After months of planning – the time had finally arrived for Penzance Sailing Club to host the Merlin Rocket National Championships 14-19th August
The club hosts a National Championship every two years and excitement had been building amongst the members.
The boats began arriving on Saturday for registration and scrutineering and the Penzance volunteers carried out the last minute preparations to the club.
Day One of the competition dawned with bright sunshine and an Easterly breeze.
The race started at the first attempt under the U flag and after a difficult sail with shifty winds – Olympic medallist Stuart Bithell and his crew Tom Pygell took line honours.
Day Two again had brilliant sunshine and an East South Easterly breeze. The fleet got away cleanly and the course enabled some superb surfing on the reaches and runs. The clubhouse was packed all week as the sailors partied hard – there were some memorable costumes at the Pirate ‘Rum and Rio’ Fancy Dress that evening!
Day Three consisted of two races. The first was a complex sail as there was a strong Force 4 at the Windward mark but it dropped considerably further down the course. As the leaders reached the final few hundred metres the wind dropped completely resulting in a drift to the line.
Race Officer Marcus Wilkinson made the decision to move the course for the second race – a brilliant decision as the fleet got away cleanly in the best conditions of the week so far.
There was a change of weather conditions for Day Four with mist and low cloud over the bay.
Day Five was the highly anticipated Champagne race for the competitors.
There was a three hour postponement after which the competitors were greeted with a healthy 10-12 knot breeze.
A full four laps were set for the competitors with two hours of hard fought racing throughout.
Champagne was provided for both the helm and crew of the first 21 boats
Day Six provided the most exciting conditions of the week so far. There was a strong 18 knot South Westerly breeze with huge rolling waves.
As one competitor added “The second reach was truly epic; pretty much straight down the waves, with huge holes in water, crews at the back of the bus and centreboards screaming. It was worth the entry fee alone!”
Congratulations Roger Gilbert and James Stewart – Merlin Rocket National Champions 2016.
The club would like to thank all of the volunteers that enabled the week to run so smoothly.
Roll on the next Championships in 2018!