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Elmside Neighbours retain the Carmela Cup, the RYA Two Boat Keelboat Team Racing Championship

by Jack Fenwick 17 Apr 23:35 PDT 13-14 April 2024
Carmela Cup 2024 © Simon Winkley / Royal Thames YC

After two days of intense racing, the Elmside Neighbours have defended their title of RYA National Two Boat Keelboat Team Racing Champions.

Saturday 13th April will go down in history as one of the best days of team racing the UK has ever seen. Queen Mary laid on the goods with sunshine and a solid breeze of 14-18 knots giving the sailors great racing, and challenges on occasion, and the gathered teams returned the favour by laying on some intense tight battles around the course.

The glamour conditions allowed the Race Committee to smash in race after race and by the end of the day they had fifty races on the board in the Qualification Series with each team getting at least eight races. With the scores tallied, Oxford & Cambridge Sailing Society (OCSS) lead by Fiona Hampshire and Arther Henderson qualified to gold group at the top of the list but only just ahead of Elmside Neighbours in second. The Crews Union tied for third with Rutland Raiders and Cindies SC and Royal Dee YC took the final two spots in the gold group just ahead of local team Royal Thames Academy.

Sunday was a more challenging day with the winds much lighter and much shiftier but with racing now split in to two, more closely matched, groups for Gold and Silver the racing became even more intense. Tom Williams from Elmside Neighbours summed up the day describing their race against Cindies SC "We were in a first and fourth approaching mark one from opposite sies of the beat, through lots of tight manoeuvres we managed to get Josh from Cindies pinned out and get Scott through to first to lead on to the run. By mark three, the racing had closed up and Josh managed to just get the overlap on Murray which allowed Cindies teammate Jemima to get around ahead and Elmsides 1,2 had suddenly morphed in to a 1,4. It really was a mark of how close the racing was" Cindies later took the lead in the race and held on to third as well to score the only win against Elmside in the Gold Group.

With only two places available in the finals, every race in Gold Group counted and any loss could be enough to knock teams out of contention. In the end, it was a tie for first between Elmside Neighbours and Crews Union that decided who the finalists would be.

Guy Brearey, Captain of Team Racing at the Royal Thames YC and helm for Crews Union, describes the final:

"Race 1 was tight from the start with Crew's Union rounding mark 1 in a 1,3. Elmside hit back quickly and got back into a winning combination. After a nip and tuck run to mark 3 with the lead changing hands a few times Elmside were in a 1,4 and the boat in 1st let us go to attack Tim in 3rd. Tim defended well and this set up a tight last beat which was only settled meters from the finish when, with all boats trapping each other downwind away from the finish we got a penalty for rule 17 (proper course). Race 2 saw Elmside start strongly at the pin and lead 1,2 at the first mark. We kept it close and rolled Scott on the gybe set to make it advantage Crew's Union, but with our battle against Scott, Murray slipped nicely down the other side of the run and at mark 3 Murray executed a perfect conversion to put Elmside into a winning combination. Tim then responded for the Crew's Union with a gybe down at mark 4 to put Crew's Union back into a 2,3 setting up another close beat. After another battle in the top left corner of the beat, Scott tacked on to starboard and forced us into a big duck which ultimately led to a penalty for not keeping clear of Murray, sealing the Carmela Cup 2024 victory for Elmside Neighbours.

With the top two places decided by the final, third place was from the positions in the Gold Group and it was Cindies SC who claimed this place winning the tie break ahead of the Rutland Raiders. Emily Wiltshire, who was on bow for Cindies SC said "The racing was some of the best I've competed in on UK soil, up there with the Wilson Trophy and Cumberland Cup. We are delighted coming 3rd, having only just sneaked into gold fleet due to a few hiccups the previous day which included a brief swim from our teammate who ended up in the water from an overcommitted hiking incident... His focussed team didn't even realise for a whole 10 seconds! Despite this, we have very fond memories (although he may not feel the same way)!

While all the races were challenging, losing to our friends and adversaries from Royal Dee YC after an unfortunate luff on the finish line is one we're hoping to forget!"

After the Prize Giving, winning skipper, Murray Hampshire said "It was a really fun weekend, one of the best weekends of team racing of the year if not of all time. Great racing run by the Royal Thames team as always. Really great to have a varied and deep field, a few people returning to helming after a while which mean the competition was challenging and exciting. Great to come out on top and defend the title, a really exciting weekend of team racing" with his co-skipper, Scott Wallis adding "It's great fun to step out of fireflies and in to Sonars, which are well looked after by the Royal Thames and good fun to sail. Also, switching format from 3v3 to 2v2 is really good fun, an exiting format. It creates very close racing, even if you are in a 1,2 there is a great chance that the race will close up by the end of the run and it's never over until it's over so it's a really fantastic day. As Murray said, it's great to come out on top and defend and we're looking forward to coming back again next year.

With the final word on the 2024 Carmela Cup, Captain of Team Racing, Guy Brearey closed with "What a great event! Massive thank you to all the volunteers and everyone at the Royal Thames Yacht Club and RYA who helped put this event together. The Carmela cup has a long prestigious history and it's great to see it going strong. It was a close battle in the final, congratulations to Elmside Neighbours for defending their title, they are clearly a highly skilled and well drilled team. I know a lot of teams are looking forward to taking advantage of the upcoming RTYC training sessions to try and beat them next year!"

Congratulations to all of the teams who took part, we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Full results available on the KSail website, thanks to them for the schedules and support with the results,

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