Merlin Rocket wins last weekend's 36th Hoo Freezer 20/2/07

The 36th Hoo Freezer was held over the weekend 17-18 February, the principle sponsors were Pirates Cave and Hoo Marina. The event is hosted by Hoo Ness Yacht Club and organised with assistance from Wilsonian Sailing Club. Other clubs on the Medway, the Scouts, St John’s Ambulance and the Coast Guard provide safety and medical cover.

For the excellent entry of 74 boats, the usual format was followed, a practice race on the Saturday, the Hoo Freezer on Sunday, a lapping course with results based on average lap times and separate starts for fast, medium and slow handicap boats.
Light airs prevailed over the weekend in contrast to the strong winds of the past six years, a welcomed change for the traditional boats, helping them pick up most of the top prizes.

Plenty of sunshine gave warmth to the proceeding on Saturday and provided the only casualty, treatment for sunstroke, as reported by Richard Cassem the Commodore of Hoo Ness YC at the prizegiving. Mark Barnes/Peter Nicolson (B14) led the fast handicap fleet on the first round, were overhauled by three Musto Skiffs on the second with Mick Keats claiming line honours, but relegated to fourth on corrected time. Meanwhile in the medium handicap fleet the neck and neck contest between the Merlin Rockets of Howard Patterson/Sophie Mackley, Rien Zilvoid/Julie Nuttall and Tudor Owen/Hamish Kilburn ended with the former coming from behind to win and lift the Sun Wharf Cup.

Heavy overcast skies and a light shifting north-easterly breeze greeted the contestants on Sunday morning. However, 67 boats got a finish with 47 completing two laps within the 2.30hr time limit. Merlin Rockets were once again in evidence and Chris Lewis/Jane Beaumont, last year’s winner of the practice race and deciding not to defend that title, won the Hoo Freezer Cup with ease. However, Zilvoid/Nuttall challenged them all the way and were leading after the first lap. Lewis/Beaumont eased ahead on the second to win by a 2 minutes margin. Zilvoid/Nuttall picked up the 5th prize and as a consolation the prize for highest placed boat Saturday and Sunday combined, Owen/Kilburn were 9th.

Two Larks were in contention and although Holly Hewat/Alison Dart chased after Simon Cox/Sara Olliff, the later picked up the runners-up prize with Hewat/Dart sixth and the first Youth Sailor prize as well. Neville Herbert/Steve Penfold (Albacore) kept ahead of the leading Lark but relegated to third by just one second on adjusted time. Tony Hunt/Kirsty Hill claimed 7th spot in their V3000, the updated version of the Laser 3000.

Meanwhile, in the fast handicap fleet Richard White/Martin Styles (RS 400) was keeping clear ahead of Tim Ellis/Doug Horner in the other RS 400 for 4th and 10th prizes respectively. Tim Fells/Shaun Barber (B14) despite leading the fleet had to settle for the 8th, while Kit Stenhouse finishing well ahead of the other 10 Musto Skiffs was unfortunate to miss out of the prizes in 11th place.

Colin Treadwell awarded ‘The Race Officer’s Prize’ to Ceilidh Higgs and Alex Benfield for sailing their Mirror with determination in the fickle winds.

Medway’s Deputy Mayor Cllr David Royle rounded up the highly successful event by presenting the prizes.

Overall Results
Saturday practice race (Sun Wharf Cup)
1st Merlin Rocket 3620 Howard Patterson/Sophie Mackley (Whitstable YC) 2nd Merlin Rocket 3649 Rien Zilvoid/Julie Nuttall (Whitstable YC) 3rd Merlin Rocket 3664 Tudor Owen/Hamish Kilburn(Whitstable YC)

Hoo Freezer (Hoo Freezer Cup)
1st Merlin Rocket 3666 Chris Lewis/Jane Beaumont (Whitstable YC) 2nd Lark 2500 Simon Cox/Sara Olliff (Medway YC) 3rd Albacore 6825 Neville Herbert (Tamesis Club) 4th RS 400 1170 Richard White/Martin Styles (Downs SC) 5th Merlin Rocket 3649 Rien Zilvoid/Julie Nuttall (Whitstable YC) 6th Lark 2442 Holly Hewat/Alison Dart (Medway YC) 7th V3000 3603 Tony Hunt/Kirsty Hill (Wilsonian SC) 8th B14 758 Tim Fells/Shaun Barber (Salcombe YC) 9th Merlin Rocket 3664 Tudor Owen/Hamish Kilburn(Whitstable YC) 10th RS 400 821 Tim Ellis/Doug Horner (Broadstairs SC/Wilsonian SC)

First Youth Sailor (Hoo Marina Cup)v
Lark Holly Hewat/Alison Dart (Medway YC)

Highest Placed Club Team: Downs SC
Richard White/Martin Styles (RS 400), Chris Dutton/Claire Hansell (Buzz), John Cass/Julia Brazil (Buzz)

ighest Placed Class Team: B14
Mark/Allan Watts, Simon Hadley/Nikki Webster, Daniel Cowin/Rachel Bennett

First Disabled Sailor
Ginger Brown and Leaky Fermor, B14 (The Mote)

Highest placed boat Saturday and Sunday combined
Rien Zilvoid/Julie Nuttall, Merlin Rocket (Whitstable YC)

Race Officer’s Prize
Ceilidh Higgs and Alex Benfield, Mirror (Herne Bay SC)