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John Merricks Tiger Trophy on a week early, but still with bangers & mash

by Dick Sanders 12 Jan 2015 17:42 GMT 31 January - 1 February 2015

Due to conflicting race management commitments, the Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy will be held on Saturday the 31st January and Sunday the 1st February 2015 instead of its traditional date on the first full weekend in February. This is now part of the GJW Sailjuice Series of regattas for 'winter warriors'.

The two day regatta and dinner are used to raise funds for the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST) but tradition has not been completely ignored.

Rutland Sailing Club caterers will be serving John's favourite meal of 'bangers & mash' with peas and onion gravy on the Saturday evening for £7.50 with a third of this going to the JMST. To accompany the meal, Everards are supplying their traditional Tiger bitter which will also be sold for the benefit of the Trust.

To quote from their brewery page, "A true award winning best beer with universal appeal,... A perfectly balance... brewed with premium ingredients including Maris Otter and crystal malt gives Tiger its wonderful rounded toffee character... Tiger received a silver medal at the Brussels Beer Challenge in 2012. In the same year, Tiger gained a Gold Medal at the British Bottlers' Institute Competition (Ales, Lager and Cider 4.0% – 4.9% ABV) in 2011 and a Silver medal at the same awards in 2012."

They have been supporting the regatta from its inception 22 years ago. It was the Brewery's then Chairman, Tony Everard who provided John with the 420 'Rutland Challenge' at the right moment to further his sailing career. He went on to World and Olympic success as well as encouraging youngsters like Ben Ainslie. He was killed in a freak accident while competing in the Melges 24 Europeans in 1997 and the John Merricks Sailing Trust was established in his memory.

Last year was the first year of the 'starter boat' project where the JMST pledged to provide 14 new boats a year for 5 years to help other young sailors get started. This reflected John's own experience of help from Tony Everards gift. The scheme was devised following the previous years dinner and Ian Walker (Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing) John's old sailing partner joined Chris Draper, (Luna Rossa America's Cup) a Tiger winner in 1995 to welcome some of the first recipients and their parents, selected through the RYA OnBoard scheme.

This year, Rutland Sailing Club and the JMST hope as many participants as possible can eat the traditional meal and drink the ale in the Clubhouse on Saturday 31st in John's memory.

Ian Walker summed up his friend and sailing partner like this, "He expected to win, not in an arrogant way but in a 'get on with it' way."

Book your tickets at registration on Saturday morning.