Merlin Week, a dinghy class event that attracts more entries than the National Championship, has launched its 62nd running at beautiful Salcombe in the west of England.
The week has proven to be even more popular than ever. 180 hopeful teams entered back in July 2018 and have been whittled down to a lucky 120. The format remains unchanged with the 120 boats seeded into four flights racing either morning or afternoon each day with 60 boats on the start line in front of the club.
For the opening day a very light north easterly was dying in the estuary while the cloud cover did not promise any thermal heating. PRO David Greening wisely put up a postponement flag, at which point the wind promptly switched 180 degrees and started to fill in from the SSW.
But this is standard Merlin Week fare and two tightly contested race were completed without too much trouble.
The morning race – Red v Green flights – with the start of the ebb forming under them and the breeze filling in, the fleet lined up early and in the rush to the line five boats were black flagged (the black flag is used on all races).
Richard Whitworth and Jemima Scroggie from Parkstone tacked to cross the fleet and hold a very comfortable lead all the way until the final beat to the line, where they held off a late challange from Alex Jackson and Mary Henderson, and Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby, to take the first cannon of the week.
The afternoon race – Blue v Black flights – the wind remained in the SW giving a true beat to Blackstone and had enough puff to have both helm and crew hiking hard at times.
John Turner and Richard Parslow were the most prominent and while they led to Blackstone their glory was short lived. local hero Will Henderson sailing with son Arthur was first to cross at the Ferry and with his expert knowledge of the estuary was able to extend a healthy lead, holding it to the finish.
The chasing bunch was very tight and on the final run to Crossways, Roger and Jane Gilbert had got their noses through into second. However, Mike and Jane Calvert were on the charge and on the final tack to the line just got their bow forward of Roger and Jane to take second.
The forecast for the week ahead is for a continuation of the light breezes from the easterly quadrant though with more sunshine there is a chance of some sea breeze action.
Salcombe Gin Merlin Week – Leading positions after Day 1
1st 3726 Will Henderson and Arthur Henderson (DNC) 1 – – 1 pts
2nd 3703 Richard Whitworth and Jemima Scroggie 1 (DNC) – – 1 pts
3rd 3691 Mike Calvert and Jane Calvert (DNC) 2 – – 2 pts
4th 3795 Alex Jackson and Mary Henderson 2 (DNC) – – 2 pts
5th 3722 Roger Gilbert and Jane Gilbert (DNC) 3 – – 3 pts
6th 3803 Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby 3 (DNC) – – 3 pts
7th 3796 William Warren and Alice Happle (DNC) 4 – – 4 pts
8th 3684 Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby 4 (DNC) – – 4 pts
9th 3676 Antony Gifford and Jo Gifford (DNC) 5 – – 5 pts
10th 3802 Simon Potts and Ally Potts 5 (DNC) – – 5 pts
11th 3775 Daniel Willett and Pete Nicholson (DNC) 6 – – 6 pts
12th 3735 Jenny Dodds and Chris Dodds 6 (DNC) – – 6 pts
13th 3742 Peter Ballantine and Rob Allen (DNC) 7 – – 7 pts
14th 3781 David Winder and Liv Bell 7 (DNC) – – 7 pts
15th 3791 Jon Gorringe and Kat Frost (DNC) 8 – – 8 pts
16th 3673 Caroline Croft and Tom Lonsdale 8 (DNC) – – 8 pts
17th 3658 Chris Jennings and John Hackett (DNC) 9 – – 9 pts
18th 3752 Will Rainey and Liese Scott 9 ‑30 – – 9 pts
19th 3801 Matthew Biggs and Beka Jones (DNC) 10 – – 10 pts
20th 3678 Steve Crook and Sally Townend 10 (DNC) – – 10 pts