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Tiger Trophy report by Chris Taylor Tiger Trophy report by Chris Taylor

So it's the time of year for the Rutland Challenge Tiger Trophy to raise money for the John Merricks sailing trust. With over 160 entrants it was looking to be a good year with a lot of competition.

With an early start on Saturday morning we drove the two hour journey to Rutland Sailing Club. As we got closer the temperature started to drop to 0 degrees compared to the moderate 5 degrees we had had at home and the fog started to come in. We arrived at Rutland in thick fog and with a light breeze.

The first start was postponed on land due to the lack of visibility but an hour and a half later we launched, however we still could not see much more than 50 metres which is scary when sailing with 160 other boats of all different sizes! The first race for the fast handicap fleet got away smoothly but for those of us in the slow handicap fleet we had a general recall. Once we got started the crews had the horrible task of trying to find the best wind and actually try to find out where the windward mark was.

We arrived at the windward mark in a crowd of boats and not being able to tell where about in the fleet we were, we had to just try and beat the boats around us. We picked off a number of boats but when the results from the two fleets were combined we had finished a not so great 121st , but the conditions were horrible!

The second race started with an all clear start for both fleets but the visibility hadnt got any better so the crews once again had the horrible job of tactics upwind. We had a good first beat this time and managed to get much nearer the front amongst some of the faster boats in the slow handicap fleet which made it very difficult. Especially against some the asymmetric boats on the reaches. We ended up with a much better race finishing 75th with the two fleets combined.

We were then sent in as it was starting to get dark and the visibility was not getting any better. The day had been hard in the 420 as they are not best suited for light winds especially in handicap races so we were hoping for more wind the next morning...

Sunday started with a leisurely start of 11:00 for the first boats and for those of us in the 420 our start time was 11:09. Unfortunately, the wind was even lighter than the previous day which did not bode well for us in the 420 however the skiffs would also suffer.

We started the iconic pursuit race and soon managed to catch up most of the boats that started in front of us and it was looking fine for the first lap and a half but we could see the faster boats catching us up.

As we started the second lap the wind dropped even more and the beat was going to be long and hard work to try and find clear air amongst the other boats. We managed to hold a lot of boats off but on the last reach we suffered when it turned into a close hauled leg and gave a chance for some of the skiffs to get past us.

We finished in 89th place which wasn't too bad for a pursuit race in very light winds in a 420 however, a couple of the other boats did extremely well with top ten finishes. We ended up 91st overall and hope to go back next year to improve on the result, hopefully with a bit more wind.

Overall the event was good fun and with over 4000 raised for the John Merricks sailing trust was a great fund raiser and will help bring new sailors into the sport and help them to progress.

Chris Taylor

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