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Aspire Merlin Rocket National Championship at Looe Sailing Club - Day 4

by Tim Fells 21 Aug 19:37 BST 17-23 August 2019
Aspire Merlin Rocket Nationals at Looe day 4 © Neil Richardson

The Aspire Merlin Rocket Championships at Looe is proving to be one the best events your correspondent has attended for many a year. Conditions out on the water can justifiably be described as Champagne sailing with blue skies, a good hiking breeze and lovely surfing waves.

PRO Nigel Denchfield and his team are setting beautiful courses of just the right length to give a competitive sail without over-taxing everyone's stamina. The racing is of the highest quality where missing a small shift or a lane can put you back 20 boats, still fighting with teams of serious pedigree. Shoreside the organisation is seamless and the club could not be friendlier.

After an epic Fancy Dress party, fuelled by Mark Barwell and Lou Johnson's fantastic 'Strung Along' drinking machines, which had the club rocking until the early hours, the fleet took rather gingerly to the water, some nursing injuries from the previous night's excesses.

First start of the day for the Howard Trophy saw the breeze flick left favouring those who had started at the pin. David and Vicky Lenz having won the pin came into the windward mark in the lead but attempted an lee-bow tack under Roger Gilbert and James Stewart and became dog-knotted with the mark. The Chrises Gould and Kilsby continued their stellar week by rounding second just ahead of your correspondent ably crewed by Fran Gifford with the use of only one leg having torn her hamstring in an overly ambitious break-dancing routine.

Over the next three laps the leading four drew away from the chasing pack with Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey just getting the better of me and Fran. Roger and James kept their noses in front to take their first bullet ahead of the Chrises. Taxi and Pippa rounded out the top five.

The second race for the Winter Trophy was notable for a string of general recalls that collected some big names under BFD; Taxi and Pippa together with Jon Gorringe and Pete Gray headed home for an early shower.

When the race eventually started it was a quick dash to the windward mark which Christian and Sam negotiated to just squeeze around ahead of a tight pack with the Juror making good use of his whistle. This time there was no looking back as they steadily sailed away from their chasers. Mike and Jane Calvert, who have been having an uncharacteristically quiet week by their standards, were back to their best with a strong second place, chased all the way by Will and Arthur Henderson. Ben and Roz McGrane were also back to their usual level in fourth ahead of Dave Wade and Ben Rayner going well with their new mast.

Christian and Sam now have an 11 point lead over Nick and Toby after their challenge faltered with a 7th and 18th. Roger and James have climbed into third after a run of top five positions.

Find out more at merlinrocketchamps.com

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