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Having spent the weekend racing in the Irish RS Elite Championships at Royal Ulster on Belfast Lough, most of the 14-strong fleet are making their way the 18 miles to the UK Nationals hosted by Strangford Lough Yacht Club at Whiterock on the west shore of the Lough, which starts on Wednesday 28th June.

The five-race Irish event was won by Tom Hewitson in his new and aptly named Soak Therapy, one of five crews from Hayling Island on the south coast of England who took part. His crew was Colin Smith and Pippa Judd. With three firsts, a second, and a discarded sixth, Hewitson won by five points from Jane Buchanan’s The Love Bug (Royal North), helmed by Michael Browne and crewed by Russell McGovern and Conor Simms. In third overall was Gavin Vaughan’s Toucan, also from Royal North, helmed by Warren Polly with Andrew Vaughan – both ended up on 11 points with the tie broken in favour of The Love Bug.

Polly family battle  Storm (37) Stephen Polly and son Warren in Toucan at the Irish RS Elite Championships at Royal Ulster on Belfast Lough Photo: AquaventusPolly family battle Storm (37) Stephen Polly and son Warren in Toucan at the Irish RS Elite Championships at Royal Ulster on Belfast Lough Photo: Aquaventus

Race Officer was Con Murphy from National YC in Dun Laoghaire, who had just returned from officiating at Kiel Week Regatta. Saturday’s conditions were kind, with a force four southerly, but closer to the shore, the breezes were fluky. After three races, Michael Browne and The Love Bug were on 5 points, leading overnight, and Soak Therapy on nine, including a sixth, which turned out to be their discard. The Polly family – Warren sailing Gavin Vaughan’s Toucan and Stephen sailing the jointly owned (Polly, Gunning and Kelso) Storm from Royal Ulster, were close behind on ten and 12, but the Sunday proved a very different matter with light to non-existent winds from the northwest forcing an abandoned start. But the two races were sailed although shortened.

The Love Bug Michael Browne with winner Soak Therapy behind and the Bulk Carrier Jonas Oldendorf Photo AquaventusThe Love Bug Michael Browne with winner Soak Therapy behind and the Bulk Carrier Jonas Oldendorf on Belfast Lough Photo: Aquaventus

Mid-fleet racing was close between Hayling Island boats Eclipse (Ellito Caldwell) and Cygnet (Paul Lewis) and Strangford’s Tuppence (Brian Corry) with just 4 points between them.
The threatening downpours eventually arrived, but minus the wind

Stephen Polly was enthusiastic about the event, complimenting the organisation and the Club hospitality and looks forward to racing at Whiterock with an even larger fleet in the UK National Championships.

RS Elite Irish Championship prizewinners at Royal Ulster Yacht Club Photo Fiona HicksRS Elite Irish Championship prizewinners at Royal Ulster Yacht Club Photo Fiona Hicks

Published in RS Sailing

The Northern Ireland RS Elite keelboat class is preparing for two big events this weekend and next week on home waters.

The first event is the Irish RS Elite Championships, hosted by Royal Ulster in Bangor Bay; this is a two-day national championship consisting of six races.

The lineup for this weekend is currently 14 boats. Michael Browne and Jane Buchanan on “Love Bug” (RNIYC) will definitely want to defend their position as last year's Irish Champions; however, Stephen Polly and Crew on “Storm” (RUYC), and his son Warren Polly helming “Toucan” (RNIYC) for the Vaughan’s will be super keen to take the Crown away from the “Lovebug” team.

 Michael Browne's RS Elite “Love Bug” from the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club Michael Browne's RS Elite “Love Bug” from the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

One of the visitors from Hayling Island wanting to be up at the top is Tom Hewitson on “Soak Therapy”. This is a new chariot for Tom this Year. Tom made the podium in last year's fiercely competitive UK Nationals in Cowes in third.

Other Notables in this event are Brian Corry on “Tuppence” from Strangford Lough YC, also probably the youngest helm on this Start line 21-year-old Adam Lockhart on “Anchorman” (RNIYC).

The UK National Championships, with 21 boats expected, will race on Strangford LoughThe UK National Championships, with 21 boats expected, will race on Strangford Lough

On Sunday, after racing, this fleet will lift out and head down the coast a little to the beautiful Strangford Lough for the main course, the UK National Championships, with 21 boats expected, with many more Solent Elites joining the fray.

As well as the aforementioned, we should keep an eye out for Russell Peters on “Riff Raff” (RYS). He was second in last year's Championships and will be keen to take the top slot here.
Ten races for this one, starting on Wednesday morning and finishing on Saturday.

Published in RS Sailing
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June is a big month for RS Elite events in Northern Ireland, as both the Irish Championships and the UK National Championships will be held in the region.

On the 24th and 25th of June, it’s the turn of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club on Belfast Lough to host the Irish and then several of that fleet head for Strangford Lough Yacht Club at Whiterock for the UK Nationals on 28th of June till 1st July.  Already seven Elites are making the cross-channel journey from England for the Championships.

It will be a busy time for sailors in Belfast Lough as an IRC/RC35 event will run alongside the Elite Championship on the very expansive stretch of water.

Colin Smith (left), Emma and Tom Hewitson, who won the RS Elite Southern Championship at Hayling Island Photo: Alasdair McLeodColin Smith (left), Emma and Tom Hewitson, who won the RS Elite Southern Championship at Hayling Island Photo: Alasdair McLeod

Among those making the 18-mile trip from Bangor to Whiterock will be Jane Buchanan’s Belfast Lough based The Love Bug from Royal North, the 2022 Irish champion. The Love Bug also belongs to Strangford Lough YC. Stephen Polly’s Storm from Royal Ulster is a past Irish champion and counts many top-five finishes in the UK Nationals. Tom Hewitson from Hayling Island SC on the south coast of England is a past UK National Champion and recently won the UK Southern Area Championship, and his clubmate, Elliot Caldwell, racing Eclipse, will also compete at both events.

Russell Peters, who narrowly lost last year's UK Nationals to Ossie Stewart, is competing in the SLYC event, which the club hopes will make the 20-entrant mark. Currently, the entry is at 11.

The two-day Irish event is being held on Belfast Lough on the weekend before the UK National championship at nearby Strangford Lough and has nine entries to date. Visitors from outside Northern Ireland will be able to do both competitions by moving their boats to Strangford Lough Yacht Club between events. It has been suggested visitors stay in the Strangford Lough area and that a bus will be provided on Saturday and Sunday so that sailors can enjoy the Royal Ulster hospitality to the full.

The UK National Championship has a full programme of races with plenty for the non-sailor too. Accommodation is being arranged by Irish members, so it is important that visitors register their interest early by contacting the RS Elite Association secretary. Ferry discounts will be available for groups of six or more boats.

Three or four Elites in Northern Ireland are available to charter for both events. It is advised that competitors should bring their own sails, as the sails of these are well-used. But otherwise, they are available and can be towed to RUYC and SLYC, meaning that flying in and out for the events would be easy. Charter fees are advised at £1,000 for the week/both events.

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Belfast Lough will be awash with boats over the weekend of 24th and 25th June when the RS Elite Irish Championship coincides with an RC35 open event. Both fixtures will be hosted by Royal Ulster Yacht Club in Bangor on the south shore of the Lough but are classed as separate fixtures.

This meeting will be held the weekend before the UK National championship at Strangford Lough Yacht Club, about 17 miles away on the western side of the Lough. Visitors from the rest of the UK will be able to do both by moving their boats to Whiterock in the intervening days. The race area on Belfast Lough has little tide and few hazards and is within a relatively short distance of Bangor Marina.

The UK Nationals will run from Wednesday, 28th June till Saturday, July 1st. The sailing area is very different from Belfast Lough. It is within an Area of Special Scientific Interest on the largest sea lough in Northern Ireland, and its tidal flows will make for challenging and interesting competition. The two events in Northern Ireland have been timed to allow visiting boats from the rest of the UK to take part in both.

Strangford Lough YC at WhiterockStrangford Lough YC at Whiterock

Accommodation is being arranged for people travelling to both events.

And if crews have any energy left and would like to continue their stay in Ireland, there’s the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta from 6-9 July. The RS Elite Association has announced the RS Elite Open Tour will include Ireland's biggest regatta. The huge event has proved popular with RS Elites, particularly since the UK National Championship was held there in 2019.

The regatta organisers have confirmed that they will provide a separate start for RS Elites if there are six or more entries.

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The wind forecast didn't show much promise at one-knot max, but given the Lough’s reputation on a good sunny day, which it was last Saturday, a favourable sea breeze could be expected. So race officer, Sam Lynas put up a two-hour postponement, after which nearly all competitors headed out to rig their boats but one or two were not convinced that the wind would come and retired for the day. Sam knew better, and by lunch, the wind had filled in nicely at six knots, and racing got underway.

RS Elite start in the Irish Championship credit Lindsay Nolan

After a really close contest throughout the event, Love Bug (Michael Browne, Jane Buchanan and Rusty McGovern) took the win, and the event overall becoming the new RS Elite Irish Champions! And David Eccles and Des Clayton in Inshallah lifted the McMillan Shield.

Winning boat "Love Bug" rounding mark in RS Elite Irish Championship credits Lindsay Nolan

First off were the Elites with the local sailor Warren Polly in Toucan suffering from an over eager start which saw him OCS and that in the end was his discard. Unaware, Toucan led the fleet round the course closely followed by Stephen Polly on Storm, Michael Browne on Jane Buchanan’s Love Bug and Tiffany Brien on Kin with the rest of the fleet chasing them. Toucan continued her lead but to no avail and with the pack changing position with each lap and in the end it was Storm taking first with Love Bug second and Kin third.

In Race 2 Toucan once again, after a clean start, led the fleet and in a fiercely competitive pack, positions regularly changed. Toucan won this one followed by Love Bug a consistent second and Storm on third.

By the end of the afternoon’s racing the race committee had contemplated a fourth race given the steady wind conditions but decided instead it had been a long day and the forecast for Sunday was more promising. The day ended with Storm leading the fleet, on five points, Love Bug second on seven points and Kin third counting 11.

"Love Bug" racing in the RS Elite Irish Championship credits Lindsay Nolan

The steady six to seven knot breeze returned for Day 2. Jeff Ralston in Upfront joined the Elites and lost no time in mixing it up, proving to be very fast and taking Race 4. The championship was still wide open and Race five turned out to be blistering for the Love Bug crew. At this race end Michael Browne’s Love Bug got the bullet, with Storm down at fourth. The last race was to be the decider as one point separated the top two and again places changed on every lap. However the Browne, Buchanan and McGovern trio in Love bug were first and emerged the RS Elite Irish Champions. Runners up were Stephen Polly, John Gunning and David Kelso in Storm with the Warren Polly, Gavin Vaughan and Ross Kearney third in Toucan.

In the Squib fleet, Gordon Patterson’s Fagin got off on a good start along with Greg Bell in Prodigal and Peter Wallace on Toy for the Boys. These three held their positions over the course of the event, never dropping out of the top four. This race went to Fagin followed by Prodigal and then Toy for the Boys. Then came a turn around for the next race where Eccles had stepped up a gear and took a convincing win, with Prodigal second and Toy for the Boys once more in third.

Squib McMillan Shield winners RNIYC David Eccles, (left) Vice Commodore Johnny Millar and Michael Wright credit Lindsay Nolan

By the end of Day 1, it was Inshallah top followed by Fagin with only one point separating the top four positions, so the weekend was still wide open for and this to change on the second day.

Squib start in the McMillan shield credits Lindsay Nolan

The discards kicked in after Race 4, with Inshallah on four points and the next three boats all on seven points. So, two more races and all still to play for. Race 5 went to the consistent Eccles assuring him a decent lead with a few points between him and the next boat Toy for the Boys. Inshallah got another bullet giving Eccles the overall first with Peter Wallace and Fiona Ward runners-up in Toy for the Boys and Prodigal (Greg Bell and Des Clayton) third.

Toy for the Boys (Peter Wallace) 818 and Inshallagh (David Eccles) credits Lindsay Nolan

 Results are downloadable below as a PDF file

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It’s a double bill this weekend at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club on Belfast Lough where the RS Elite Irish Nationals and the McMillan Shield for Squibs will be held.

It has been a busy year for the local Elite fleet, with many of them having travelled to England for various events, culminating in the Brewin Dolphin RS Elite International Grand Prix in Cowes, with 43 boats on the start line. Of these, Royal North’s Simon Brien finished fifth in Kin. The Irish Elite event will be smaller with ten expected, to be joined by ten Squibs.

It looks as if the RS Elite lineup could be an open field this year with Stephen Polly on Storm and Mike Browne’s Love Bug stiff competition. Polly took runner up in last year’s Irish Nationals Tiffany Brien will be helming the family’s Kin and given past performance will be in the pack. Jeff Ralston will also be a contender in Up Front along with the Vaughan family on Joint Venture.

The Squib Easterns at Howth Photo: Paddy JudgeThe Squib Easterns at Howth Photo: Paddy Judge

The Squib line up for the McMillan Shield looks like being headed up by Gordon Patterson on Fagan who won the Northerns at Killyleagh in May and more recently the Easterns at Howth. The RNIYC Squib Fleet are super competitive, and David Eccles on Inshallah will want to win this event. Hot on his heels will be Peter Wallace on Toy for the Boys who might be a thorn on the side. The Killiners are on Maximus are relatively new to the fleet so it will be good to see how they progress.

Race Officer is Sam Lynas, formerly of Squib Worm, and he will have a good understanding of both these fleets but given that the forecast is for light winds, may have to deal with delicate situations!

Racing gets underway on Saturday (27th) at 11.30 and again on Sunday 10.30 at Cultra.

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Cowes, Isle of Wight: 12th June 2022. British Olympic medallist Ossie Stewart has won the Brewin Dolphin RS Elite International Grand Prix, beating rival Russell Peters by just one point after a cliff-hanger final race of the series. Stewart, sailing More T Vicar, was crewed in the regatta by his son Tom and Geoff Carveth.

Northern Ireland's Simon Brien of the Royal North of Ireland YC finished fifth overall.

The most consistent sailor of the event, Ossie Stewart went into the final showdown two points behind Russell Peters, having to either beat Peters by three places or have his rival finish 17th or worse. In the end it was the second option that won him the event, with Peters finishing 17th and Stewart scoring 18th that he was able to discard from his final total.

For Ossie Stewart, who is 68, this is his first national championship win as a helmsman. In the past he has won more than 30 championships as a crew, and finished second 12 times as a helm, including three times in the RS Elite. “It makes me feel quite young”, he commented, “this is a big win for me”.

Ossie Stewart, pictured centre, sailing More T Vicar, was crewed in the regatta by his son Tom (left) and Geoff Carveth Ossie Stewart, pictured centre, sailing More T Vicar, was crewed in the regatta by his son Tom (left) and Geoff Carveth Photo: Paul Wyeth

The final race was won by class newcomer and member of the host club, the Royal Yacht Squadron, Martin Jones sailing Candida, but this was not quite enough to get him onto the podium, with defending national champion Tom Hewitson finishing the race in second place, and thereby holding onto third place overall by a slender one-point margin.

The Solent laid on slightly less robust conditions than for the first three days of the series, with a west, south westerly breeze of 10 to 12 knots, against a strong west going ebb tide. While the rest of the fleet sailed a tight and exciting race, Stewart and Peters engaged in a tactical match race, both well back in the fleet at the first mark. Though Peters managed to beat Stewart across the finishing line by one place, he was not far enough up the pecking order to take the overall win.


  • 1 Ossie Stewart Hayling Island S.C. 33pts
  • 2 Russell Peters Royal Yacht Squadron 34pts
  • 3 Tom Hewitson Hayling Island S.C. 41pts
  • 4 Martin Jones Royal Yacht Squadron 42pts
  • 5 Simon Brien Royal North of Ireland Y.C. 54pts
  • 6 Paul Fisk Emsworth S.C. 56pts
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Cowes, Isle of Wight: 11th June 2022. Russell Peters and his crew of James Grant and Greg Wells snatched a narrow lead at the end of the third day of the Brewin Dolphin RS Elite International Grand Prix.

Northern Ireland Dragon ace Simon Brien from Belfast Lough is lying fifth having won a race on the opening day of the event. 

Peters who is representing the host club, the Royal Yacht Squadron, was finally able to discard his second black flag disqualification from his scoreline, and is now a slender two points ahead of Hayling Island’s Ossie Stewart.

The second discard came into force when the fleet had completed nine out of the ten race series. Russell Peters sailing Riff Raff has scored five first places, a third and then a ninth in the ninth race, discarding two black flags. With the wind forecast to go light and shifty on Sunday for the last race of the regatta, anything could happen.

The Brewin Dolphin RS Elite International Grand Prix fleet race downwind in Cowes Photo: Paul WyethThe Brewin Dolphin RS Elite International Grand Prix fleet race downwind in Cowes Photo: Paul Wyeth

Commenting on the coming showdown he said, “it could be a bit tense tomorrow, I think the conditions will be better than predicted.” Talking about his string of wins he said, “we seem to have good speed, if we can get off the line cleanly and go the right way the boat is quick.”

Olympic medallist Ossie Stewart, crewed by his son Tom and Geoff Carveth, has been a consistent performance throughout the regatta, with a string of top four places until the ninth race when he slumped to 14th. Currently in third place overall is Tom Hewitson also from Hayling Island, twenty points behind Stewart.

With just the one race scheduled for Sunday, the final day of the regatta, there is likely to be some very tactical match racing between Peters and Stewart with all to play for.

The Solent laid on its sparkling best today, with sunshine and a good breeze in the 15 to 20 knot range, Russell Peters describing it as “fabulous conditions, it was so good to be out there.


  1. Russell Peters Royal Yacht Squadron 17pts
  2. Ossie Stewart Hayling Island S.C. 13pts
  3. Tom Hewitson Hayling Island S.C. 29pts
  4. Martin Jones Royal Yacht Squadron 41pts
  5. Simon Brien Royal North of Ireland Y.C. 43pts
  6. Paul Fisk Emsworth S.C. 53pts
Published in RS Sailing

Five Elites again made it to the Battery start on Trasnagh Island on Strangford Lough last Saturday. Janice McCrudden's Bamboozled after some setup difficulties last week were keen to get some good quality racing. Unfortunately due to other commitments, Richard Moore and Colman Byrne's were unable to get out in their Elite Usain Boat. After 2 races last Saturday Storm from RUYC were leading from Speedwell from RNIYC.

Race 3 was run in a shifty northerly force 4 breeze with a moderately strong ebbing tide. Phil Anderson and Clive Corry in illegal had a good lead at the first windward with the other 4 boats in close contention. Ed Cody and crew in Speedwell were in second with Messrs Polly, Kelso, and Gunning in their Elite, Storm in an unfamiliar for them 3rd.

Racing was tight and into the final leeward mark, Speedwell and Illegal had a tactical battle to try to get water at the mark. SLYC’s illegal came out ahead and Speedwell had further problems with other boats at the mark given an opportunity to Storm overtake.

The short final beat saw the usual fast pace from Storm trying to reel in Illegal. Illegal just managed to hold out and took the win in a photo finish.

Race 3 in series

1st Illegal Helm Phil Anderson SLYC,

2nd Storm Helm- Stephen Polly RUYC

3rd Speedwell Helm Ed Cody RNIYC

Race 4 was run in a lighter and more shift breeze with the tide having a greater influence. Storm led at the first mark with Illegal rounding just ahead of Speedwell. Again very tight racing which saw Storm win, Speedwell second, and Illegal 3rd.

Race 4 in series

1st Storm Helm Stephen Polly,

2nd Speedwell Helm Ed Cody,

3rd Illegal Helm Phil Anderson.

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Last Sunday was the first day's racing for most of the RS Elites this year as a result of a Covid-19 hit 2020 season. Five boats made it onto Strangford Lough with the hope of another couple joining next weekend. 

Sailors were treated to a lively 20-knot easterly and sunshine. The first race started from the SLYC battery saw 4 boats in close contention upwind, there was a small misunderstanding about which was the correct windward mark which left a few boats reaching down to the laylines - Storm from RUYC led from Usain boat helmed by Richard Moore from RNIYC. Usain Boat had technical issues at the bear away stage and was overtaken by Illegal (SLYC)and Speedwell (RNIYC). Speedwell overtook Illegal on the 2nd beat whilst Storm maintained their lead.

Race 1

  1. Storm Stephen Polly
  2. Speedwell Ed Cody
  3. Illegal Phil Anderson

Royal Ulster and Royal North of Ireland Elites getting ready for their first outing of the year at Strangford LoughRoyal Ulster and Royal North of Ireland Elites getting ready for their first outing of the year at Strangford Lough

The second race was run in a calmer 10-15 knot shifty Easterly. Again, Storm pushed out in front, leading from Speedwell, and Merlin (SLYC). A 45-degree left-hand wind shift lead to this being more of a drag-race with few overtaking opportunities. All crew enjoyed the sunshine and being out on the water again

Race 2

  1. Storm Stephen Polly
  2. Speedwell Ed Cody
  3. Merlin  Angus McRoberts

Results here

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