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Monday, 21 April 2008

The Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme sailors are chomping at the bit for round two of the Raymarine Warsash Big Boat Spring Championship after leading the series at the halfway stage.


Giving the Programme’s newly-acquired TP52 John Merricks II her second competitive outing since debuting at the Red Funnel Easter Regatta, the crew edged their noses in front of the 18-strong fleet over the four round one races on Saturday (5 April) to head the pack by half a point from Jerry Otter’s Erivale going into the second Big Boat weekend on 19 – 20 April.


John Merricks II  was one of three 50-foot plus vessels featured in the IRC Big Boat class and the Programme sailors had set out with the aim of simply holding their own against the other boats of her size, Henri Lloyd-Cutting Edge and Chernikeef.


But having claimed impressive 3-1-2-7 results for the opening four races – and with racing cancelled on Sunday due to a heavy snow storm – the sailors are now looking forward to trying to better the third place overall they clinched on their Red Funnel debut.


Navigator David Newey said: “We learned this weekend that we have a boat which can rate very well in the IRC and we are sailing well. It was a shock to us all that we had performed as well as we did in this first weekend of the Regatta and we are now determined to do well at the next Big Boat weekend.”


The 24-year-old from Kent, a member of the Programme’s National Squad, added: “Taking victory in race two was a real highlight for us especially as we were racing very close with Cutting Edge throughout the race and the lead changed between us on the water a number of times.”


This coming weekend, the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme sailors will prepare for Big Boat round two with Programme mentor Andy Clark, Simon Eatwell, Design Engineering Manager at Formula Yacht Spars and Tom McWilliam, former sail co-ordinator onboard the TP52 Red, all on-hand to help with training and coaching.  

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