Tiger tiger burning bright...

Callum Airlie (left) and Joe Butterworth receiving their prize from Dennis Merricks (Johns father)
Callum Airlie (left) and Joe Butterworth receiving their prize from Dennis Merricks (Johns father)

Not in the forests of the night, but in the colder Rutland Water.

Gordon sailor Callum Airlie, with crew Joe Butterworth, took part in the 20th Rutland Challenge for the Tiger Trophy, finishing sixth overall, second youth boat overall, and second slow handicap.

This is an annual event held in memory of the late John Merricks (Olympic silver medallist), and raises funds for the John Merricks Sailing Trust (JMST). The Tiger Trophy is an unusual event, with all entrants competing against each other. Day one is three handicap races, with the fleet split into SLOW and FAST handicaps; day two is a non-discardable two-hour pursuit race.

This year the opening day provided a good 15 knots of wind, gusting to 25, which the 420 fleet took full advantage of. At the end of day one the top four places were filled by 420s, with Callum second behind last year’s winner Craig Dibb. Sunday was less windy with light, fluky shifts. This suited the fast boats better and they came through the at the end.

The 420 was John Merricks’ second boat – he started in a Mirror – and it is a testimony to the quality of the sailing in the class, and the RYA coaching, that in a fleet of 208 boats the 420 carried five of the top 10 places.

The JMST (www.jmst.org.uk) was established in John’s memory to support young sailors starting in the sport.

Half the entry fees plus the proceeds from the Tiger Dinner, the auction where a tee shirt signed by Ben Ainslie raised £100, and the bar, raised nearly £5,000 over the weekend.

Callum, who goes to Earlston High School, was the winner of the first John Merricks Optimist in 2007 which was awarded to the highest placed under-12 sailor in a boat more than five years old at the UK National Championships.

Since then he has been UK national champion twice, regional finalist for the YJA Pantaneous Young Sailor of the Year award twice, and was nominated by Shirley Robertson as one of the seven inspirational athletes to light the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron.

He is a nominee for the inspirational performance award in the Borders Sport and Leisure Celebration of Sport Awards.