With the media focussed on overhyped SailGP events and AC75 smoke and mirrors, the Merlin Rocket class completed a more accessible sailing event at Upper Thames last weekend.
This one-day Silver Tiller Open started with blue skies, warm sun and zero wind, so even with the almost non-existent stream the start of the first race had to be delayed.
When race 1 eventually got away with a clean start for the fleet of 12, the race quickly turned into a three-way tacking duel between Laurie Smart and Vanessa Pilon in 1065 Flipside, John and Olivia Bell in 1201 Grand Teton, and Martin Hunter and Dan Harrison in 774 Quiver.
There were many similar battles in the middle of the fleet, which provided an entertaining day for the many spectators on the bank.
On the run into the finish line it became apparent that both leading boats were heading to pass the wrong side of the finishing mark.
When neither got a finish gun, they realised their mistake, with John and Olivia Bell in Grand Teton managing to unwind themselves first and nip in to take first place.
Race two had the added complication for the fleet of a cruiser deciding to park itself on the start line for the final minute.
This seemed to upset the fleet’s timing with the majority of the fleet OCS resulting in a general recall. Eventual winner was Martin Hunter and Dan Harrison in 774 Quiver.
Lunch was then taken . . .
After lunch the wind conditions improved again and after a clean start the race again turned into three-way contest between Flipside, Grand Teton and Quiver.
On the final run downstream, Grand Teton managed to get to windward of Flipside, but rather than end up in a luffing match, Flipside bore away to the leeward bank in more breeze and took the final gun of the day.
Laurie Smart and Vanessa Pilon in Flipside were the overall winners followed by John and Olivia Bell in Grand Teton in second place and Martin Hunter and Dan Harrison in Quiver in third.
The Upper Thames SC looks forward to welcoming the fleet back next year.
Craftinsure Merlin Rocket Silver Tiller Open
1st Flipside 1065 Laurie Smart and Vanessa Pilon – – 3 pts
2nd Grand Teton 1201 John Bell and Olivia Bell – – 3 pts
3rd Quiver 774 Martin Hunter and Dan Harrison – – 4 pts
4th Tiersel 901 Pat Blake and Jill Blake – – 7 pts
5th Not Known 1781 Mark Addison and Sarah Percival – – 9 pts
6th Firestarter 3548 Kevin Rose and Tim Williams – – 10 pts
7th Exequisite 2266 Chris Rathbone and Sonia Rathbone – – 12 pts
8th Keto 799 John Meadowcroft and Dan Meadowcroft – – 13 pts
9th La Volente 1596 Sel Shah and Jemma Horwood – – 16 pts
10th Satisfaction 2604 Jeremy Stein and Nicki Binks – – 17 pts
11th Heavy Particle 3482 Richard Burton and Miles Phillips – – 21 pts
12th Shiny Happy People 3695 Pete Slack and Amy Hazlehurst – – 26 pts
Title acknowledgement to the Kinks, Ray Davies