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Merlin Rocket River Championships 2024 at Upper Thames Sailing Club

by Ollie Meadowcroft 31 May 10:15 BST 25-27 May 2024

As is now becoming tradition, the coveted Merlin Rocket River championships were once again held across a sunny May bank holiday at Bourne End Week, Upper Thames Sailing Club's premier event of the year. While often known for its exuberant gin party and late night bar closures, this year saw some excellent racing on the widest non-tidal stretch of the Thames.

Saturday saw returning champions Alex Jackson & Anna Blake in renowned wooden rocket ship 1493 'Katy Lou' stretch out to take the first race win, with frequent event favourites Chris & Pippa Kilsby in 1996 'Queen Philippa' taking second.

While it may have looked set for the standard Bourne End winning machines to run away with it, race two saw Mark Barwell & Lou Johnson pick the first gust to perfection and lead all the way round to win. Chris & Pippa, and Alex & Anna fought back through a heavy pack to snatch the podium places.

Following a dark and stormy Saturday night, the fleet tentatively returned to the club line to start the back-to-back races on day 2. John & Katy Meadowcroft in 799 'Keto' had clearly had enough messing around and came flying in on starboard to throw the fleet off, necessitating a general recall. The second start came away clean, and it was once again Alex & Anna leading off into the sunset, with this time Rob Cage & Jemma Horwood in the gorgeous 1692 'Hulabaloo' chasing them down.

Ollie Houseman & Engle Tumosa took third to jump them up close to the top of the leaderboard.

Race 2 of the day saw another Jackson & Blake domination, with Jen & Chris Dodds in their wide boat putting in a great showing to take second, and Chris & Pip third, making it a full family affair at the front.

Sunday night's cocktail party was an excellent celebration, but sadly caused some collateral damage in the form of some heavy heads on day two. One such man was Alex Pausey, who despite saying, "I'm not going sailing today," an hour prior, found himself nailing the start and leading round the first mark.

It was all to catch up with him though, as he and crew Ollie Meadowcroft in 2040 'Robin Hood' rounded the home mark the wrong way, losing Alex & Anna and Chris & Pip. They fought back with everything to take Chris & Pippa back on the next beat and consolidated second, while Rob & Jemma snuck up in to third.

Alex & Anna were already ashore having their lunch by this stage.

In the final race showdown, it was time for Jen & Chris to stretch their legs off the startline as the wind increased and let loose their wide boat speed, taking an early lead up the first beat. Alex & Ollie, seeking to sneak into third overall chased them down, but in the ensuing battle, it was no other than Alex Jackson & Anna Blake threading their way up the bank to take another sizeable lead.

The fight for second was brutal, with Rob & Jemma and Chris & Pippa also joining the fray. The race finished with Rob & Jemma squeezing through into second on the finish line, with Jen & Chris taking a well deserved third.

Overall, this left Alex Jackson & Anna Blake to once again take a dominating victory in the Merlin Rocket River Championships with five out of six races won. The Kilsby family took a well earned second place, with Rob Cage & Jemma Horwood in third, and Alex Pausey & Ollie Meadowcroft in fourth.

Thank you to Upper Thames Sailing Club for putting on a great event, Richard Pausey Commodore and our PRO for the event for some excellent racing, John Meadowcroft Vice Commodore at Upper Thames for helping keep everything running smoothly, to David Batty our on the water judge and to Craftinsure for the lovely water bottles supplied to the fleet.

At prize-giving Stuart Jenkins from the Merlin Rocket Owners Association presented Rob Cage with a framed photograph of Rob sailing with his daughter Hattie in 'Hulabaloo' to thank him and Craftinsure for their long term and continued support for Silver Tiller, Silver Pole and Vintage Merlin series'.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stKaty Lou1493Alex JacksonAnna BlakeHampton1‑311115
2ndQueen Philippa1996Chris KilsbyPippa KilsbyThames22‑933414
3rdHullabaloo1692Rob CageJemma HorwoodThames3‑11254216
4thRobin Hood2040Alex PauseyOllie MeadowcroftUTSC64‑1042521
5thPhantom Menace3611Jen DoddsChris DoddsNottingham SC‑1251125326
6thLuka3560Oliver HousemanEgle TumosaTamesis4‑10376727
7thKeto799John MeadowcroftKaty MeadowcroftUTSC88487(DNF)35
8thFlinkidink1097Stuart JenkinsNicola ScaddanUTSC‑1165119940
9thCindy723Mark BarwellLou JohnsonLymington Town SC91(OCS)158841
10thKaty Lou1212Tim HarridgeRobbie / Josh Harrison ‑14766111141
11thWild Waters1700Peter WalkerDebbie WalkerUTSC10‑1212910647
12thMasquerade995Matthew JonesArthur JonesTamesis5(DNC)713141554
13thChindit578Peter SlackImmy BrownTrent Valley Sailing Club‑1716810131360
14thRocketeer1661Kevin RoseTim WilliamsUTSC139(DNF)DNC121065
15thPooh1189Carl MayhewMayra Vivo‑Torres (DNC)151312DNF1273
16thTiercel901Pat BlakeJill BlakeCookham Reach16131414(DNC)DNC78
17thBottle Rocket1951Tre JacobsGuy JacobsUTSC(DNF)1816DNC151484
18thSeptember Girl2734Paul AtwellMike SteeleLlangors1817171616(DNC)84
19thExequisite2266Chris RathboneSonia RathboneUTSC151415(DNC)DNCDNC86
20thSplatter1631Simon GirvenClaude WheelerUTSC7(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC91

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