Please select your home 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

Tom Gillard's (almost) perfect 2022
25 events, 23 wins, one World title, four National titles, and one that got away! It's hard to win a major championship, fine tuning your boat, your sailing skills, knowing the venue, and putting in that vital time on the water, but sometimes you get a sailor who puts together a season which on paper looks nearly impossible. Posted on 9 Nov
Merlin Rocket Inland Championship at Burton
A whole day without black flags?! 23 Merlin Rockets travelled to Burton Sailing Club for the rescheduled Inland Championship with a much depleted Foremark reservoir and a forecast for wind and rain. The well-organised race team got everything under way on time, without even a black flag. Posted on 8 Nov
Parkstone Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller
Including the End of Season Silver Tiller Dinner 2022 29 boats gathered for the end of season Craftinsure Silver Tiller and black tie/posh frock prize-giving dinner dance held at Parkstone Yacht Club on Saturday 29th October. Posted on 1 Nov
Merlin Rockets at Ranelagh
Putney witnesses beautiful boats spanning seventy years in age Sunday 23rd October 2022 saw the culmination of the Merlin Rockets' Thames, Vintage and Classic Series', sponsored by Craftinsure and sailed at Ranelagh Sailing Club on the beautiful River Thames in Putney. Posted on 26 Oct
Felucca Trophy at Hollingworth Lake
Penultimate event of the Merlin Rocket Craftinsure Silver Tiller Series Sixteen Merlin Rockets turned up for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller open meeting and Felucca trophy at Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club on the weekend of 22nd / 23rd October. The club welcomed 7 visitors from as far as field as Parkstone. Posted on 24 Oct
Merlin Rockets at Itchenor
A very breezy Saturday for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller event Keen Merlin Rocket sailors eager to secure an 'Open' category result headed to Itchenor Sailing Club for the weekend of the 15th and 16th October. As Saturday dawned, the wind was due to build to the high 20's. Posted on 19 Oct
Merlin Rockets at Hampton
Vintage racing on the river, followed by modern boats the next day Hampton SC hosted the next round of the Merlin Rocket vintage and local circuit meetings. On Saturday the De May vintage series for boats built before 1985 continued, followed by the Thames series open to all Merlins on the Sunday. Posted on 11 Oct
Merlin Rockets at Stone
Tired sailors impressed by magician's evening entertainment The Craftinsure Silver Tiller at Stone Sailing Club was magical. No, literally there was a magician on Saturday night, impressing us with his tricks and entertaining a full room of tired sailors. Posted on 5 Oct
Merlin Rockets at Starcross
Big gains being there for the taking on the left Twenty merlins arrived early to the exceptionally warm welcome of a gloriously sunny Starcross Yacht Club on Saturday 17th September for round 14 of the CraftInsure Silver Tiller series. Posted on 20 Sep
Merlin Rockets at Upper Thames
A good turnout for the Craftinsure De May Series & Thames Series event The Merlin Rockets were at Upper Thames Sailing Club for the weekend of 10 and 11 September, with the De May Vintage event taking place on the Saturday, and the Thames Series racing on Sunday. There was a good turn-out on both days. Posted on 15 Sep