Perfect conditions bring out the Snowflake sailors

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The Snowflake open winter series at Chichester Yacht Club continued with races three and four going ahead in perfect conditions after several days of heavy rain and strong winds.

There was a cold force four wind and the winter sun was breaking through the clouds to give a sparkle to the waters of Chichester Lake - and there was a good showing of 57 boats, spread evenly between the three fleets.

The slow fleet was well supported by nine Mirrors from Itchenor SC.

Race officer Martin Orton set a triangular course, taking advantage of the wind direction to provide a good beat towards Dell Quay and a run back towards the Chichester clubhouse followed by a tight reach to the downwind mark.

The fast fleet attracted several Merlin Rockets, RS400s, RS200s, and a mix of others. By the end of lap three of the 50-minute race, the Merlin Rocket of David Hayes and Jonny Ratcliffe led in a close race against the Fireball of Sam Methan and Richard Anderton from Hayling Island.

Martin and Vicky Jones (HISC) were third in their Merlin Rocket and Jason Buchanan from Dell Quay was fourth in his RS300. There was less than a minute between the first four.

With the tide still flowing up the harbour, the second race got away cleanly. The wind had picked up slightly and boats catching the gusts on the downwind leg and the reach had some lively spinnaker work.

The two leaders of the first race again fought it out, with the Fireball just taking first place against the Merlin Rocket. This time Steve and Sarah Cockerill (Hillhead) manoeuvred themselves into third against George Yeoman and Sophie Ormsby (Itchenor) in the RS200, who were fourth.

The medium fleet, consisting largely of Lasers and Solos, made a less tidy start in race three with a couple of Lasers jumping the gun.

The National 12 of William Warren and Sophie Malley (Shoreham) took the lead and established an unassailable first place.

Luke South from Chichester made a good start and got away from the close-racing Solos and claimed second place ahead of four Solos, with Nick Peters (HISC) followed by David Maclean (Itchenor), Mark Harper (CYC) and Ray Collins (Locks), who all had just seven seconds between them.

In the second race the National 12 led again, but this time was followed by Peters in second place while Nick

and Biddy Colbourne in the GP14, although quicker on the water, were placed third on handicap. Jimmy Carter (Laser) was close behind.

The slow fleet had the greatest number of entries and provided the safety boats with a few capsizes to deal with.

In the first race, the Mirrors from Itchenor made up for the unusual absence of any Optimists and put on a good show, but the Tera sailed by Alex Butler (HISC) was the one to watch.

He was only a minute behind the first Mirror, sailed by Celia Hansell and Paddy Jefferies, and on corrected time he took first place.

They were followed by Mirrors sailed by Emily Heath and Lucy Partridge (Itchenor) in third and Patrick Taylor and Felix Jefferies in fourth, who just pipped Jessica Carter (CYC) in her Topper on corrected time.

The other CYC Toppers sailed by Hannah Thompson, Charlotte Reading and Charlie South achieved a good result, midway in a very competitive fleet.

In the second race the slow fleet was seven lighter as a result of the cold conditions.

In this race the Mirror sailed by Ben Weston and Tom Hartly (Itchenor) achieved first place with Emily Heath and Lucy Partridge close behind.

Alex Butler was not far behind and he was followed by Celia Hansell and Paddy Jefferies.

At the end of the day’s racing, George Yeoman and Sophie Ormsby in the RS200 led the fast fleet, William Warren and Sophie Malley in their National 12 led the medium fleet and Alex Butler heads the slow fleet in his Tera.

Races five and six of the series will be held this Sunday, with the first start at 10.15am.

* Steve Cockerill will give a talk entitled The Boat Whisperer at Chichester Yacht Club this Saturday. Food is served after 6pm and the talk begins at 7pm. Tickets are £10 adults, £5 juniors and £20 families.