The final three days of Cowes Week saw the RS Elites battling it out to find the 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week RS Elite Champion. After the vagaries of the first three days and a ‘no wind’ Tuesday there were only a few points separating many of the boats, and with close and competitive racing it wasn’t an easy call, and all was to play for. Wednesday saw a spinnaker start from the Royal Yacht Squadron and a long run to the west and although many boats took different sides of the run it was a packed first mark. Ossie Stewart and sons in More T Vicar, Nick Peters, Shaken Not Stirred, and Mike McIntyre, Foudafafa had a good lead on the fleet and the Proctor ‘boys’, in Wombat, had a storming first leg keeping Jono Brown in Aeolus, at bay behind them.
Ossie, Nick and Mike were early leaders and had formed an impressive lead from the chasing fleet but Jono Brown with parents David & Lyn began to take more and more out of their lead with some practiced tacking along the shore, doubtless skills honed on the River Crouch at Burnham. By the time the fleet went out into the tide to the second mark Jono had secured a safe second place to Ossie and despite both boats having to tack through several other fleets to reach the finish line their places remained unchanged, with Ossie taking the Squadron line gun. Mike McIntyre had come through to a safe third with Nick Peters and David Hitchcock, Aurora, following closely behind.
Thursday saw a miserable start to the day with heavy rain and variable wind. Jono, David & Lyn went out to their boat an hour before the start for some obscure reason and were seen sheltering under a sail ‘tent’ shivering and trying to keep warm.
Their early start was to pay dividends for them however, as they were one of several boats who were sitting on the start line when the wind began to drop away, leaving many crews struggling to make the line. Mike McIntyre, Steve & Mike Powell with Donald McLean, in E’Tu, and Jono Brown made a good start and inched their way to the shore for some shallow water tacking against the tide and each other. Jono finally made the call to opt for pressure over tide and headed out to the deeper water and the wind, which was filling in to give some exciting racing. Several tight spinnaker reaches followed which saw Jono establish an unassailable lead with Nick, Mike and Steve taking the next few places.
All of this meant that everything was to race for on the final Friday with only two points separating Jono and Ossie. After another spinnaker start from the Squadron line, Mike McIntyre put some distance between his boat and the chasing fleet with Nick Peters and they were battling it out at the front but sadly Nick had fallen foul of the Cowes Harbour exclusion zone, which he had inadvertently entered which meant a retirement from an otherwise great race.
Behind them Jono was buried in the pack and was trying his best to escape from Charlie Egerton-Warburton, Soak Therapy, who was not only having a great race but who was also chasing him down the first run relentlessly, closely followed by Andrew and Pippa Archibald in Freebie Knot. Their attentions finally pushed Jono out into the tide yet again but it played to his advantage and he came into the first mark in fourth place behind Mike McIntire, Nick Peters and Andrew Partington in Duel. Andrew was putting in yet another great performance, which has characterised his Cowes Week.
The final beat to the finish line saw Ossie Stewart come through to take fifth place but with Jono Brown taking two more places on the final beat to finish in first place, the 2015 Cowes Week Championship was his for the second year in succession.
Cowes Week 2015 has been an amazing event for the RS Elite fleet. Not only have we experienced the most amazing competition and racing on the water but the relentless partying and social events have hopefully ensured that the RS Elites are a force to be reckoned with.
Well done to Jono and family, who have added a second RS Elite Cowes Week Championship to the 2015 RS Elite National Championship they won in Lymington two weeks ago.
With the resurgence of the Hayling Island fleet and the enthusiasm within the class the RS Elites are in a great place to move into 2016.