HD Sails came within a whisker of winning the Merlin Nationals at Lyme Regis.
Andy Davis and Tom Pygall went in to the week as defending champions and certainly put up a good fight. Throughout the week it became clear that it was going to be a two horse race between Andy & Tom and Olympic 470 silver medalist Stuart Bithell crewed by Christian Birrell.
The strong south westerly wind brought big seas, this gave perfect conditions for the majority of the week. Unfortunately, too much wind and huge waves resulted in sailing being cancelled on Monday and Wednesday.
Throughout the week the two boats matched each other point for point resulting in a tie going in to the last day. Andy and Tom had been more consistent with a score card of 2,2,3,2,2, compared to Stuart and Christian’s 1,1,5,1,dnf. The Merlin Rocket Class sail 6 races with one discard, so going into the last day Andy had to stop Stuart from finishing in the top 4.
Race 6 started with the a force 2-3 in the south west. The race was looking as if the right hand side would pay, Andy was covering Stuart and forcing him down the line, Andy forced Stuart out to the left hand side with the majority of the fleet going right, unfortunately half way up the first beat the wind shifted 35 degrees to the left, favouring Stuart, but both boats rounded the windward mark in the top 7 with Stuart just ahead. From then there wasn’t much Andy could do as Stuart was covering. The two boats sailed through to second and third, giving Stuart the title by a point.
Geoff Carveth and Graham Williamson finshed third on 25 points, Richard Whitworth and Sarah Bines finished fourth on 37 points.