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RORC Cervantes Trophy

Friday, 11 May 2007
Event: RORC Cervantes Trophy Date: 5 – 6 May 07 Report by: Henry Foster It was a slightly apprehensive collection of young sailors that assembled at Hamble Yacht Services on the morning of the 5th May for John Merricks’ first offshore race of the year. Despite the 5:30am start the crew was eager to get to the startline but, as so often happens in yacht racing, even our best-laid plans went awry. The acrid smoke produced by a burning starter motor greeted the first arrivals on our Farr 45 and the ensuing three hours were spent desperately trying to fix this and other engine issues in time to make the 8:30am start time. After the generous loan of a starter motor from Werewolf, another Hamble-based Farr 45, and some careful engine dismantling the crew gathered to take stock of our situation. Despite the delay, which meant starting an hour and a half late, the crew resolved to race as hard as we could, as we were still well within sight of our objectives. As our first race of the season the Cervantes was to give our new crew qualifying miles for the Fastnet and invaluable experience in the field of offshore racing. Therefore exasperated but not undaunted the crew of John Merricks crossed the Squadron line at 10:16am, determined to overhaul as many competitors as we could and to make up time on the other boats in our class. Shortly after rounding Selsey Bill we had completed our first spinnaker peel and settled into our watch system. For some on the boat these experiences were completely new but, under the supervision of watch-captains and Round Britain and Ireland veterans Jamie Holmes, Ed Hill and James Roche, the crew settled in quickly and John Merricks was soon trucking off to France under full main and medium jib. Throughout the night the new experiences kept coming for our, relatively inexperienced, crew. These included everything from close calls with lobster pots, to using the Code Zero and eating freeze-dried food, but people showed enormous commitment and concentration to keep the boat moving in the dying breeze. As Sunday dawned John Merricks crossed the finish line off Le Havre and turned to head for home, with a crew that had thoroughly enjoyed either their first taste of, or return to, offshore racing. Despite not having raced together before the crew had quickly adapted itself to the watch routine and the rigours inherent to long-distance racing. Whilst this in itself bodes well for the coming Fastnet, some pleasing results also ensued. On elapsed time we had lost very little to the other Farr 45’s in our class and we had even managed to make up over an hour on some of our other competitors, namely the Kerr 46 Fair Do’s. Thus enthusiasm and anticipation are running high within the John Merricks crew for the 2007 season. Members of the RYA Volvo Keelboat Programme, who sail aboard ‘John Merricks’ would like to thank everyone who support them, the Programme and most importantly the Boat which has been kindly loaned to them by the John Merricks Sailing trust.

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