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Pre registration for Tiger Trophy....

Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Press Release 29th January 2008 Pre registration numbers for the Tiger outstrip last years entry with four days to go. On line registration for the Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy ( has already exceeded last years entry of 156 boats. As of today, 220 centre board dinghies had entered and the expectation is that total entries for the event next week end at Rutland Water will be close to the limit set by the Race Committee of 250 entries. Tickets for the Tiger Dinner, held for the first time at Rutland Sailing Club are now completely sold out as is the norm for this very popular black tie event and RSC is looking forward to a very successful fund raising week end with all net funds going to the John Merricks Sailing Trust. Guest of Honour, John’s sailing partner, JMST trustee, Americas Cup skipper and recently announced skipper of the latest Volvo Ocean Race entry, Ian Walker is expected to talk about John’s life, so tragically cut short in Italy in 1997. The 1996 Olympic silver medallist John died tragically in a car accident whilst competing in the 1997 Melges 24 European Championships. John was an example to all through his exceptional skill and down to earth good nature and the twin attributes of fast and fun have been enshrined into the Tiger Trophy. The John Merricks Sailing Trust was set up by those closest to John to do some good in his name and further the memory of such a remarkable person. The Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger trophy will be held for the 15th time this weekend on Rutland Water with over 500 sailors trying as hard to find a place to stay in England's smallest County as they will be for space on the start line. The forecast is good and global warming seems to be delivering a weather window. The format of the event has not changed since the Tiger Trophy was adopted as a regatta to raise money for the John Merricks Trust, Three races are sailed back to back on Saturday and the fleet will be divided into fast and slow handicap fleets, but all sailing the same course. This enables average lap times to be established over the whole fleet and an overall winner decided. On Sunday the annual Tiger Trophy Pursuit race is non-discardable and has for many years been the downfall of some exceptional sailors. Last years winner, Martin Hunter is again competing in his Thames ‘A’ Rater alongside other previous winners. Graham Vials, who took line honours in this years Bloody Mary and and won the Tiger Trophy in 1998, is one of six International Foiling Moths entered. Dave Hall, Tiger winner in 2000 is again representing Ovington Boats in a 29er, Dave Wade, winner in 1999 in a Fireball is again competing, while Richard Whitworth and Elena Bremer, winners in 2005 lead a fleet of Merlin Rockets. Andy and Tom Partington, top three finishers in 2007 are joined by this years Bloody Mary winners Rob Greenhalgh and Dan Johnson in a fleet of at least 6 International 14s. There are currently 12 qualifying Classes within the Trophy event. including the 420, 29er, RS 800, RS 200, 49er, Musto Skiff, B14, Fireball, and Laser Radial. John won the inaugural Rutland Challenge for the Tiger Trophy in 1994 with Ian Lovering crewing a 420. The concept for an event before youth winter training began, was to enable divided youth classes to sail together at least once in a head to head regatta. 56 boats attended and the ice flying off the jib every time they tacked was an indication of the temperature. Merricks, who never wore gloves, showed the Race Officer, Dick Sanders at one point that his hand had actually frozen to the main sheet. He won the trophy, a terracotta Chinese Tiger given by the Sanders family to emphasise the importance of Tony Everard, RSC Club member and past President of the Leicester brewery Everards and their Tiger Bitter in Johns success. Prior to Johns death, the standard disco was the focal point on Saturday night. The year before, at the Warsash 420 Nationals, growing numbers of girl teams had objected to the fact that they all dressed for the socials and prize giving and the boys were their normal scruffy selves. So it was decided to make the event a black tie dinner. Dennis Merricks, John’s father, will be present at the briefing on Saturday morning where the basic principles of the event are spelt out to a now fully integrated fleet of many classes and age groups. The race team are encouraged to move quickly between the three races on the Saturday to minimise waiting time. The principle purpose of the regatta is to raise money for the JMST, to have fun and to sail as fast and as safely as possible given those conditions. That being said, the prize of £1000 for the boat that wins all four races (the three on Saturday and the non-discardable pursuit race on Sunday) is still unclaimed with Paul Brotherton and Steve Irish, the nearest in the past with three race wins. Ends Further information Event Director:- Dick Sanders 07713 640787 Event Website and on-line registration :- Rutland Sailing Club,, Phone;-01780 720292 John Merricks Sailing Trust Suzy Hamel - Public Relations Tel: 02380 458191

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