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Merrydown Regatta 2019

Merrydown Race Report 2019

Over 50 boats took part in RVYC's Merrydown regatta at the weekend in true Indian Summer weather but sadly not very much wind. It was rather a good weekend for getting out on the water in something with a bit of power!

This regatta, sponsored by Merrydown cider, holds the record for the longest commercial sponsorship of any sporting event, going back to 1955 when the event was run by Ryde Rowing Club from its then base on Ryde Pier.

Race Officer, Clive Blount, started the cruisers on a seven mile course on Saturday in a reasonable six to seven knots of wind, all hoping for a good day's sailing. After a general recall, the fleet got away. The fast handicap and day boats started on their first long race but the wind dropped continuously after the start and with the increasing current, the decision was made to shorten the course at the leeward mark. The slow handicap finished their race at the committee boat, albeit with some confusion.

As the sailing instructions time limit had now been exceeded, it was decided the fairest option would be to abandon this race. The second one-lap shorter race started without incident and was won by Arthur Farley in a Laser, with Mike Action in an RS400 second and Bradley McLaughlin and Jon Evans in a Squib, third. Finn Evans and Killian Boag were first in the slow handicap, with Beth Blake and Iona Bellingham second, and Charlotte Andrews and Charlotte Osborne third all in RS Fevas.

Post-racing Saturday was party time with a Caribbean theme, with nearly 100 guests enjoying food and Merrydown cider, followed by a tug of war and limbo competition.

Sunday dawned with very little wind but the RO decided to prepare for racing, this time off Binstead. Cruisers were first away followed by fast handicap and day boats. As the wind died away again, their course was shortened after one lap, as was the slow handicap fleet.

Arthur Farley in a Laser continued his winning streak in the fast fleet, with Harry and Charlie White taking second and third places in Laser Radials. Squib winners were David Lloyd, followed by Steve Warren Smith and Lisa Guy in second and third places.

Slow fleet was won by Sam Osborne, with Alice Pope in a Pico second and Freddie Death in a Tera in third.

After a while, the breeze picked up but died away again shortly before the first dinghy/ day boat start, which eventually led to the rest of the day's racing being cancelled. The cruisers also shortened their course.

Back at the clubhouse, it was prize-giving time, with the main Merrydown trophies presented by veteran sailor, Neville Hill, who had taken part in the very first Merrydown event back in 1955.

15 year-old RVYC member, Arthur Farley, had a clean sweep of silverware, winning cups for both Merrydown races, the well-worn cider barrell trophy for overall Merrydown winner, and the fast handicap cup as well.

Nigel Talbot's new Mocra, Sanity, crewed by Chris Rickman and Richard Rae, won the cruiser section, with visitors Craig and Emma Dymock from Cowes, coming second in their J22, La Vie en Rose.

Portsmouth Sailing Club member, David Lloyd and crew, was Squib fleet winner, with RVYC's Steve Warren Smith and Phil Russell runners-up. Samuel Osborne won the slow fleet in his Tera, with runners-up Finn Evans and Killian Boag and Beth Blake and Iona Bellingham both in RS Fevas.

Samuel was also presented with the Rickman Family trophy for young sailors, while the Squib fleet were awarded the magnificent Thomas West Cup as class of the regatta.

Graham Bowen from Yarmouth SC won the Scow cup, with RVYC's Dare Barry and Helen Gatehouse coming second and third.

There's always a great spirit to this regatta and this is down to all the competitors and helpers who help make it such a fun event. Next year, the regatta will be sailed to the original Merrydown rules which have recently come to light.

See you all in 2020 !

History of the Merrydown Regatta

The origins of the Race date back to 1955 when members of the 'Sailing Section' at Ryde Rowing Club, then located on the Pier at Ryde, discovered the wonderful properties of Merrydown Vintage Cider. Racing began annually for firstly a Magnum of the cider and then, from 1959 when the Merrydown Wine Company first learned about the race, they presented a Methuselah as first prize. The Company's continuing support for the race from that time is the earliest and longest commercial sponsorship of any sporting event.

The present silver Merrydown Trophy was first raced for in 1962 with the winner being Bob Casson of East Cowes SC. The race continued to be held from the Pier until 1970 when the Club had to move to its present site at Appley. Until the Club could continue running the event again, the Royal Victoria Yacht Club hosted the race at Fishbourne 1971-75.

From 1976 the race was staged at Appley until it was no longer feasible for the Club to run it and now, fortunately, it appears to have a bright future being staged at Fishbourne again.

Of the many local Clubs whose members have won the race, Stokes Bay SC has been the most successful with 27 winners, of which Paul Chatfield has won five and Stuart Gummer four times.

Royal Victoria members to have won the Merrydown include John Hoyland (1970), RC Payne (1975) and Martin Harrison (1996 and 2002). And Authur Farley ( 2018)

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Last updated 14:37 on 29 March 2022

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