Team Spitfire, an amateur sailing team made up of serving and ex-serving RAF personnel and civilians, have won at Cowes Week. In this guest blog, the team skipper, Wing Commander (ret'd) Simon Ling tells us all.
Cowes Week is always a favourite event in the calendar for us and once again we were delighted to proudly fly the flag for the RAF Benevolent Fund. The event provides a very different set of challenges to the racing we normally undertake with more emphasis on navigation within a very busy and demanding stretch of water.
There was a strong turn out of more than 23 boats and we were pushed all the way by a very competitive visiting team from Germany. In the end it came down to the last race of the series which always makes the event all the more exciting.
Conditions on the last day were very challenging but we were able to build on a flying start to the race and extend to win the race and clinch the super series event.
This was the last event for us before we defend our Amateur World Champion title at the 2017 World Championships, which this year will be held in San Francisco Bay. We are hugely excited at the prospect of defending our title against 80 of the best sailing teams in the world. Battling it out under the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge will be a real spectacle.
Even our youngest crew member, Tony, is excited despite the prospect of swimming the boat each day of the regatta to clean the hull in waters frequented by great white sharks! We have a rule on the boat that the youngest always swims the boat.
Our team have been competing at the highest level since 2012, whilst at the same time promoting the work of the RAF's leading welfare charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund.
The boat is co-owned by myself and brother-in-law Tony Hanlon. We have both served as officers in the Royal Air Force and feel passionately about promoting the work of such a fabulous charity. The remaining team members bring a wealth of sailing pedigree, with former Laser SB3 World Champion Craig Burlton helming and current J24 World Champion Ian Southworth trimming and calling the tactics.