Sunbeams are stunning at Itchenor ... Toppers triumph at Chichester

Solent Sunbeams on the water to celebrate their 95th anniversary
Solent Sunbeams on the water to celebrate their 95th anniversary

Nineteen Sunbeams enjoyed excellent sailing conditions in Chichester Harbour at a special 95th anniversary regatta.

Designed by Alfred Westmacott in 1922, the Sunbeam class has enjoyed such longevity that the weekend’s races involved craft aged between one and 95.

The first day started with cloudless skies and moderate breezes that increased during the day. In the first race, Julian Money in V42 Penny raced into an early lead followed by Roger Wickens in V26 Danny before Danny forged ahead. Tim Hill in V25 Query pipped V68 Sky on the finish line for third.

In the second race there was close racing between Danny and V18 Polly sailed by Nick Leach. These two had a good lead and finished first and second respectively.

The second day dawned windless but a light breeze emerged. With the tide ebbing this put a premium on fast downwind sailing and the marks became fiercely contested. Danny led from the first mark followed closely by Polly and these two maintained their positions.

Polly was disqualified for being over the line at the start, giving second place to Penny.

After racing on the final day, 95 Sunbeam sailors celebrated the Class’ 95th anniversary with a special celebratory dinner at Itchenor Sailing Club.

With three first places, Wickens in Danny secured the regatta victory with a race to spare. In the final race, Query and V14 Jabberwocky, sailed by Mike Weston, led from the first mark and kept their positions until the end. Behind them, Danny and Polly had another close tussle but Danny prevailed in the end.

The remaining results were in doubt until the final leg of the last race. In the end, Query was second overall, just one point ahead of Penny, who was also one point ahead of Polly.

After racing on the final day, 95 Sunbeam sailors celebrated the Class’ 95th anniversary with a special celebratory dinner at Itchenor Sailing Club.

Results: 1 V26 - Danny - Roger and Jacky Wickens, Tim Martell; 2 V25 - Query - Tim Hill, Jenny Yeates, Jacqui Evans; 3 V42 - Penny - Julian Money, Richard and Sarah Pearson.

* A tradition that goes back many decades, Itchenor Sailing Club’s Points Week, is a celebration of classic keelboat racing at its best. Taking place from this Monday (June 11) to Friday, the regatta invites keelboat sailors from Swallow, XOD and Sunbeam fleets to take part in a week of racing around Chichester Harbour.

Keelboat Points Week is a five-day series of harbour races with longer than usual courses, making the best use of Chichester Harbour at high tide. The club will also host a number of events through the week to enable participants to meet and mingle with like-minded sailors from other classes.

Around 50 classic keelboats took part in last year’s event for a week of competitive racing. It was attended by sailors ranging from those in their early 20s to the winner in the Sunbeam fleet aged 85, demonstrating the appeal of this form of racing for all ages.

With this year marking the 95th anniversary of the Solent Sunbeam, the club are anticipating an even larger attendance for this year’s event.

Itchenor SC is known for its first-class, one design racing and is home to the largest fleet of Swallows, XODs and Sunbeams in the UK. Itchenor’s keelboat sailors have enjoyed national success over the years, including consecutive wins at Cowes for the last seven years.

Leading local property experts and waterside homes specialists Strutt & Parker sponsors this year’s event.

CHICHESTER

The Chichester Yacht Club Topper open 2018 was held on a sunny afternoon with light wind.

Race officer Charlie Porter set a triangle/sausage course, setting the length of the beat to avoid the marina channel and the wind shadow cast by the club.

The 30 Topper 5.3 and six Topper 4.2 competitors were quite a sight as they made their way to the opposite bank of the CYC lake, guided across the marina channel by the club safety boats. The light wind made for some dramatic gains and losses as sailors tried to exploit the slightest gust of wind and the tide.

In the 4.2 fleet, honours were evenly spread with everyone getting at least a second place in one of the three races. The winner, thanks to his win in the final race, was River Green from Poole YC. Second place went to Oscar Fry from Warsash SC and third went to Arran Goodman from Hill Head SC.

In the 5.3 fleet the clear winner of the CYC Topper Trophy was Lilly Barrett from Island Barn Reservoir SC, who won all three races. Spectators enjoyed her tactics in the final race, where she built a sizable lead by exploiting the effect of the fast falling tide.

Second was Yana Skvortsova, also from IBRSC, who took two second places in the first two races. Third was Daniel Perkins from Warsash SC.

The prize for the highest-placed CYC boat in the event, sponsored by Rooster Sailing, went to Charlie Gran who finished in ninth place.

DELL QUAY

The first two races of the DQSC Pursuit series took place in a light breeze with conditions dominated by dense patches of seaweed.

One patch stretched uninterrupted from around the Quay mark all the way past the Crouchers buoy. It was so dense boats would stop dead when getting entangled in it.

Fred Hilgers (Solo) spotted it during the warm-up for race one and plotted a route to the first mark to avoid getting near it, which paid off as he headed into the protected area behind the moored yachts for a clear beat to Crouchers.

Mike Shaw (Solo) had opted for the orthodox windward position on the starting line which forced him to constantly tack in order to avoid the weed banks, opening up a gap for both Richard Bridgmont (also Solo) and Hilgers that he had no chance of closing.

With the Pico of Stephen Holcroft soon caught, Hilgers took the lead while tacking towards the Bowling mark. Then with the wind picking up a little, Roger Francis (Graduate) rounded Heron less than a boat length behind Hilgers to overtake Bridgmont.

An error by Francis on a broad reach to Copperas West allowed Hilgers to slip away and take first place, leaving Bridgmont and Francis to battle it out for second place. In the closing stages of the race Bridgmont edged ahead by a whisker to secure second place, leaving Francis third.

Race two looked very much like a repeat of race one but the wind seemed to have picked up a little. Andrew Buchanan in his Finn seemed the biggest beneficiary of the light breeze as he rolled up the field from his last but one starting position. At the front Hilgers and Bridgmont kept swapping positions for the lead but in the end no amount of tactics by Hilgers could hold off Bridgmont who came in first, narrowly ahead of Hilgers, with Buchanan close behind to secure third.