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Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Open at at Burghfield Sailing Club

by Chris Jennings 10 Mar 16:57 GMT 9 March 2019
Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby win all races in the Burghfield Craftinsure Silver Tiller Open © Mike Proven

25 Merlin Rockets made the journey to Burghfield Sailing Club in Berkshire on 9th March for the opening round of the 2019 Craftinsure Silver Tiller series.

During the prior week forecasts had been fluctuating between pleasant and scary. Scary is what welcomed competitors as 35+ knot gusts shuck the pylons and a few nervous comments were overheard in the dinghy park as masts were raised. The aim was four races with a plan to mix round the cans and windward-leeward courses.

Race 1

With white horses clearly visible from the club house (looking downwind), the ride down to the starting area took a few casualties including at least one pitch pole. Half the fleet decided that the shelter of the club house was a much more sensible place to spend the morning and opted to sit out the first race.

The other half of the fleet laughed in the face of danger and embarked on what became a pretty challenging race around the cans. Masts were fully raked and mainsails ragged upwind. The downwind legs were a wild ride and the rescue crews had a few repeat customers.

In terms of the racing, Andy Davis & Pippa Kilsby lead from start to finish (ctrl C on that phrase). Behind them the teams of Nick Craig and Toby Lewis, Christian Birrell and Tom Pygall, and the impromptu team of Ian Sharps and Caroline Croft fought a close race. Ultimately some swimming put paid to Christian & Toms challenge and they dropped down the fleet. The final top 3 being: Andy & Pippa; Nick & Toby; Ian & Caroline.

The fleet returned to shore for a long lunch with the hope that the wind would drop.

Race 2

And it did (a bit). A few more Merlins showed up on the start line for race 2 with windward-leewards planned for the rest of the day. After another clean start (ctrl V) Andy Davis & Pippa Kilsby lead from start to finish. Admiring Keyser Sozes transom were a close group of Nick & Toby, Ian & Caroline, Chris Jennings & John Hackett, and Roger Phillips & Will Crocker. The gusty conditions resulted is big gains and losses downwind, and some new customers for the rescue boats. Ultimately Nick & Toby held on to 2nd all the way around, followed by Ian & Caroline and Chris & John.

Race 3

The wind was definitely dropping by race 3 and after the race committee repositioned the start line to accommodate a new wind direction the fleet delivered another clean start (on best behaviour today). Ian & Caroline had a storming start and looked odds on to lead at the first mark. Unfortunately, Burghfields notoriously shifty wind stopped that from happening and once again Andy & Pippa lead at the first mark. The chasing pack was made up of Chris & John, Nick & Toby and Roger & Will. This time the peloton had a closer view of the breakaway leaders, however Andy & Pippa never looked genuinely challenged and took another win to secure the event overall. Chris & John took 2nd after some (apparently) aggressive tactics to keep Roger & Will behind on the final leg the race committee seemed to enjoy it.

Race 4

The wind had moderated significantly for the final race and after port tacking the fleet (ctrl V) Andy Davis & Pippa Kilsby lead from start to finish. The race for 2nd became a close tussle between Chris & John, Matt Biggs & Becca Jones and Roger & Will. Later in the race Fran Gifford & Will Carroll threw themselves into the mix. On the final run an advanced tactical decision involving a dice saw Roger & Will secure 2nd followed by Chris & John.

A tired fleet sailed home happy in the knowledge free tea and cakes were waiting in the club house along with the Six Nations showing on the TV.

After a faultless performance, the clear winners of the event were Andy Davis & Pippa Kilsby, second going to Nick Craig & Toby Lewis, with Chris Jennings & John Hackett taking the final spot on the podium. Chris Martin & Samuel Bailey took first in the Silver fleet and John Cooper & Becci Wigley prevailed in the Bronze fleet.

Special thanks go to: Ally Potts and Ellie Sharps for doing a great job organising the event; Mark Cooper (SRO) and his race team for efficiently running the racing; and the rescue crews who were kept busy all day and our sponsors Craftinsure and clothing partner Magic Marine.

The next Silver Tiller event takes place at Wembley Sailing Club on 17th March and on current form Andy Davis & Pippa Kilsby look like the team to beat.

More Mike Proven photos can be found on flickr here.

Overall Results:

PosFleetHelmCrewSail NoBoat NameClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1stGoldAndy DavisPippa Kilsby3684Keyser SozeBlithfield SC‑11113
2ndGoldNick CraigTobytastic Lewis3776Merlin RocketBurghfield/ Frensham224(DNC)8
3rdGoldChris JenningsJohn Hackett3658BernardBurghfield SC(DNC)4239
4thGoldRoger PhillipsWill Crocker3736MetachrosisBurghfield SC‑553210
5thGoldIan SharpsCaroline Croft3712Oakey dokeyBurghfield SC335(DNC)11
6thGoldFrances GiffordWill Carroll3676Hot TottyRanelagh SC(DNC)96419
7thSilverChris MartinSamuel Bailey3787 Midland SC76‑9922
8thGoldMatt BiggsBecca Jones3801 Blithfield SC(DNC)811524
9thGoldAndy DalbyPete Horn3766 HSC81214(DNC)34
10thSilver.Graham SmithRob Langley3769S" / 3769"Salcombe YC(DNC)11131034
11thBronzeJohn CooperBecci Wigley3732 LTSC(DNC)DNC8640
12thGoldMark StockbridgeEddy Atkins3727 Ranelagh(DNC)DNC7740
13thSilverPaul DeanRussell Hall3745OutnumberedWembley SC(DNC)DNC10844
14thSilverJames WellsNichola Bass3746Point N SquirtStarcross YC(DNC)715DNC48
15thBronzeChloe GeorgeBen George3683Blue BirdLTSC(DNC)1012DNC48
16thGoldSimon PottsAlly Potts3802KhaleesiBurghfield SC4(DNC)DNCDNC56
17thGoldChristian BirrellTom Pygall3788 RYA6(DNC)DNCDNC58
18thSilverAlex WarrenJames Warren3696Tiger TigerShoreham SC(DNC)13DNCDNC65
19thSilverColin AndersonSean Anderson3749StanleyBlithfield SC(DNC)DNC16DNC68
20thGoldMark BarwellLouise Johnson3784Strung AlongLymington Town SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC78
20thBronzeJoe McLaughlinSean Roberts3724SublimeTamesis(DNC)DNCDNCDNC78
20thGoldSteven LeneyGill Leney3716 Blithfield SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC78
20thSilverPaul HollisPaula Mason3730 Blithfield SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC78
20thGoldRoger GilbertJane Gilbert3722 Frensham Pond SC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC78
20thBronzeKieran O'FarrellHanna3651 WSC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC78

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