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Merlin Rocket Thames and De May Series at Hampton Sailing Club

by Andrew Mills 11 Oct 2022 07:33 PDT 8-9 October 2022
Merlin Rocket Thames and De May Series at Hampton © Rob O'Neill

Hampton SC hosted the next round of the Merlin Rocket vintage and local circuit meetings. On Saturday the De May vintage series for boats built before 1985 continued, followed by the Thames series open to all Merlins on the Sunday. We were blessed with sunny warm weather all weekend for what may well turn out to be the last shorts and t-shirt event of the year!

We tested our new launching arrangements for visiting boats with a pontoon bridging from the Bell Hill car park to our slipway on the north bank. This worked so much better than trying to get boats across to the club down the narrow Benn's Alley. Once assembled on the island and after bacon baps and coffee had been consumed, Saturday's racing got under way in a very light and fickle more or less Westerly.

The fourteen boat fleet was led by Rob and Hattie Cage in their lovely renovated and updated Hullabaloo, 1692, followed by John and Livvy Bell in Grand Teton, 1201. Simon Girven and Richard Parslow followed in Splatter, 1631. The wind was generally too light to get the spinnaker to fill.

The second race was held after a very brief turn round, with the wind picking up a bit and a little more consistent in direction. Another straightforward course round an upriver and downriver mark gave a shifty beat followed by a tricky run. Rob and Hattie again showed us the way round, this time to a longer J downriver mark, which set the pattern for the weekend.

Behind there was quite a bit of place changing in the shifty conditions but this time Simon and Richard took the second place with John and Livvy in third.

After a sausage and ciabatta lunch the third race got going in the best conditions of the day, a more consistent SW wind giving ideal beat and run racing in unbroken sunshine. Rob and Hattie again took first, from Simon and Richard in second and John and Livvy in third.

Now the racing was done, the fleet settled down to consume some delicious Hampton-baked cakes before starting on the beer.

Prizes were then awarded for the De May: Rob and Hattie first, Simon and Richard second and Ollie and Emily third. Extra chocolate prizes were given to the two junior crews, Emily H and Mariella Burton and hoodies and various other goodies were awarded courtesy of Craftinsure, the sponsors of the De May.

That evening we had a curry delivered by a local restaurant (thank you very much Nicky Page for organising it) and I believe the evening finished after the supply of Kraken rum for the Dark and Stormies had run out and those left standing were forced to consume Armanac.

Sunday was again quite warm and sunny, with a stronger Southerly wind blowing straight across the river. The first start was reasonably orderly (the black flag was threatened but not used by Jane Chambers and her race team). Going through the narrower part of the river north of Tagg's Island was tricky with the wind swirling over the trees on the bank, but as usual, the cream rose to the top and Rob and Hatty Cage again managed the conditions to perfection and counted another first, followed in by locals Phil Dalby and Ben Peerless in Onions, 1761. Third went to Ollie Houseman with new crew Carl.

The stronger wind proved problematic for Richard Parslow and Simon Girven. Having swapped crew and helm roles from the previous day they were going really quickly before hiking out for a gust when the starboard shroud decided to part company with the boat. Quick action saved further damage but their day was done.

The second race followed quickly. The start was enlivened by Rob Heath, who had got caught up with some rowers and then had the bright idea of approaching the line from the course side on port looking for a gap. He didn't find one but he did collect a couple of Merlins on his way through (me and Ollie H). But no damage was done and he did his turns. John and Livvy Bell collected the second place in this race behind the Cage's and in front of Ollie and Carl.

After lunch in much the same wind conditions we set off for the third race on a shorter lap than before, avoiding the wind shadow. The spinnaker just about paid for the middle of the downriver leg but hoists and drops needed to be very quick and sharp. It looked as though Rob and Hattie might not win and get the clean sweep but just towards the end of the race got a nice puff to take them through Alex Jackson and Sophie Penwarden who took second in 1493 (Alex having by then recovered from his Dark and Stormies followed by a night with a 6-month-old).

Duncan Salmon and Ruth Haundstetter took third place and the only modern Merlin in the top ten places.

So the Thames series trophy for Hampton went to Rob and Hattie Cage with a perfect score for the weekend. Prizes for second and third places were given by Craftinsure, sponsors of the De May and Thames series. Rob however said he didn't want any of his company's stuff back for his string of wins!

One last statistic - there were six boats sailing with father and daughter crews this weekend as well as three married couples.

Saturday Results:

PosSail NoBoatHelmCrewClubR1R2R3
1st1692HullabalouRob CageHatty CageThames SC‑111
2nd1631SplatterSimon GirvenRichard ParslowHampton SC‑322
3rd1201Grand TetonJohn BellLivvy BellHampton SC23‑4
4th1761OnionsPhil DalbyBen PeerlessHampton SC‑643
5th723CindyStuart JenkinsNicola ScaddanHampton SC/UTSC46(DNF)
6th3560LukaOllie HousmanEmily HousmanChew Valley Lake SC‑555
7th774QuiverJohn HeathSophie PenwardenHampton SC‑887
8th901TierselPat BlakeJilly BlakeCookham Reach SC10‑116
9th3347ElusiveHywel Bowen‑PerkinsLucy PenwardenHampton SC‑11.5710
10th3088ShenandoahAndrew MillsEllie MillsHampton SC9‑108
11th2037Lady HyperionRichard BurtonMariella BurtonMedley SC7(DNS)11
12th578ChinditJames WarrenSophie PeerlessHampton SC‑11.599
13th1695EllaRob HeathJo HeathHampton SC1312(DNS)
14th1765GraceKevin AndersonMaddie AndersonHampton SC(DNS)DNS12

Sunday Results:

PosSail NoBoatHelmCrewClubR1R2R3
1st1692HullabalouRob CageHatty CageThames SC‑111
2nd1761OnionsPhil DalbyBen PeerlessHampton SC2‑64
3rd3560LukaOllie HousmanCarl MayhewChew Valley Lake SC33‑8
4th3702Salmon‑en‑CrouteDuncan SalmonRuth HanstaterWembley SC‑543
5th1493Katy LouAlex JacksonSophie PeerlessHampton SC6‑72
6th1201Grand TetonJohn BellLivvy BellHampton SC‑726
7th1097FlinkidinkStuart JenkinsNicola ScaddanHampton SC/UTSC45‑13
8th3259AndromedaCharlie MorganTim GinnTamesis SC‑11105
9th901TierselPat BlakeJilly BlakeCookham Reach SC9‑117
10th774QuiverJohn HeathSophie PenwardenHampton SC8‑99
11th3347ElusiveHywel Bowen‑PerkinsLucy PenwardenHampton SC‑12810
12th3766The BearAndy DalbyAimee DalbyHampton SC1012(DNF)
13th3088ShenandoahAndrew MillsEllie MillsHampton SC13‑1411
14th3589Fat Bottom GirlJohn HollandsAlexandra ParkerHampton SC‑141312
15th578ChinditRichard PageLizzie PageHampton SC‑151514
16th1765GraceKevin AndersonMaddie AndersonHampton SC‑161615
17th1631SplatterSimon GirvenRichard ParslowHampton SC(DNS)DNSDNS

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