Hosted by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club


We all gathered at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club for the Lofoten RS Elite UK National Championships on Wednesday, 29th July. While Berthon Marina were lifting all the travellers into the water and the club boatmen towed them to the club pontoon there was a festive atmosphere of old friends meeting once again to do battle. But this time the talk was all about the 'new boys', the resurrected Haling Island fleet.

Haling Island has experienced a remarkable resurgence in the last 12 months under the enthusiastic leadership of Paul Fisk, the new HISC Fleet Captain. From barely one boat 12 months ago they have bought pretty much every boat on the market and with a fleet of 14 boats now they have also attracted some impressive names to the fleet.

With two Olympic medalists, Mike McIntyre and Ossie Stewart, and multi championships winners, Dave Hitchcock and Paul Fisk, the HISC fleet presented a serious addition to the National fleet and was sure to be in contention.

But as we were to find out they weren't going to have it all their own way with some very serious sailors from all over the country attending, Stephen Polly from RUYC, fresh from taking the Irish Nationals at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta. We also had strong local contender Martin Wadhams and two very distinguished winners from Burnham, David Wood and four times National Champion, Jono Brown.

You could say the scene was set; the players were all ready, so let the Games begin.

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Day One at the Lofoten RS Elite Nationals was not easy. With a patchy NW breeze off the Highcliffe shore in Christchurch Bay only one boat managed to consistently work it out, upwind and down - perhaps predictably... defending champions Jono Brown, with David and Lyn in Aeolus. They started the day targeting top five results to stay in touch and ended up winning three races. You simply have to be impressed.

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Behind them Mike McIntyre, inFoudafafa, was in second overall following several significant get-out-of-jail come-backs producing 2,5,7 for the day, ahead of Paul Fisk, inLegs Eleven, with 5, 6, 4 in third position on the board.

 

David Wood in Oink Squealstarted the day with DSQ, but followed up with two 2nds, so a mixed but encouraging day for them.

After that, the snakes and ladders were even more extreme for most.

Friday, Day Two, saw more light winds and beautiful sunshine and required a tow out to the start line and a postponement while the 5 knot breeze settled. Once again, in conditions to their liking, the Browns produced the best of the day, posting two more first places and a seventh. With the rest of the fleet bouncing up and down the scoreboard, they deservedly sat a distant first.

 

 

Martin Wadhams in Kiss has been the only boat to topple them so far, winning the second race of the day comfortably, but followed up with an unforced OCS to create a rather inconsistent day.

Text Box: Mike McIntyre held onto second overall with Dave Wood inOink Squealhaving their best championship so far with two more top five results taking them to 3rd overall.

Day Three also required a tow out to the race area, Christchurch Bay, but with the promise of wind in the high teens, building seas, beautiful sunshine, and the Christchurch Bay backdrop of the Needles and Hurst Castle it was worth it in spades. The exciting sailing and intense racing developed into probably one of the best ever days of RS Elite racing.

The three races produced three winners, with Mike McIntyre in Foudafafa taking the first ahead of Stephen Polly,Storm, and Paul Fisk in Legs Eleven. Overall leaders, Jono Brown and family, were down in 8th and everyone wondered whether an upset could begin.

Race two saw Storm clinch the victory, and the Brown's were back in 9th... but with McIntyre this time in 5th the Championship writing was on the wall. Fisk claimed 2nd and Al Keck, Pipe..., finally delivered with a 3rd.

Text Box: As the breeze built and the waves got steeper, the racing just got more exciting. At the first bottom mark Ossie Stewart, in More T Vicar, was cementing his good day in the lead, but with all the other top boats smoking in overlapped at the gate it was pretty amazing racing. And the Brown's showed their class once again to motor through to win, with Ossie in second and Al Keck again in 3rd.

So, the Brown's deservedly sealed the title with a day to spare - an incredible performance in this hot fleet. But everything was to play for behind them. One point separated 2nd to 4thso it really was a last race showdown for the other podium positions.

Day Four Going into the final race the top spot was sealed but only 1 point separated 2nd to 4th. Cool under pressure McIntyre motored out of the port end, crossed the fleet and was never headed... pretty important as the three boats fighting for 2nd overall filled the top three positions around the track. Fisk claimed 2nd in the race to take 3rd overall.

In true Corinthian spirit, Jono, wearing rabbit ears, sailed himself to the back of the fleet on the last day. The Brown's emphatic overall triumph against top name teams at the Lofoten sponsored RS Elite Nationals marks a deservedly high point for them, and their fifth RS Elite National Championship win.

The racing couldn't have been much better. Hosted by the Royal Lymington Yacht Club under Roger Wilson's PRO management, conditions varied from light air to full-on breeze, flat water to surfing waves and all under blue skies and sunshine. Saturday in Christchurch Bay will be long remembered - keelboat racing simply doesn't get much better and three great races with three winners in the 28 boat fleet was the icing.

The RS Elite fleet is also known for its camaraderie ashore and with a packed social programme at this championship sponsored by Kandoo and Kipper Sailing, including free beer one night and rum punch at Nonsuch Bay Caribbean night, most of the fleet now badly need a few days rest in the office before it all starts again at AAM Cowes Week on Saturday!

Full results can be found here

To view and download all photos from the event go here

All photographs and video are taken by Michael Austen www.michaelausten.co.uk

 

Racing from Day 3 of the Lofoten RS Elite National Championships 2015 in Christchurch Bay


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