Maclean family victory

A final report from the RS Elite Nationals

Monday June 29th 2009, Author: Martin Wadhams, Location: United Kingdom
The Elite Nationals concluded yesterday on Belfast Lough in more of the same 6 - 10 knot conditions and Scotland’s Sean Maclean sailing with sons Donald and Ian sewed up the title in a totally convincing manner. I think they are as surprised by their dominance as the other contenders are shell shocked! They proved unstoppable in these conditions and everyone else will need to work out why. They nearly always had to overtake boats to win – sometimes just a few, and sometimes having to dig right out from within the pack, which they did with a combination of smart tactics and great boat-speed when they most needed it. Sure, they had their good fortune when two races were abandoned on the first leg when they were no-where, but you’d have to reckon they would have pulled countable results out of the bag if they’d had to!

Local Irish team of Simon Brien (a past Dragon champion), David Gomes and Qingdao Olympian Stephen Milne put their double discard Saturday behind them and to climb back into second overall on the final day, ahead of defending champions Jono, David and Lyn Brown from the Royal Burnham - making it three countries in the top three.

This was a truly successful event for the RS Elite Class, superbly hosted by the Royal North of Ireland YC. The racing was perfectly run from a one hundred and thirty year old classic Bristol Channel pilot cutter committee boat (possibly the oldest sailing yacht in Britain) - making a beautiful contrast to the modern, and also great looking in a totally different way, RS Elites. Racing on the water was intense in the shifting and patchy wind conditions, but very well behaved and good natured. Ashore, the fleet has bonded into a strong class. As exuberant Irish sailor Mark Brien put it at Saturday night’s class dinner “there are around eighty people sitting here tonight, and I really didn’t mind who I sat next to.” And the sailor’s do seem to love their Elites - fabulous to sail, tactical, tweak-able and faster than you’d ever expect from a boat of this style, often embarrassing many powered up sportsboats around the race track.

The RS Elites have a class start at Cowes Week in just over a month’s time and next year’s Nationals look set to be hosted by the new fleet at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club where a record entry is almost certain.

Perhaps the last word should go to winners of the final Duckhams Award - Angus, Jonny and Yvonne from Burnham sailing Flo. After struggling desperately for speed all through the championship and losing more and more heart, it was only when their boat was lifted out of the water after the last race that the half metre square of Axminster Shagpile that had padded the keel on the trailer for the journey out was discovered still stuck firmly to the bottom of the bulb after ten races...

Overall Results
1st Elixir Shaun, Donald & Ian Mclean
2nd Sea Breezes Simon Brien, David Gomes, Stephen Milne
3rd Aoleus Jono, David & Lyn Brown
4th Swallow Brian Shaw, Boyd Kane, Robin Flanagan
5th Martin & Amanda Wadhams, Paul Fisk
6th Momentary Laps John Patterson, Stephen Polly, David Kelso

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