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Craftinsure Silver Tiller for Merlin Rockets at Stone Sailing Club

by Anna Aylward 5 Oct 2022 02:36 PDT 1-2 October 2022
Craftinsure Silver Tiller for Merlin Rockets at Stone © Alice Crick

The Craftinsure Silver Tiller at Stone Sailing Club was magical. No, literally there was a magician on Saturday night, impressing us with his tricks and entertaining a full room of tired sailors. And we were quite tired after Stone provided us with two days of great and close racing in the October sunshine.

Nineteen Merlin Rockets turned up on Saturday morning to be greeted by a strong wind with gusts up to 30kts, leading to a couple of sensible sailors remaining on land for the day. We set off to the race course, which only took a few seconds in that breeze and we were off. We were sharing the event with the RS600s who hurtled off for the first start and some swimming practise!

The race officer set a trapezoid course, the same shape to be used for all six races, with very short reaching legs as we didn't expect to hoist our kites until the run. There was also the decision to run short and snappy two lap races around 30 minutes in order to get both fleets racing nice and quickly. The strong wind against a fairly strong tide set the tone for an exciting day's racing.

All the starts and first beats were tight, so the first run was key to a good result and there were nice gains to be made from staying upright.

The first race was a good way to dip the toe in - quite literally for a lot of us. The committee end start was popular, and it was a close battle at the front of the pack with Tim Saxton & Mary Henderson leading to the first mark, closely followed by Tom Gillard & Rachael Gray then Caroline Croft & Faye Chatterton. Each pairing extended on the boat behind to finish in that order.

The second race started, and the tide was really under way, pushing us all up to the mark and the right hand side of the course. Tom & Rachael led at mark one and extended away to secure their first win of the weekend. Caroline & Faye put in another solid race to hold off Tim & Mary who fought back through the fleet after a poor first run.

Chris Gould & Megan Pascoe had their best result of the weekend coming home fourth after a particularly speedy first run.

The third race saw the departure of the RS600s as the wind proved a little too much, and the sea probably a little too cold, and the remaining Merlins set off again. Tim & Mary headed right into the favourable tide whilst the rest held on starboard after the start. This turned into a small lead for Tim & Mary at the first mark, which was extended to the finish.

Tom & Rachael then held second place to finish another incredibly consistent day from the championship winning team. James Wells & Anna Aylward stormed down the second run but were swiftly beaten to the end of the run by Will Warren & Sophie Mackley on the inside, who held on to finish third, as several others swam in a large gust.

Sunday arrived with some sore heads as the magician had inspired us all to make the drinks disappear the previous night but sadly, he didn't share the trick to making hangovers disappear. After a brief briefing confirming the plan was the same as the previous day we were off again in a nice breeze.

The fourth race brought new players to the front as Fran Gifford & Pete Nicholson were fuelled up and ready to challenge. They kept the heat on frontrunners Tom & Rachael and Caroline & Faye, who finished first and second, and crossed the line third after winning a very close battle at mark three with Tim & Mary.

The fifth race had a slightly delayed start after the RS600s had a general recall and the first mark was moved to the left to accommodate a small wind shift. Tom & Rachael and Caroline & Faye went left and popped out first at the first mark but those that had tacked off early into the tide were right there chasing.

On the second run James & Anna pulled off a rapid kite hoist to get inside Tim & Mary in second place. James & Anna then gybed off early and after the wind shifted slightly, they were heading directly to the mark and in the lead, which they held on to take the win. Tim & Mary pinned Tom & Rachael out to the side of the run and clinched second and third respectively.

After five well-behaved starts it was inevitable we'd have one naughty start especially with all that tide, and so for race six we all dutifully piled over the pin end of the line to cause our first and only general recall of the weekend.

The pin end was moved back to even out the line, and we went again. After the first lap Tom & Rachael were in the lead, closely followed by James & Anna. A big solitary gust made its way through the fleet on the second run, causing some big wobbles but allowing Paul Rayson & Christian Hill to motor down the course.

Tom & Rachael just held them off to take another race win and clinch the weekend, but Paul & Christian stormed into second place, their best result of the weekend. They were followed by James & Anna in third who just managed to beat Will & Sophie in fourth place.

Overall, Tom & Rachael took home another win, followed by a strong performance by Tim & Mary in second and James & Anna rounding out the podium in third place, also winning the gold fleet.

The silver fleet was won by Duncan Salmon and Ruth Hanstater, who scored an impressive fifth in the third race on Saturday, and the bronze fleet was won by Jon Steward and Blake Newman, who came tenth overall.

Thanks to Stone Sailing Club for hosting us and entertaining us all evening. Well done to the race team for smashing through six great races, the safety boats for zipping all over the place, and the galley team for putting on such a spread!

More photos from Alice Crick:

Next up on the Silver Tiller circuit will be Itchenor Sailing Club in two weeks' time, on the 15th and 16th October, see you there!

Overall Results:

PosFleetSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stPlatinum3759Thomas GillardRach GrayStaunton Harold SC2121‑317
2ndPlatinum3807Tim SaxtonMary HendersonItchenor SC / Brightlingsea SC13142‑511
3rdGold3746James WellsAnna AylwardRYA‑66451319
4thPlatinum3803Caroline CroftFaye ChattertonLymington Town Sailing Club32825‑920
5thGold3796William WarrenSophie MackleyShoreham SC573‑87426
6thGold3799Paul RaysonChristian HillFishers Green / Salcombe YC4‑127108231
7thPlatinum3713Chris GouldMegan PascoeLymington Town Sailing Club‑1249661237
8thSilver3702Duncan SalmonRuth HanstaterWembley Sailing Club710599‑1140
9thSilver3745Paul DeanHannah BurtWembley886‑15121044
10thBronze3770Jon StewardBlake NewmanFishers Green SC10910714‑1750
11thGold3775Fran GiffordPete NicholsonBrightlingsea(DNS)DNSDNS34653
12thGold3804Peter GrayRob AllenStaunton Harold/ Salcombe YC(DNS)5DNF1210754
13thSilver3730Ben HollisAlex PauseyBlithfield91111‑16131660
14thGold3563David HallEmelie HoodBlackwater SC11(DNF)DNF1115865
15thBronze3675Rob HatleyJoe HatleyTamesis Club131312‑19161872
16thBronze3695Peter SlackImmy BrownTrent Valley / Rutland(DNS)DNSDNS13111579
17thBronze3518Tim HarmsMillie LittleHampton Sailing15(DNF)DNF14171379
18thSilver3648Antonia WrightJamie WrightShoreham SC14(DNS)DNS17181483
19thBronze3506Graham WebbSimon PollardFishers Green SC(DNF)DNS1318191989

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