Itchenor Merlin Training Weekend
Published 14:22 on 8 Mar 2022
5th & 6th March was the opening weekend for the Merlin Rocket class and 17 eager teams arrived at Itchenor SC ready to get a jump start on the season with a weekend of training led by multiple Champs winner Christian Birrell supported by Tim Saxton, Ian Dobson and George Yeoman, with special guest appearances from Alex Warren and Caroline Croft.
Both days were gusty affairs with a 12-15 knot northerly, with squalls over 20, tested the finesse and fitness of the teams. Some new pairings appeared with Chris Gould & Rob Allen, Ian & Chris Martin, Caroline Croft & Faye Chatterton and Jack Norton & Dave Royce, and also the stunning 3506 of Graham Webb & Simon Pollard adding some class to proceedings. Saturday started with a few short sharp warm up races before we split in to groups. The groups were set with 3 stations:
- a triangle course set to practice maneuvers at the corners (hoist, gybe, drop)
- tacking and giving in the whistle
- lane holding
A couple of the squalls caught a few people out, with a few remembering why they should tie rudders on, but all in all the short sharp exercises kept everyone warm and happy as they came of the water to pasta bake and a video debrief focusing on how boats set up differently to make it easier to sail in the gusty conditions. Itchenor then put on a great 2 course dinner, beef featherblade/veggie wellington with dauphinoise potatoes and then a sticky toffee pudding, before everyone retired to be in front of the fire in the bar retelling the screaming reaches from earlier in the day.
Sunday was focused on starting and the first beat with rolling starts and sailing the first 30seconds before resetting and racing the 3rd start. The coaches gave each boat individual focus around various parts of the course, and in some cases took them away for a private session. We finished the weekend with 3 quick windward leeward races where the new combo of Gouldy & Rob showed their class in the breeze winning all 3 races. The final debrief focused on the boat handling round corners and race management in a breeze, when to drop and how to attack various aspects of the course to make the biggest gains.
Itchenor loves hosting the Merlins and it was another very successful event for both the club and sailors and the next one is highly recommended for a (maybe slightly warmer) warm up at Blithfield before the season kicks off in anger.
Last updated 13:43 on 1 August 2022