Setting Sail: Itchenor sailors ready for exciting 2016 season
The new season is just about here, writes Chris Blevins, rear-commodore sailing at Itchenor Sailing Club.
Boats are having that last coat of varnish and the rigging is being checked ready for launching.
We have had our Ready to Race Weekend when members brushed up their skills in race management, support boat drills and learnt from the experts how to get a little bit of extra speed from their boats to get them to the front of the fleet.
One of the 2016 highlights will be in August when Itchenor SC hosts the Mirror class national championships.
We hope to have some 70 boats competing in Chichester Harbour.
Another of our dinghy classes – the RS200 – will also be holding their spring championships here in April.
A key milestone in our classic keel boat classes is the 70th anniversary of the Swallow class.
The Swallows have a number of events planned including a national championship at Bembridge.
Itchenor’s annual Points Week is again in June and the XODs, Sunbeams and Swallows are anticipating large turnouts as crews hone their boat handling skills before Cowes Classics Week and Cowes Week.
Younger sailors are also well catered for with Schools Week in June and Junior Fortnight starting at the end of July.
But it is not just about racing.
At our open day in May, we will be introducing new members to training programmes designed for both young and old would-be sailors. Our cruising dinghies will also be available for those who wish to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the harbour without starting sequences and the need to round particular buoys on the way to a picnic at East Head.
To get the season off to a spectacular start, we have organised a Start the Season Day on April 9.
All our keel boat and dinghy classes have races planned, so we hope to have 100-plus boats on the water.
The crews will join other members for a party in the evening at our clubhouse.
So 2016 at Itchenor will offer something for everyone. I, for one, cannot wait.
* Chris Blevins’ exclusive Setting Sail column will feature in the Observer and on this website once a month from now until September.
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