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Merlin Rocket Allen South East Series Round 1 at Broxbourne Sailing Club

by Paul Rayson 26 Mar 06:40 GMT 23-24 March 2024

South East Merlins are back! It only feels like a couple of months ago that I was writing the report for the end of seasons at Stone and now, here we are again, for the inaugural race of the Merlin Rocket Allen South East Series 2024 at Broxbourne Sailing Club.

Greeted by a breakfast bap to go down in legend, 14 intrepid crews from clubs across the South East arrived for a day of sailing at Broxbourne lake, a patch of water that hasn't seen a Merlin for many years. Following the demolition of the delicious breakfast, the crews made their way out for a day of racing that brought excitement, close competition, shifty winds and even a few breakages.

The first race began the only way a Merlin race can, with a general recall which I'm sure was corroborated by the walkers on the side of the lake with the perfect view down the start line. This was then followed by a black flagged second start, which unfortunately your intrepid reporter was the only victim of!

Race 1 saw 3793 (James Goodfellow and Rebecca Videlo) take the lead at the windward mark, closely followed by 3812 (Tom Stewart and Rob Allen), and 3751 (Mary and Rupert Henderson-White). This front pack weren't given the option to break away too much as close racing was on the cards today. The rest of the fleet, who were hot in pursuit, were led by 3770 (Jon Steward and John Smith), 3702 (Duncan Salmon and Ruth Hanstater), and 3607 (Richard Bettles and Mike Atkinson) coming in strong with their Allen South East series debut. Tom and Rob didn't let this close racing last too long as they found the "mode push" at the end of lap one to take a very convincing victory.

"Mode push" was ever present in Race 2 for Tom and Rob, who executed "Plan A" (start and finish the race at the front) to take another victory. The Broxbourne race officers had taken full advantage of the lake and gave a course which allowed place changing as shifty as the wind conditions. The battle for second did not go the way of your intrepid reporter as 3793 took second place with 3799 (Paul Rayson and Chris Hill) taking third. The battle for fourth was won by 3770 who took 3751 on the line. It was unfortunately a "box box" moment for 3607 who took a pit stop to Fishers Green down the road to pick up a replacement rudder following a slight incident between race 1 and 2.

Before race 3 could begin the sailors were treated to an excellent meal of pasta and chicken for lunch put on by the wonderful Broxbourne team. The club, in its centenary year, took hospitality to a whole other level with a delicious breakfast and lunch, great race management and a lovely atmosphere that saw many enjoy a post racing drink. However, before we could get to the most important part of the day, the post race debrief and drink, there was one more race to be sailed.

With two victories under their belt, 3812 chose to take an early shower, but with a change of course, the third race was well and truly on. 3793 seemed to find the "mode push" and took off to victory. However, close racing continued throughout the rest of the fleet. 3799 took second after a close race with 3751 who ended in third. The organiser himself, Paul Dean, with Hannah Burt in 3745, piled on the pressure for 3715 (Richard Cooke and Russel Hall) and 3702 with the final standings only being decided within the last 100 meters. This culminated in 3715 taking 4th, 3745 taking 5th and 3702 taking 6th. Despite Jon and Graham in 3770 taking 4th in the first two races of the day they were also forced to "box", aided by the excellent Broxbourne safety team, following their rudder deciding to become two separate pieces after an unfortunate touch with the mark.

With three great races completed, the Merlins headed in for the post race debrief, drink and prize-giving. In true Allen South East Series style spot prizes were a plenty with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd youth prizes going to Rebecca Videlo, Matteo Mancini and Anna Rayson respectively. The prize for first related boat went to Mary and Rupert Henderson-White. The lowest ranked competitor to complete all races went to a Broxbourne-bred legend, Godfrey Clark with Bill Noakes in 3578. A special mention must go to Ruth Hanstater who defined if you don't ask you don't get, who is very happy with her new Allen t-shirt.

The podium was one that was fought for with close racing throughout the day with bronze coming down to tied points and count back. The final standings were third for Paul Rayson and Chris Hill in 3799 (Fishers Green S.C.), second for James Goodfellow and Rebecca Videlo in 3793 (Netley Sailing Club and first, taking the gold, was Tom Stewart and Rob Allen in 3812 (Broadwater).

Thanks to all at Broxbourne Sailing Club for an awesome event all round and who knows, we may be back there next year!

It must be mentioned, and I say this with no bias of course, but based on attendance Fishers Green are currently leading the club prize making up 50% of the fleet. However, it's all to play for though as the next event in the Allen South East series is Broadwater on the 13th April.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
1st3812Tom StewartRob AllenBroadwater11(DNC)2
2nd3793James GoodfellowRebecca VideloNetley SC‑3213
3rd3799Paul RaysonChris HillFishers Green S C(BFD)325
4th3751Mary Henderson‑WhiteRupert Henderson‑WhiteBrightlingsea S C2‑535
5th3770Jon StewardJohn SmithFishers Green S C44(DNF)8
6th3715Richard CookeRussell HallWembley S C8‑9412
7th3745Paul DeanHannah BurtBroadwater7‑8512
8th3702Duncan SalmonRuth HanstaterFishers Green S C6‑7612
9th3663Nick YannakoyorgosMattao ManciniFishers Green S C‑116814
10th3607Richard BettlesMichael AtkinsonFishers Green S C5(DNC)1015
11th3692Steve ConroyAnna RaysonFishers Green S C9‑10716
12th3578Godfrey ClarkBill NoakesFishers Green S C10‑11919
13th3482Peter BurtonRichard BurtonDraycote / Medley(DNC)12DNC27
14th3790Colin BrockbankSue BroughWembley S C(DNC)DNCDNC30

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