Saturday 6 August – Monday 9 August 2016
Twenty RS Elites competed for the inaugural edition of the Tri-Handled Trophy over the first four days of Cowes Week. The magnificent gilt-lined silver Victorian cup, hallmarked in 1864, was donated earlier this year by Cowes based Charlie, Julia and Piers Egerton-Warburton in memory of their son, Marcus, who passed away tragically in 2008 aged 14.
After a two-hour postponement, Race 1 on Saturday started in sunshine and 10-15 knots of South Westerly breeze from the Royal Yacht Squadron line with some close quarter manouevering as the fleet short-tacked along the island shore. E’tu (63 – Steve & Mike Powell, Donald Maclean) led around the windward mark and on the following tight spinnaker reach across the Solent to the mainland shore. Shaken Not Stirred (7 – Colin, Paul and Jamie Smith) started slowly but gradually worked their way through the fleet to join a four-way fight for the lead with Aeolus (33 – Ossie and Tom Stewart and Bill Masterman), No Riff Raff (20 – Russell and Vicky Peters and Mark Darling) and E’tu. After an epic struggle up and downwind, No Riff Raffcame out on top with Shaken Not Stirred in second and Aeolus third.
Race 2 on Sunday once again got away from the Squadron line, although this time downtide and downwind in a 15 knot south-westerly. A tight spinnaker reach sorted the men from the boys with No Riff Raff showing a clean pair of heels on the subsequent beat to Calshot Spit and Lepe Beach. Aeolus, Basil (40 – Roddy, Harry and Owen Bowerman) and Pipe (66 – Alex Mathieson, Buzz Keck) led the chasing pack. No Riff Raff crossed the finish line first only to find they were recorded as OCS, so Aeolus took the win from Basil and Pipe.
Race 3 on Monday saw an upwind start in a shifty north-westerly from the Squadron line towards Gurnard. While the majority of the fleet were fighting for pole position on the outer end of the start line, Way To Blue and Centurion (101 – Robert Holbrook and Jamie Berry) took advantage of the inshore west-going current to open a big lead by the first mark. As Way To Blue and No Riff Raff tacked across towards Lepe beach, Centurion and others opted to continue along the island shore before crossing on the lay line to Quinnell. No Riff Raff opened up a handsome margin on the run to lead the fleet upwind into Southampton Water. No Riff Raff continued to extend their lead back across the Solent finishing a country-mile ahead on the Bramble line. Way To Blue came in second with Pipe once again a solid third.
So, with one race to go in the four-race series and a discard still to be applied, the consistent Way To Blue were top of the leaderboard with any one of six boats still in with a chance of winning overall. In Race 4, Foudafafa (76 – Mike, Caroline and Eilidh McIntyre), Way To Blue, Lazy Daisy (6 – Andy and Karen Partington and Gareth Edwards) and Legs Eleven (11 – Paul and Caroline Fisk and Martin Grady) led the fleet away from a tricky Squadron line start on a foul-tide fetch to Gurnard. Legs Eleven took advantage of right-hand shift to lead the drag race across the Solent to Quinnell on the Lepe shore. Lazy Daisy reeled in Legs Eleven on the spinnaker reach to East Knoll as they rounded neck and neck. Legs Eleven showed some blistering pace upwind to open up a considerable lead at Storm Force Coaching before heading downwind to Hill Head. Eventually, Legs Eleven lost their way with a navigational error and headed off to the wrong mark, leaving Lazy Daisy free to lead the fetch to the finish line, only to find it was their turn to be recorded as OCS along with several other contenders for the trophy.
With five boats recorded as OCS, Aurora (84 – David and Jill Hitchcock) finished first, Way To Blue second and E’tu third.
No Riff Raff had done enough by finishing fourth to win the trophy overall from Way To Blue in second, and Aeolus third. A good time was had by all at the Island Sailing Club prize giving hosted by Charlie and Julia where all competitors donated generously to a scholarship fund set up in Marcus’s name at his old school. Sunshine, blue skies and plenty of breeze along with some classic Cowes Week racing provided the perfect setting for the inaugural Tri-Handled Trophy – long may it continue.