Chichester Harbour is perfect for a sailing spectacular

After a wild and windy first day, when many competitors decided it was wiser to stay ashore, Chichester Harbour Race Week turned into a classic regatta, with close and competitive sailing in good breezes and non-stop sunshine.

The week again proved a spectacular display of dinghy design, with long-term favourites such as Solos, International Canoes and 420s sharing the water just inside the mouth of Chichester Harbour with Olympic classes and fast-growing new designs such as the RS Aero and Devoti D-Zero.

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture by Chris Hatton

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture by Chris Hatton

In all, 311 boats entered, the majority based within the harbour. But a total of 51 clubs were represented, spreading from Yorkshire to Cornwall, from Wales to Germany. Entrants, in what is very much a family regatta, spanned a huge age range, too, from under-tens to 80-plus veterans.

The event is run from Hayling Island SC by the Chichester Harbour Federation and to give great sailing for all entrants were split into 18 different fleets, each with separate starts run from four committee boats.

Though after Monday the weather was good, shifting winds sometimes made things tricky for the race officers – and also for quite a number of competitors who on Tuesday failed to find the correct windward mark. And while in some classes the winner was clear even before Friday’s racing took place, in others everything hinged on the final race.

Entrants from the Sussex side of the harbour took home a very fair share of the prize plates, alongside items donated by sponsors Bentley Walker, Chichester Harbour Gin, Optimum Time, Over Board, Raymarine and Marine Super Store.

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture by Chris Hatton

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture by Chris Hatton

In the fastest class, the closely-fought asymmetric handicap with 34 entrants, Emsworth SC’s Hugh and Helen Watson finished off the week with a win in their final race, to take third place overall; Andrew Gould (Musto Skiff, Emsworth Slipper SC) was fifth. Both were among the many in he fleet to go to the wrong mark on Tuesday.

ESSC members dominated the 16-strong combined D-Zero and RSAero 9 fleet, with Jim Fifield (Aero 9) at the top of the list, scoring two first places and a second. Clubmates David Valentine (D-Zero), winner in Monday’s blustery conditions, was third overall, Tom Kennedy (Aero 9) fourth and Tim Weeden (D-Zero) fifth. And the club’s dominance continued in the RSAero 7 fleet, too, with first place to Mark Riddington with a run of wins in the first three races, and John Derbyshire a close second. Patrick Marshall (ESC) was fifth.

It was Emsworth SC’s turn in the Laser Radial fleet, where Patrick Bonner took first with three wins, narrowly ahead of Sam Bradshaw who scored two firsts and a second. Another unbeatable three firsts, plus one more for luck, secured Laser first prize for their clubmate Charlie South, with Simon Radford (Bosham SC) second.

The slow handicap fleet showed probably the biggest generation gap. Young Ollie Bradshaw (RS Tera Pro, ESC) was second, ahead of two Scows from ESSC, sailed by Barry King-Smith and Martin Price.

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture by Chris Hatton

Chichester Harbour Race Week action / Picture by Chris Hatton

Other top six positions included third in the 25-strong Solo fleet for Ian Barnett (Chichester YC), who competed only on three days; Mark Harper (Dell Quay SC), with thirds on two days, took fifth in the class. Dick Holden (Hadron H2, Arun YC) started the week with a win in the medium handicap and finished with a third on the lightest day, Friday, but had to be content with fourth overall.

Sue Manning (DQSC) took third place in the Laser 4.7 class; Phil Allen (International Canoe, CYC) was sixth of the 28 fast handicap competitors, with five classmates ahead of him; Richard Lewis (ESC) was third full-rig Laser; Toby Field (ESC) third Tera Sport;.James Jenkins (ESC) sixth D-Zero; Phil and Jill Poyner (ESC) were sixth in the largest fleet of the week, the RS200s.

Slippers’ good results left the club just one point behind team winners Hayling Island SC – host to the event, and source of half the total entries – while ESC lost out to Langstone SC, again by a single point, to take fourth place. Some consolation came with second in the youth team list; again HISC led.
The week relies on all the member clubs of the Federation for the 100-plus volunteers needed to make sure everything runs smoothly and safely, with members from Bosham, Dell Quay, both Emsworth clubs and Thorney Island SC active on the water and in shore-based administration..

Race Week 2020 – the 57th edition of the event – will run from August 17 to 22.