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Home / News / Salcombe Gin SYC Merlin Rocket Week Day 1 & 2
Home / News / Salcombe Gin SYC Merlin Rocket Week Day 1 & 2

Salcombe Gin SYC Merlin Rocket Week Day 1 & 2

Published 18:04 on 2 Jul 2024

Day 1


After a sunny Saturday spent moving boats to the beach, the 120 competitors were greeted on Sunday Morning to a light North Westerly and broken sunshine.

 Race 1 - Red v Green, Course 7,4,X,3,X

With a flood tide under them and a patchy breeze coming round the Ferry Inn the fleet were rather line shy, concerned not to start their series with a BFD. Locals Tim Fells and Fran Gifford spotted the opportunity to start clear ahead of the line up and flick onto port in the main stream and lead the fleet around Snapes and onto the beat up to Gerston.

Anthony and Jo Gifford got a nice starboard lift out of Saltstone to take the lead at Gerston from Tim and Fran with George Yeoman and Mark Oakey right on their transoms. These three had a tight battle until they reached the Yalton creek where Tim and Fran slipped away and built what looked like a commanding lead.

However, with two laps of the challenging town section of the course ahead of them there were plenty of snakes and ladders to negotiate. One such snake grabbed Tim and Fran off the Ferry landing allowing George and Mark and the flyweight team of Mandy Henderson and Rory Gifford to climb their personal ladder into the top two positions which they held to the line with George and Mark taking the first gun of the week.

In a good race for the family Henderson, Will and Arthur came home fourth a nose ahead of Jon Gorringe and Matt Currell with Anthony and Jo rounding out the top six, making it three Hendersons and four Giffords in the chocolates.

Race 2 - Blue v Black, Course 7,3,7,X

 For the afternoon race, the wind remained in the NNW and had built to 10 knots giving fantastic racing conditions on the beat up to Gerston. The challenge was to get off the start and around Snapes against the ebbing tide.

With these flights packed with talent, there were three gold Merlin symbols, denoting previous class champions, leading the fleet into Snapes. Tom Gillard and Ollie Meadowcroft were drawn a little bit high under Snapes and it was the wily team of Mike and Jane Calvert who took the outside route to lead into the Bag, followed by Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey.

On the long beat to Gerston, Tom and Ollie put the hammer down to taken the lead but Mike and Jane found the last few shifts to lead onto the run. These two had built a significant lead and had a classic duel in the sun with the lead changing numerous times. On the final run the breeze went forward and Tom and Ollie were the quickest to respond to get their noses ahead and lead back into the harbour. There were no more dramas and they came home to take the bullet and put down a marker for the week.

Mike and Jane were an impressive second ahead of Caroline Gould and Livy Bell who had steadily climbed through the fleet after a less than stellar start. In fourth and showing great pace and positioning were David Conlon and Rebecca Bines. Christian and Sam who had fallen back to 10th at one point recovered well for fifth to just hold off James Goss and Chris White.

Day 2

On most days Salcombe is a beautiful place to go sailing and on some days the conditions are wonderful making a perfect combination.  This was not one of them. Although it was bright and by the afternoon sunny, the wind direction was probably the worst it can be. WNW coming directly over the town means vertical gusts and gusts coming off both shores. 0-15 knots from every point of the compass, switching by the second.  Character building!

RACE 3: RED v BLUE Flights, COURSE 1,7,2,3,2

With a hint of westerly in the gusts, PRO Simon Dobson, chose to send the fleet up tide on what was nominally an upwind leg.  With a minute to go to the start the NW reasserted itself creating a running / reaching start. The majority of the fleet elected to try the Portlemouth shore but wise old heads thought that the Town side could work.  In fact, not just any wise old head, but 88 year old Olympic Silver Medallist, the legendary Alan Warren ably crewed by his carer Bill Carroll, led into mark 1.  Chasing him were local heroes Will and Arthur Henderson, while the first to emerge from the Portlemouth scrum were the young local team of Tom Ballantine and Madeleine Anderson.

Over the long beat up to Gerston, Will and Arthur took the lead but were being chased down by Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey, with Tom and Maddy in close company.

By the final tortuous circuit of the harbour Christian and Sam had taken the lead but on the beat back to the line Tom and Maddy found pressure towards the town side to come home for their first bullet, ahead of Will and Arthur in a Salcombe YC 1-2.

Mark Stockbridge and James Gifford sailed a very strong race to climb through to fourth behind Christian and Sam ahead of Chris Gould and Sophie Mackley who were equally strong climbers.  Matt Biggs and Beka Jones, who love the shifty stuff, came home in sixth.

RACE 4: GREEN v BLACK Flights, Course 1,4,1,3,1,3

By the start of the afternoon race, the breeze had backed giving excellent conditions down through the harbour with some punchy gusts. With a slack tide the fleet lined up across the width of the line and it was Tom Morris and Chris Kilsby who won the pin end and were able to tack out and cross ahead before going back to win the race up the Portlemouth side.  However, those who got across to the town side benefited from a big right hander with Mike and Christian Hamilton getting their moment of glory, leading around Blackstone. They were followed by Matt and Hannah Greenfield who sailed a lower line to take the lead on the run which they held all the way to Yalton and back into the harbour.  The first run was spectacular with Merlins screaming along in big gusts with crews hanging out the back.

On the beat back to Blackstone the wind in the town section began to break up as the wind veered back to the NW.  There were big winners and losers with Jon Gorringe and Matt Currell leading from Tom Gillard and Ollie Meadowcroft, with Mike and Jane Calvert leaping up the leader board into third. Tom and Ollie rode the pressure down to Crossways and started the beat with a 50m lead which they extended to head onto the last run with a 200m advantage over the chasing pack.

Everything was going to plan until they reached Mill Bay and parked up. With the chasing pack racing down on pressure they were overtaken by a big group of boats. There then started a rotation of the lead with any one of ten boats getting their noses in front as the leaders stopped and started against the ebb tide down the Portlemouth beach.

While they were engrossed in this painful game, Olly Turner (guesting for Chris Jennings) and Pete Nicholson were carefully sneaking down the town side.  By the time the Portlemouth gang had worked out what was happening, Olly and Pete had found the good breeze coming out of Batson and were off. Not someone who usually shuns the limelight, Olly today was in stealth mode, so much so that he did not have a valid entry and sadly although receiving the winners gun, his result was expunged. All this left a race to the line that was won by Simon Potts and Richard Parslow who narrowly kept Ed Bradburn and Jonny Coates at bay. Jon and Matt were next up ahead of Tom and Chris.  Alex Jackson and Pippa Kilsby took fifth ahead of Tom and Ollie who were left to rue the craziness of a North-westerly at Salcombe.

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