Nine-year-old sailor laps up Round The Island race action

Luke Jeffrey-Bashford during the Round The Island race
Luke Jeffrey-Bashford during the Round The Island race

A NINE-YEAR-OLD sailor from Bognor enjoyed his role in the Round the Island race.

Luke Jeffrey-Bashford, a Year 4 pupil at Rose Green Junior School, sent a handwritten letter to his headmaster asking if he could be excused from school for one day to join the team for a pre-race training and briefing day, and his head agreed.

The team met at Port Hamble Marina on the Thursday evening and joined yacht Jolene a J109. The team consisted of Luke, his older brother Robert, 28, and dad Nick Bashford, 49, who was skipper – plus four other crew members.

They had a great practice day, familiarising themselves with the boat as they had not chartered it before. Weather conditions were near-perfect for practising and all felt confident.

Luke’s previous yacht experience consisted of a handful of trips in the Solent. He has always enjoyed sailing trips on family breaks and has been in some fairly strong winds in the past, and always likes to helm even in quite trying conditions.

The weekend before the race Luke underwent some lifejacket training in the water.

Luke said he was keen to sign up for next year’s race as it had been the best day of his life.

Race day brought a 4.30am wake-up call with a 7.50am across-the-line start-time. They were in IRC group two, which had around 150 boats starting at the same time.

Luke’s main role was to stand with his dad on the helm and keep a sharp lookout and advise his dad (aka the skipper) to any potential for a close passing of another yacht.

Once around The Needles, the winds picked up and made some interesting down-wind sailing – they arrived at the finish line in 7hr 49min 32sec, putting them in 295th position.

It was a great day and skipper Bashford, who has competed in this race many times, produced his best time ever. With nearly 1,600 boats in the race, Luke was proud to be involved.

Luke said he was keen to sign up for next year’s race as it had been the best day of his life.

Brian Haugh of Foreshore Classic Marine, based in Birdham Marina, skippered his classic yacht Cherete to win their division and group and came third overall in the rating system of the Round the Island race.

He was joined by local sailing instructor Ashley Hatton of Chichester Harbour Turtles, who said: “To do well in this race you need to have the ability and foresight to position your yacht to avoid sailing in the turbulent wind from other yachts, and Brian did this brilliantly.

“That was more easily said than done when you consider there were 1,500 other entrants.”

All race participants enjoyed sunshine and fresh winds as they sailed anti-clockwise around the island, starting and finishing at Cowes.

Brian’s brother-in-law and nephew Roger and Morgan Sparrow, from Exposure Marine at Bury Hill, who are new to sailing, made up the rest of the crew and were delighted to join Haugh on the podium at the prizegiving for the biggest yacht race in the world.

BOSHAM

A record total of 132 boats entered Bosham Sailing Club’s regatta. It was Champagne sailing for all with glorious sunshine and a steady force four from the south west.

There were also numerous bottles of Champagne to be won – provided by the regatta sponsors Strutt and Parker – in addition to the magnificent array of trophies.

There were 12 individual starts in the main harbour from BSC’s newly-acquired committee boat while the Optimists raced in the pool area of Bosham creek. Numbers were boosted by 41 keelboats from Itchenor SC.

Racing was highly competitive in all fleets and culminated with Bosham’s traditional regatta tea and prize-giving held in brilliant sunshine on the terrace at the club. More than 100 of the competitors rounded off a memorable day with a barbecue and live jazz accompanied by a spectacular sunset.

Class winners: National Swallow: Oliver Sloper and Mike Wigmore; Solent Sunbeam: Joe and Cathy Burnie; XOD: John Tremlett with Jeremy Lear and Millie Bullen; CDB Fast Division: Brian Hoolahan with Andrew Young and Alistair Tyler, National 18; CDB Medium Division: Mark Stanton and Emma Seaton in a YWDB; CDB Slow Division: Michael Young in a Tideway; Chichester Scow: Judy Roberts;

Mirror: Berty and Charlotte Fisher; Topper: Flora Windebank; Feva: Matt Russell and Cameron Grant; Wanderer: Robin Gabbitas and David Thompson; Laser: Nigel Russell; Laser Radial: Charlie Knottenbelt; Medium Handicap: Stephen Tomlinson and Phil Roberts in a Wayfarer;

RS200: Rob Struckett and Lisa McDowell; Fast Handicap: Phil Weake and Nick Haryet in a Fireball; Optimist: Patrick Mayhew.

DELL QUAY

Perfect weather conditions with a strong south-westerly breeze, sun and Dell Quay Sailing Club’s newly-completed balcony and pontoon, set the scene for DQSC’s 2015 national Solo open meeting.

The race, part of the Southern Area Travellers’ Trophy Series and Sea Series, attracted 18 visitors from 13 different clubs as far afield as Poole and West Mersea. The DQSC fleet swelled the fleet to a total of 28.

Race officer Graham Dalton set an Olympic course for the three back-to-back races, taking full advantage of the steady force-three wind from the south west.

The high calibre of the visiting talent led to fierce competition and top-quality racing. After the first two races the field was still wide open. A general recall at the start of the third race added to the tension.

The series was won by visitor Ben McGrane, recently described in the yachting press as ‘a champion helmsman and undoubtedly one of the UK’s hottest and most versatile talents’ – who, after a disappointing first race with a capsize, took first place in the second and third races.

Such was the strength of the visiting competition that the home club could only achieve eighth position in the contest.

DQSC vice-commodore Sue Nash and Solo racing veteran Gordon Barclay presented the prizes.

Final overall results: 1 Ben McGrane (Netley), 2 James Ross (Hamble), 3 Steve Ede (West Mersea), 4 Antony Osman (CYC), 5 Guy Mayger (Felpham). Awards also given to: 1st DQSC helm and 1st veteran – Roger Puttock; 1st Grand Master – Tim Jackson (Papercourt); 1st Female Helm – Carol Andrews (DQSC).

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