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Merlin Rocket Week at Salcombe Yacht Club

by Will Rainey 22 Jul 2002 17:50 BST

106 Merlins at Salcombe

13–19 July 2001

Photo © D Mitchell
The Merlins enjoyed another excellent week’s sailing at Salcombe in an event that continues to go from strength to strength. The fleet enjoyed brilliant sunshine all week, with the winds, which varied from very light to Force 4 as the predominantly northwesterly wind battled with the sea breeze, giving plenty of opportunity for the fleet to play snakes and ladders.

To accommodate the huge fleet, the week’s racing takes place in flights, with the boats being split into Gold and Silver fleets after the first three days’ racing.

By Friday morning, any one of three boats could have won the Gold fleet. Phil King and Kevin Driver, and John Bell and Graham Williamson had both secured four wins out of five races, and rising stars Simon Blake and L Jenkins with three wins could still have come out on top if either of the leaders slipped up on the last day. Ultimately, the result went down to the final beat of the last race as Bell struggled unsuccessfully to catch Blake, in a bid to match King’s win in the morning race. King and Driver were therefore worthy winners of one of the closest fought weeks for many years. To demonstrate the fine line between success and failure, King and Blake each won a race as a result of the race leader sailing the wrong course.

In the Silver fleet, James Middleton-Stewart kept his nerve on the final day to cement his overnight lead with a fine win, to lead by three points from Dave Townend, who once again somehow managed to just scrape into the Silver fleet when the cut was made.

Other highlights included Merlin legend and previous winner of Salcombe week, Harry Haynes presenting a new trophy in memory of his wife Beryl, for the crew of the winning boat, and the recognition of another previous winner, John Harris, attending his 40th Salcombe Merlin Week without a break.

Photo © D Mitchell

On the gear front, the new boats from Full Wrecked’em Force continue to make their mark with three in the first six. Sails for the top six came from Rowsell, Pinnell and Bax, Alverbank and Batt, whilst five of the top six used masts from Chipstow.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClub
Gold Fleet:
1st3606Phil KingKevin DriverBowmoor SC
2nd3612Simon BlakeL JenkinsCookham Reach SC
3rd3609John BellGraham WilliamsonHampton SC
4th3549Mike CalvertJane CalvertWeymouth SC
5th3591Tom StewartChris BishopRoyal Harwich YC
6th3601Will RaineyJennie KingCookham Reach SC
Silver fleet:
1st3400James Middleton-StewartZoe DonaldWeymouth SC
2nd3530David TownendFrancesca LoftsSalcombe YC
3rd3535Richard CookeSam Waddoups 
Old Boat Prize3266Rawson PilonRachel HoweUpper Thames SC

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