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Marine Resources 2022 - LEADERBOARD

RS Elite Late Season Report 2021

by Alasdair McLeod 30 Sep 04:17 PDT
Tom Hewitson's Shaken Not Stired winner of RS Elite National and Southern Championships © Peter Hickson

The RS Elite fleet is alive and well in 2021 despite lockdowns and travel restrictions. Although attendance at open events was down due to travel uncertainties, and anti-Covid measures curtailed opportunities for a good party at some events, enthusiasm has remained undimmed, with all of 2021's four championships being fiercely contested.

Sailing at club level has been surprisingly buoyant, particularly in the main UK centres at Hayling Island, Burnham-on-Crouch and Northern Ireland. Internationally, the fleet has been very resilient, especially in Norway and Italy. Many non-UK sailors are now looking forward to next year's RS Elite International Grand Prix, incorporating the UK National Championship, to be held at the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.

Two of 2021's championship events took place at Hayling Island Sailing Club in July. The Southern Area Championship and National Championship used the same race team for both events, meaning that the on-the-water race management was consistent and of the highest quality. Both championships were won by Tom Hewitson, crewed by his wife Jo Hewitson and Colin Smith, in RS Elite 7 Shaken Not Stirred. Russell Peters and crew in RS Elite 20 Riff Raff pursued them relentlessly to take a close second place in both events.

The Eastern Area Championship was hosted by the Royal Burnham Yacht Club over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 28th to 30th August, at the beginning of Burnham Week. Class chairman Paul Fisk and crew in RS Elite 110 Legs Eleven made the journey from Emsworth to take the championship in a very competitive regatta on the rivers Crouch and Roach. The far-travelled Legs Eleven then made the road and ferry journey to Northern Ireland, going on to win the Irish National Championship hosted by Strangford Lough Yacht Club - yet another closely-contested event.

Club racing has been resilient in 2021. At Hayling Island, Burnham-on-Crouch and Northern Ireland (Belfast Lough and Strangford Lough), the main UK RS Elite centres, there have been full, on the whole well attended, racing programmes. A number of boats have changed hands, fuelling a net growth in the active racing fleets. Most notably, newcomer Jane Buchanan's The Love Bug (RS Elite 53) took third place in the Irish National Championship. The Hayling fleet has a net gain of at least 2 boats with other people expressing interest in joining the fleet next year. The Burnham fleet is also growing and Elites are to be found in clubs elsewhere in the UK.

As the main racing season winds down, Strangford Lough Yacht Club's Frostie Series is now under way and Hayling Island's Crabbers Nip autumn/winter series will be held in November and December.

The major event for 2022 will be the Brewin Dolphin RS Elite International Grand Prix, incorporating the UK National Championship, to be held at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes from June 9th to 12th. This eagerly-awaited regatta, which was postponed from 2020 due to Covid, promises to be the ultimate RS Elite extravaganza, with first-class racing and an exciting social programme. It has already attracted commitments and expressions of interest from RS Elite sailors in Europe and further afield. The 2022 Southern Area Championship will be held the week before at nearby Hayling Island Sailing Club, offering competitors a warm-up for the "big one" and UK travellers an opportunity to take advantage of the special Platinum Jubilee bank holidays to secure ten days of sailing for the price of five.

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