Tiger Trophy Roars

The 420s and 29ers make mincemeat of boat-breaking conditions at Rutland Water

Sunday February 3rd 2002, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
The late John Merricks would have lapped up the vicious conditions at Rutland Water yesterday, for the three back-to-back races of the John Merricks Memorial Tiger Trophy.

With gusts of 30 knots or more sweeping across the reservoir, it was a benefit day for the 420s and 29ers who turned out in force for the regatta.

Richard Stenhouse frequently led the fast handicap fleet in his Musto Skiff, but the trapezoid course did not suit him or many of the other high-powered asymmetric skiffs. The top 29ers coped well enough with the tight reaches but could not make the most of their fast running speed, while the 420s romped up and down the course.

Steve Irish and Martin Gotrel could have been in contention but a spectacular mast failure as their RS800 launched off a wave top was the end of their racing weekend. Rutland Water Sailing Club commodore and race officer for the weekend, Dave Wilkins, took no mercy on the fleet - running three long, back-to-back heats that saw boats racing around the unlimited lap circuit from 1pm until twilight.

Saturday evening saw the traditional black tie affair, with John Merricks’ and Ian Walker’s parents in attendance. Merrick’s old silver-medal winning team mate from their 470 days, Ian Walker, had made a special video from Auckland, with a tour around the GBR Challenge base in the build-up to the British America’s Cup challenge of which Merricks would doubtless have been an important part were he still alive today.

Sunday rounds off the regatta with one long pursuit race around the reservoir, and with a slight drop in wind predicted, the faster boats like the 49ers might at last get a chance to stretch their legs after a day that was tailor-made for the underpowered but well-sailed 420s.

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