After a perfect Salcombe day welcomed the fleet on Saturday, competitors woke to much of the same with clear skies and a SSW breeze steadily building from force 3 to gusting 5 as the morning progressed.
Leaders of the Sharps Doom Bar Salcombe Merlin Week after day 1 are Tim Fells and Oli Wells tied on points with Andy Davis and Alex Warren.
Green v Red flights. Course 1,7,1,7
The tide having turned an hour earlier, the fleet lined up with a weather going ebb under them and were noticeably line shy under the mandatory black flag. The leading protagonists positioned for a mid-line start and it was Taxi and Alex Warren who pulled the trigger perfectly and enjoyed a short starboard lift to get clear ahead and tack across to the favourable tide on the town side.
They then consolidated their advantage to round with a nice lead down the Portlemouth shore and were chased by Sam and Megan Pascoe, followed by Olly Turner and Hamish Kilburn. Jon Gorringe and Nicki Bass played the gusts nicely to come and join the leaders as did Richard Whitworth and Sam Mottershead.
The trip down to Gerston played well for Sam and Megan who enjoyed a 200 yard lead over Jon and Nicki as they completed the loop back through the town. However, Taxi and Alex had not given up and took a low line through The Bag to emerge into the harbour for the second time leading by the narrowest of margins.
In a very tight finish, with the leading three finishing within 5 seconds, Taxi and Alex took the bullet and Jon and Nicki beat Sam and Megan by a nose. Olly and Hamish were a couple of boat lengths back in fourth ahead of Richard and Sam.
Of the other expected front runners, Tom Stewart and Phil Dalby had a nightmare first run taking the town side and did very well to recover to 10th. Roger and Jane Gilbert had boat trouble and had to retire.
Blue v Black flights. Course 1,7,1,7
The afternoon race was a true epic. Sailed under wall-to-wall sunshine, in a F3-4 but pushing F6 down the harbour and through the start area and at low spring tide, the scene was set for a race to remember. A large crowd lined the sandy beach along the Portlemouth shore and were rewarded with spectacular action, most of it almost within touching distance.
With the last of the ebb underneath them and not a lot of water, there was an almost inevitable recalled start under black flag. The most prominent casualties were Dave Winder and Pippa Taylor.
The second start got away cleanly and it was Chris Jennings and Pete Horn who made the early running but were passed by Matt Biggs and John Hackett, who led narrowly around the windward mark from Tim Fells and Oli Wells, who were soon doing turns for an infringement with Matt and John.
As the leaders ran down the shore back towards the start line a big gust struck. Dave Hayes and Jonny Ratcliffe wiped out close to the beach, quickly followed by Ian and Ellie Sharps just to windward, leaving Tim and Oli no option but to bin it and capsize on top of them.
Matt and Hannah Greenfield (still on their honeymoon) were close to taking the lead but saw their mast convert into kit form, while Mike Calvert and Ian Garwood ran up the beach and capsized. The spectators were awe struck and we believe some may have burst into spontaneous applause.
Matt and John maintained vertical hold and led the survivors into The Bag, building a big lead as they returned to the harbour. Simon Potts and Ali Martin had picked up the chase with Jon Turner and Richard Parslow showing old sea dog tendencies along with Jon Ibbotson and Chris Kilsby.
Further back the capsizers were picking up the chase. Tim and Oli were sailing the race of their lives. Rapidly climbing back up through the fleet they had clawed up to second as they completed the first lap. They then hunted down Matt and John and were able to extend a healthy lead by the run back through the town. Also climbing rapidly were Dave and Jonny, and Mike and Ian.
At the finish Tim and Oli had secured a memorable victory, Matt and John held a strong second, Dave and Jonny had salvaged an excellent third and Mike and Ian powered into fourth.
With the forecast having some big numbers in it for the next 3 days, this is looking like a Salcombe week of legend!
Merlin-Rocket – Sharps Doom Bar Salcombe Merlin Week (120 entries)
1st Merlin-Rocket 3764 Tim Fells/Oli Wells  1 122 1 pts
2nd Merlin-Rocket 3684 Andy Davis/Alex Warren 1  122 1 pts
3rd Merlin-Rocket 3743 Matt Biggs/John Hackett  2 123 2 pts
4th Merlin-Rocket 3754 Jon Gorringe/Nikki Bass 2  123 2 pts
5th Merlin-Rocket 3770 David Hayes/Jonny Ratcliffe  3 124 3 pts
6th Merlin-Rocket 3759 Sam Pascoe/Megan Pascoe 3  124 3 pts
7th Merlin-Rocket 3691 Mike Calvert/Ian Garwood  4 125 4 pts
8th Merlin-Rocket 3656 Olly Turner/Hamish Kilburn 4  125 4 pts
9th Merlin-Rocket 3658 Chris Jennings/Pete Horn  5 126 5 pts
10th Merlin-Rocket 3703 Richard Whitworth/Sam Mottershead 5  126 5 pts
11th Merlin-Rocket 3774 Jon Turner/Richard Parslow  6 127 6 pts
12th Merlin-Rocket 3611 Jen Dodds/Chris Dodds 6  127 6 pts
13th Merlin-Rocket 3645 Steve Hall/Ally Hall  7 128 7 pts
14th Merlin-Rocket 3752 Will Rainey/Andy Douglas 7  128 7 pts
15th Merlin-Rocket 3710 Jon Ibbotson/Chris Kilsby  8 129 8 pts
16th Merlin-Rocket 3685 Sophie Mackley/James Warren 8  129 8 pts
17th Merlin-Rocket 3753 Simon Potts/Ally Martin  9 130 9 pts
18th Merlin-Rocket 3725 AJ Squire/Mary Henderson 9  130 9 pts
19th Merlin-Rocket 3564 Rob Kennaugh/Abi Spurr  10 131 10 pts
20th Merlin-Rocket 3733 Tom Stewart/Phil Dalby 10  131 10 pts