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Aspire Merlin Rocket National Championships at East Lothian Yacht Club - Day 1

by Charlotte Fildes 16 Aug 05:10 PDT 14-19 August 2021

Sunday 15th August was the first day of the Aspire Merlin Rocket Championships at East Lothian Yacht Club, which saw an all-star fleet of the country's top dinghy sailors go into battle.

The fleet launched off the long sandy beach into an outgoing tide with a fabulous 12 knot south westerly to sail a sausage-triangle course. The stakes were high with the newly-crowned Olympic Gold medallist Stuart Bithell & Tom Pygall as crew rivalled reigning Merlin National Champions Christian Birrell & Sam Brearey.

The class had clearly taken heed of the excellent talk the previous evening given by an experienced local, as the port end of the line was heavily stacked with every man and his dog wanting to saw off the left-hand side of the beat. This gave the race officer a few headaches, and after a number of general recalls some fell foul of a first race BFD, including Ian Dobson & Charlotte Fildes.

The race finally got away in a perfect 12-15knts of wind and sunshine. The anticipated epic battle quickly unfolded with Stu & Tom leading around the windward from Christian & Sam, closely followed by Ben Saxton & George Yeoman in third. Stuart opted for an asymmetric style lay-line on the first run, which allowed Christian & Sam to take control of the race. Andy Davis & Pippa Kilsby began their match up the fleet and overhauled Ben & George on the first triangle. The front pack also featuring Ian Sharps & Alex Warren and Dave & Vicky Lenz separated from the next group who were also having a tight battle behind.

Christian & Sam fended off attacks from Stu and Taxi to take the opening bullet of the championship and the Founders Trophy. Taxi & Pippa took third from Sharps & Warren who were fourth, and the Lenz's came in fifth ahead of Ben & George in sixth.

A great race for James Wells & Anna Alyward who were first in Silver fleet and finished eighth. Geoff & Helen Kimber took first bronze fleet.

With the tide in full flood taking the fleet over the start line of the second race, would the fleet continue to rack up starting penalties? Fortunately, a now well-disciplined fleet started cleanly on the first attempt. Unfortunately for Ben Saxton & George Yeoman, their race was cut short due to gear failure soon after their great start.

Perhaps with more options on both sides up the first beat, the fleet stayed compressed with Stu & Tom narrowly rounding the windward ahead of Christian & Sam.

As the race progressed, some big gains were made upwind by keeping right in the tide, but Stu & Tom managed to stay ahead the whole way round this time to take a convincing win, and the Beechers Cup. Christian & Sam finished second ahead of Taxi & Pippa, with Dave Winder & Oliver Rayner fourth, Tim Saxton & Mary Henderson in fifth and Caroline Croft & Chris Gould taking sixth.

First Silver fleet boat was Dan & Ben Alsop, and first bronze fleet went to Richard Coulter & Louis Lappage.

The overall standings on day one are Stu & Tom in first, with Christian & Sam on the same points in second, and Taxi & Pippa in third with two thirds. It's still very much all to play for.

With thanks to our sponsors HD sails, SSE, NB Distillery, Fernhurst Books, Triggernaught Sportsglasses and our title sponsor Aspire Financial Advisers.

More photos are available to browse.

Watch races live with GPS tracking

Results after day 1:

PosSailNosHelmCrewClubR1R2Pts
1st3811Stuart BithellTom PygallParkstone YC213
2nd3788Christian BirrelSam BrearyParkstone YC123
3rd3735Andy DavisPippa KilsbySouth Staffs SC336
4th3807Tim SaxtonMary HendersonItchenor SC7512
5th3781David WinderOliver RaynerHollingworth Lake SC11415
6th3803Caroline CroftChris GouldLymington Town SC9615
7th3712Ian SharpsAlex WarrenBurghfield SC41216
8th3778David LenzVictoia LenzLymington Town SC51520
9th3764Tim FellsFran GiffordSalcombe YC15722
10th3758Dave HayesWill CrockerLymington Town SC121123
11th3814James GossChris WhiteSouth Staffs SC141024
12th3795Alex JacksonChris KilsbyShoreham SC131326
13th3786David WadeBen RaynerNorthampton SC19827
14th3746James WellsAnna AylwardStarcross YC82028
15th3756Sophie MackleyOllie MeadowcroftShoreham SC101828
16th3766Andy DalbyMark OakeyBurghfield SC20929
17th3539Dan AlsopBen AlsopLyme Regis SC171431
18th3796William WarrenMegan PascoeShoreham SC181634
19th3763Mark BarnesJosh WilceWhitstable YC161935
20th3641Mark WaterhlouseIsobel StewartSalcombe YC212344
21st3784Mark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town SC222547
22nd3772Dan HeatonTom GurneyMountbatten SC232750
23rd3777Ben SaxtonGeorge YeomanItchenor SC6DNF52
24th3666John MeadowcroftImogen WadeUpper Thames SC242852
25th3745Paul DeanHannah BurtWembley SC322254
26th3790Colin BrockbankSue Broughwembley SC283058
27th3684Tom LowEd LowWest Hoe SC292958
28th3751Phil EmeryPhoebe PaineWhitstable YC273259
29th3723Geoff KimberHelen KimberStone SC263460
30th3774Richard CoulterLouis LappageFishers Green SC313162
31st3804Ian DobsonCharlotte FildesBosham Hoe SCBFD1763
32nd3767Ben ArcherOlivia BelliniParkstone YC303363
33rd3710Jon IbbotsonRobbie StewartBurghfield SC253964
34th3775Dan WilletPete NicholsonBrightlingsea SCBFD2167
35th3787Chris MartinSamuel BaileyMidland SCBFD2470
36th3695Pete SlackImmy BrownBlithfield SC333770
37th3757Tim ParsonsSarah ParsonsLyme Regis SCBFD2672
38th3449Carl WhitehillSam WhitehillRYA353873
39th2663Chris HowarthMike HamiltonBlackpool & Fleetwood SC344074
40th3619Guy BrowneGreg MartinTrent Valley SC364177
41st3561Joe ShawParicia HickeyWembley SC374380
42nd3800Richard BramleyPaul WalkerShoreham SC384280
43rd3662Nigel HudsonFreya HudsonBartley SCBFD3581
44th3740Pat BlakeJilly BlakeCookham Reach SCBFD3682
45th3792Alistair McDonaldLydia BourneBerwick Upon Tweed SC394483

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