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Aspire Merlin Rocket National Championships 2023 at Brading Haven Yacht Club - Overall

by Mike Calvert & Anna Aylward 5 Aug 08:05 PDT 31 July - 4 August 2023

The final day of the Aspire Merlin Rocket National Champs finally gave tired sailors some respite from the big winds of the week with a nice, 8-12kt north-westerly breeze. Dusty bottles of suncream were dug out of bags as the sun came to join us for a while, and boats lined up on the pebbles for the final time.

There were three races planned, to catch up with the full programme of races but we only made it through two before we hit the time limit. Huge thanks to our race officer Nigel Denchfield and the full race team for getting us through the week and dealing with some topsy turvy weather conditions.

The breeze was good but it was likely to become shifty and variable with a tide change in the first race - this was going to be a tricky day! After three APs where the race officer was struggling with a wandering pin, we were finally away, with most of the fleet having to hitch up on port to get to the start line with an ever-increasing port bias.

Due to a favourable tide angle and left hand shift, the right hand side paid big time, with Mike Calvert and Emma Hivey leading at the windward mark, closely followed by Jon Gorringe and Matt Currell, Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey and Tom Gillard and Rachael Gray. Mike and Emma lead down the run with Jon and Matt coming through to a close second, but Christian nailed hard right and crossed to take the lead which he held to the finish. There wasn't much place changing after that, Mike and Emma remained 2nd, Tom and Rachael finished 3rd, with the Martin brothers coming through to take 4th and Jon & Matt 5th.

A notable mention goes to Paul Dean and Hannah Burt with their best race of the week, racing round in the top 10 for the first two laps and dropping to 13th at the finish. Christian and Sam's win secured their championship with one race to spare - well done!

On the second race start the tide had turned and the fleet got away cleanly for the first time, all except Christian who tried to tow the pin up the course! Everyone knew to nail the right hand side this time, but there were still gains to be made with short hitches to the left as the wind became more fitful, so looking for pressure became just as important as the tide angle. Down the first run it was Christian and Sam, followed by James Goss and Chris White, then Caroline Croft and Faye Chatterton, Tom and Rachael, Ian and Chris Martin, and Mike and Emma were all in the mix.

When to gybe on the run became critical due to the patchy nature of the breeze. The big winners were James and Chris and Mike and Emma. These pairs broke clear on the next beat and could sail in a clear lane to windward on the right side which gave them big gains over the rest of the chasing pack. Christian and Sam finished first over the line but were deemed OCS, so James and Chris had their first win of the week. Mike and Emma were 2nd with the Martin brothers 3rd, Tom and Rachael 4th and Caroline and Faye 5th.

There was an exciting finish for several boats from 8th through to 13th, as three boats (Ollie Meadowcroft and Tim Harms, James Wells and Anna Aylward, and Chris Gould and Dan Martin) came round the leeward mark and went off really high. This provided a potential opportunity for the next four boats to point straight at the line and sneak through. Sensing the pouncing boats, Chris and Dan gybed back to the line, followed by Ollie and Tim and James and Anna. They then had starboard over the advancing boats and managed to gybe across the finish line and take back the places.

The day was then done and an intense crews race commenced back to the shore. Boats were dragged back up the vertiginous beach for the last time and we packed away amongst the puddles.

Thanks so much to the Brading Haven Yacht Club for hosting us this week, you've been so welcoming. Special shout-out to your pool table for hosting our week-long pool tournament that provided hours of entertainment.

The MROA team pulled the prize-giving together in rapid time and only one trophy got dropped! Congratulations to Christian and Sam winning the week, Tom and Rachael in 2nd, Mike and Emma in 3rd and all sailors in the top ten. Well done to Sarah Richards and Nigel Wakefield winning the gold fleet, Paul and Hannah winning the silver fleet and Geoff and Helen Kimber winning the bronze fleet (Helen also winning the oversized Merlin Rocket Golf Masters blazer).

Thank you to our title sponsor Aspire Financial Services, our fleet sponsor WEST SYSTEMS, our golfing sponsor GK Engineering and the social trip to Cowes Week sponsor DinghyTech.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Merlin Rocket nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1st3788Christian BirrellSam Brearey1211111(OCS)8
2nd3759Thomas GillardRachel Gray21233‑73418
3rd3691Mike CalvertEmma Hivey10‑1476732237
4th3814James GossChris White536‑121256138
5th3719Ian MartinChris Martin848(BFD)944340
6th3775Chris JenningsPete Nicholson65354812‑1643
7th3803Chris GouldDan Martin48425‑1814946
8th3820Caroline CroftFaye Chatterton117‑1346910552
9th3791Jon GorringeMatt Currell1265(BFD)225RET61
10th3807Tim SaxtonPete Matthews‑Dixon3129131410(DNF)667
11th3787Chris MartinJohn Tailby71614786‑191169
12th3780Sarah RichardsNigel Wakefield‑16101281111161381
13th3700Rob KennaughAndrew Prosser14915101014‑181284
14th3746James WellsAnna Aylward1713119(RET)198885
15th3782Ed ChapmanHannah Peters13‑17171713139789
16th3796William WarrenGeorge Bender1511‑202015161114102
17th3666John MeadowcroftOliver Meadowcroft91510161612(DNC)DNC107
18th3696Alaexander WarrenJonty Freeman181816(RET)18RET710116
19th3817Geoff KimberHelen Kimber19‑20181117151719116
20th3745Paul DeanHannah Burt‑2019191819171315120
21st3816Phil EmeryPhoebe Paine212121(RET)DNCDNC1517153
22nd3600Mike PartridgeClaire Davis(DNC)DNCDNC152020DNF20162
23rd3821Gavin WillisChris Bishop(DNC)DNC2219RETDNC2121170
24th3672John CooperPhil Scot(DNC)2223RETDNCDNC2022174
25th3809Jon TurnerRichard Parslow(DNC)DNCDNC14RETDNCDNCDNC188
26th3767Ben ArcherOlivia Bellini(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC18192
27th3794Julian HarmsTimothy Harms(DNC)DNCDNCL05DNCDNCDNCRET200
28th3695Pete SlackImmy Brown(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC203

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