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Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller at Whitstable Yacht Club

by Chris Kilsby 26 Jun 2018 22:26 BST 23-24 June 2018

Twenty eight Merlin Rockets made the dash to Whitstable this weekend for the annual Craftinsure Silver Tiller, hosted by Whitstable Yacht Club. This event is always excellently run and very friendly, which makes it one of the favourite Silver Tillers of the calendar. It is also the last Silver Tiller before Doom Bar Salcombe Merlin Rocket Week, making it an important event to check that everything is working (crew and helm included).

The schedule of races was for three races on Saturday and two on Sunday. Upon arrival, the sun was out and wind conditions looked fantastic with around 15 knots blowing from the Northwest, dropping to around 12 knots at the start of the first race.

Race one got off with a strong tide pushing the fleet away from the line (good news for trigger-happy helms). Christian Birrell & Tom Pygall got off the blocks quickly and made a dash to the port-hand side, with Tim Fells & Fran(tastic) Gifford and the Chris' (Gould and Kilsby) fighting for second. Jen Dodds crewed by sister Pippa Kilsby battled it out for fourth against the nearly weds of William Warren & Sophie Mackley. Up the subsequent beats, Christian & Tom held a close cover over their closest rivals making it near-impossible to challenge the lead, holding for the win with the Chris' second and Tim & Fran third, William & Sophie in fourth and the Taylor sisters in fifth.

Race two had slightly less wind (8-10 knots), which was slowly tracking to the right. The port end of the line seemed to pay and the majority of the fleet favoured the port side upwind. This time the Chris's led around the windward mark, with Christian & Tom in second and Jen & Pip in third. During the following beat, the Chris' struggled to hold a cover on Christian & Tom and succumbed to second, with the Taylor sisters sniffing at the heels. Race two ended with another race win for Christian & Tom, another second for the Chris's and a third for the Taylor sisters.

The third race was notably lighter, the wind tracked further right and was less shifty with perching on the side being infrequent (apart from for Jen & Pip, who were hiking). With only 6ft of water under the committee boat, there was some keenness to get the race started, however the first start was postponed due to a huge shift coming through the line with less than a minute to go. The race was then started with a good mix of boats on either side of the line. The beating boats generally sailed to the left-side of the course owing (I think) to the shifts and the reduced tide closer into the shore. Rounding the windward mark first was Christian & Tom, with Tim & Fran in second, the Chris' in third and the Taylor's in hot pursuit. By the next beat, Christian & Tom and Tim & Fran were battling it out, with Jen & Pip and the Chris' working hard for third. The third race was won (again) by Christian & Tom, with a hatrick of bullets, Tim & Fran in second and Jen & Pip in third.

Off to Whitstable town for ice cream, oysters, fish and chips but NO ORANJEBOOM! Some visitors celebrated an impromptu not-stag-and-hen-do-stag-and-hen-do with a few magnums of Rose, whilst others played the annual ritual of killer pool in the yacht club.

With a few fuzzy heads, the teams re-emerged for a bacon butty on the veranda and chatted about the fact there was absolutely no wind. Fortunately the wind slowly picked up and increased to around 8 - 10 knots for the start of race four. The wind had clocked to the south-east, with very tricky shifts making some look amazing and others less so! Upon arriving at the start line the tide was fairly slack, however at start time things were picking up and making it difficult to stay beneath the line. General recall for the first start, but with nobody pinged.

All clear for the second start and race four was off! With the wind being stronger in-shore (right) and the tide being stronger offshore (left), there was no clear consensus on which way to go upwind. At the windward mark it was found that right had marginally paid over left, with Tim & Fran rounding in first, Mark Barnes & Jane Beaumont in second and Christian & Tom third. The first reach was challenging with some getting a little too excited and going too high, then having to run against the tide to the reach mark. Beat two saw Gould & Kilsby taking to the left of the beat, and moving to second but a long way off the eventual race four winners - Tim & Fran who had turned into a little blue dot on the horizon.

The first start of race 5 was a general recall, with tide pushing the eager fleet well above the line. The second start got away well, but with a number of over-eager casualties who were black flagged. Unfortunately this includes your author who has absolutely no idea what happened following the first beat... But it seems that Christian & Tom won (for the fourth time), with Tim & Fran coming in second, Matt Biggs & Beka Jones in third and Will & Mary Henderson (who had suffered with an exploding jib halyard on the Saturday) in fourth.

Many, many thanks for all involved in the organisation of this excellent event! We're already excited to come back next year!

Thank you to Craftinsure for the ongoing sponsorship of the Silver Tiller and to the new class clothing partner for 2018 Magic Marine.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoNameHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Nt Pts
13788Boat nameChristian BirrellTom PygallWYC111-314
23764Fancy LiquorTim FellsFran CliffordSalcombe YC3-42128
33778Peer PressureChris GouldChris KilsbyMidlands/Thames2242(BFD)10
43735The Clone WarsJen DoddsPippa KilsbyNottingham/Thames533-7718
53743Pokin The TurtleMatt BiggsBeka JonesBlithfield6-755319
63673 Caroline CroftPete NicholsonBartley S.C-9588627
73799Simply ScrumptiousPaul RaysonChris HillFishers Green766-9827
83796RobertaWilliam WarrenSophie MackleyShoreham49-1513531
93763Dancing BraveMark BarnesJane BeaumontWYC-121094932
103740Why AskPat BlakeJilly BlakeCookham Reach YC-11811111040
113766The BearA DalbyPeter HornTVSC10-1210101141
123726ArwenWill HendersonMary HendersonSalcombe YC(DNC)DNC76446
133742Speed MachinePete BallantineRob AllenSalcombe YC81312-151346
143772 Phil EmeryKaren EmeryWYC141113-181553
153745OutnumberedPaul DeanVana VlastakiWembley SC1316-17121253
163672Bola BolaJohn CooperHilary BradshawWYC151516-171460
173692NemoRien ZilvoldJulie NuttallWYC16141814-2362
183682Red WizardJon StewardAnnabel StewardFishers Green17171416(BFD)64
193675White Sauce Er ErDavid CroftRosie RichardsRYA1819-25211674
203604DesafinadoTim BarrLiz NorthThames Sailing Club2021(DNS)221780
213720Darke StarFraser EarleKatie FrostLyme Regis19-2621241882
223644MarleenJon BloicePhillipa BloiceWYC21241919(BFD)83
233751NarniaHuw ReynoldsStuart FranceWYC2320-27232187
243677IndecisionDavid ProctorTheresa PageWYC-252223251989
253651 Kieran O'FarrellHannah BurtWSC242322-262089
263704Factory MaidJemma HorwoodSel SharThames Sailing Club-262524202291
273790PointerColin BrocklebankSuzy BroughWembley SC(DNC)1820DNCDNC96
283800BramblesRichard BramleyTony ChealShoreham222726(DNC)DNC104

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