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Selden Merlin Rocket National Championship at Penzance - Day 1

by Tim Fells 14 Aug 2016 21:11 BST 14-19 August 2016

The first day of the Selden Merlin Rocket championships at Penzance dawned to wall to wall sunshine and a nice Easterly breeze. As the morning heated up, the breeze started to die and a pale imitation of a sea breeze started to emerge from the South.

The PRO, keen to get his first races under his belt, summoned the fleet to the bay. With the lightest of breezes established from 230 degrees, a practice race started at the fourth attempt and Pat and Jilly Blake rolled back the years to lead from start to finish.

The first championship race started at the first attempt with the fleet much better behaved under the U flag. The breeze had pulled 15 deg left, meaning those who started near the pin and managed to get onto port early were immediately in the driving seat. Stu Bithell and Tom Pygall made it to mark one in the lead from Caroline Croft and Bekka Jones.

The next three laps were pretty tortuous with reaches that were so tight as to be marginal three-sailers, beats that were full of holes, and a run which had to be sailed as two tight reaches to keep the boat moving.

Stu and Tom continued to stretch away, while Andy 'Taxi' Davis and Alex Warren climbed steadily towards the front. However, the race team still had some cards to play and determined, contrary to the sailing instructions, that the windward mark needed to be rounded to port on the final beat to the line. This resulted in a number of the leaders being advised, contrary to the rules of sailing, to turn around and go back down the course.

The finishing order, absent of outside assistance, was Stu and Tom, Taxi and Alex followed by Caroline and Bekka getting their first ever podium. Solo star Mike Simms with Richard Brown secured a strong fourth ahead of Jon Gorringe with Tobytastic Lewis and Nick Craig with Alan Roberts. 1st, 5th and 6th were all told to go back!

So, the clubhouse is currently seeing protest forms flying around like confetti and the protest team look like they will have a long and challenging night resolving what results, if any, should stand.

Update: Following a difficult day at the office, the race committee has abandoned race one which will now be scheduled to be re-sailed later in the week. Conditions for race two today look perfect with a building ESE and clear skies. Good enough to put a smile back on everyone's faces.

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