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Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller at Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy, Pwllheli

by Ian Martin 13 May 02:01 PDT 4-6 May 2024
Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller at Pwllheli © Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy and Event Centre

The Pwllheli leg of the Merlin Craftinsure Silver Tiller (including Midland and Northern circuits) was held over the bank holiday weekend of 4-6 May. Twelve boats made the trip through torrential rain but were rewarded with far better weather once they made it to the venue.

Day 1 had 12kts of breeze along the shore from the south west, giving plenty of waves and chop for the fleet to play with. Ian and Chris Martin were the first to work out the tricky downwind technique to take first in races 1 and 2, closely followed by the ever consistent James Wells and Anna Aylward. The battle for third was tight, as Matt Biggs and Beka Jones swapped places with Robert Kennaugh and Andrew Prosser.

During races 3 and 4 the breeze dropped slightly and the fleet learned the downwind techniques to give very tight racing. James and Anna took both races with excellent upwind pace and no mistakes. Robert and Andrew almost kept hold of second in race 3 but with Matt/Beka and the Martins splitting on the run the were pulled back into the group.

The forecast for day 2 was very light, and the fleet arrived to find no wind. A postponement gave everyone time to do all of the boatwork we had been putting off, and help each other out with our tuning. While we didn't manage to get sailing, this was a classic lovely Merlin day were everyone was generous with tools, expertise and time.

Day 3 was a big improvement on weather, as we launched into bright sunshine and 12kts of offshore breeze. James/Anna took control of race 5 as they got the first shift right and never looked back, leaving a battle between the group behind which now included Mark McKeever and George Bender showing excellent pace in the shifty conditions.

The breeze built gently into race 6 bringing more teams into the mix, with Geoff and Helen Kimber positioning well on the first beat to find themselves in the lead group. The Martins managed to sneak through to lead and the first mark and hold on to set up a final race showdown with James/Anna.

By race 7 the breeze had built to gusting 18kts, so we started to see some of the tuning upgrades made the day before by Tom and Ed Low as their speed made life uncomfortable for James/Anna on the first beat. James/Anna were ever consistent in leading the race throughout, with the Martins rolling the dice hiking to the corner on the last run hoping for a miracle. It was close with a big gust rolling down but James/Anna calmly held on to take the race and event by a few boatlengths.

Overall the conditions at Pwllheli were fantastic as always, with close racing throughout the fleet and a great debut event for David Lucas and Robyn Taylor joining the fleet.

The next Craftinsure Silver Tiller is at Starcross on 1st and 2nd June, the HD Sails Midland Circuit is at Midland Sailing Club on 19th May and the Northern Circuit is at Hollingworth Sailing Club 12th and 13th October.

In the meantime there is plenty happening on the Thames, Vintage, Classic, SE and the SW Series.

Plus entries are open for the Allen Inland Championships at Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club on 8th and 9th June. Enter at

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1st3746James WellsAnna AylwardRYA{2}{2}111216
2nd3719Ian MartinChris MartinBurghfield11{3}2{3}127
3rd3801Matt BiggsBeka JonesBartley Sailing Club{4}32{4}24314
4th3700Roberto KennaughAndrew ProsserMidland Sailing Club3{4}{4}343417
5th3670Mark McKeeverGeorge BenderMidland Sailing Club6{8}5656{8}28
6th3684Tom LowEd LowWest Hoe Sailing Club5{9}757{8}529
7th3817Geoff KimberHelen KimberStone Sailing club75{9}{9}85631
8th3749Colin AndersonSean AndersonBartley Sailing Club{8}667{9}7733
9th3662Nigel HudsonFreya HudsonBartley SC{9}7886{9}938
10th3547Peter MaleTim MaleRYA{11}{11}101010101050
11th3690Guy BrowneGreg MartinTrent Valley Sailing Club10101111{13 DNF}{13 DNC}DNC55
12th3581David LucasRobyn TaylorBartley sailing club{12}12{13 DNF}1211111157

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