Itchenor SC hosted its annual Points Week, a festival of classic keelboat racing.
The three classes based at the club, XOD, Sunbeam and Swallow, all had races each day in Chichester Harbour. Start times were adjusted to ensure the race team, led by Roger Wickens, could set courses for the fleets to take full advantage of high tides in the Harbour. Sixty-four classic boats took part.
The Itchenor XOD fleet was augmented with the addition of sailors and four visiting boats from Cowes, Lymington, Yarmouth and Parkstone.
The 30 boats enjoyed very close racing throughout the week. Monday provided perfect weather and the die appeared to be cast with last year’s winner Lass helmed by John Tremlett taking first place and Roger Yeoman steering Xcitation into second. These are the form boats in the Itchenor fleet. However, the slightly trickier conditions on Tuesday gave a new winner – Catherine with Colin McKinnon on the stick – and Liz and Phil Chowiencyk’s Seamist a surprise second.
Wednesday’s light winds proved even more challenging. Visiting sailor Michael O’Donnell brought Lightwood home to take the bullet ahead of local maestro Alastair Shaw in Phoenix.
Thursday and Friday brought the return of those champagne conditions all racers enjoy; a steady, building breeze from the south west and bright sunshine.
Yeoman and Moss’s Xcitation made amends for the black flag disqualification they suffered the day before with their only first place of the week. Phoenix was again second. So with six boats in contention for the week’s top prize, the Benson Platter, a close battle ensued.
Catherine was the early leader but had dropped back to third under pressure from a number of boats including Xcititation, the consistent Michael Martell’s Astralita and Madeline in the hands of visitor Penny Fulford. In the end Catherine prevailed to take the race and week.
The Sunbeam class also enjoyed close competition. Peter Taylor and Robin Richardson in Betty showed early in the week with class captain Nick Leach in close pursuit. However, it was Polly’s consistency that was key as Polly triumphed. Polly included a first and two seconds while Betty had a first and two thirds. Tim Hill’s Query took third place overall on count back from Penny.
In the Swallow class the series became a tussle between Skua and Osprey swapping first places during the series. Both had three firsts but it was Skua’s two seconds that proved the difference against Osprey’s one.
Results - XOD 1st Catherine Colin McKinnon, Ros and Neil Hart 10 points; 2ndAstralita Michael Martell, Fraser Graham and Tim Copsey 16; 3rd Xcitation Roger Yeoman, Michael Moss and Rob Tywhitt-Drake 17. Sunbeam - 1st Polly Nick Leach, Simon O’Hea and Martin Evans 10; 2nd Betty Peter and Anne Taylor, Robin Richardson 15; 3rd Query Tim Hill 17. Swallow - 1st Skua Harry, Prue and Peter Roome 11; 2nd Osprey James Hartley, Jeremy Sibthorpe and Rob Sutherland 14; 3rd Gwaihir Mike Wigmore, Mark and Rachel Struckett 18.
The Dell Quay SC bank holiday race series continued with races three and four taking place in a gusty and testing wind.
The conditions left the RS 400 of Greg and Lawrence Kies with a broken tiller extension, forcing them out of race four. Nikki Buchanan in her Solo suffered a ripped sail at the first batten, in race three but managed to finish both races.
In race three the RS 400 of Rob Corfield and Phil Guimaraens were first to cross the finish line, followed by the RS 400 of Greg and Lawrence Kies. After handicap adjustments, first place was taken by Stephen Holcroft (Solo) with Sue Manning coming second in her Laser 4.7, leaving Andrew Buchanan (Finn) to take third.
In race four Corfield and Guimaraens were once again first on the water but first place on handicap this time went to Manning, followed by Peter and Charlotte Binning (2000) and Buchanan once again third. Holcroft was fourth this time, having been stuck behind the Binnings for most of the race.
Holcroft leads the series overall, with Buchanan second and Chris Wood (Streaker) third.
The final two races in the series take place on Saturday, August 24.
What can be more sublime than slipping the mooring for an evening of sociable yacht racing in an attractive classic keelboat on the beautiful waters of Chichester Harbour.
This is what the Solent Sunbeam fleet does every week from May to September, with the boat owners organising the hour-long race and the prize – a bottle of wine - handed out during the post-race supper at Itchenor Sailing Club.
The origin of these races is enchanting. It was a chance encounter one June evening in the late 1980s between V2 Joy, sailed by Jerome and Elizabeth O’Hea and V1 Dainty, sailed by Peter and Sally Nicholson. One boat’s crew offered the other a glass of wine which was duly passed between the yachts as they sailed past East Head!
They decided to encourage others in the class to sail on a Thursday evening and the now well-established and hugely enjoyed tradition of evening racing began.
From the outset the races were organised by the class members in turn, with the organiser presenting a bottle of wine to the winner over a lively and friendly supper at the sailing club. Guests are regularly invited to take part in this hugely sociable and very enjoyable weekly event which often attracts the best of the summer weather.
The racing takes place in Solent Sunbeams, a class which was designed in 1922 by Alfred Westmacott who was based on the Isle of Wight. More than 30 of this classic fleet are still actively sailing today including several of the original 96-year-old yachts including V1 Dainty, which remains an active competitor at Itchenor, with Peter Nicholson still at the helm.
The class is extremely welcoming and sociable with very supportive owners who are encouraged to race and join in with post-race suppers and who also have a common passion for the design, heritage and sportsmanship of the fleet.