McKeon the new National Champion
Every ingredient combined to make this Solent Projects-sponsored RS Elite UK National Championship special and it will be remembered for a long time. Perfect racing run like clockwork by PRO Roger Wilson’s Royal Lymington Yacht Club team across a range of conditions - a highly competitive yet good natured fleet - closely matched boats that are simply fantastic to sail plus great hospitality by the host club and fleet set the scene.
Going into Day 3 Crauford McKeon’s team on Kandoo 3 held a slender points lead, but this was the day they nailed it. They opened with a bullet in the breeziest conditions, narrowly winning from the Browns in Aeolus, while their closest rivals at the half way stage, RSsailing.com, were black flagged and pushed onto the back foot. A second bullet in race two put them out of reach and emphasised that they would be worthy champions.
But the battle for the other podium positions was only just beginning. The Browns put together 2, 4, 4 on Saturday to pull them into second at that stage and, after also suffering a black flag in race 7, Paul Jenkins in Activ 3G pulled off a 3, 2 results to lie third with Wadhams in RSsailing.com dropping to fourth. Last year’s clear cut champions, the McClean’s in Elixir, had finally found their form and were up to fifth and clearly in contention for a podium finish as the points were so tight.
After a huge class dinner where the camaraderie of the RS Elite fleet was once again absolutely outstanding you will seldom have seen a more mentally and physically exhausted fleet of sailors when the party finally ended.
Sunday’s final race showdown for the podium positions couldn’t have been better scripted. McKeon, after much deliberation and despite his insatiable enthusiasm for racing his Elite, opted not to sail so that there could be no possibility of interference with the overall positions behind him. The battle ensued until the end and going up the last beat of the last race the McCleans were leading from the Wadhams who could not afford to drop a position behind them – but behind Wadhams was Jenkins who was therefore level on points and set to take second overall on countback…provided the Brown’s who were down in seventh did not take one more boat by the finish to also climb level on points with both Wadhams and Jenkins, thereby splitting them on countback. Breathless?.... You should have been there. But the Brown’s couldn’t take that final boat they needed and suffered the disappointment of slipping from second to fourth, with only one point separating the group and the McClean’s, despite winning the last two races, had left it too late to climb above fifth overall.
The RS Elite class came of age at this regatta and Crauford McKeon sailing with Andrew Cape and Rupert showed what extensive experience and significant preparation of a boat can achieve in such a competitive fleet of over 30 one-design keelboats. Cowes Week begins in only five day’s time and the Elite fleet, while smaller in number than the National Championship, will nevertheless be competitive once again and includes the top four from this event plus the last two year’s Cowes winners.
|1||Kandoo 3||Crauford McKeon||17|
|2||Active 3g||Paul Jenkins||29|
|3||RS Sailing.com||Martin Wadams||29|
|6||Matterhorn Jack||John Boddy||42|
|7||Oink Squeal||David Wood||70|
|8||Full Marks||Mark Brien||76|
|9||Ciao Bella||Mike Tong||77|
|16||Sea Breezes||John Mcdowell||97|
|17||White Water||C Nicholson||105|
|20||No Angel||Fiona Hicks||139|
|21||More T Vicar||Carl Allen||141|
|24||JP Watersports||James Pearson||167|