Nineteen Merlins from six clubs, all from north of Oxford, blazed their way round a windy Silver Tiller meeting on 16 September at Blithfield SC

Nineteen Merlins from six clubs, all from north of Oxford, blazed their way round a windy Silver Tiller meeting on 16 September. This followed an even windier Club Sailors Championships held on the Saturday. The first race of the day showed the promise of dark horse Matt Biggs and Davy Crockett who shot off with a good start with their new boat, 3582 fresh from second place honours at the nationals. The first mark showed the dominance of the far north with Whitworth and King, David Winder and Downham, Parry and Taylor breaking into a commanding lead over the fleet but with neck and neck racing.

Dave Fowler was with them, sailing with 11-year-old Adam Hollis but capsized to end the opportunity. John Andrews, parting company with his 25 year love affair with his old boat to live with a new Winder boat, also parted company with his sail. Pete Smith and David Pick, in the aging but famous 3317, did well against the supremacy of the newer boats. Despite lots of harry by Parry, Whitworth kept his lead to win.

Race two showed Jim Hopton and 13-year-old son Robert sneak a brief lead off the start but was soon overwhelmed by the northern muscle. Biggs was in there, fending off attacks from Guy Winder and crew Essex, as Parry and David Winder swapped places on a regular basis. Parry destroyed himself at the last gybe mark leaving Whitworth to win by 50 seconds over the Winder family flotilla.

Race three saw the third new course of the day with a premature flying start by a few boats, some of whom returned to take off again. Whitworth was seemingly finished as he commenced the first leg last. Andrews took second place at the first mark, closely followed by Biggs. David Winder had a brilliant lap developing a 65 second lead. Whitworth’s sheer class showed through having now swathed through the fleet to fourth place seemingly throwing caution away and throwing in every bit of sailpower he could muster. Others were more prudent choosing to keep spinnies under decks. Disaster struck Winder at the gybe mark when the spinnaker sheet came undone allowing Andrews to take the lead. But excitement overcame Andrews and the ruthless Whitworth demolished him and the fleet and generated his own 25-second lead by the next windward mark. Jules Parry, with gear breakage, left the duel on the water to return to his new jewel of a daughter. Winder’s problems were not over and the spinnaker sheets lost him more places in the next lap.

Biggs continuously hassled local rival Andrews and took the advantage but hit the windward mark. Whitworth stormed off to achieve a 90 second win, with the jubilant Andrews gaining a well-deserved second place. Biggs, third on the water but OCS, left the Winders to follow, with Smith securing a super fifth place to show there is life in old boats yet! Talking of which, the valiant Steve Ward and Alistaire Simpson battled around in the equally famous 2824 and did not come last.

Overall Results

1st 3593, Richard Whitworth and Jennie King Hollingworth Lake

2nd 3557, David Winder and Chris Downham Dimension Hollingworth Lake

3rd 3590, Guy Winder and Chris Essex Hollingworth Lake

4th 3582, Matt Biggs and Dave Crockett Blithfield

5th 3583, John and Linda Andrews Blithfield

6th 3317, Peter Smith and David Pick Blithfield