Please select your home edition
Edition
Craftinsure 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Craftinsure Merlin Rocket De May Vintage & Thames Series at Minima Yacht Club / Thames Sailing Club

by Richard Burton & Andrew Harris 6 May 21:04 BST 23-24 April 2022
Rob and Hattie Cage in the Craftinsure Merlin Rocket De May Vintage Series at Minima © Robin Broomfield

Vintage Merlin Rocket open meetings were held at at Thames Sailing Club 23 April 2022, and Minima Sailing Club on 24 April 2022. The De May and Thames Series are sponsored by Craftinsure.

One of the great things about sailing vintage Merlins is visiting vintage clubs. Thames, founded in 1870 is the oldest on the river and its dark timbered clubhouse is brimming with mementos from that long history, including a wall of photos and letters from their patron, the Duke of Edinburgh, who it seems was quite keen on the Raters and their development.

And so, the vintage Merlin fleet, minus a considerable portion who decided they had better attend a club wedding, lined up for what they had thought would be a gentle F2-3 but turned out to be much stronger at times, and would be a real test of crews and designs of boat.

With a brace of Jack Holt boats from the late 1950s, (607 Crescendo sailed by Andy Harris and Matty Key, 1097 Flinkidink, Stuart Jenkins and Nicola Scaddan), a 1967 Ian Proctor boat (2037 Lady Hyperion, Richard Burton and Miles Phillips) and a Morrison from the early 70s sailed by Chris Gilbert (Commodore) and his son Toby, the fleet set off down river upwind to the first mark, with a worryingly tight bear-away to avoid the rusty iron pilings of the Ait.

We, in our recently recommissioned Proctor, were characteristically last to round, so our tactics for the run turned to covering and riding the wakes of the other boats, and it was then that we realised we were actually planing much more quickly than the others and to my mind, blasting to an unassailable 200-yard lead...

However, just as I was briefing the crew on the advisability of a good, safe, early dowse of the kite for the leeward mark, an unexplained death roll started, resulting in us ramming the timber Armco barrier they have down there on the Thames, and with such force that the river is probably a 6" wider at that point!

So there we were again, in last place with a boat half full of water and watching the others smugly sailing into the distance. Race one ended in capsize for Andy and Matty as they caught a terrible gust while gybing the spinnaker, and without transom flaps and self-bailers! Chris Gilbert also fell prey to the conditions, making it a win for the confidently-sailed Flinkidink, followed after a while by the slightly wobbly Lady Hyperion.

Things got trickier as the wind increased for races 2 and 3. Considerable seamanship was required simply to survive the conditions; Stuart Jenkins was seen flat-out planing in Flinkidink, his spinnaker lowered quickly as soon as it was possible, a credit to Stuart for staying upright, rig intact.

Andy, Matty, and Crescendo survived to record two first places which were enough to win the event. A great day of tactical, close racing with the Holt boats skillfully working the banks, while we Proctor sailing open-water enthusiasts, preferring the middle of the river with all its paddle steamers, pedalos and that other stuff, they say, floats down it!

Our heartfelt thanks go to the hard-working members of Thames for organising the racing, food, beer, rescues and tows, and also for getting their priorities right in not being tempted by the wedding!

Merlin Rocket vintage and classic racing is lots of fun and you don't need that much skill or money to do it - often the boats are 'free to good home' - then you have the opportunity to sail in our impressive De May and Classic fixtures list which encompasses the fantastic old river clubs, the Broads and even the wide open of expanse of Draycote Water in July this year!

Transport Logistics

As the double-header open meeting weekend approached, a plan was hatched to compete in both events that involved significant logistics and the generous assistance of multiple members from Tamesis, Thames SC, and, Minima YC. On the morning of Saturday 23rd April; Andy Harris and Matty Key assembled on the Tamesis hard and assisted by Jonathan Key ventured upriver to take part in phase 1 of the weekend, the Thames SC Merlin Rocket Open Meeting.

The forecast was brisk and heading upriver it soon became clear that the apparent benign wind at Tammy was getting stronger at Kingston and by Thames SC it was very windy indeed! After cake and prizes, phase 3 of the plan was executed with Thames SC, who were great hosts, kindly towing the crew of Crescendo to Minima YC for an overnight berth ready for day 2.

Sunday morning events started back at Tammy with Andy and Matty joined for the Minima phase by; Joe McLaughlin and Sean Roberts, Peter Impey and Vanessa, Charlie Morgan, and Tim Ginn. Three more boats, trolleys, masts, and, crews were ferried upriver by Tim Medcalf in time for the first start. Not so windy as Saturday but with a good NE breeze, the event was won by Rob Cage of TSC.

In the final step of the weekend, all four boats, trolleys, and masts were picked up by Jonathan Key and towed back to Tamesis line astern. A great weekend of sailing a big thanks to the host clubs and everyone that contributed to help make the logistics work.

Vintage and Thames Series Results - Thames SC (Saturday):

PosBoatSail NoHelmCrewClub
1stCrescendo607Andrew HarrisMatty KeyTamesis
2ndFlinkidink1097Stuart JenkinsNicola ScaddanHampton SC/UTSC
3rdLady Hyperion2037Richard BurtonMiles PhillipsMedley SC
4thSpring Song2701Chris GilbertToby GilbertThames SC

Vintage Results - Minima SC (Sunday):

PosBoatSail NoHelmCrewClub
1stHullabalou1692Rob CageHatty CageThames SC
2ndCrescendo607Andrew HarrisMatty KeyTamesis
3rdLuka3560Ollie HousmanEgle TumosaChew Valley SC
4thLady Anne1978Joe McLaughlinSean RobertsTamesis
5thFlinkidink1097Stuart JenkinsNicola ScaddanHampton SC/UTSC
6thAndromeda3259Charlie MorganTim GinnTamesis
7thLady Hyperion2037Richard BurtonMiles PhillipsMedley SC
8thWarhorse1939Peter ImpeyVanessa ImpeyTamesis
9thWarrior1952Paul SeamenJon FrayMinima SC

Thames Series Results - Minima SC (Sunday):

PosBoatSail NoHelmCrewClub
1stHullabalou1692Rob CageHatty CageThames SC
2ndCrescendo607Andrew HarrisMatty KeyTamesis
3rdLady Anne1978Joe McLaughlinSean RobertsTamesis
4thLuka3560Ollie HousmanEgle TumosaChew Valley SC
5thFlinkidink1097Stuart JenkinsNicola ScaddanHampton SC/UTSC
6thAndromeda3259Charlie MorganTim GinnTamesis
7thLady Hyperion2037Richard BurtonMiles PhillipsMedley SC
8thWarhorse1939Peter ImpeyVanessa ImpeyTamesis
9thWarrior1952Paul SeamenJon FrayMinima SC

Related Articles

Salcombe Gin Merlin Rocket Week runners and riders
120 boats will race in 4 flights as usual, with prizes from Salcombe Gin Sunday 3 July will see the first start gun of the ever-popular Salcombe Merlin Week. Again, the week is generously sponsored by Salcombe Gin, a local success story, rapidly expanding globally. Salcombe Gin will be providing prizes. Posted on 28 Jun
Bourne End Week 2022
The event took place on the Jubilee bank holiday weekend Bourne End Week took place on the Jubilee bank holiday weekend, but despite the draw of celebration parties and television coverage of this once in a lifetime event, substantial numbers of the sailing fraternity chose Bourne End to do their celebrating. Posted on 22 Jun
Merlin Rockets at Shoreham
30 boat attracted for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller event Shoreham Sailing Club put on another great weekend of sailing, attracting 30 Merlin Rockets for the weekend of 17/18 June. Also in attendance were the 420 fleet with a healthy entry - perhaps hoping to learn a few tips from the Merlin sailors. Posted on 22 Jun
A Fine Line
Dinghy historian Dougal Henshall looks at race officers and start lines As the world around us reblooms after the constraints of lockdown, there is plenty of food for thought surrounding the debate as to something of a reset for dinghy racing. Older sailors talk in nostalgic terms of the delights of the 'golden era'. Posted on 22 Jun
Merlin Rockets at Lymington
20 boats on the startline for the latest Craftinsure Silver Tiller Series event 20 Merlin Rockets showed up to the start-line for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller at the hospitable LTSC. With the forecast initially showing a calmer contrast to the wild day of training on Saturday, the strong south-westerly was a surprise to many. Posted on 15 Jun
Vintage Merlin Rockets at Fishers Green
An ideal northerly wind direction straight down the axis of the lake With an ideal northerly wind direction straight down the axis of the lake, the Fishers Green home boats were joined by some very welcome visitors, the race team had no trouble setting a true beat the full length of the lake. Posted on 7 Jun
HD Sails Spinnaker Auction returns
To support Merlin Rocket Aspire Nationals 2022 Bag yourself a brand-new crispy HD Sails Merlin Rocket spinnaker in the colour of your choice in time for the National and help support the event in the process! Posted on 4 Jun
Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller at Tamesis
The on-water Rule 42 judge never had to blow his whistle Sixteen boats turned out on Sunday 22 May at Tamesis Club for the Silver Tiller and Thames Series, both sponsored by Craftinsure. Also, at stake on the day were the Sondown Cup and the Elizabeth Bowl. Posted on 2 Jun
Merlin Rocket Vintage and Classic open at Tamesis
A fun and friendly place to race, though winds can mean the rich get richer Vintage Merlin sailing is a dichotomy of pride in appearance versus competitive racing, and this was apparent in the array of vintage Merlin Rockets lined up on the lawn at Tamesis for the CraftInsure Vintage & Classic Open on Saturday 21st May 2022. Posted on 2 Jun
Merlin Rockets at Whitstable
15 different crews manage to secure a top five race result 28 Merlin Rockets arrived at Whitstable Yacht Club to bright sunshine but very little wind on the morning of Saturday 14th May for the next round of the Craftinsure Silver Tiller. However, as forecast the wind filled in nicely. Posted on 18 May