Domestic dinghy season kicks off

Lots going on this weekend - John Merricks Tiger Trophy, RS Winter Champs and Olympic training seminar

Wednesday February 7th 2001, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
The domestic racing season really kicks off again this weekend, with sailors due to be spread across the country for different events. Many Olympic hopefuls will be down in Weymouth for a day of seminars to find out how the RYA is planning on running its campaign in the build-up to Athens 2004. Next week sees most of the Olympic dinghy classes undergo a full five days of training in Portland Harbour.

At Draycote Water in the Midlands, the RS season kicks off with a bang this Saturday with the RS Winter Championships followed by the glamorous RS Ball at the Hanover Hotel, Daventry, in the evening.

The Winter Championships includes the RS 200/300/400/600/800 with three races for each class; first start for all classes is 11.30. For many this will be their first chance to test themselves against the leading boats after a winter’s practising.

Old masters Mike Budd and Mark Greaves are returning to 400s after a year off, a class which they totally dominated in 1999, to see if they can put young guns Roger Gilbert and Nick Craig in their place.

The 800s has seen a huge influx of new faces this winter and it will be interesting to see who will be the early season form horses.

With Andy Irons missing - having just had twins (not personally we hope) - and past national champions Paul Bayliss and Gareth Morgan now sailing other classes, the 600 winner could come from a whole pack of leading contenders.

The 300s have also seen many new faces join over the winter but the big question is will Jerry Wales be so dominate again in 2001 in a new boat?

With 2000 GUL Racing Circuit winner Lee Sydenham and Anne Vaudrey moving onto 800s, the 200 scene looks very open this year, with Tom/Jo Hewitson in a new boat and Steve Dunn with a new crew.

The Tiger Trophy, now named after its first winner, John Merricks, takes place on the same weekend at Rutland Sailing Club. Last year the event attracted 118 entries with Dave Hall and Paul Constable winning in a 29er. Ian Walker, who won Olympic silver with John Merricks, is planning to support the event which commemorates the talented helmsman who died so young.

The event is open to all centreboard classes with PY numbers below 1160. Entry fees are minimum donations of £25 per boat or £15 single-handed with all proceeds going to the John Merricks Sailing Trust for youth sailors.

Briefing takes place at 11:00 on Saturday with the first warning gun at 12:00. Three races are scheduled on Saturday with a non-discardable pursuit race starting from 11:00 on Sunday.

The overall winners of the series will receive the 'John Merricks Tiger Trophy' together with individual prizes. The highest placed 470 will be awarded the 'Merricks Memorial Trophy'. All helms and crews finishing in the top ten will receive prizes and individual Class, Youth and Ladies prizes will also be presented. The winners of the Sunday handicap race will receive an additional Trophy. Should the overall winner win all four races, they will receive a cheque for £1000.

For further information on the Tiger Trophy you can visit the John Merricks Sailing Trust website.

Limited tickets for the RS Ball are available from Pete Vincent, RS Class Association Secretary, by calling 07041 492130 or via e-mail.

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