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Craftinsure Silver Tiller Merlin Rocket open meeting at Brightlingsea Sailing Club

by Nick Craig 24 Nov 10:46 PST 20-21 November 2021
Craftinsure Silver Tiller Merlin Rocket open meeting at Brightlingsea © Jane Somerville

The extended Merlin Rocket Craftinsure Silver Tiller moved to Brightlingsea which attracted a high-quality fleet of 18 boats with few fleet racing opens on. The entry list read like an Endeavour line up with Olympians, World and National champions littering the top ten.

The opening day was tricky for sure. Light, patchy winds which swung 90 degrees right during the day but with significant oscillations and a strong tide varying across the course.

Multi-champion Tim Saxton ably crewed by Endeavour champ Mary Henderson won the first race; they have been gaining speed in their new Jon Turner hull all season. Another multi-champ Tom Gillard crewed by Olympic hopeful Arran Holman won the next race, and Olympian Ben Saxton crewed by Lottie Fildes won the last race to take a small overnight lead.

Most of the fleet struggled for consistency but star turns were delivered by Arthur Henderson and kitesurfing legend Maddy Anderson with a third in the opening race, many time B14 champs Dave Hayes and Jonny Ratcliffe showing they've still got it with a fourth in race 2, and Dave and Sarah Conlon from the home club delivering a popular fourth in race 3.

The evening social was excellent with tasty food plus seconds which were gratefully devoured with 20 knots forecast for Sunday. It was great to catch up with old friends whilst being entertained by Guinness-fuelled Taxi confusing a police officer for Santa Claus (the bobby had a white beard!).

Sunday was very different to Saturday and marked the arrival of winter with a stiff 15-20 knots from the North and, with windchill, temperatures felt sub-zero. The wind dropped a little during the day and the race officer did a great job of turning races round quickly, so competitors stayed warm despite the conditions.

Gillard and Holman had just taken the lead in the opening race only to capsize on a gybe into the leeward mark with Gilly injuring his back, unfortunately ending their day early. (Ben) Saxton and Fildes were a model of consistency with 2,3,2 to win overall. Former Champion Taxi Davis and Pippa Kilsby had the best day with plenty of pace both up and downwind to score 1,2,2 grabbing second overall.

Nick Craig sailing with Figaro superstar Alan Roberts finally remembered how to Merlin sail after a year out to win the last race and snatch third overall from (Tim) Saxton and Henderson, who won race 5 after performing move of the day with a heat up and double gybe into the last leeward mark gaining two boats in the last seconds of the race.

Sailing legend Ben Saxton thanked the excellent race team and encouraged everyone to join the fun at the remaining events at the centre of British sailing, Burghfield, on Saturday (27th November) and Itchenor the following weekend (4th December) for the Craftinsure Silver Tiller finale and dinner.

Ben accurately commented that the Merlins deliver the most competitive racing in the UK at the moment which is expected to continue in 2022 with the ever-popular Mounts Bay hosting the Nationals (31st July to 4th August).

Overall Results:

PosBoatSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stRockatross3804Ben SaxtonCharlotte FildesParkstone SC2‑3123311
2ndATL3735Andy DavisPippa KilsbySouth Staff SC‑65312213
3rdHarken3776Nick CraigAlan RobertFrensham Pond SC‑82544116
4thBaloo3807Tim SaxtonMary HendersonItchenor SC16‑1031718
5th 3758David HayesJonny RadcliffeLymington Town‑94775831
6thNight Fury3775Chris JenningsPete NicholsonB/sea SC‑1312858437
7thDancing Brave3763Mark BarnesRebecca BinesB/sea SC5761010‑1238
8thBlue bird3683Arthur HendersonMaddy AndersonSalombe YC3‑181486940
9thAppetitie For Destruction3753David ConlonSarah ConlonB/sea SC7‑1341291042
10thThe Force Awakens3781David WinderAnna BlakeHollingworth SC4‑1412914544
11thArwen3726Will HendersonRupert WhiteSalcombe YC1189‑13111150
12thQuicksilver3787Chris MartinJohn Tailby 1215‑16671454
13thBoris3793James GoodfellowRich CornesArdleigh SC15111511OCS658
14thRed Mistress3759Thomas GillardArran HolmanHollowell SCDSQ12DNCDNCDNC60
15thOutnumbered3745Paul DeanHannah BertWembley SC‑14101114121360
16thSnakey B3671Piers LambertEddie BridleB/sea SC10913DNCDNCDNC70
17thGertcha3770Jon StewardRussell HalFishers Green SC171717DNC131579
18thSO Shades3723Geoff KimberHelen KimberStone SC161618DNCDNCDNC88

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