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Merlin Rocket Downriver Race at Ranelagh Sailing Club

by Fran Gifford 8 Sep 13:15 PDT 6 September 2020

Ranelagh Sailing Club was delighted to welcome 31 Merlin Rockets to Putney Embankment for a glorious race downriver to Chelsea Bridge and back on 6th September. The wind was light on arrival, but the sun shone, and the talk was probably of what a wonderful place Ranelagh is.

The 31 boats varied in age and number from the very beautiful Kate (no.1), through to the equally beautiful Diablo (214), Tiercel (901) and many other stunningly restored and maintained wooden boats. There were modern wide plastic boats and everything in between. It was a photogenic foreshore.

The membership and enthusiasm levels at Ranelagh have gone through the roof in 2020, so nine boats were wheeled out of the shed and onto the water to join the visitors whom had travelled from as far afield as Salcombe Yacht Club, Lymington Town, Medley Sailing Club and Shoreham. Our frequent friends from our Thames neighbours - Hampton, Tamesis, Thames SC, Upper Thames, Cookham and South Bank were all in attendance along with strong turnouts from Wembley and Fishers Green. It was a true joy to welcome so many friends, old and new, on such a beautiful day.

It was so beautiful that the photos taken by multiple photographers give a better picture of the event than anything the English written word can describe. But the briefing was given, explaining the quirks of Ranelagh racing. It was to be a 10, 4, 1 start sequence with a strong recommendation that one should sail as far upstream as possible to avoid being OCS. This worked a treat, and Kate, sailed by Frances Gifford and Sophie Mackley got the dream start with almost everyone else doing as they were told. They were accompanied by Patrick and Jilly Blake in Tiercel, and Alex Jackson and Alex Warren in Katy Lou (1493). And then the bunch a short while later.

A further quirk is that spinnakers are not be hoisted until Putney Rail Bridge has been cleared. So it was that from this point photos were taken of the fleet abreast of each other running down Wandsworth Reach and onwards with spinnakers of every colour flying and filling, the wind now having filled in to a reasonable 6-8 knots. The Alexes, Jackson and Warren, led downriver but never by much, with boats making use of clear air to catch up and overtake each other. The fleet saw a lot of each other but the weather and style of racing, under multiple bridges, was such that everyone was in the most tremendous mood. Particularly following the sighting of our lovely large Thames seal that had been lolling around all weekend.

The leaders approached the leeward mark at 12.28. The previous day's recce had ascertained that the tide would turn at exactly 12.35 so the fleet was only 7 minutes early. The wind had increased further by this point to a hiking breeze for a long beat home. The battle at the front was between Katy Lou (Jackson and Warren), Puff sailed by Mark Waterhouse and Arthur Henderson in the frontmost wide plastic modern boat and John and Livvy Bell in Grand Teton (1201). At some point Rob and Hatty Cage in Hullabaloo (1692) showed the benefits of multi-classing and pulled through to join the leaders. Its been noticed that Rob has very recently returned from the ILCA Nationals and now seems to be at the Moths in Weymouth.

There were battles throughout the fleet and everyone won a battle. The ultimate battle was finally clinched on the line by Rob and Hatty Cage by 12 seconds from Alex Jackson and Alex Warren, with John and Livvy Bell crossing in third. First wide boat and fourth, were Mark Waterhouse and Arthur Henderson, followed closely by Duncan and Harriet Salmon, true Ranelagh regulars.

No Ranelagh report is complete without significant emphasis on the food. Brian Clarke, slaved for 72 hours over a Beef Rendang, so delicious that the recipe has been requested post-event by several visitors. The fleet had been primed with bacon baguettes and our French patissiere, Guillaume Mouscadet, had baked just the nicest brownies. The fleet convivially discussed their fortunes, digesting their lunch, washed down with drinks from the cheapest bar in London.

The event was the first of the Thames Series, and the first of the de May series for 2020, with three more events to come in quick succession. Upper Thames (12th September), Tamesis (19th September) and Hampton (24th-25th October). They will probably be different from Ranelagh but no less good.

Ranelagh Sailing Club would like to thank everyone for coming along and contesting the race in such good spirits. Racing on the Thames, the beating heart of London Town, Ranelagh welcomes new members to our thriving club. See for more details and more great photos of Sunday's racing.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubTime
1st 1692 Rob Cage Hattie Cage Thames SC 01:35:48
2nd 1493 Alex Jackson Alex Warren Hampton SC 01:36:00
3rd 1201 John Bell Livvy Bell Hampton SC 01:37:52
4th 3641 Mark Waterhouse Arthur Henderson Salcombe YC 01:38:44
5th 3702 Duncan Salmon Harriet Salmon Wembley SC 01:39:00
6th 3709 Rob Henderson Alice Markham Lymington Town SC 01:39:28
7th 901 Pat Blake Jilly Blake Cookham Reach SC 01:39:30
8th 3770 Christian Hill Gabriel Hill Fishers Green SC 01:39:48
9th 3745 Paul Dean Hannah Burt Wembley SC 01:40:08
10th 3724 Joe McLaughlin Sean Roberts Tamesis 01:40:41
11th 3088 Andrew Mills Ellie Mills Hampton SC 01:40:50
12th 1742 Jon Steward Annabel Steward Fishers Green SC 01:40:58
13th 3578 Godfrey Clark Matteo Mancini Fishers Green SC 01:40:59
14th 3750 Neal Lillywhite Freya Lillywihite Burghfield SC 01:41:15
15th 3704 Jemma Horwood Helen Hilditch Wembley SC 01:41:37
16th 3589 John Hollands Alex Parker Hampton SC 01:41:52
17th 3054 Martin Hunter U/K Upper Thames 01:42:52
18th 214 William Warren Megan Pascoe Shoreham SC 01:42:54
19th 1189 Carl Mayhew Mayre Vivo‑Torres Thames SC 01:43:07
20th 1 Frances Gifford Sophie Mackley Ranelagh SC 01:43:18
21st 596 Tim Metcalf Valerie Hamill Tamesis 01:43:24
22nd 2444 Thomas Stolper David Ranelagh SC 01:43:38
23rd 3073 Allan Munro‑Faure Renalton Hidalgo South Bank SC 01:44:01
24th 1097 Stuart Jenkins Nicola Scaddon Hampton SC 01:44:08
25th 3592 Martin Woolny Talia Ranelagh SC 01:44:23
26th 3106 Pietro Foschi Russell Hall Ranelagh SC 01:44:47
27th 2037 Richard Burton Peter Burton Medley SC 01:45:21
28th 3510 Adil Khan Adam Khan Ranelagh SC 01:46:27
29th 654 Brian Clarke Gretel Scott Ranelagh SC 01:59:48
30th 3061 Alex Hamilton Celeste Bengue Ranelagh SC 01:59:49
DNF 2744 Matt Brien Henry Anwald Ranelagh SC  

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