The 2019 RS Elite National Championship, held as part of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta, produced a nail-biting finish with the final result not decided until the tenth and last race. Mike McIntyre and crew, sailing RS Elite 76 Foudafafa, retained their title as National Champions despite being tied after nine races with Ossie Stewart and crew, sailing RS Elite 67 More T Vicar. In third place were Paul Fisk and crew in RS Elite 110 Legs Eleven.
Dun Laoghaire proved to be a popular venue for the RS Elites with 14 out of a total of 31 boats taking part making the journey from England. The remainder of the fleet came from the strong RS Elite contingent in Northern Ireland. The competitors were not disappointed. PRO Peter Crowley and his on-the- water team did a generally excellent job in sometimes difficult conditions and the Protest Committee’s handling of a tricky redress hearing was eminently reasonable and fair. On the social side the fleet enjoyed the hospitality of the Royal St George Yacht who hosted an enjoyable class Dinner on the Saturday Night and provided a base for some very entertaining craic and refreshment throughout the event.
Boats were launched by the Royal St George team on Wednesday, July 10th and racing took place from 11th to 14th July. Wind conditions were generally light to moderate with day two (July 12) producing the best breeze of 15-20 knots from the northwest. Winds were lighter on the other days. The wind was particularly tricky on day one with the first race starting in a light and shifty north-westerly breeze which swung by 180 degrees as the sea breeze set in, converting the leeward gate into a windward gate. Wind conditions continued to be challenging throughout the event, particularly on days three and four, with the wind blowing off the land and producing some sizeable shifts.
Racing was highly competitive with sailors from Hayling Island Sailing Club, the original home of the RS Elite, taking the first six places overall. Among the first three, the highest number of first places (four) went to Ossie Stewart’s More T Vicar but, with better discards, Mike McIntyre’s Foudafafa (two firsts) took the championship with an overall 22 points to More T Vicar’s 27, demonstrating the value of consistency throughout the event. Paul Fisk’s Legs Eleven took third place with 38 points having taken first place in races five and six.
Other highlights from the results table included seventh place which went to RS Elite 63 E’tu sailed by Steve Powell from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Steve is the former RS Elite Class Association chairman whose tireless work did so much to ensure the success of the class. He was making a welcome return to the fleet after several years. The highest-placed boat from Northern Ireland was RS Elite 37 Storm sailed by Stephen Polly and crew from the Royal Ulster Yacht Club who finished eighth overall. RS Elite 19 Tuppence sailed by Brian Corry from Strangford Lough Yacht Club, finishing 11th, was the only boat from outside the top three to score a race win, finishing first in race two.
The 2019 Nationals was a milestone event for the RS Elite fleet being the first time the event had been held outside the UK and the first time as part of a larger event. The popularity of the venue ensured a healthy entry with all the fleets in mainland UK and Northern Ireland represented. Outside of the leading group the first boat from Cowes was RS Elite 101 Centurion sailed by Robert Holbrook in 10th place, RS Elite 111 Kin sailed by Tiffany Brien and crew from the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club was 13th and RS Elite 68 Serious Moonlight sailed by Richard Bavin and crew from Royal Burnham YC was 14th.
Class Chairman Paul Fisk commented that the efforts of the regatta organisers, in cooperation with the four yacht clubs, made for a seriously impressive operation that delivered a fabulous event. He also thanked the Royal St George Yacht Club for their wonderful hospitality and for the impeccable handling of boat logistics by their shore team.
The international theme will continue in 2020 where the UK National Championship will be held as part of the RS Elite International Grand Prix, hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.