Sailors at Chichester have grounds to be optimists

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Bright sunshine and a challenging 20 to 25-knot breeze greeted the 37 entries in the 2011 Chichester Yacht Club Zhik Optimist open meeting.

In the main fleet with 26 entries, a close battle took place throughout the three-race series at the front of the fleet with Sophie Hempsall (Bosham SC) taking control, with George Ford (Royal Lymington) second closely followed by Clark Rutter (Emsworth) third.

On a separate course set further to the south, 11 entries in the regatta fleet also had good competitive racing with Henry Chander (Emsworth SC) taking the event win followed by Pollyanna Wright (Papercourt SC) second, and Ben Thompson (Emsworth SC) third.

Two special awards of note were given for recognition of endeavour and effort by the race committee in the testing conditions and the main fleet award went to Ben Williams (Chichester YC), with the regatta fleet award going to Beatrix Wright (Papercourt SC).

Main prizes were kindly supplied by Zhik.

n A blustery day greeted sailors for the first of Chichester’s autumn series, which coincided with training for Optimist sailors for a busy day on the water.

In the fast fleet in race one Nick and Roger Elliman in their RS 400 had a close, fast race with John Miles and Tony Mobbs in a 505, with the Ellimans finishing just ahead on the water.

Laurence Murray and Paul Thornton in Solos and John Crawley (Laser) set the pace for the single-handers, Murray finishing first overall on handicap, pushing the Ellimans into second with Crawley third.

In race two the Ellimans got farther ahead of Miles and Tony Mobbs and took first on and off the water.

Murray again put in a good time in the Solo to take second with Crawley again third.

In the final race, in a much smaller fleet, the Ellimans were first with Helen and Mark Green (Laser 2000) second and Miles and Mobbs (505) third.

In the slow fleet in race two, the RS Feva of Olivia Winther and Ben Thompson led from the front, but Elliott Williams put in an amazing time in his Topper to take first place on handicap. Hamish Scott was second in his Laser Pico and Winther and Thompson third.

In race three, Winther and Thompson in the Feva were again fast on the water, but Scott got into his stride and took first place on handicap. Williams was third, only just ahead of Hannah Thomson in fourth, both in Toppers.

DELL QUAY

Saturday’s brisk breeze brought enthusiastic heavy-weather sailors to the start line of the first two races in the Late Helm series at Dell Quay.

In the first, Graham and Lucy Dalton (Laser 2000) opened up a comfortable lead. The two minutes by which they headed the second finisher, the Wayfarer of Richard Wilde and David Wakefield, at the end of three laps was enough to leave them clear winners on handicap, but Wilde and Wakefield lost second place by just five seconds to Bill Dawber (Solo).

There were capsizes further back in the fleet and more were to come as the south-westerly wind strengthened to force six.

The fleet was reduced by several retirements, yet there was impressively close racing between Wilde and Wakefield, Dawber and Peter and Jane Matthews (Laser 2000).

Dawber’s remarkable downwind speed – helped by a good choice of course – left the boats which should have been ahead of him almost wallowing in his wake as the first lap ended, but the Matthews overhauled him on the beat on lap two and braved their gennaker on the reach, holding their lead to the finish.

But that proved to no avail on handicap as Dawber took first place. The Matthews were comfortably clear of the Wayfarer, the only other boat to finish.

Sunday saw light and very variable winds with heavy downpours but there was a good turnout for the Late Trophy series races.

Anne and Jim Norfolk just beat the fleet to the first mark in the Laser 2000 class and increased their lead to the finish, well ahead of Mike Fitzgerald and Tim Dormer, with Jean and Liz Sagues in third place.

In the second Laser 2000 race the Norfolks were later overtaken by Fitzgerald and Dormer who were a little faster on the close reaches. The first Solo race saw the fleet divide up the beat as two boats sailed the opposite western shore to avoid the tide, leaving the rest of the fleet sailing up the eastern side.

The tactic paid off so well they even overtook the Laser 2000 fleet who had started five minutes before them. Mike van Klaveren led by a large margin at the finish, followed by Malcolm Buchanan, with third going to Richard Ede.

The second race was close racing but as Buchanan led Chris Ede up the final leg of the course, Richard Ede sailed further out into the tide but with a better wind and came from 50m behind to win.

The first of the Handicap Trophy races saw Simon and Alex Briggs in a Fireball finish just ahead of Bob Marshall and Mike Savage (RS 400) on corrected time. In the second, Marshall and Savage won by a good margin from the Fireball, with Helen Penfold (Laser Radial) third.