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Aspire Merlin Rocket National Championships at East Lothian Yacht Club - Overall

by Charlotte Fildes 20 Aug 2021 06:39 PDT 14-19 August 2021

Day 4 of the Aspire Merlin Rocket Nationals hosted by East Lothian Yacht Club was looking to be a windy one, and the first warning signal was moved forward to try and get an extra race in if the forecast looked poor for Thursday.

However, on arrival at the boat park it was already consistently gusting 26knots at 10am, so we were postponed for two hours ashore while the breeze continued to build. Unfortunately the call was made to cancel racing for the day, so competitors were able to do a little sight-seeing, lobster lunching, gin tasting, golf etc, before beach rounders in the evening.

Day 5 arrived, and the final day of racing was light, but 9-10knots was forecast to come in at 10am, so the fleet duly launched in little wind, and as if on cue, the breeze filled in. It was a welcome change to have an easterly this time, and once it stabilized, it provided us with a fantastic day of racing.

Race 6 started cleanly, and the boats on the right hand side of the first beat were gifted with a 35 degree shift in their favour. James Goss & Chris White took full advantage of this and cruised round the windward mark well clear of the rest of the fleet, never to be challenged again, and taking home the Top Hat trophy. Second was Dave Winder & Ollie Rayner who also came from the right, and who also held second for the whole race.

There was a good tussle between Ben Saxton & George Yeoman and Stu Bithell & Tom Pygall for third, and it was Ben & George who came out on top. Fifth was Tim Fells & Fran Gifford, and sixth was Chris Martin & Sam Bailey. First Silver Fleet was James Wells & Anna Alyward, and first bronze fleet was Ben Archer and Olivia Bellini.

Race 7 was for the Ranelagh trophy, where the top 21 boats get a bottle of Champagne each, and there were a few casualties of the black flag general recall, but the fleet got off second time. It was brilliant close racing at the front end, with Stu & Tom rounding in first, Ian Dobson & Charlotte Fildes in second, Ian Sharps & Alex Warren third, Christian & Sam fourth and Ben & George just behind in fifth which they managed to convert to second by the bottom of the first run.

Stu & Tom were given a yellow flag penalty by the jury on the first reach but it still wasn’t enough for the following boats to catch them. Ian & Charlotte sailed a great third beat to take back second, but Christian & Sam sailed a hotter angle on the run and overtook both Ian and Ben to clinch second, Ian & Charlotte took third, Ben & George got fourth.

James Goss & Chris White sailed a great race to finish fifth on the water, but came ashore to be DSQ in a protest hearing, so fifth went to Ian & Alex, and sixth was Tim & Fran. First Silver fleet was Dan & Ben Alsop in 19th, and first bronze fleet was Tom and Ed Low in 21st which secured the last bottles of Champagne.

Race 8 was the final race in the series after having missed a day of racing, so that meant we lost race nine and our precious second discard. Ben & George got to the windward first this time, with Christian & Sam second, Stu & Tom third, and Dan & Ben Alsop back in the mix again in fourth. Stu & Tom opted for a bold early gybe down the run and was sucked back into the pack by the leeward gate.

Ian & Charlotte were now in third, Jon Ibbotson & Robbie Stewart in fourth, Taxi & Pippa in fifth and James & Chris in sixth. Taxi & Pippa made some great gains down the reaches and up the next beat, bringing James & Chris along with them and making a port lay line cross a bit too close for Ian & Charlotte who ended up spinning at the mark.

So, Ben & George took the bullet and the Winter trophy with Christian & Sam in second. Taxi & Pippa got third, while Tim Saxton & Mary Henderson sailed into fourth, Alex Jackson & Chris Kilsby were fifth and James & Chris finished sixth. Dan & Ben Alsop were first silver fleet, and first bronze was Ben Archer and Olivia Bellini.

The overall results were close, but not close enough in the end, meaning Stu and Tom claimed the Championship title. Christian and Sam did put up a great fight to finish second with a consistent score line even with no practice sailing together this year. Ben and George certainly found their mojo on the last day, and without the gear failures on day one, it may well have been a different story, but they finished in third. Taxi and Pippa came in a very credible fourth, Tim and Mary were fifth and Ian and Charlotte finished much better than they started the week, ending up sixth.

First silver fleet was James and Anna, who had some excellent results all week, and first bronze fleet were newcomers in the Merlin fleet, Tom and Ed Low.

Huge thanks to East Lothian Yacht Club and all the volunteers for being a wonderful host club and for such a fantastic reception, it’s a stunning venue and is definitely worth a visit. Also, thanks to our race officer and his team for dealing with the sometimes tricky conditions and giving us some great racing.

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

The Merlin Rocket Nationals 2022 will be hosted by Mount's Bay 31st July to 5th August.

Photos from Day 4 -
Photos from Day 5 -
Drone video of final mark rounding in race 8 -

Trophies Awarded:

Abererch Trophy
(> 45)
3764 Tim Fells & Fran Gifford
Draycote Water Spring Series Trophy
(> 55)
3764 Tim Fells & Fran Gifford
Centennial trophy
combined age between helm and crew of 100 or over
3764 Tim Fells & Fran Gifford
Grafham Goblet
First crew aged 18 or under
3781 David Winder & Oliver Rayner
Minima Trophy
First female competitor sailing in the same boat throughout the championship.
3735 Andy Davis & Pippa Kilsby
Amazons cup
First female helm
3803 Caroline Croft & Chris Gould
Neil Henderson Cup
First helm and crew related by birth or marriage sailing in the same boat throughout
3778 David Lenz & Victoia Lenz
Ball and Chain Trophy
First boat sailed by a couple not married or related by birth.
3803 Caroline Croft & Chris Gould
Old boats prize
( < 3603)
3539 Dan Alsop & Ben Alsop
Buttercup Trophy
Lowest placed boat having completed all races
3800 Richard Bramley & Paul Walker
King Cup
First boat with an aggregate age between helm and crew of 49 or under)
no entrants
Heavyweights prize no entrants

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Merlin Rocket nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1st3811Stuart BithellTom PygallParkstone YC211(BFD)141818
2nd3788Christian BirrelSam BrearyParkstone YC1221(DNF)122222
3rd3777Ben SaxtonGeorge YeomanItchenor SC6(DNF)74234127
4th3735Andy DavisPippa KilsbySouth Staffs SC3310278‑16336
5th3807Tim SaxtonMary HendersonItchenor SC75994‑197445
6th3804Ian DobsonCharlotte FildesBurwain SC(BFD)17810373755
7th3764Tim FellsFran GiffordSalcombe YC‑15713312561157
8th3803Caroline CroftChris GouldLymington Town SC965610169‑2061
9th3778David LenzVictoia LenzLymington Town SC5153(BFD)611101363
10th3712Ian SharpsAlex WarrenBurghfield SC412‑191251351263
11th3781David WinderOliver RaynerHollingworth Lake SC114‑188112141464
12th3795Alex JacksonChris KilsbyShoreham SC1313458‑1717565
13th3814James GossChris WhiteSouth Staffs SC14102118151(DSQ)685
14th3756Sophie MackleyOllie MeadowcroftShoreham SC101861918‑2811991
15th3758Dave HayesWill CrockerLymington Town SC121120714‑21131592
16th3786David WadeBen RaynerNorthampton SC1981715171512‑28103
17th3746James WellsAnna AylwardStarcross YC8201113221020‑29104
18th3796William WarrenMegan PascoeShoreham SC1816151723‑25816113
19th3539Dan AlsopBen AlsopLyme Regis SC17141211‑26231918114
20th3763Mark BarnesJosh WilceWhitstable YC1619141416‑271523117
21st3766Andy DalbyMark OakeyBurghfield SC20922169‑311830124
22nd3787Chris MartinSamuel BaileyMidland SC(BFD)2433221363117146
23rd3757Tim ParsonsSarah ParsonsLyme Regis SC(BFD)2616272892221149
24th3684Tom LowEd LowWest Hoe SC‑2929262324202125168
25th3641Mark WaterhlouseIsobel StewartSalcombe YC21232326252228‑35168
26th3784Mark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town SC2225272120‑333026171
27th3710Jon IbbotsonRobbie StewartBurghfield SC253925283114(BFD)10172
28th3775Dan WilletPete NicholsonBrightlingsea SC(BFD)2124201929BFD22181
29th3666John MeadowcroftImogen WadeUpper Thames SC2428302433‑342519183
30th3767Ben ArcherOlivia BelliniParkstone YC303329253418(BFD)24193
31st3772Dan HeatonTom GurneyMountbatten SC2327(UFD)2921352933197
32nd3745Paul DeanHannah BurtWembley SC‑3222283227322632199
33rd3751Phil EmeryPhoebe PaineWhitstable YC27323133‑37242736210
34th3723Geoff KimberHelen KimberStone SC2634363036‑373231225
35th3790Colin BrockbankSue BroughWembley SC283035313030(DNF)DNC230
36th3740Pat BlakeJilly BlakeCookham Reach SC(BFD)36DNFDNF29262327233
37th3662Nigel HudsonFreya HudsonBartley SC(BFD)35343632383334242
38th2663Chris HowarthMike HamiltonBlackpool & Fleetwood SC34‑40373540362438244
39th3774Richard CoulterLouis LappageFishers Green SC3131323435(DNC)DNCDNC255
40th3619Guy BrowneGreg MartinTrent Valley SC3541403738‑433639266
41st3800Richard BramleyPaul WalkerShoreham SC38‑42413939393441271
42nd3695Pete SlackImmy BrownBlithfield SC33374238(DNC)40BFD37273
43rd3449Carl WhitehillSam WhitehillRYA363839(DNF)DNC413540275
44th3561Joe ShawPatricia HickeyWembley SC37433840(DNF)423742279
45th3792Alistair McDonaldLydia BourneBerwick Upon Tweed SC394443(DNF)DNFDNFDNCDNC310

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