Tiger Trophy Full Report

Fireball beats a fleet of 210

While the race committee dealt with the last remaining posted queries to the overall results and the event coordinators removed the sponsor banners from Everards Brewery, Gill Marine, Herbalife and Coast Graphics, the Sailracer Team headed by Simon Lovesey posted the following initial race report from Andy Rice of SailJuice

    Ian Dobson and Sam Brearey win the fifth event of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series

    Ian Dobson and Sam Brearey have sailed their Fireball to victory at a windy John Merricks Tiger Trophy. A fourth place in Sunday's no-discard pursuit race was good enough to give the Fireball sailors victory over a fleet of 210 boats in the fifth event of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series.

    Brearey is the reigning Fireball World Champion, having crewed for Tom Gillard at the 2012 Worlds in Australia. And it was his fellow World Champion Gillard who won the pursuit race crewed by Simon Potts, a good finish to their Tiger weekend but with only one result in the top 10 from the Saturday's three handicap races, they weren't consistent enough to challenge for the overall prize.

    The Saturday had been 420 weather, with gusts up to 30 knots. But Sunday's pursuit race was a little lighter, gusting up to 20 knots but mainly in the 10 to 15 knot range for the majority of the race. Overnight leaders Craig Dibb and Matt Wallis failed to replicate the strong-wind form from Saturday, the leading 420 sailors getting a 12th in the pursuit race to slip to 3rd overall. Finishing in 2nd overall after a 6th place in the pursuit race despite an OCS at the start, was a a 29er sailed by Matt Venables and Will Alloway, the reigning 29er Youth and National Champions.

    For a long time Mark Hartley and Anonymous Crew led the pursuit race in their Wayfarer, but were eventually overhauled by Gillard's Fireball and a 49er steered by World silver medallist Rick Peacock and Nick Murray. Hartley's Wayfarer was the only non-trapeze boat to make the top 10, coming 10th behind a quartet of 420s.

    Full results from the Tiger Trophy 2013 can be found here.

    This weekend's event was set to be the finale of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series, and as such was made a non-discardable event from the best-four-of-six series. But the snow and poor conditions of late January forced the Steve Nicholson Memorial Trophy to be postponed until Saturday 23 February.

    While entry for the Steve Nicholson Trophy was filled up well in advance, the rescheduling of the event has meant not all the original entrants will be able to make the 23 February event. So if you still want to get in on the action, further entries will become exclusively available at Online entries will reopen on Tuesday 5 February and will be allocated strictly on a 'first come, first served' basis.

Now in its 20th year, the Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy, to give it its full title, is always challenging with an invitation sent out from Rutland Sailing Club and the John Merricks Sailing Trust to any centreboard dinghy sailor to race under handicap against each other. Over the past months, the process of communicating this invite has spread through the yachting press, clubs and classes with the result that ten of the latter had 6 or more entries with other classes like the Enterprises not far behind. (48th, 70th, 76th, 103rd& 107th). This will be built upon at next years event.

The basis of the regatta is to raise money for the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST), established in John's memory to support young sailors just starting in the sport and half of all the entry fee together with the proceeds from the TIGER DINNER held on Saturday evening, the auction where a tee shirt signed by Ben Ainslie raised £100 by itself and the bar, supported by Everards Brewery raised nearly £5000 over the weekend.

The first task was to fit support cars and trailers for the 210 boats who entered onto the site that had been under 4 inches of snow only 7 days previously.Club members and staff, lead from the front by Commodore Peter Ashworth achieved this without too many calls on the club tractor and with most of the competitors pre entered via SailRacer, registration was completed by Gemma Bonar and her team in time for a packed briefing by Race Officer David Wilkins.

Earlier, the RSC club members who made up the race committee and safety cover had already been thanked for their efforts by Dick Sanders the Regatta coordinator on behalf of the JMST. It is the one occasion in the year when normal club activities are put aside and all attention is focused on delivering a successful regatta.

The logistic requirements of rigging and launching 210 dinghies, including two 18ft Skiffs and 49ers as well as Toppers invited for the first time this year was complex but in the spirit of the event, everyone helped each other in the cold northerly breeze, sometimes gusting to 30 knts.  The invite had also gone out to the Paralimpic and Sailability classes so the Scuds and Challengers made use of Rutland Sailability's comprehensive disability handling equipment.

Launching into a north westerly breeze, the fleet was able to reach down to the start with the fast handicap including the Phantoms getting away on time at noon. A general recall for the slow fleet complicated matters but the top three in race 1, Matt Venables & Will Alloway (29er from Sutton SC), Craig Dibb & Matt Wallis (420 Plymouth University) and Roger Phillips & Will Crocker (RS800 Emberton Park SC) were only pushed down the overall results one place by Ian Dobson & Sam Brearey (Fireball, Bewl Valley SC), the winners of the Tiger Trophy who had a 'training ' race quickly discarded after the three Saturday races.

A new trophy 'The Tony Everard Trophy' was awarded to the overall winner of Saturday with no discards and this went to James Taylor & Tom Lovesey (420 Warsash SC) with 17 points with the other 420's of Annabel Cattermole & Bryony Bennett-Lloyd (Welwyn Garden City SC) and Callum Airlie & Joe Butterworth (East Lothian SC) close behind on 21 and 23 respectively.

While the race team consolidated the complex matter of results, it was decided not to award the Tony Everard Trophy at the Tiger Dinner as originally planned but there was plenty of other activities to occupy the 100 odd diners eating John's favorite meal of 'bangers' n' mash. Callum Airlie, who had been the lucky recipient of an Optimist from the JMST earlier in his sailing career and was Shirley Robertson's representative to light the Cauldron at London 2012 Olympics had bought his torch to enhance the collection of trophies and joined Hannah Stodel and Rod Carr CBE as guests of honour. After recounting the good old days of 420 sailing and John's part in it, Dick Sanders introduced Rod who gave everyone an insight with pictures into the added pressure of having a London TV director in your ear while trying to get races away on time in Weymouth Bay. As the Tiger Beer supplied by Everards flowed, an auction was held of items donated by Musto,Herbalife, the RYA and Volvo Ocean Race teams Puma, Groupama and Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. First item away was a 2012 Olympic tee shirt signed by Ben Ainslie Patron of the JMST.

The wind had dropped in intensity on Sunday as it moved to the west and the non-discardable pursuit race course was plotted to encompass most of the southern arm and the main pond of the reservoir. The lone Topper of Adam Rowlatt (RSC) set off at 11am behind the lead RIB but was soon overtaken by Brenda Hoult Laser 4.7 Hillhead SC) who eventually finished 13th. She held the lead while the pack closed but with the wind dropping, the advantage moved away from the 420's. With half an hour to go to the finish of this two hour race, the Wayfarer of Mark Hartley (Staunton Harold SC) took the lead only to lose it with ten minutes to go to the Fireball of Tom Gillard & Simon Potts, the winners of the John Merricks Pursuit Trophy. The chasing 49er of Rick Peacock & Nick Murray (Bartley SC) very nearly caught up but had to settle for 2nd place.  The Wayfarer was third.

After the raffle draw, Dennis Merricks, John's Father, thanked everyone for continuing to support the JMST and then presented the prizes with the top three finishers getting sailing bags provided by Gill Marine along with the traditional Tiger glasses and the beer to go in them.

As smoothly as the fleet had arrived, Rutland SC emptied, leaving the Club Manager, Bruce Bonar, to organise the clear-up.


John Merricks Tiger Trophy - Ian Dobson & Sam Brealey - Fireball (Bewl Valley)
John Merricks Lady Tiger - Annabel Cattermole & Bryony Bennett-Lloyd - 420 (Welwyn Garden City)
Shere Khan Trophy - Neil Marsden & Graham Nelson - Fireball (Blackpool)
Junior Trophy - Simon Weatherspoon - Laser Radial (Derwent Reservoir)
Tony Everard Trophy - James Taylor & Tom Lovesey - 420 (Warwash SC)
John Merricks Pursuit Trophy - Tom Gillard & Simon Potts - Fireball (Sheffield Viking SC)

Fleet Prizes:

420 - Craig Dibb & Matt Wallis (Plymouth University)
29er - Matt Venables & Will Alloway (Sutton SC)
Fireball - Ian Dobson & Sam Brearley (Bewl Valley SC)
Firefly - Steve Tylecote & Elysia Dooley (Rutland SC)
Laser - Henry Weatherall (Beaver SC)
Laser Radial - Freddie Chiddicks (Alton Water SC)
Merlin Rocket - Ben Saxton & Alan Roberts (Grafham Water SC)
Musto Skiff - Ben Schooling (Datchet Water SC)
RS800 - Roger Phillips & Will Crocker (Emberton Park SC)
Scorpion - Tom Jeffcoate & Rich Pepperdine (Notts County SC)

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