Sailing Report Merlin National Championships 2018

Wind and Waves – Lyme at its best for the first and last races of the Sailing National Championships.

63 Merlin Rocket dinghies arrived in Lyme to compete for their National Championships, among them many of the best dinghy sailors in the country, 23 already being champions in this or other classes, some holding several or multiple titles at international level.

Lyme’s race team had to be on their toes and succeeded in hosting a very successful week. Chair Dan Alsop said: ‘A huge effort, everyone pulled together and ran an excellent competition for the Merlins with a full social programme, we’re delighted and have had appreciative feedback from the sailors. Lyme’s waters provide an envied location for competition, and we had an ideal mix of winds and seas to test crews’ skills. Another accolade for Lyme on the national sailing scene. Thanks to our Race Officer Nigel Denchfield and his wife Fiona, and to International Judge David Battye, our Harbourmaster and staff, other harbour users and to our Mayor, Cllr Michaela Ellis, for welcoming the visitors to Lyme.

A series of 9 races began with strong breezes and building seas, something Lyme is famous for, challenging some of the crews less familiar with such waves.


Racing two miles off Black Venn, Sunday 19 Aug, Race 1.

The following days saw milder conditions, with light weather experts Mike and Jane Calvert from Axe YC doing well, and Lyme’s Jon Turner and Richard Parlslow dominating up on the reach.

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Day 6

Among the top 3 contenders, it was still a closely fought championship, between Christian Birrell and Roger Gilbert, with the Calverts chasing. It needed all 9 races to be completed before 2 discards could be applied. Having won the Ranelagh Trophy the day before, but also made a mistake with an early start during a race midweek, Christian with crew Sam Brearey took advantage of the blustery conditions on Friday to win that race and the Championship decisively.

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Christian and Sam, 3788, look back having avoided the incident at the leeward mark where Andy Davis and Nick Warren, 3684, narrowly miss a capsized Merlin as they harden up onto the beat.

Photos Pauline Rook.

Prize giving


Merlin Champions Christian Birrell , right, and Sam Brearey receive trophies from Commodore’s wife, Pauline Rook.


Jon Turner receives his trophy from Pauline, having graciously relinquished his record of 34 years’ standing to Christian as winner of the Merlins both as crew and as helm. Christian replied with thanks to Jon for his coaching.


Lyme’s Fraser Earle and Katie Frost, competing for the first time, win two trophies, one for youngest best placed helm. Jon has also coached Katie, his training crew, and mentored them both with tuning their boat and skills.

Photos David Beer.

Christian and Sam thanked the club and race team, while Merlins Association Chair Ian MacKenzie presented Dan Alsop and Stuart Gurney with tokens of appreciation.

Overall Championship Results
1. Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey, RYA
2. Roger Gilbert and James Stewart, Frensham Pond SC
3. Mike Calvert and Jane Calvert, Axe YC