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Craftinsure Thames, Vintage and Classic Merlin Rocket series at Ranelagh Sailing Club

by Frances Gifford 26 Oct 2022 05:26 PDT 22 October 2022
Craftinsure Thames, Vintage and Classic Merlin Rocket series at Ranelagh © Rob O'Neill

Sunday 23rd October 2022 saw the culmination of the Merlin Rockets' Thames, Vintage and Classic Series', sponsored by Craftinsure and sailed at Ranelagh Sailing Club on the beautiful River Thames in Putney. Eight home boats greeted the nine visitors from as far afield as Salcombe and Blithfield and lots of boats from our friends from the Thames clubs plus Wembley, Burghfield and Chew Valley.

As ever the range of ages of boats spanned seventy years, with plenty of beautifully varnished wood on display.

The forecast was for torrential rain for rigging, a three hour window of less rain and then a lot more rain by the time we should all be on the road home. And gusting up to 20 knots from the South. As visitors arrived it was indeed pouring with rain and rigging took place in full sailing attire. There was however little wind and a strong flood tide.

The sun came out, the briefing took place and following a short postponement for the wind to fill into a fitful 4-10 knots, the race began.

The option was available to all to commence a Le Mans start, no need to be afloat before the start with such a strong tide, but the wise walked their boats down towards Putney Bridge and launched with a couple of minutes to go in order to be in the middle of the river but behind the line when the start gun went, with spinnakers up.

Most boats arrived at the downwind, upriver mark at roughly the same time with an excellent amount of chaos ensuing. John and Livvy Bell in 1201 made a great rounding to put them in the leading pack, along with Ranelagh Jack and Dave Royse in 3709 and Andy Harris and Matty Key in 3625 and Will and Arthur Henderson in 3683 all in the mix.

A couple of laps upstream of the dreaded Fulham Football Club (but opposite side of the river), ensued with short tacking up the bank the order of the day, followed by a swift downwind leg back to rowing mark number two. The lead was exchanged between this bunch with great racing behind as well.

Three times round rowing mark number two and it was a race to the finish, back on the club line. But by this point there was a decent breeze and crews were seen to stretch their legs and backs.

Andy and Matty took the right hand shore, with Will and Arthur breaking left early under the dark but not windless shadow of the football club. John and Livvy and Jack and Dave followed up the right hand side, only for Will and Arthur to make big gains on the left. John and Livvy won the right and then crossed to the Fulham shore with a comfortable lead which they held to the finish.

Will and Arthur took second followed by Andy and Matty and then Jack and Dave. The hotly contested race for fifth and sixth ensued between Andy and Aimee Dalby in 3766 and Rob and Hatty Cage in 1692, ultimately won by the latter.

Another Ranelagh race, with very little to not enjoy, so hopefully enjoyed by everyone.

A wonderful prize-giving followed with the end of season trophies handed out for the Thames Series won by Rob and Hattie Cage, the de May Series also won by Rob and Hattie Cage, and the Classic Series won by Peter and Tim Male in 3547.

Heartfelt thanks were offered to all of the clubs involved in hosting the events throughout these series'. 55 boats took part in the de May and 60 in the Thames series showing the health of these sections of the class, co-ordinated by the ever present Stuart Jenkins and Nicola Scaddan.

We then sat down to a Ranelagh feast cooked by Brian Clarke the Ranelagh chef extraordinaire, of chicken cassoulet with sausage and pork belly, and a confit chicken leg on top. Served with crusty bread and washed down with drinks of choice from the wonderful Ranelagh SC bar.

Next up for the Merlin's is the Craftinsure Silver Tiller Finale at Parkstone Yacht Club on Saturday 29th October.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClub
1st1201Bell JohnBell LivvyHampton
2nd3683Henderson ArthurHenderson WillSalcombe YC
3rd3625Harris AndyKey MattyTamesis SC
4th3709Norton JackRoyse DaveRSC
5th1692Cage RobCage HattieThames SC
6th3766Dalby AndyDalby AimeeBurfield SC
7th3702Salmon DuncanHanstater RuthWembley SC
8th3560Houseman OliverWatton SteveChew Valley Lake SC
9th3259Morgan CharlieGinn TimTamesis SC
10th3372Tetley GeorgeHogan JackRSC
11th2444Stolper ThomasHayhoe TomRSC
12th1Gifford FranAnna AylwardRSC
13th2979Brien MattDavis MiaRSC
14th214Meloni MarcoScott GretelRSC
15th3547Male PeterMale TimBlithefield SC
16th654Noy WillCardle AmyRSC
17th3510Khan AdilMackinlay WillRSC

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