Thames Series Ranelagh Spring Merlin Rocket Open

Dan & Jennie, worthy winners!

Merlin Rockets at Ranelagh SC
Sunday 6th March

Despite the conflicts with Mothering Sunday and the Dinghy Show, a strong turnout of 16 merlin rockets arrived on Putney Embankment to compete for a trophy first awarded in 1946. This was particularly appropriate as while some were racing at Ranelagh, those at Alexandra Palace were eating cake and drinking Prosecco to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the class.

Six travellers from as far afield as Plymouth and Lyme Regis (they travelled together both in car and boat), joined the ten strong home fleet to do battle in the stretch of the Thames between Putney and Hammersmith bridges. It was sunny enough to need sunglasses, windy enough to mainly have both crew members on the side upwind, and shifty and holey enough to cause all manner of problems if inadvertently caught out in too much tide.

After a clean start, with boats of varying closeness to the line, with the strong flood tide under the fleet, they were off upwind and upriver towards the Crabtree pub, past Fulham Football Club. The initial battle was between Frances Gifford and James Warren in Hot Totty (3676), Dan Alsop and Jennie King in Gangsta Paradise (3539) and the legend of Christopher Edwards and Una Hodgkins in Diabolo (214), demonstrating that age of merlin is really not so important on the Thames.

Gangsta rounded first, kite up and off they went into the tide. Despite this they seemed to gently trickle away from the rest of the fleet and build an unassailable lead that was never seriously threatened.

Three laps ensued, during which Diablo maintained their early form until very late on, with wily old Duncan Salmon sailing with son Jack escaping any mother’s day duties, in Salmon en Croute (3702), scooting through at some point into a pretty comfy second place. The battle for third was hard fought with Jon and Annabel Steward spending the longest time in the final podium position before Hot Totty won the final downhill battle with a favourable locals-only puff at the end.

So the 2016 Merlin Open Meeting Circuit and Thames Series kicked off in lovely Thames style, with a free chilli for all competitors after racing, the free bacon in baguettes having worn off by then, washed down with beer from the cheapest beer in London. Dan Alsop and Jennie King have their names on the trophy first won by Beecher Moore and Jack Holt, and will hopefully be at Cookham on 24th April to continue their Thames Series challenge.

The Craftinsure Silver Tiller series, being the prestigious travellers series for merlins, kicks off this weekend at the Hamble Warming Pan, and the HD Sails Midland Circuit begins on Sunday at Bartley. Motorway merlin spotting is likely to be a high scorer in the UK-wide I-Spy Dinghies competition this weekend.

For anyone wishing to enjoy the delights of sailing at Ranelagh, our Open Midweek Series kicks off on Friday 29th April, and continues into late June on various different midweek days of the week, at start times between 6.30pm and 7.30pm. See for start times. Club lasers, solos and merlins are available for hire for individual races. We hope to see lots of newcomers and wise old seadogs for the 2016 series.

Rank Boat SailNo Club Helm,Crew
1st Gangsta paradise 3539 Lyme Regis Dan Alsop, Jennie King
2nd Salmon Encrote 3702 Wembley Duncan and Jack Salmon
3rd Hot Totty 3676 Ranelagh Frances Gifford, James Warren
4th Red Wizard 3682 Wembley Jon and Annabel Steward
5th Love on the Rocks 3489 Ranelagh Henri and Paul Schricke
6th Delirium 3637 Wembley Alan Broadbent, Russell Hall
7th Diabolo 214 Ranelagh Chris Edwards, Una Hodgkins
8th Time and Tide 3652 Hampton John Bell, Timmy Parker
9th Snorting 3561 Wembley Kieron O'Farrell, Tim Harridge
10th Birthday Suit 3073 Ranelagh Pierre Dunoyer, Guillaume Mouscadet
11th Eureka 3106 Ranelagh Neil Davies, Sarah Edwards
12th Fever 1633 Ranelagh Nick Price, Katie McInnes
13th Undine 3061 Ranelagh Nick Long, Sarah Elliott
14th Just Practising 3498 Ranelagh Martin Wollney, Teodora Wollney
15th Joker 1993 Ranelagh Guillaume Riberolles, Dennis Long
15th Scoobee Doo 2444 Ranelagh Thomas Stolper