RS Elite Southern Area Championship 2022

15 June 2022

Coming just one week before the RS Elite International Grand Prix, many sailors regarded the RS Elite southern Area Championship, held at at Hayling Island Sailing club on 3 to 5 June over the Jubilee Bank Holiday as a warm up for the big event. In addition to the local boats there were entrants from Northern Ireland, Guernsey and Norway. Competition was intense with very close racing with a different leader at the end of each day’s racing.

After the last of eight races, reigning champion Tom Hewitson, crewed by Colin Smith and Jo Hewitson in RS Elite 7, Shaken not Stirred, was tied for first place with Ossie Stewart, crewed by Geoff Carveth and Tom Stewart. The tie was broken in Hewitson’s favour on countback, giving second place to Stewart and crew, in RS Elite 67, More T Vicar. Third place went to Pete Copsey who had been overnight leader after Day 2, crewed by Debbie Jarvis and Jez White in RS Elite 46, The Doctor. Fourth place overall went to the Day 1 overnight leader Jostein Aker from Norway, crewed by Andrew and Pippa Archibald in RS Elite 25, Freebie Knot.

The 19 boat fleet enjoyed some hugely close and competitive racing in wind conditions that varied from light and shifty, mainly south easterly on Day 1 to strong easterly with mean wind speed in excess of 20 knots with gusts in excess of 25 knots on Day 2. There was a long postponement on Day 3 whilst waiting for a light and variable westerly to fill in. Nevertheless race officer Tim Hancock and his team did a superlative job in setting great courses and getting all races off as promptly as possible. Race management was impeccable overall.

The fleet included some newcomers to the class. Notably, David Nichols, a highly-experienced Flying Fifteen sailor, was jubilant about the performance of the RS Elite after the second, windy, day despite finishing towards the back of the fleet. He was also involved in an amusing incident where he hit the windward mark, catching the ground tackle with his keel. Realising he had hit the mark he attempted to do a penalty turn whist towing the mark around after him.

Overall the event was acclaimed as a huge success, enhanced by the quality of the race management and by the efficiency of the Hayling Island Marine team, who went the extra mile to ensure that visitors’ boats were launched and recovered promptly. This was particularly appreciated at the end of the event when some visitors were proceeding immediately to Cowes for the International Grand Prix.

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