Despite many previous championship titles to his name, Ossie Stewart seemed genuinely moved when he lifted the RS Elite Southerns title sailing with his sons Cameron and Tom. A special moment in a long and successful sailboat racing career.
They clinched it in style. The Championship was sailed as part of the first four days of AAM Cowes Week and it delivered true the Cowes racing experience. The Stewarts produced a score sheet that all the other boats could only envy, but it didn’t always feel that way for them having lost the lead in the dying moments of both the first two races, but finally taking the gun in the third. The fourth day was lost to no wind, but a popular early decision by the Race Committee allowed competitors to make the best of an alternative day.
Most of the race, in light wind and sunshine, on Day One was simply a pre-amble to the finish. As the fleet converged on the downwind finish with the foul tide strengthening, suddenly nothing was certain. The leaders parked up and the back markers piled in. The Stewarts in More T Vicar had led all round but a three boat photo finish gave E’Tu (Donald MacLean, Steve and Mike Powell) a popular win, with Irish boat Tuppence (Brian Cory, Mark Fletcher and Maria Harwood) climbing to third in their first ever Cowes race.
RS Elite racing is always competitive and close and Day 2 also produced an exciting finish. The Stewarts had climbed into the front again after overtaking early leader Outlaw (Tom Corrigan) and National Champions Jono, Lyn and David Brown in Aeolus. Aeolus banged right on the final beat and came in fast to the finish to again “steal” the win from the Stewarts who, like most of the fleet, battled up the Island shore in another high intensity snakes and ladders finish which saw Tuppence again earn third sailing like the seasoned Cowes specialists they’re not!
Day 3 produced a steadier breeze and a monster run for the first leg. Kiss (Martin & Amanda Wadhams and Sarah Treseder) lead round the first mark, but it was becoming clear that the Stewarts were on fire this week. Overtaking Andy Partington, Mike McIntyre and Martin Wadhams, none of them generally a push-over, on the next long beat they took the lead and, this time, were never headed. With all the front runners still smarting from final leg wounds the last beat this time was a domino style coverathon, with Wadhams takingsecond ahead of McIntyre and the Browns.
This event marked 10 years of RS Elite Racing and the record size Cowes Week fleet perhaps typified it in many ways. It was close, competitive to the last and the Elite design allowed the boats, many of them sailed by top names, to be crewed by family and friends. And that means the camaraderie ashore and the social program is as great as the racing so the Class’s current strengthening is set to build.
With three more days of racing at Cowes, the overall Week win is still very much to play for and a mixed bag of conditions is forecast.
Southern area Championships – overall
1st More T Vicar, Ossie, Cameron & Tom Stewart – 5pts
2nd Aeolus, Jono, Lyn & David Brown – 11pts
3rd Tuppence, Brian Cory, Mark Fletcher, Maria – 14pts
4th Foudafafa, Mike & Caroline McIntyre & Simon Childs – 16pts
5th Kiss, Martin & Amanda Wadhams & Sarah Treseder – 18pts
6th Shaken Not Stirred, Nick & Kate Peters & Linda Ellis – 21pts