Itchenor Sailing Club’s Points Week is one of the season’s highlights.
It’s a chance for the three classic keel boats classes – XODs, Sunbeams and Swallows – to take advantage of Chichester Harbour with high tide conditions and relative freedom from other boating activities. All that was needed were favourable weather conditions.
Monday was tricky as the early morning rain and high winds gave the fleets a decision to make. The Sunbeams made an early call to stay ashore while the XODs and Swallows went down harbour to give it a go.
Luckily, by the time the first race started, the rain had stopped and the wind eased, giving way to good racing conditions. The Swallows were first away and it was clear that the battle lines had been drawn between Skua and Gwaihir, with neither boat out of the top two positions all week.
Skua struck first and was ahead until Friday when Gwaihir scored two first places to edge home in the week’s points on an equal score ahead by dint of the count back rule. The large XOD fleet challenged the race officer who called two general recalls before resorting to the black flag.
In strong flood tide conditions, a pin start proved critical and Mark Palmer’s Sweet X got it just right, sailing a perfect race and taking day one’s first position.
General recalls and a black flag were also the order of the day for the XODs on day two, with Palmer, yet again, taking the honours. The Sunbeams joined the action on Tuesday with Anthony and Gill Robinson’s Symphony scoring the victory, followed by Barry Sampson’s Comedy and Tim Hill with Query.
Fifty-eight keel boats took part in the 2016 Keel Boat Points Week. The XODs were the largest fleet with 24 local boats augmented by two visitors from Cowes. Michael O’Donnell with Lightwood had gained experience last year and on his return, had encouraged Jonathan Clark to join him with Gin. O’Donnell had engaged former XOD champion Steve Lawrence to give him local knowledge, while Clark had James Meaning aboard with previous experience of Chichester Harbour’s idiosyncrasies.
The current XOD champion John Tremlett made a surprise appearance on Wednesday as guest helm on Foxglove. He demonstrated why he is the champion with a resounding victory. Lightwood was getting into her stride in second place and a highly creditable third place went to Athena helmed by David McGregor and crewed by his wife Renee and co-owner Beverly Coghlan.
In the Swallows, Charles Fisher’s Migrant continued to turn in good results behind the two leaders. While in the Sunbeams, Melody, Fleury and Fay took podium positions.
Thursday’s weather was dire – rain, little wind and a real threat of thunderstorms meaning all fleets stayed ashore. This enforced lay day was more than made up for on Friday, when there were champagne sailing conditions – a brisk South Westerly and bright sunshine.
Roger Wickens, who had been on top form all week, excelled himself on Friday. Giving all three fleets exacting yet enjoyable courses, maximizing the deep waters down harbour at high tide.
Joe and Cathy Burnie’s Fleury, scored a first and second to edge them ahead of John Ford’s fourth and first with Melody in the Sunbeam competitions. The consistent Comedy took the third spot. The final race saw Gwaihir finish ahead of Skua and Migrant and so determine the Swallow honours.
In the XODs first Friday race Michael Martell’s Astralita sailed a perfect race, but the second race belonged to an ever-improving Lightwood. So as the final results were recorded, SweetX split Cowes visitors Lightwood and Gin for the top places.
1 Gwaihir - Mike Wigmore, Mark Struckett and Charles Hyatt
2 Skua - Harry and Prue Roome with Tim Handley
3 Migrant - Charles Fisher, Richard Thompson and Nigel Glennie
1 Fleury - Joe and Cathy Burnie
2 Melody - John Ford, Julian Hawe and Charlie Reid
3 Comedy - Barry Sampson and Robert Bailey
1 Lightwood - Michel O’Donnell, Steve Lawrence
2 SweetX - Mark Palmer
3 Gin - Jonathan Clark, James Meaning and Mark Lacey
See next week’s Chichester Observer for coverage of Itchenor’s hugely-popular schools week
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