Headteacher Fiona sails to national success

Chichester headteacher Fiona Sayce and husband David finished as top British crew in the UK Tasar National Championship held at Hayling Island Sailing Club.

Friday, 28th September 2018, 6:00 pm
Fiona and David Sayce in the UK Tasar National Championship / Picture by Peter Hickson

Although beaten into second place by Australians Craig McPhee and Gillian Berry, the Sayces found it very encouraging that their performance had improved significantly as the three-day regatta progressed.

Fiona, head at Rumboldswhyke CofE Infants’ School, has been a competitive dinghy sailor all of her adult life and has won numerous events including the UK Laser 2 National Championship, with David, before they were married.

They feel this recent success has been a sound beginning to their campaign for the world championship to be held at Hayling Island in 2019.

* Two double Olympic and Paralympic medallists were on hand to present prizes at the 25th West Sussex Schools and Youth Sailing Association (WSSYSA) regatta at Cobnor Activities Centre in Chichester Harbour.

Team entries were invited from 24 WSSYSA-affiliated clubs and youth sailing associations, and 100 boats turned out to sail in five fleets including a rookie fleet, which offered competitive sailing in a controlled environment for sailors attending their first open regatta.

Medals were awarded for fleet positions as well as positions within more popular classes. Most hotly contested every year is the team trophy, judged on the finishing positions of the top five boats from any club.

Sailing in Chichester Harbour is a delight but rather depends on a rare combination of sufficient water and consistent wind. Saturday began with a wait for the wind to build, delaying the start of the first race. When the wind did come in it continued to build, and racing was stopped after two races as more sailors began to capsize or feel the cold.

On Sunday, launch time was advanced to allow more time on the water, and the westerly wind arrived earlier, making for perfect sailing conditions for all.

Three more races were completed by each fleet without incident, some feat considering that Bosham and Itchenor were also running club races at the same time in the same location.

Nick Rusbridge, WSSYSA event director, said: “Running racing safely for 100 boats over two days in the harbor would be impossible without the support of our affiliated clubs, who provide race equipment, safety boats and a host of volunteers on the water and off. CACT were the perfect hosts and worked tirelessly to keep everyone happy.

“We are particularly grateful to twice Paralympic medallist Helena Lucas, who provided coaching to the sailors throughout the weekend, and to two-time Olympic medallist Ian Walker, RYA director of racing, who presented our medals and trophies.”

Walker said: “It was great to see so many smiling young faces on the water and some wonderful performances too. The weather gods shone on Sunday and rewarded all the hard work and organisation.”

The WSSYSA Team Trophy was won by Felpham Sailing Club, who have dominated the event in recent years and who will host the event in 2019.

Rusbridge said: “We look forward to at least as many entries in 2019 as we savour the delights of sailing on the Sussex coast.”

Races five and six of the Dell Quay Sailing Club Late Helm series took place in very light winds and the race officer decided to delay racing until the wind started to fill in.

Race five started in a light westerly, allowing the two RS400s of Mike Fitzgerald and Tim Dormer and Rob Corfield and Lawrence Kies to pull away from the rest of the fleet by the first mark.

Fitzgerald and Dormer kept the lead throughout, closely followed by Corfield and Kies. The next two places on the water went to the Solos of Mike Shaw and Richard Bridgmont.

Handicap adjustments gave Shaw first place followed by Fitzgerald and Dormer, with Bridgmont third.

Race six was sailed in lighter winds, following a similar pattern, and although Corfield and Kies briefly took the lead, Fitzgerald and Dormer recovered to take first on the water. Bridgemont took first place on handicap with Shaw second and the solo of Gordon Barclay third. Shaw leads the series followed by Bridgmont and Barclay.