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Tiger Trophy 2007

Thursday, 08 February 2007
Martin Hunter with Simon McCarthy & Jamie Stwart (Thames) win the 2007 Tiger Trophy.

On the weekend of the 3 - 4 February 2007 the annual Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy 2007 took place at Rutland Sailing Club. Light winds with brilliant sunshine provided fantastic spectating of the close racing.

Over 300 of the country’s top sailors arrived at the club at the weekend for competition, fun and for charity. They came from as far afield as Lyme Regis in Dorset to Helensborough in Scotland representing over 70 different clubs, to support The Tiger Trophy considered by many to be the best UK sailing event in the winter calendar.

The event is dedicated to the late John Merricks, a local lad, 1996 Olympic silver medalist and our leading sailor of the time, who died tragically in a car accident in 1997. The event raises money for The John Merricks Sailing Trust which was set up after his death to advance the education, physical and mental development of young people in need (under the age of 25 years) with a view to promoting the achievement of their potential through the sport of sailing.

Light winds were a feature of the weekend’s sailing. The fleet was split into 2 - the fast and slow handicap fleets the split being at PY of 1000. With light winds, an excited fleet and a starboard biased line it was no surprise that the first start saw half the fleet over the line and a general recall signaled. However with a Black Flag instigated (anyone over in the last minute is disqualified) they got away cleanly the second time. This allowed the slow handicap to get under way a few minutes later. As the leading boats approached the finish line on their second lap the wind started to die off. Some of the slow fleet were finished after one lap as the sailing instructions state that results will be done on average lap times allowing boats of different speeds to compete against each other without long delays. Unfortunatly with the wind disappearing completely by the end the results were largely a part of whether you finished early or late. This caused a bit of grumbling in the ranks but we all know handicap racing has a fair element of luck involved at any time be it the overall wind strength, where you are when the shifts occur and whether the wind builds or fades. There is never a perfect answer you just have to be pleased with how you were sailing and how you were doing on the water versus the surrounding boats.

Having said this the race officer has also prepared a set of results as they would have been had the race been finished after the first lap. These can be obtained by ringing the club.The result of the first race, as would be expected in a fading wind, was that the Olympic 49ers dominated the first day with a clean sweep of top three positions. John Pink and Simon Wheeler from Hill Head SC taking both line and corrected timel honours.

Sunday dawned frosty and still. The chances of the 2 hour pursuit race being run were slim – to many who had partied the night the prospect of a postponement was welcome. However, to the astonishment of most and the shaking heads of many the delay was not for long – with great skill the race committee scheduled the 2 hour pursuit in the only two hours of wind in the day.

The first boats off were the Europes as they attempted to pick their way up the streaks of wind in the south leg of the course, the rest of the fleet hung around the start line waiting to be released. All went smoothly until the sailors in the 29ers, the youth skiff with the largest turnout at the event (36 in total) gave themselves a tougher task by pushing the line so hard that they got a general recall! The rest of the boats got away on time.

The faster boats weaved their way through the slower boats in the race to the front. When the final gun was fired it was the more traditional boats that headed the fleet. Martin Hunter in his Thames A Rater finished first with the Merlin Rockets of Richard Whitworth and the McGovern brothers, both boats from Hollingworth Lake in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The winners from the previous day faired less well with the leading 49er , home boys Josh and Olly Wilce in 35th place. The first 29er of the day was sailed by Huw Humphrys and Masc Tod from Hoyhead. Despite the high preponderance of state-of-the-art skiffs it was Martin Hunter in his elegant Thames A Rater, originally designed in the Victorian era, who emerged triumphant with a fourth from Saturday and a first in Sunday’s pursuit. Martin with his crew of Simon McCarthy and James Stewart are no strangers to the front of large pursuit races having won the 2006 Bloody Mary. Second place overall went to Mark Barnes and his crew Pete Nicholson in their B14. In his own inimitable style Mark from Whitstable produced a very solid result with a 9th and a 4th. In third place were brothers Andy and Tom Partington from Hayling Island in their Int 14. The largest fleet entry came from the youth skiff class the 29ers with 36 boats. They were led home by James Rusden and Ben Saxton in 4th overall narrowly beating Frances Peters and Hannah Diamond who in 5th took the overall ladies trophy. Anthony Chapman flew the flag for Rutland SC finishing in 8th place in his Musto Skiff.

Other statistics: Competitors came from over 70 different clubs across the country. There were 37 different classes on the water. There were 25 lady helms The sun shined throughout and lots of people met up with a lot of old friends. Thanks to all who put in so much time to make it a fantastic event.

Final Results:
1st Martin Hunter in a Thames A Rater from Thames Yacht Club
2nd Mark Barnes and Peter Nicholson in a B14 from Whitstable
3rd Andy and Tom Partington in an International 14 from Hayling Island
1st lady Frances Peters and Hannah Diamond in a 29er from Hayling Island (5th overall)
1st Rutland SC Anthony Chapman in a Musto Skiff (8th overall)




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