DINGHY sailors from around the country completed Chichester Harbour Federation Race Week on a high note, as Friday brought non-stop sunshine and a breeze giving all a great final day.
The event, one of the UK’s largest dinghy regattas, drew 313 boats and almost 500 sailors to compete on three separate courses close to the harbour mouth.
Dinghies ranged from the fastest Olympic class, the powerful 49er, to tiny Optimists where the youngest would-be Olympians begin their racing careers.
The five days of racing took place in light to moderate winds – a big contrast from last year’s conditions when the remnants of hurricane Bertha meant the loss of the final day’s racing.
With close rivalry among competitors overall winners in several of the fleets hinged on what proved to be a tense final day.
As ever, the majority of the competitors came from sailing clubs within the harbour, most notably Hayling Island SC, where the 52-year-old event was held.
But 2015 saw entries from 37 clubs in total, some as far afield as Cornwall, the Midlands and Northern Ireland.
Biggest of the 15 fleets was the RS200, which hit 50 entrants, closely followed by the medium handicap, where dinghies ranged from harbour favourites such as the Wayfarer to modern Devoti Zeros and RS Aeros. Solos, one of the harbour’s most popular small dinghies, were out in force too and there was a welcome increase in standard-rig Laser competitors.
Among the faster classes, the Fireballs – another harbour classic, developed here – mustered enough entrants for their own start and there was good support in fast handicap and asymmetric handicap classes.
Fewer youngsters than usual were out on their smaller course, probably because many regulars had moved up to RS Fevas.
But a lot more Optimists than last year augurs well for bigger junior fleets in 2016 and beyond.
Star performances from West Sussex sailors came from members of Felpham SC. Guy Mayger headed the tightly-competitive solo fleet by edging past his rivals for overall first place in the final race, while his son Alex had an easier victory in the Laser 4.7 class, winning all four races he sailed. RS Feva sailor Jack Miller, crewed by Lauren or Abigail Bentley, was narrowly beaten into second place in his fleet.
Those three results put the small Felpham contingent – nine boats – on equal points with giant Hayling Island SC – 175 – in the inter-club team scores, though Felpham missed the trophy on tie-break.
Other West Sussex sailors to do well were John Tremlett (Itchenor SC), who won two Finn races but needed to win again on the final day to take the trophy, instead finishing second overall; Harry and Prue Roome (Itchenor SC), second RS200 overall with their qualifying places a win and two seconds. Tim Weeden (Thorney Island SC), third in the medium handicap in his Devoti Zero also with one race win.
While, Ian Barnett (Chichester YC), was the winner of two of the solo races and fourth overall.
Spanning the county boundary, Emsworth sailors also excelled; Andrew Gould dominated the Fast Asymmetric handicap to win with minimum points. Jonathon Townsend and Barbara Langford (Emsworth SC),were first in the medium handicap fleet with a run of three second places in their 2000. Simon Townsend and J. Rigg (ESC) were second RS400, Richie Bailey (ESC) was best of his club’s six Laser competitors, with one race win and third overall. Phil and Jill Poyner (ESC) were fifth RS 200; Finlay McCaig (ESSC) was second Topper.
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