Dave Hall and Paul Constable were popular winners of the John Merricks Tiger Trophy, sailing their Fireball to victory at Rutland Water Sailing Club last weekend. Hall and Constable have been racing side by side for more than 30 years, and they are the only sailors to have competed in all 21 editions of the Tiger Trophy.
This was the first time the handicap race took place in the warm summer months, which must have come as a relief not just to the sailors but for the hardy souls that man the committee boats and rescue boats during the winter. That the event went ahead at all this year is a testament to the commitment of principal race officer David Wilkins who with his wife Gill are among the prime movers behind the ongoing success of the Tiger Trophy. Covid forced the cancellation of the events which had been scheduled for early February, but Wilkins along with the volunteer navy of Rutland SC were determined to make the regatta happen despite the obstacles.
As the concluding event of a long-extended Selden Sailjuice Winter Series, 51 boats came to race over the weekend, and it could have been at least 60 entries if a few more RSC sailors had not pulled out from being exhausted from the “Holiday Week” that took place at RSC up to the Friday before the event. In total there were 25 classes competing, with seven different classes finishing in the top 10 and 15 different classes in the top 20, a solid vindication of the fairness of the Great Lakes Handicap numbers. It was great to see a large youth and junior entry for the regatta, one of the mainstays of the Tiger Trophy in the early years and one that’s seen a welcome resurgence of youth interest in more recent times.
Unlike the often extreme winds that sailors encounter at a typical winter Tiger, the conditions were very benign. Breeze was mostly from 8-12 knots gusting to about 15 at times. Occasionally it dropped to about 6-7 knots, but there was always a nice breeze to keep moving. However the shifts did play tricks on the sailors (and the race team) with some shifts of 15-25 degrees to the right or left of the predominant north-easterly direction. The weather wasn’t exactly hot for a summer’s weekend, but a lot warmer than the usual weather in February.
Hall and Constable were always in the hunt but were pushed hard by a number of other sailors. In the Saturday fleet races, the RS Vareo of Luke Fisher notched up two wins to Hall’s single win. But the Tony Everard Trophy for Saturday series does not allow a discard and Hall and Constable were more consistent, beating Fisher with 8 points to the Vareo’s 11 points. In Sunday’s pursuit race on a 3 nautical mile race track, the 2000 of Simon Horsfield and Natalie Johnson led until Dave and Paul passed them with less than a minute to the finish of the 2 hours and 30 minute race.
The Prize list for the Tiger Trophy is long and generous, and here’s a small selection of the other category winners:
Ellie Craig in her Aero 7 just pipped Carys Attewell in her Laser Radial from Rutland for the Ladies Prize
The Youth (U19) and Junior (U16) prizes were both won by 420 sailors – Joe Warwicker/Hugo Valentine for the Youth Tiger and 13 year old Harry George/Ralph Crowthorne for the Junior Tiger.
The Shere Khan trophy was won by Mike Webster in the Phantom (Dave and Paul would have won this too, but it is not awarded to the overall winner of the event)
Adults received the Everards Tiger beer and glass along with any trophies. The Youths and Juniors received the GAS Tiger Teeshirts (produced and donated by Dick Sanders for the event).
SailRacer GPS Tracking
With SailRacer providing tracking for the event, the RS800 of Chris and Bryony Dodd produced the fastest sustained speed of 12.5 knots, with the 3000 of Dylan Beatty fastest on handicap corrected speed.
The Tiger Dinner
The Tiger Dinner, one of the long traditions of this event, took place on Saturday evening with a delicious hog roast dinner followed by either sticky toffee pudding or apple crumble.
Dave Hall gave an interesting perspective on his involvement with John over the years before John’s untimely passing in 1997. Dave was racing against John at the Melges 24 European Championships in Italy where John died. Dave recalled that John and his team were leading at the time and Dave’s team were lying second. In respect to John, the event was then cancelled by the organisers and John’s team were declared the winners.
Hosts and guests recognised the passing of John Merricks’ father Denis during the dinner, which was also attended by John’s two sisters – Denise and Julie and their husbands.
Dave Wilkins gave thanks to all the volunteers who helped to organise and run the event and who declared their commitment to help with the next edition when it returns to its customary time slot next February.
The evening was a very enjoyable sociable evening and the last people only left when the bar closed late in the evening.
Thanks to the Sponsors
Everards for their continued support of the event and the provision of the prizes
Dick Sanders and his company GAS, who produce logoed polo and tee-shirts. All the profits from tee-shirt sales were donated to the John Merricks Sailing Trust
Rutland Sailing Club, who donate the entry fee for the event to the JMST
The following events counted towards the scoring of the Seldén SailJuice Winter Series 2020/21:
Datchet Flyer, Datchet Water SC, 6-7 December 2020
Grafham Belle, Grafham Water SC, 29-30 May 2021
Medway Marathon, Medway YC, 19 June 2021
Tiger Trophy, Rutland Water SC, 28-29 August 2021
You can find out more about the Series here: www.SailJuiceSeries.com
Photo Credits: Tim Olin
Previous winners of the Seldén Sailjuice Winter Series
2019/20 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge (2000)
2018/19 Simon Horsfield & Katie Burridge (2000)
2017/18 Alistair Goodwin (Laser)
2016/17 Matt Mee & Emma Norris (RS200)
2015/16 Ian Dobson & Andy Tunnicliffe (GP14)
2014/15 Nick Craig & various crews (Merlin Rocket)
2013/14 Michael Sims (Solo)
2012/13 Tom Gillard & Simon Potts (Fireball)
2011/12 Peter Gray & Rachael Rhodes (Scorpion)
2010/11 Andy Peake (Musto Skiff)
2009/10 Olly Turner & Richard Whitworth (Merlin Rocket)
SailJuice.com is the ‘how to sail and race faster’ website, with hundreds of articles and exclusive interviews with National, World and Olympic Champions. Professional sailing journalist and editor of SailJuice.com, Andy Rice, came up with the concept of the SailJuice Winter Series (originally known as the SailJuice Global Warm-Up) as a way of increasing participation levels in dinghy racing during the off-season in the UK.
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