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Craftinsure 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Open at Salcombe Yacht Club

by Graham Cranford-Smith 20 Apr 10:04 BST 17-18 April 2021

Salcombe Yacht Club, despite the privations of the recent past, has been lucky to host the Merlin Fleet as one of the last official events of 2020 and for SYC, the first permitted in 2021. Salcombe Yacht Club counts itself extremely fortunate to have such loyal support from principle sponsors Salcombe Gin and also the Merlin Rocket fleet.

Accommodation constraints and reported eye-watering rental charges resulted in an attrition from the sixty boats originally entered. Nevertheless, a very healthy fleet of thirty-two teams made it to the start line in the Salcombe Ria on an insanely beautiful spring day. Conditions consisted of a modest East North East breeze. Bright sunshine. In short: glorious.

High water that morning had taken place at 0930. By the time of the first warning signal, the ebb was in full sway against the fleet. Teams lined up for the first start against the tide to mark X, which was located in a reasonably fair beat toward Southpool Creek. Only those confident in decent boat speed favoured other than the Portllemouth shore at the start, the fairway on the Town side being out of bounds. Thereafter was a long run to Blackstone and thence back to mark X Two laps. PRO Greening opted for a final loop to Mark 3 at Bungalow Point and a hook finish, via Mark 2 off Smalls beach. Always fun on an ebb tide.

No Merlin open is complete without at least one general recall. We accomplished this nice and early in proceedings as an opening gambit. The Merlin Class seems to enjoy the discipline of the black flag much more and on the second sequence the fleet departed the environs of the start line reasonably cleanly. Messrs Bell, Anderson and Harling were BFD according to the blackboard at the top mark.

Perhaps partly because of the delayed start, it turned out that there was limited water in the vicinity of Mark X.

Crews had a fun time close tacking up the unmarked channel. Tom Gillard and Rachael Rhodes in particular suffered; their ability to lift their centreboard was constrained by the slot stuffer. Turns out that items such as fixed rudders and slot stuffers are a high-risk option in these parts.

Meanwhile Chris Gould and Caroline Croft, being an amalgam of two previously highly successful teams showed early speed. Their upwind performance and movements around the boat during tacks and gybes were to behold. Chris and Caroline showed early promise and headed the equally talented pairing of Taxi Davis and Pippa Kilsby racing a veteran and very successful Winder Merlin: 3735 Clone Wars.

Portentously, as it turned out, these two teams were chased down in this race into third place by local hero Peter Ballantine ably crewed by the Rob Allen. This team own a very new boat 3812 but have opted for old school manual spinnaker poles being no disadvantage in the Ria.

Irrespective of a slight lack of pressure on the long run down to Blackstone in practice the whole fleet remained closely bunched.

It paid to scale the beat back to mark X against the tide by short tacking on the Town side. This must have been a treat for those watching from the newly opened Ferry Inn pub garden.

Happily, on return, Mark X had been anchored into deeper water thereby removing at least one element of randomness from proceedings.

The final run down to Mark 2 was characterised by a reduction of pressure with gusts arriving from behind. For your correspondent at least, this relieved the tedium of a fairly decent mid fleet placing. But in all, this first race of the Salcombe Gin Merlin open, was a delight. After the uncertainty of serial lockdowns and depressing world news, it was extremely good to see the Merlin back on the Ria, in force. Joyful, frankly. Off the water by 1430 to respect events in Windsor Great Chapel.

To accommodate this, SYC scheduled three races on Sunday, starting at 10:30 just after high water at 10:00. To all intents and purposes early racing was in slack water to accomplish two loop laps of Blackstone to a temporary mark X off the Ferry. X to Starboard.

The breeze by this time was far superior to the daunting forecast of 1 knot. If anything, we were blessed with a respectable 8 knots with a strong Southerly component.

Again Chris Gould and Caroline Croft showed exceptional promise but were edged by Taxi Davis and Pippa Kilsby. Most of the fleet favoured the Town shore on the long run back to X as an Easterly component came into play. It certainly paid. Third: Tom Gillard and Rachael Rhodes.

Race 3 was held on the same course as race 2, this time with a stronger ebb tide catching out Salcombe Yacht Club members, Will Henderson and Mark Waterhouse, plus James Wells, David Hall, and John Bell.

By now, the wind and backed to a solid ESE with a lifting port tack out of Millbay. One might add that it is easy enough to write about this. It is quite another to get across there and take the shift. Which let it be said, James Goss and Chris White, effectively did. They gained the windward mark first and throughout were never headed.

Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby made hay by staying in more pressure to be found towards the centre of the stream taking places to second, Goss and White remaining out of reach at the gun.

Mike and Jane Calvert, arriving on Sunday posted a creditable third.

The final race saw the windward mark: Zero/or "O", we are never sure. Those of us at certain Merlin Week briefing will be forever grateful to Richard Parslow for highlighting the shortcomings of SYC mark nomenclature. Certainly, these are thirty minutes of our lives we will never recover and have relived every time we go there.

Mark Zero/O is a south Ria limit mark on the bar. Always tricky shifts here. No exception this day. Thereafter a mighty run back to Mark X off the Ferry. Most of the fleet favoured the Portlemouth shore. Recondite helms like Mark Waterhouse favoured the Town and made serious ground from mid fleet to ultimately, 7th. Nice. At the gun it was Gould, Davis, Calvert.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4Pts
1stBlack Swan3803Chris GouldCaroline Croft12‑1214
2ndThe Clone Wars3735Andy Davis 212‑35
3rdMaumahara3812Peter BallantineRob Allen35‑10412
4thRed Mistress3759Thomas GillardRachael Rhodes‑1034512
5th 3691Mike Calvert (DNC)83213
6thBaloo3807Tim SaxtonMary Henderson745‑1716
7thFancy Liquor3764Tim FellsFrances Gifford67‑11619
8thGoon3795Alex JacksonMary Henderson4‑249821
9th 3814James Goss ‑171211225
10thRockatross3804John FildesCharlotte Fildes5614‑1825
11thRobert3756Sophie MackleyJames Ward‑111171028
12thPuff the Magic Dragon3641Mark Waterhouse 1310(BFD)730
13thArwen3726Will HendersonArthur Henderson913(BFD)1436
14thRoberta3796William WarrenMegan Pascoe‑169131638
15thWild at Heart3709Rob HendersonAlice Markham1215‑181138
16th36663666John MeadowcroftOllie Meadowcroft14‑2517940
17thPoint N Squirt3746James WellsAnna Aylward814(BFD)2143
18thTiger Tiger3696Alex WarrenJonty Freeman22166‑2444
19thSimply Scrumptious3799Paul Rayson 1819‑201552
20th 3757Tim Parsons 211715(DNF)53
21stLeader3563David HallTBA1520(BFD)2055
22nd 3711Sam Thompson (DNC)218BFD59
23rdWhy Ask3740Pat Blake 202219(DNC)61
24thDisciple3769Graham Cranford‑SmithFiona Smith241821‑2663
25th 3772  25‑27162364
26thTime & Tide3652John BellBellBFD23(BFD)1367
27thIsland Girl3725Andrew SquireTristram Squire‑2626221967
28thFactory Maid3704Jemma HorwoodRob Langley27‑28232575
29thmonkey puzzel3706Kevin AndersonSadie(BFD)31252278
30thMonkey Business3707Stuart Clive JenkinsImogen Jenkins233026(DNC)79
31stDuck and Dive3713Steve HarlingEleanor Thomas(BFD)29242780
32ndGeneral Lee3690Lucy Burn 19(DNC)DNCDNC85

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