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Tiger Trophy 2009

Tuesday, 14 July 2009
The Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy

Rutland Sailing Club -  11th & 12th July 2009



On the morning of February 6th, visibility was down to a few feet in a blinding blizzard, Rutland’s Commodore, Nick Clark and Tiger Trophy organiser Dick Sanders finally accepted the fact that they could not run the Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks  Tiger Trophy .

A hasty meeting with the Club Manager concluded  that there were enough resources within the club to run the event in the middle of the summer, alongside a full service to club members. The Summer Tiger was born.

The normal reason for  holding the event in the winter is to maximise numbers and raise as much money as possible for the John Merricks Trust. With over 40 major events occurring over last weekend as well as personal non-sailing commitments, it was clear that numbers would be down. However, sailors who would not normally look at their boats before Easter,  helped swell the numbers and some 100 boats were registered from all over the UK. A quarter of these were carried over from February with their fee gratefully received by the JMST.

The forecast of light southerlies on Saturday confirmed that the large and experienced race team with Dave Wilkins as PRO had a job to lay a fair course to a widely mixed fleet sailing handicapped average laps. After a half hour postponement, the offshore breeze gently delivered competitors to the main sailing area. The start is split into fast and slow and the handicapped average lap times computed to give a  unified result. The light airs gave the advantage to the slow fleet, cut for the event at PY1000 with Dusty Miller and John Ellingham in a Kestrel (Lakeside SC) winning with another 7 slow handicap boats in the top 10. The exceptions, indicating things to come were second placed David Hivey and Sarah Allen (Army Sailing Association) in an RS 400 and Iver Ahlman in third in a Musto Skiff  (Derwent SC).

The clouds parted slightly for the second race but the wind maintained its near absence. After much course movement, the race eventually started considerably later than anticipated but, whereas in February, most of the fleet would be in the first stages of hypothermia, the warm weather made the wait more endurable. Dusty Miller’s Kestrel won again placing him with a chance to secure the Tiger Trophy bonus of £1000 for the first boat to win all races, but the only fast handicap boat in the top ten was again, David and Sarah in the RS 400, finishing 9th. The runner up was the Merlin Rocket of Steve and Gill Leney (Blithfield) and the Phantom of  Norman Byrd (Draycote SC) was third.

The third race was cancelled and so the final positions, going into the Tiger Dinner at the club on Saturday evening and the non-discardable pursuit race on Sunday was the Kestrel (D Miller) leading by 6 points from the Merlin Rocket of the Leneys and the Phantom of John Wayling (Northampton SC) 2 points behind them. The format of the Tiger Trophy is that the pursuit race is non-discardable so, as only two races had been sailed , one of these would have to be discarded once the pursuit was completed.

A small but distinguished band of diners attended the black tie  Tiger Dinner with Everards the Brewery, John’s original benefactor, supplying the beer.  Dennis Merricks, John’s father thanked everyone for supporting the JMST  and told  how he had encouraged John’s sailing in the beginning of his career. Dick Sanders followed this by describing the ‘Big Boat’ programme with the TP52 “John Merricks 2”.in conjunction with the RYA.  This gave a welcome and unique link for young sailors to move between dinghies and  racing yachts. The traditional Tiger Band played till midnight and the scene was set for the possibility of  the Tiger Bonus of £1000 being won by the Kestrel, wind speed willing.

Sunday broke with clear blue skies and wind from west of south west and 14mph, gusting 34 mph. Winning the bonus was going to be difficult and the results were set to be very different.

The lone RS Feva of Kellie Carmichael and Emily McCall (Annandale SC) followed the course RIB up the first beet of a route that took competitors up the Southern arm of Rutland Water before returning on a reach past the clubhouse and onto a trip round the main pond and hydro Tower before returning past the club. They held this lead as the rest of the fleet staggered their starts over the next 45 minutes, eventually loosing out to the 420 of James Hayward and Tim Carter (Waldringfield SC) on the second beat. All eyes from the club, including the person who would have to find the Tiger Bonus were on the Kestrels but early on, David Hearsum and Fa Gareth in Kestrel 1574 was leading Dusty Miller.

The final boats in the start sequence were the 49ers, starting just as the leading 420 was approaching the end of his first lap. Dusty Miller eventually overtook his fellow Kestrel but as the wind increased, he was overwhelmed by the Fireball of last years Tiger Trophy winner, Graham Vials sailing with Andy Thompson (Derwent Reservoir) in front of the watching spectators enjoying the sunshine on the club balcony.

With an hour to go, the lead 420 was some distance in front of three further 420’s as they came through the club line but ominously, the Fireball had tucked in behind and was pressing.  With 40 minutes to go , the Fireball took second place but the Musto Skiff of Richard Stenhouse (Rutland SC) was closing fast , taking the lead in front of the spectators at the club and holding it 35 minutes from the finish.. In the final half hour, the B14 of Phil Murray and Kevin Rutherford (Royal Northumberland SC) blasted into 4th place behind the 420 with the Alto of  Ross Kearney and Ben Rayner (Northampton SC) close behind. With 15 minutes to go, the RS 800 of Charlie Roome and Tom Jeffcoate (RYA) closed in on the leaders and the final  positions were a decisive win for the Musto Skiff with the B14 in second, the RS 800, third, the Fireball fourth another Musto Skiff of Tom Wright (Rutland SC) in fifth, the Alto in 6th and the long time fleet leading 420, 7th.

Because of the discard being applied to one of the two Saturday races, the slow fleet had their wind advantage neutralised with a 50/50 split over the final top ten positions. Dave Hivey and Emma Clark (ASA) won the John Merricks Tiger Trophy with 12 points, Phil Murray and Kevin Rutherford (B14- 15pts) second, Iver Ahlman (Skiff – 16pts) third. Steve and Gill Leney won the John Merricks Shere Khan Trophy for the highest placed oldest competitors, Richard Stenhouse won the John Merricks Pursuit Race Trophy, Sarah and Helen Burgess (29er, Draycote Water SC) won the John Merricks Lady Tiger Trophy and James Hayward and Tim Carter (420) won the John Merricks Junior Trophy. James has just received a grant from the John Merricks Sailing Trust to further his sailing career. It seems to be working.

Prizes were presented by Dennis Merricks with Rutland Sailing Club Commodore, Nick Clark in attendance. It is hoped that some £2000 will be raised for the trust. Dick Sanders reminded everyone that the 2010 Tiger Trophy will be back to its normal place of the first full week-end in February,  6th & 7th  2010.

Results - click here

Photos - click here

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