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Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Open at Upper Thames Sailing Club

by Richard Pausey 23 Sep 2019 02:10 PDT 15 September 2019
Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller event at Upper Thames © Tom Percival Stein

This one-day Silver Tiller Open started with blue skies warm sun and zero wind so even with the almost non-existent stream the start of the first race had to be delayed.

Slightly late at 11.10 the wind quickly filled in steadily rising to a steady force 2 to 3 from the west and straight down the river. Race 1 started at 11.35am with a clean start for the fleet of 12, fortunately happening in a gap between a long line of downstream headed cruisers. The fleet tacked up towards the windward mark and quickly found that there were big lifts to be found on the Berkshire bank with some big gains to be made. The race quickly turned into a three-way tacking duel between Laurie Smart and Vanessa Pilon in 1065 Flipside, John and Olivia Bell in 1201 Grand Teton, and Martin Hunter and Dan Harrison in 774 Quiver. There were many similar battles in the middle of the fleet, which provided an entertaining day for the many spectators on the bank.

On the run into the finish line Laurie Smart in Flipside seemingly had the race won from Grand Teton but it became apparent that both boats were heading to pass the wrong side of the finishing mark. When neither got a finish gun, they realised their mistake, but Grand Teton managed to unwind themselves first and nip in to take first place.

Race two was back-to-back and had the added complication for the fleet of a cruiser deciding to park itself on start line for the final minute. This seemed to upset the fleet's timing with the majority of the fleet OCS resulting in a general recall. The second start was clean with Pat and Jill Blake in 901 Tiersel taking an early lead followed by Mark Addison and Sarah Percival in 1781. On the first run back from the windward mark the wind dropped, and the fleet bunched up with 774 Quiver taking advantage and getting ahead of Tiersel to round the home mark with a short lead. On the second lap the wind continued to be inconsistent and Quiver continued to do well in the light conditions to finish the race with a 200m lead from Flipside in second and Tiersel in third.

After lunch the wind conditions improved again and after a clean start the race again turned into three-way contest between Flipside, Grand Teton and Quiver. On the final run downstream, Grand Teton managed to get to windward of Flipside, but rather than end up in a luffing match, Flipside bore away to the leeward bank in more breeze and took the final gun of the day.

Laurie Smart and Vanessa Pilon in Flipside were the overall winners followed by John and Olivia Bell in Grand Teton in second place and Martin Hunter and Dan Harrison in Quiver in third. Laurie and Vanessa also won the MROA Silver Tiller Silver Fleet and Kevin Rose and Tim Williams in 3548 Firestarter won the Silver Tiller Bronze Fleet prize.

Our thanks go to all the competitors for attending the meeting, the race team, safety boat crews and Chris Simon, our on-the-water judge, whose services proved unnecessary after a very informative fleet discussion on applying Rule 42 whilst waiting for the wind to fill in before the first race. The club looks forward to welcoming the fleet back next year.

Overall Results:

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
1stFlipside1065Laurie SmartVanessa PilonUTSC‑2213
2ndGrand Teton1201John BellOlivia BellHampton1‑423
3rdQuiver774Martin HunterDan HarrisonUTSC‑3134
4thTiersel901Pat BlakeJill BlakeCookham Reach43(DNS)7
5th 1781Mark AddisonSarah PercivalUTSC‑7549
6thFirestarter3548Kevin RoseTim WilliamsUTSC5‑8510
7thExequisite2266Chris RathboneSonia RathboneUTSC66‑812
8thKeto799John MeadowcroftDan MeadowcroftUTSC‑97613
9thLa Volente1596Sel ShahJemma HorwoodThames‑109716
10thSatisfaction2604Jeremy SteinNicki BinksUTSC8(DNS)917
11thHeavy Particle3482Richard BurtonMiles PhillipsMedley SC1110(DNS)21
12thShiny Happy People3695Pete SlackAmy HazlehurstBlithfield(DNS)DNSDNS26

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