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Merlin Rocket Craftinsure Silver Tiller Series at Lymington Town Sailing Club

by Richard Parslow 9 Sep 23:41 PDT 4-5 September 2021
Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Series at Lymington © Giles Thornton

24 Merlin Rockets from all over the country gathered at Lymington Town SC for the 4th 'Sea' event of this season's Craftinsure Silver Tiller series over the weekend of 4 and 5 September.

Saturday was overcast, warm and muggy. After a leisurely morning, the fleet strolled out at midday for 3 races in a light south-easterly (6 - 9 knots) that remained fairly consistent in both direction and strength for most of the afternoon.

In such light conditions, the Solent tide was always going to be a factor, with local knowledge at a premium. Noted local wag Rob Henderson, crewing for father Will, when pressed for some tips, said: "the depth gets less as the tide goes out". True wisdom indeed, and the pair were good enough to provide an immediate demonstration by running aground on a falling tide on the way to the course.

Weed was also a hazard and the fleet was constantly peppered with people doing that strange flamingo-like neck-craning to check their centreboards.

Race 1 was held at the end of the tide's westerly flow and the overexcited sailors indulged themselves with a couple of general recalls. Mike & Jane Calvert led at mark 1 and sailed away for a comfortable win. William Warren & Megan Pascoe held off Simon Potts & Richard Parslow and Dave & Victoria Lenz. Rob Kennaugh & Michael Prosser were 5th ahead of Jon & Mimi Gorringe and Sophie Mackley & Beka Jones.

Race 2 started in an increasing easterly-flowing tide, carrying the unwary over the line. After at least 2 general recalls (in all the excitement I lost count) the Calvert's did another horizon job, and an ominous foreboding overtook the rest of the fleet. James Wells & Anna Aylward and Tim & Sarah Parsons were in the hunt early on, but Dave & Victoria Lenz were flying and took 2nd, followed by Warren & Pascoe (whose better crew work at the leeward mark took them past Potts & Parslow). Wells & Aylward took 5th as Caroline Croft & Chris Gould passed the Parsons for 6th.

Race 3 was a trip around the cans with a finish in the river mouth, started in a dying breeze as the current really started to rip. This time the Lenzes led from start to finish, with Potts & Parslow taking 2nd from Warren and Pascoe, who just held off the Calverts' late charge. David Winder & Anna Blake held on for 5th, with Wells & Aylward in 6th.

Sunday was brighter but even lighter (SE 6 - 8 kts), which meant another hot, sticky day fighting the tide and avoiding the weed (or not). With a first warning signal at 10:30, the tide was just starting to run to the west as the fleet arrived in the race area.

After a brief postponement caused by a shift during the initial sequence Race 4 started cleanly at the first go. With the left clearly favoured for tide, it was vital to get off the line fast and hold a lane. Nearest the shore were Will & Rob Henderson, the Lenzes, the Gorringes and Potts & Parslow. The Lenzes led by 30 yards at the first windward mark and never looked in danger of losing it. Potts & Parslow took 2nd as Croft & Gould came through to take 3rd from the Gorringes, followed by the Hendersons. Meanwhile the Calverts were clawing their way back from deep at mark 1 and managed to take 6th.

Race 5 saw more of the same: a race to the left, minimising manoeuvres and keeping the weed off the foils. Pat & Jilly Blake started strongly near the pin, however they could not hold the Lenzes, who sailed away for their third win in a row, followed by the Calverts. Croft & Gould took another 3rd and the Hendersons outmanoeuvred Potts & Parslow at the last leeward mark to take 4th, while the Blakes held on for 6th.

Race 6 was the grand finale: another round the cans affair, starting against a strong (and ever-increasing) current, which again favoured the left side of the beat. With the windward mark in the strongest current, crews had to be patient and not go for it too early, which would mean spending too much time on the down escalator.

Before the start the Lenzes had worked out that the Calverts had to win the race to overtake them overall (with nobody else in the hunt). So they started underneath their opponents and pinched them out, forcing them to tack away into the stronger current. Meanwhile the race leaders were short-tacking up the shore. Croft & Gould managed to get to the left of the Gorringes to take the lead. Behind the leading pair Wells & Aylward struck out for the windward mark too early, allowing Potts & Parslow through. With the tide running with the wind, the downwind legs were over very fast and the reaches were very tight, requiring slick spinnaker work and smooth manoeuvres. Although the fleet bunched up on the beats, Croft & Gould sailed away for the win, followed by the Gorringes and Potts & Parslow. The Calverts made a heroic recovery after their forced detour on the first beat to take 4th. The breeze was softening all the time though and the race was shortened before they had a chance to advance any further. Wells & Aylward took 5th ahead of the Blakes and Warren & Pascoe.

Thank you to Lymington Town Sailing Club for a great weekend. Next up the fleet head to Upper Thames Sailing Club for the Vintage Series on 11th September, followed by the Craftinsure Silver Tiller and Thames Series on Sunday 12th.

Overall Results:

PosFleetSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stGold3778David LenzVictoria LenzLymington Town SC42111‑89
2ndGold3691Mike CalvertJane CalvertAxe SC114‑62412
3rdGold3802Simon PottsRichard ParslowBurghfield SC3422‑5314
4thGold3803Caroline CroftChris GouldLymington Town SC‑96733120
5thGold3796William WarrenMegan PascoeShoreham SC233‑137722
6thGold3791Jon GorringeMimi GorringeParkstone YC6‑121048230
7thSilver3746James WellsMiss Anna AylwardStarcross SC12569‑14537
8thGold3726Will HendersonRob HendersonSalcombe YC‑131013541143
9thGold3781David WinderAnna BlakeHollingworth Lake SC‑16958111548
10thGold3756Sophie MackleyBeka JonesShoreham SC711811‑131249
11thGold3700Rob KennaughAndrew ProsserMidland SC51597‑231450
12thSilver3768Rob CageJohn ReayThames SC108151210‑1855
13thGold3683Arthur HendersonLivvy BellSalcombe YC‑1413111491057
14thGold3757Tim ParsonsSarah ParsonsLyme Regis SC87(RET)OCS12963
15thSilver3740Patrick BlakeJilly BlakeCookham Reach SC1916‑20176664
16thSilver3784Mark BarwellLouise JohnsonLymington Town SC11181215‑242076
17thBronze3684Tom LowDan MartinWest Hoe SC‑20191420181384
18th 3604Robbie BoydWill HeritageLymington Town SC15‑222218151686
19thBronze3748Nigel BrookeSuzie BrookeLymington Town SC‑22141721191788
20thBronze3719Rob MartinJan MartinLymington Town SC21(UFD)1916171992
21stBronze3709Jack NortonDave RoyseRanelagh SC1820181920(RET)95
22ndSilver3714Alan MarkhamAlice/Sue MarkhamLymington Town SC‑23211622162297
23rdBronze3780Sarah RichardsPaul GardnerLymington Town SC171721(DNC)DNCDNC109
24thSilver3650Chloe GeorgeAlice MarkhamLymington Town SC(DNC)DNCDNC1022RET113
25thBronze3586Kieron MasonBelinda MasonBlithfield SC24232323(RET)DNC120
26th 3485Barry Dunning Royal Lymington YC(DNC)DNCDNCOCS2121123

Silver Fleet Winners: James Wells & Miss Anna Aylward
Bronze Fleet Winners: Pat & Jilly Blake

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