Chichester Harbour was abuzz with junior racing activity as West Sussex Schools and Youth Sailing Association ran their 21st annual regatta from Cobnor Activities Centre.
With 101 dinghies entered and some 130 youngsters from nine different clubs and youth groups competing, the weekend was a fine indication of the keenness of the next generation of the region’s racing sailors.
When RYA coach Dave Cockerill asked the youngsters if they believed their sailing had improved as a result of the event, a forest of hands shot up.
Conditions on Saturday were not too taxing for those who had not raced before, and the force-three north-easterly breeze dropped and shifted south-easterly as racing continued. But on Sunday competitors were challenged by a force four, gusting force five initially, again from the north east.
Despite stronger winds, the young sailors had the measure of the windward/leeward course and coped admirably, with much very competent boat handling – though also a good number of capsizes.
For each of the three fleets, the overall winner was looking pretty clear by the end of the first day’s racing and Saturday’s form continued on Sunday.
In the 27-strong fast fleet, the new pairing of Henry Bettle and Alex Briggs (Fireball, Dell Quay SC), ended the regatta with four first places, discarding a fourth for a perfect overall score. Alex Mayger (Felpham SC) did the same, heading the 43 Toppers in four races and discarding a third place.
David Perez (Laser 4.7, Arun YC), a potential Olympic squad member in his home country of Spain, had three wins and two seconds to head the slow fleet.
Team spirit was high, and the most-anticipated results announcement was the team ratings. Felpham SC, which had a bevy of other good results, including Sian Thackeray and Sophie Bentley (Feva) third in the slow fleet, Mitchell Campbell (Solution) fourth fast handicap boat and Beth Wilkinson fourth Topper, took the team prize. Second was Arun YC, with Crawley Mariners YC in third place.
Among both the head-of-the fleet sailors and those much further back there was a general spirit of friendliness on the water.
The event was also a great opportunity for young sailors who often have only limited close competition in their home clubs to enjoy a new level of racing. “There were seven or eight of us, only metres apart,” said Laser Radial sailor Phoebe Noble (Dell Quay SC).
The pre and post-race briefings by Cockerill, head coach of the RYA GBR Topper squad for 14 years and who continues to support the class through Emsworth-based Sailing Solutions, were effective in improving competitors’ performance. “You’re having more fun when you’re not fighting a boat,” was his argument.
Regatta results: Fast Fleet: 1 Henry Bettle and Alex Briggs (Fireball, Dell Quay SC) 4pts; 2 Stephen Armstrong (Laser, Crawley Mariners YC) 14; 3 Thomas Chapman (Laser Radial, Crawley Mariners YC) 15; 4 Mitchell Campbell (Solution, Felpham SC), 17; 5 Josh Wilkinson (Laser Radial, Felpham SC) 20; 6 Ed Gerwat (Laser Radial, Felpham SC) 20. Slow Fleet: 1 David Perez (Laser 4.7, Arun YC) 5; 2 George Colcomb (Laser 4.7, Crawley Mariners YC) 11; 3 Sian Thackeray and Sophie Bentley (RS Feva XL, Felpham SC) 13; 4 Jack Miller and Lauren Bentley (RS Feva XL, Felpham SC) 15); 5 Angus Kirk (Laser 4.7, Crawley Mariners YC) 16; 6 Daniel Gibson (Crawley Mariners YC) 25. Toppers: 1 Alex Mayger (Felpham SC) 4; 2 Thomas Kosteletos (Sussex YC), 10; 3 Charlotte Reading (Chichester YC) 11; 4 Beth Wilkinson (Felpham SC) 13; 5 Will Jameson, Christian Youth Enterprises) 22; 6 Finlay Swanton (Felpham SC) 27. Teams: 1 Felpham SC, 2 Arun YC, 3 Crawley Mariners YC, 4 Dell Quay SC, 5 Sussex YC, 6 Christian Youth Enterprises.
MORE than 50 competitors from all over the country descended on Bosham Sailing Club for the annual Classic Boat Revival.
A large contingent arrived in convoy from Brightlingsea Sailing Club in Essex to try their luck against their southern counterparts.
Their journey was not in vain as they walked away with the top four places in the medium division, Chris Mathews and his crew in Rebel taking bullets in all three races sailed. Doing a similar horizon job with a trio of second places was Alan Hicks in Storm Petrel.
The team of five Brightlingsea One Designs had threatened to make the journey south since the event was first started in 2011 but this is the first year that team captain Fiona Brown, from Emsworth and Brightlingsea, had managed to get all her ducks in a row.
By getting the beautiful Brightlingsea One Designs to Bosham, she created history, this being the first time the BODs have ever been away from their home waters in over 80 years – a remarkable feat in itself.
Top local crew in the medium fleet were Will and Mandy Henderson from Itchenor Sailing Club in their Firefly, Gigi.
The fast division was won by a visitor who travelled from Blithfield Sailing Club in Staffordshire to take the top prize with a very consistent two firsts and a second. Tim and Rebecca Male sailed their beautiful Merlin Rocket, The Flame, to beat local Bosham boat Finola 2, a
National 18 sailed by Paddy Mirams, Richard and Mags Watney.
Three good races were held on the Saturday, while the wind gods did their best to thwart principal race officer Nick Fox’s efforts on the Sunday. He did manage to get one race away for the fast division, but the other fleets had to be content with swimming and informal diving
competitions while waiting in vain for the wind to pick up.
The Concours d’Elegance prize went to Chris Turner from Hayling Island SC in his immaculately-prepared 52-year-old Fireball No 6. A regular competitor at the Bosham Classic Boat Revival, Turner beat a number of beautifully-restored Merlin Rockets and a 57-year-old
Enterprise that came all the way from Yorkshire to compete.
The annual Chichester YC Optimist open – part of the Southern Travellers Series – was sponsored by Marine Superstore and attracted a fleet of 50 local and visiting Optimist sailors.
A bright morning greeted competitors and an afternoon tide made for a relaxed morning of arrivals and boat preparation with great enthusiasm among the youngsters.
The 38-boat main fleet comprised mainly a mix of national and zone Optimist-squad sailors and regular racers. They sailed a trapezoidal course with the challenge of the windward mark laid in the stronger tide mid-channel.
The fleet got away cleanly and spread out across the water. Towards the end of that race the wind started to back toward south west so the course was adjusted quickly before race two.
After a good long second race, the course was altered again to give more of a sprint course for race three as the wind had eased a little and the downwind legs were slowed by the tide.
Chichester YC sailors Julia Mellors and Arthur Fry took first and second place respectively with Henry Chandler of Emsworth SC third.
The 12-boat regatta fleet included local and national club sailors, one taking part in his first open meeting. All three races close to the club house offered an excellent view for spectators.
All were closely contested and one point decided the final results with Cam Yates taking first place, Alice Snook of Chichester YC second and Cameron Hook third.
To round off a fantastic day, the club put on their usual fine regatta tea. Trophies and prizes were awarded and special thanks were given to Marine Superstore for supporting the event with prizes of Zhik sailing wear accompanying the glassware.