney Bridge), where the only mark would be laid and other local quirks, the fleet launched into a strong ebb tide (albeit luckily on neaps).

Despite the tide the start was clean, and race officers John and Margaret Stokes could sit back and wait the two hours and three minutes for our return. In the meantime, spinnakers were raised and a long run with the tide ensued, with gybing matches a plenty. Rumour has it, there were also two capsizes, one of which was under a bridge. Apart from the brown water and the inherent racing disadvantages, it was probably quite refreshing. It was a really hot day.

The leeward (and only) mark was laid, and a red flag hoisted to indicate direction of rounding (port), and the breakaway group of four boats of extremely varying ages, were quickly caught by the majority of the fleet having turned to beat into the still ebbing tide. However, the wind was good, and in fact the tussle for the lead was exciting. Hot Totty, 3676, sailed by Frances Gifford and Alex Warren led for long periods, Jon and Harry Steward (3682) had their moments in the lead, Tim and Bug Harridge (3643) put in a mid-race surge to take the lead for a short while.

The best surge came however, late on in the race when David and Caroline Croft in Panatella (3165) took the lead only a matter of metres from the line, only for the wind to reach Frances and Alex just in time for them to get moving again, to ensure the closest of all finishes. Luckily a camera was on hand, the photo showed that Hot Totty had edged it by half a boat length, and Margaret and John confirmed that this had indeed been the result.

Duncan and Jack Salmon (Salmon en Croute 3702) sailed a consistent race to hold onto third from Christopher Edwards and Una Hodgkins in Flying Wild (1944), who would have won had it not been for top batten issues (obviously this can't actually be confirmed without an identical re-run).

A barbecue and beers followed, Ranelagh were thanked by first visitor David Croft for running a great race and Ranelagh Sailing Club is very much looking forward to hosting its Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller open meeting on Sunday October 5th. The Thames Series continues at the aptly named Thames Sailing Club this coming Sunday (14th June).

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelm / CrewClubFinish Time
13676Hot TottyFrances Gifford / Alex WarrenRSC17:18:27
23165PanatellaDavid Croft / Caroline CroftTamesis17:18:28
33702Salmon en CrouteDuncan Salmon / Jack SalmonWembley17:19:18
41944Flying WildChristopher Edwards / Una Hodgkins RSC17:19:22
53682Red WizardJon Steward / Harry StewardWembley17:21:03
63489Love on the RocksHenri Schricke / MarvartRSC17:21:05
73751Strings AttachedMark Barwell / Louise JohnsonLymington17:21:10
83643MoistTim Harridge / Ben HarridgeHampton17:21:20
93627SnorterAlex Jones / Jack DeungCookham17:21:31
103442Armed ForcesMark Stockbridge / Lynsey WilsonRSC17:21:45
112444Scooby DooThomas Stolper / Nicola DelesalleRSC17:22:33
123346 Allan Munroe‑Faure / Toby MumfordSBSC17:23:55
132529PoohSel Shah / Ben MarshallMinima17:24:50
143579Old SocksMichael Airey / Fenella WilliamsRSC17:27:02
15214DiaboloNick Price / Sasha PriceRSC17:32:49
163606Take it EasyRichard Nourant / Sarah ElliottTamesis17:34:25
173073Birthday SuitPierre Dunoyer / Edward DoutriauxRSC17:36:35
183106EurekaNick Wilson / Zoe WilsonRSC17:42:19
192636 Jeremy Kahn / Andrea CoxSBSC17:50:14
203061UndineNick Long / HugoRSC17:52:19

Related Articles

Merlin Rockets at Shoreham
A gentle breeze and egg throwing at Craftinsure Silver Tiller Round 5 On Saturday 24th July, 24 Merlin Rockets went to Shoreham Sailing Club to enjoy some fabulous sea sailing for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller, where the locals promised us big waves and a good breeze, and some valuable Nationals practice. Posted on 27 Jul
Merlin Rockets at Mumbles
A new venue for Craftinsure Silver Tiller Round 4 On the (very sunny) weekend of 17th - 18th July, a small but very dedicated group of Merlin Rocket teams headed down to Mumbles Yacht Club on the beautiful Gower Peninsular in South Wales for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller. Posted on 21 Jul
Merlin Rocket Downriver Race at Ranelagh
Carnival atmosphere on the Putney embankment The format of this race, which is one of the highlights of the Merlin Thames Series, is a race from Putney on the ebbing tide down to Battersea with one turning mark and then back to Putney on the flood. Posted on 18 Jul
Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week overall
Winner not decided until the end of the final race With the title still not decided, competitors were welcomed by more breeze than had been forecast, again from the South-West giving very enjoyable sailing conditions. Posted on 9 Jul
Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week day 5
The maths is such that Birrell & Potts could still win from Gillard & Holman Wednesday evening saw a lovely celebration of Spud Rowsell's life with humorous recollections from Alan Warren, Barry Dunning, Jon Turner, Keith Callaghan, Pat Blake and Scotty. A life well lived. Posted on 8 Jul
Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week day 4
Conditions for Wednesday were close to perfect Following the excitement of Tuesday's racing, conditions for Wednesday were close to perfect. A force 3-4 South-westerly was blowing up the harbour with enough shifts and gusts to make for interesting racing. Posted on 7 Jul
Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week day 3
A breeze day in Salcombe Harbour! All eyes had been on the forecast for Tuesday since the start of the week and it did not disappoint. The storm had passed through overnight and by the morning the sun was out and the wind was ripping down through the harbour with some vicious gusts. Posted on 6 Jul
Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week day 2
A morning of sunshine though precious little wind In contrast to the first morning rain, competitors at Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week were greeted by a morning of sunshine though precious little wind. Posted on 5 Jul
Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week day 1
The ritual of crossing the estuary to Mill Bay returns Two years have passed since the fleet last descended on Salcombe for the Salcombe Gin sponsored Merlin Week, so it was with much excitement that the morning fleet set about the ritual of crossing the estuary to Mill Bay to prepare for the morning race. Posted on 4 Jul
Merlin Rockets at Starcross
22 boats turn out for Craftinsure Silver Tiller Round 3 The Merlin Rocket sailors arrived at Starcross to a friendly welcome and light SE winds carrying the delectable smell of bacon butties throughout the dinghy park for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller on 19th and 20th June. Posted on 23 Jun