Saturday 6 August – Friday 12 August 2016
With the Tri-Handled Trophy settled on Tuesday when Charlie and Julia Egerton-Warburton did their utmost to drown the competitors in Champagne at the prize giving, racing continued apace for the 20 strong RS Elite fleet at Cowes Week. The final three races of the week were sailed under more blue skies and bright sunshine over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Race 5 started downwind to the east on the Bramble Bank with spinnakers set. As the breeze eased and lifted , the boats at the leeward end of the line were able to sail a faster angle to the leeward mark with Shaken Not Stirred (7 – Colin, Paul and Jamie Smith) rounding first from Legs Eleven (11 – Paul and Caroline Fisk and Martin Grady) and More T Vicar (67 – Cameron Stewart). A tricky uptide beat saw Legs Eleven move into the lead with the chasing pack hot on their heels for a light wind run back downtide. No Riff Raff (20 – Russell and Vicky Peters and Mark Darling), Legs Eleven, More T Vicar and Wombat(55 – Harry Derbyshire and Emily Peters) traded places as the fleet painfully worked their way upwind against the tide in a dying breeze. At the slightly chaotic shortened course finish, Wombat came out on top with No Riff Raff second and More T Vicar third.
Thursday morning and the fleet were back on the Squadron line for a foul-tide beat to East Lepe. No Riff Raff and Lazy Daisy (6 – Andy and Karen Partington and Gareth Edwards) got away cleanly to leave the rest of the fleet floundering in their wake. No Riff Raff led comfortably all the way round with Lazy Daisy equally comfortable in second and Aeolus (33 – Ossie and Tom Stewart and Bill Masterman) leading the chase in third.
After Thursday evening cocktails off the High Street chez Partington, Peters and Edwards, Cowes Week saved the best for last – the final race on Friday got away from a perfect Squadron start line for a fair-tide beat to EFG (off Gurnard). Shaken Not Stirred squeaked round in front of Legs Eleven with No Riff Raff in third. After a tight spinnaker reach across the Solent and a long run east, the order was unchanged. A tactical second beat saw No Riff Raff move into second and Wombat third. Another long run downtide was the prelude to an epic final beat home against the tide across the Bramble Bank in a building breeze. No Riff Raff plotted their way through the shifts and tide to emerge at the other end in front of Shaken Not Stirred in second and Legs Eleven third.
Overall, with seven races sailed and one discard, No Riff Raff were comfortable winners on 10 points, Aeolus second on 26 points, Shaken Not Stirred third on 30 points, Way To Blue (24 – Nick and Kate Peters and Liz Rushall) fourth on 33 points and Legs Eleven fifth on 34 points. After a magnificent National Championship in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, and a fabulous Cowes Week which does not get much better, mixing highly competitive racing with equally intense socialising, the RS Elite Fleet season continues with some fun racing with a difference at low tide in Chichester Harbour Race Week before the more serious business of the Southern Area Championships, hosted by Hayling Island Sailing Club over the weekend of 24/25 September.