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Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Round 19 at Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club

by Matt Greenfield 15 Oct 2019 02:08 PDT 12-13 October 2019

The wind was forecast to be light, the rain was forecast to be wet, Sunday was forecast to be "unstable". Still, twenty Merlin Rockets gathered at the beautiful setting of Chew Valley Lake Sailing Club for the penultimate round of the Craftinsure Silver Tiller and Fran Gifford's birthday - who would miss that?!

Saturday did indeed start light, but the rain had stopped by the time we hit the water and didn't return until everyone was safely in the pub. The first race saw Caroline Croft as guest helm on the new, very slippery Rockatross sailing into the lead with Charlotte Fildes showing her how all the fancy new bits worked. Andy "Taxi" Davis and Pippa Kilsby showed why they have already claimed the Silver Tiller title by sneaking through to take the win, whilst Caroline and Charlotte held off the Chrises Gould and Kilsby. Mike and Jane Calvert started a solid day that showed their light wind prowess with a fourth. Matt and Hannah Greenfield crossed to silence thanks to a U-flag infringement, leaving James Wells and Nicola Bass to take fifth.

The race team got us under way for our second trip around the trapezoid, with the wind still firmly in the 5 knot range. The Chrises bossed the race from start to finish. Matt Biggs and Beka Jones fought hard with Mike and Jane, finishing in that order. Caroline and Charlotte again showed some immense speed at various points and garnered a lot of interest in the new design. They took fourth ahead of Matt and Hannah. Then the wind died.

That didn't put the race team off though and we pushed through the third race of the day just in case Sunday really did turn out to be as unstable as they thought it might. After massive shifts and what was mostly a millpond, the majority of boats sailed two laps of a trapezoid without ever hoisting their spinnakers. The wind so light that those who did thought it might actually have slowed them down. In the end, the first five got away nicely in a little zephyr with Taxi and Pippa taking the bullet from Mike and Jane, the Chrises in third, Matt and Beka in fourth and Mark Waterhouse and Anna Aylward in fifth.

Fran's birthday party kicked off with lots of local Bath Gem and finished in the even more local curry house, with some party-goers taking a very local, very off-road route back to their vans at the club.

Sunday morning was incredibly stable - what were the forecasters talking about? It was a perfectly stable zero knots, gusting zero. After a short postponement ashore, we were out in a rapidly building breeze, with everyone grateful for the ability to adjust mast rake on the water with the pull of a single rope. Genius.

Taxi and Pippa led to the windward mark but were overhauled by the Chrises on the first run. Matt and Beka popped in another top three with Will Warren and Chris Robinson enjoying the leg stretch to take fourth ahead of Matt and Hannah.

By the start of the second race we were well into the 20+ knot range with some properly big gusts. Taxi and Pippa sailed away from the fleet at speed and never looked back to see Will and Chris flying past half the fleet for a strong second place. Matt and Beka took third from the Chrises who would go on discard this fourth place and Mike and Jane, who showed they can do it in the windy stuff too. Behind them, carnage ensued.

The final race was an epic. A short epic because the wind was stable. Strong and stable. The Chrises had an epic tussle with Taxi and Pippa, finishing in that order. Matt and Beka took their third podium of the weekend with Tim Fells and Fran 'birthday girl' Gifford saving their best result until last and beating Colin and Sean Anderson into fifth. The rescue team reported "a monster gust that wiped out over half the fleet at the same time on one of the runs" - your intrepid reporter had intrepidly retired to the warm showers by then, so second-hand news it is.

Overall, Taxi and Pippa took three bullets and two seconds for the win. The Chrises took the other three bullets but two thirds put them second. Matt and Beka were consistent for third with Mike and Jane comfortably in fourth ahead of Will and Chris.

Thanks to Chew Valley and the team for a putting on a splendid weekend in some testing conditions. Next weekend on 20th October, the fleet head to Blithfield Sailing Club for the grand finale of the Craftinsure Silver Tiller 2019. Sailing is followed by a dinner and dance in the evening where prizes from Magic Marine the classes clothing partner and the Harken Grand Slam will be awarded.

Overall Results:

PosDivisionSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stGold3684Andy DavisPippa KilsbySouth Staffs1‑612127
2ndGold3803Chris GouldChris KilsbyMidland3131‑419
3rdGold3801Matt BiggsBeka JonesBlithfield624‑103318
4thGold3691Mike CalvertJane CalvertAxe432‑165822
5thGold3796William WarrenChris RobinsonShoreham7‑8742626
6thGold3764Tim FellsFrances GiffordSalcombe‑107888435
7thGold3804Caroline CroftCharlotte FildesBlithfield2417315(DNF)41
8thSilver3746James WellsNicola BassStarcross5913116(DNC)44
9thSilver3749Colin AndersonSean AndersonBlithfield1111‑1599545
10thGold3709Rob HendersonAlice MarkhamLymington Town9131067(DNC)45
11thGold3687Matt GreenfieldHannah GreenfieldChew Valley Lake(UFD)512513DNC56
12thBronze3692James GoodfellowJulie NuttallWhitstable1210‑141314756
13thGold3769Sophie MackleyFiona Cranford‑SmithShoreham14159712(DNC)57
14thSilver3790Colin BrockbankSuzy BroughWembley171461210(DNF)59
15thSilver3641Mark WaterhouseAnna AylwardParkstone81751416(DNF)60
16thSilver3745Paul DeanHannah BurtWembley‑1612161511963
17thBronze3704Jemma HughesSel ShahThames1516181717(DNC)83
18thBronze3574John DonoghueRichard BurtonLlandegfedd18181118(DNF)DNC86
19thGold3784Mark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town1319(DNF)DNCDNCDNC95
20thBronze3432Rick KnappIan ParsonsChew Valley Lake(DNC)DNCDNCDNFDNCDNC105

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