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The 20th and 21st of May saw 21 Merlin Rockets racing at Starcross Yacht Club for the 2017 Exe Sails Silver Tiller.

Once greeted by club members, sailors had a briefing with PRO Russell Gibbs who informed everyone of the windward-leeward course for the 3 races of the day.

 Out on the race course, competitors found the conditions distinctly changeable. Pressure ranged from 5 knots up to 25 knots in the squalls and the wind was shifting unpredictably from the WSW with the occasional outburst of blue sky sunshine, swiftly followed by heavy downpours making everyone's sailing kit of choice correct at some point – be it a drysuit or long john wetsuit! This was great for the windward-leeward course as it provided plenty of opportunity to overtake with many people taking different lines and angles downwind to stay in pressure and on shift. Upwind was much harder with boats finding gains on all corners of the course, making it tough for leaders to cover and any break away from the fleet a risky one. 

In testament to the sometimes wacky conditions of the day and the close racing that is ever present in the Merlin Rocket Class, there were three different race winners, each having a different winning tactic and story to tell that night.

The overnight leaders were Sam and Megan Pascoe, of International 14 and 2.4 Metre fame.

Saturday evening the fleet enjoyed an Indian takeaway and plenty of drinks at the well-stocked and cheap bar. Outside games were planned but everyone was found to be somewhat tired and weary after a hard day's racing.

Sunday dawned and greeted everyone with blue skies, sunshine and 15 knots of breeze from the South – it doesn't get any better at Starcross! Glamour! With two races in a stable wind and against tide, speed and grunt was the order of the day. Having moved the race course to another part of the river, a "P" course was set, making for conditions vastly different to that of the day before.

Given the change of conditions, numerous new faces were seen contesting at the front of the fleet, including Birthday Boy Will Henderson, another 14 name of fame. However, there was only one boat who dominated the day. Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby won both races in emphatic style and by quite some distance, clearly faster upwind and never appearing to put a foot wrong. This gave them the win and the hard-earned Craft Insure Silver Tiller Series points!

A special mention has to be made of SYC members James and Liz Wells who finished a fantastic second in the last race in their 17-­year-­old wooden Merlin Rocket.

At the prize giving, bottles of Prosecco were given to:

  • Furthest travelled - Dan Willett and Pete Nicholson of Brightlingsea
  • Closest to 30 points - Chris Martin and Jared Lewis
  • Lucky dip - Sam and Megan Pascoe

A new Exe Sails Jib was also raffled to all competitors, presented by Sam Woolner of Exe Sails, and was won by Dan and Pete again, a good haul given the long distance that they travelled.

Chris Gould and Chris Kilsby thanked SYC, its galley team, race management and rescue boats for putting on a great event at this idyllic Yacht Club.

Pos Sail No Helm Crew Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Pts
1st 3778 Chris Gould Chris Kilsby Bartley SC ‑4 4 1 1 1 7
2nd 3759 Sam Pascoe Megan Pascoe Castle Cove SC 1 2 ‑5 4 4 11
3rd 3691 Mike Calvert Jane Calvert Axe YC 6 1 3 ‑7 7 17
4th 3754 Jon Gorringe Nikki Bass Parkstone YC 5 ‑8 8 2 6 21
5th 3746 Dan Willett Pete Nicholson Brightlingsea ‑9 3 4 5 9 21
6th 3673 Caroline Crodt Beka Jones Bartley SC 3 5 2 ‑14 12 22
7th 3656 Olly Turner Miss Holly Scott Starcross YC 2 6 7 ‑9 8 23
8th 3787 Chris Martin Jared Lewis Midland SC ‑12 7 6 12 5 30
9th 3566 James Wells Lizzie Wells Starcross YC 11 9 ‑12 10 2 32
10th 3726 Will Henderson Arthur Henderson Salcombe YC 14 ‑17 13 3 3 33
11th 3763 Mark Barnes Alex Horlock Whitstable YC 7 10 9 8 ‑11 34
12th 3711 Sam Thompson Theo Harris RNSA 8 12 11 (DNF) 10 41
13th 3784 Mark Barwell Louise Johnson Lymington Town SC 10 13 ‑14 13 13 49
14th 3718 Mark Elkington Sarah Roberts Starcross YC 13 11 10 (DNF) DNC 56
15th 3779 Dave Lee Juliet Pealing Starcross YC 15 16 15 11 (DNC) 57
16th 3721 Nick Turner Carly Gurr Starcross YC 16 ‑18 16 15 14 61
17th 3734 Phil Ashworth Ali Ashworth Weymouth SC ‑17 14 17 17 15 63
18th 3713 Steve Harling Eleanor Thomas Starcross YC 18 15 ‑19 16 16 65
19th 3777 Simon Potts Alex Jackson Burghfield SC (DNC) DNC DNC 6 DNF 72
20th 3693 Colin Lee David Parry Starcross YC ‑20 19 18 18 18 73
21st 3576 Vyv Game Mike Tuckett Starcross YC 19 ‑20 20 19 17 75

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