A total of 23 Lasers and 32 Merlins turned out for a joint open meeting at Chichester Yacht Club on Sunday 22 April.
There was splendid entry of 23 Lasers and 32 Merlins for the joint open meeting for the two classes at Chichester Yacht Club on Sunday 22 April. The conditions were almost equally satisfactory, with a gradually increasing breeze throughout the day from the 1015 start time, over a fairly complex and testing course (set by John Miles, the club’s most experienced race officer) to provide two beats, a run and three reaches, to make best use of the water and to combat as far as possible the vagaries of the wind direction. It swung unpredictably as the boats approached the first weather mark, and had a good number of gusts which, as the day wore on, took their toll among the fleets on the down-wind legs as tiredness slowed reactions and capsizes followed.
In the Laser fleet the prizes were easily assigned: Steve Cockerill had three wins, Charles Baillie Strong three seconds, Chris Creak three thirds and Mark Harper with a fourth and fifth to count. The leading Radial rig sailor was Jake Jefferis, and the second Andy Clare, who, in his first Open and third sail in the class, steadily climbed further up the fleet in each succeeding race.
Among the Merlins things were much tighter. Three boats went out for the final race with four points each and everything to play for. John Bell and Graham Williamson, with a third and a win, made a slight nonsense of the start (In irons and going backwards: not in chapter one of ‘How to Win’ as Graham reported) and were uncomfortably far back at the end of the first beat. However, they fought back to fifth. Luckily for them one of their closest rivals, Patrick and Anna Blake, had made the opposite error at the start, and were over the line and failed to return and so were disqualified, while the other, Tom Stewart and Kieran Collacott, could only manage sixth. So these three finished still with four points each, and their final places were settled by the ‘who beat whom’ rule, while Will Rainey and Liese Ward and William Warren and Rachel Cooper secured fourth and fifth places by taking first and second in the final race. Sixth prize went to Paul Davies and Sara Warren, who had a fifth and a fourth, but who were forced to retire in the last race when Paul cut his forehead badly on the corner of the mainsheet hoop.
At the prizegiving Penny Yeoman presented the various trophies. These included the new ‘Nick’s Boat’ trophy, a beautifully-made half-model of the hull of her late husband’s former boat Rising Tsar, presented in his memory, and it was with special pleasure that she handed it to John Bell and Graham Williamson, who were sailing Time Zulu, the boat with which Nick had replaced Rising Tsar shortly before his untimely death.
1st Time Zulu (3569) John Bell & Graham Williamson (Hampton SC) 4 pts
2nd Smart Cookie (3559) Patrick and Anna Blake (Cookham Reach SC) 4 pts
3rd Ra! (3591) Tom Stewart and Kieran Collacott (Northampton SC) 4 pts
4th Gilt Complex (3546) Will Rainey and Liese Ward (Cookham Reach SC) 5 pts
5th Chambulls (3580) William Warren and Rachel Cooper (Shoreham SC) 8 pts
6th Rong Number (3573) Paul Davies and Sara Warren (Shustoke SC) 9 pts
Lasers & Radials
1st 170490, Steve Cockerill (Emsworth Slipper SC) 2 pts
2nd 170421, Charles Basillie Strong (Stokes Bay SC) 4 pts
3rd 152516, Chris Creak (Itchenor SC) 6 pts
4th 131942, Mark Harper (Chichester YC) 9 pts
1st Radial: 162575, Jake Jefferis (Bosham SC) 9 pts
2nd Radial: 147049, Andy Clare (Chichester YC) 26 pts