Team Spitfire is a crew of intrepid RAF sailors who race a yacht also called Spitfire. Skipper Tony Hanlon, a former Harrier pilot, updates us on their progress at Cowes.
The team on the yacht Spitfire have just returned from a testing week of sailing at Cowes Week. Racing against some of the best sailors in the country, Spitfire put in a strong performance in challenging conditions. The wind blew over 20 knots on five of the seven days and on several days gusted to well over 30 knots.
Despite this, Spitfire opened the regatta with a win and managed to retain first place overall until mid-week. However, with a couple of key crew members missing, we were unable to sustain our performance and eventually finished a very credible fourth overall.
Cowes Week is an amazing event, where your fortunes go up and down and this year was no exception. We drew confidence from the fact that we were consistently fast against our rivals and handled the boat well in the windy conditions. The errors we made can all be corrected as we continue our improvement towards the World Championships in 2012.
The Armed Services were very visible this year at Cowes Week. Throughout the week, we proudly flew the >RAFBF heart roundel on our new spinnaker and generated lots of interest from the public.
Flight Lieutenant Tom Kinsley joined the crew, fresh from raising £2,500 for the RAF Benevolent Fund as part of Team UltRAFast in the Drambuie challenge, and the Cowes regatta supported 'Toe in the Water', a charity that helps to rehabilitate injured servicemen through sailing.
Next up for Spitfire is the autumn championships, a chance to practice the type of racing we will need to excel at the World Championships next year.