Please select your home edition
Edition
Craftinsure 2012

A first-time competitor's view of Salcombe Merlin Week

by Karl Thorne 20 Jul 2016 16:22 BST 10-15 July 2016

Last week I achieved an ambition and competed in Merlin Rocket Week at Salcombe, UK, this event is held within the beautiful estuary and has a limited entry of 120 boats. It is a well established event and has come about from the popularity of the Class at Salcombe Week becoming too large and the fleet requiring their own regatta.

A few illuminating statistics, the entry opened last October and was filled in 3 days! There was also a large waiting list established. The Nationals, a separate event held at alternating coastal venues elsewhere, has attracted an average of 67 boats over the last 10 years.

So what makes this event almost twice as popular than the Class' own National Championships?

  1. Well drilled race team, with a mix of PROs from one club used to running races on this patch of water
  2. Racing run in four flights - each flight meets twice in the week, start line numbers are kept (reasonably) sensible
  3. You sail one 90 minute race a day round the estuary using the club racing marks, starting at either 10.30 or 2.30 depending on your schedule. You end up with 3 morning races and 3 afternoon races over the week
  4. The starting gun fires on time regardless of conditions, i.e. 2 knots against the tide or 28 knots screaming down the harbour
  5. The challenge of the venue, every part of every leg of every race is different
  6. Ruthless but consistent race management - Black Flag start from the outset, and instant disqualification for infringing the small boat fairway that is closed to racing yachts 10 minutes before the warning signal. The start line then becomes the whole width of the estuary inside the warning signal and the area is temporarily shut to other traffic movements.
  7. Excellent socials laid on every evening in a very welcoming yacht club, attended by all ages. Especially bar diving for the over 70s
  8. Excellent holiday venue for the whole family
  9. Stadium like viewing for the start and finish, especially popular on the 28 knot days!
  10. No hanging about all day either on or off the water. Being able to plan other activities around your racing.

I think the best way to describe the event was a family holiday interrupted by some very highly competitive racing which took up no more that 3-4 hours of your day. As for our result, that didn't really matter it was just so much fun and very different to any sailing I've done before – the only similarity is that the best sailors in the fleet on the open circuit take the top thirty positions at Salcombe!

Related Articles

Double trouble?
Will double-handers be excluded from the Hobart's biggest prize? In yachting, 2020 is the year of shorthanded sailing. Yes, in many cases it has been forced on us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the trend was already set and with a mixed double-handed yacht being added to the slate for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Posted on 3 Aug
All the Fs in sailing
Fantastic full on fast, fun, and FLAT bottomed - the scow Is windward-leeward is the only true measure of a sailors prowess in a race? Some boats simply don't reach at all, but if there is one genre of boat that has 'reaching master-blaster' written into its DNA, then it has to be the scow. Posted on 30 Jul
Introducing the Henri-Lloyd Racing Club
Bringing sailors together through communities in novel and innovative ways Sailing thrives through communities and, in this time of social distancing, bringing people together through communities in novel and innovative ways helps us all bond when other methods may not be possible. Posted on 29 Jul
3300 feet and climbing
Jeanneau's Sun Fast 3300 climbs ever skyward on the way to a potential berth at Paris 2024... At a time when the world's passenger fleet is effectively grounded, Jeanneau's Sun Fast 3300 climbs ever skyward on the way to a potential berth at Paris (Marseilles) 2024. Posted on 26 Jul
Changing how we do things
Thinking up new ways to compete within Covid-19 regulations In the past few months, we've all got used to new terms in our lives, such as bubbles, social distancing, flattening the curve and 'stay safe' - the ubiquitous sign-off to all emails and conversations. Posted on 20 Jul
Announcing the 'Foil for Life Challenge'
British and French Waszp sailors to cross the Channel for charity The Waszp class has been renowned for its community spirit since its inception in 2016, and a group of enterprising British and French sailors, filled with a spirit of adventure, put together the 'Foil for Life Challenge'. Posted on 19 Jul
Upgrade your experience with the M-Race Jacket
The most breathable, technical jacket Henri-Lloyd have ever made Back when I took part in the Henri-Lloyd Frostbite Challenge in Sweden, as a crew we wore the M-Pro Smock and Salopette combination. We had two days of sunshine, but December in Marstrand is cold... really cold! Posted on 13 Jul
In this together
We have just been reminded of what this nastiest of minute pests with no brain at all can achieve... Australia has been fortunate to have recorded a much lower fatality rate than many other jurisdictions in this most saddening of times. Posted on 12 Jul
Beware scammers when you are buying a boat
Four of the simplest guidelines to avoid getting ripped off It is a sad fact that the secondhand boat market is still prone to dodgy-dealing and cunning rip-offs. Some buyers are still falling foul of ruses that are over 30 years old, which can make it seem even more painful. Posted on 8 Jul
Marine VHF Radio: Q&A with Icom's Ian Lockyer
Including how to get a licence and what to do in an emergency We spoke to Icom Marine's Ian Lockyer to find out a more about Marine VHF Radio including how to get a licence, what to do in an emergency and what the M1 and M2 channels are. Posted on 7 Jul