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Merlin Rocket Open at Hampton Sailing Club

by Livvy Bell 29 Oct 10:04 GMT 25 October 2020

Thunderous storms had filled the river overnight, but the morning rain cleared just in time for the sailors of the 14 boats to venture out into the strong stream. Our race officer started the race in good time as the wind started to fill in.

In contrast with the rest of the country, the winds at Hampton were light, with Hywel and Flynn Perkins taking an early lead in the first race by sticking to the Surrey bank. They were chased hard by Arthur Henderson and Livvy Bell, and Ben Palmer and Bruna De Queiroz around the first mark, just ahead of the chasing bunch. On the fourth and final lap, as the boats headed up towards Platt's Eyot for the last time, the wind completely shut off. A few boats, led by Simon Girven and Richard Parslow, seized the opportunity to find a new breeze down by the barges on the Middlesex bank. Much of the fleet came together, with Arthur & Livvy emerging ahead of Simon & Richard followed by Joe McLaughlin and Sean Roberts who were hotly chased by Hywel and Flynn across the line.

With an efficient turnaround thanks to superb Race Officer Jane Chambers, we were straight into the second race, now with a little more wind. Finding the breeze on the Middlesex bank this time were Rob and Hattie Cage, extending into an early lead, followed by Phil Dalby and Suzi Bell. Things were going well for Rob & Hattie on the next lap, beating again up the Middlesex bank with a healthy lead, before they caught a tree in the rig and got stuck! The lead disappeared quickly, but they managed to brush off the leaves just in time to keep back Arthur & Livvy. Those two places were held to the finish, with Ben & Bruna taking third.

During the lunch break the results were delicately poised - a win in the third race would seize the event for either Rob & Hattie, Simon & Richard or Arthur & Livvy.

Simon & Richard seized the initiative, getting away from the bunch at the outer distance end. Things weren't great for Arthur & Livvy, buried in the pack, but they were even worse for Rob & Hattie, who took a 720 off the line. As the dust settled, Simon & Richard built a healthy lead, chased by the duelling Bells of Suzi & Livvy, along with their respective helms, with Rob & Hattie making up ground through the fleet. The last two laps were dramatic, as Simon & Richard sailed into a hole right by the clubhouse, bringing them within striking distance. Arthur & Livvy got alongside twice, but couldn't make it stick! Both times, Simon & Richard got away again. On the final run both boats were nervous as Rob & Hattie were making a charge! The three boats rounded the last mark bow-to-stern, but there were no overtaking lanes on the short fetch to the finish. Simon & Richard sailed in front of the clubhouse to take the race win, and the event! Arthur & Livvy held on to second, with the fast charging Rob & Hattie taking third.

The sun managed to stick around for prize-giving outside and Hampton provided an outside bar for competitors to enjoy before making their way home!

Overall Results:

Hampton Merlin Open results - photo © HSC

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