A record 270 young sailors descended on Itchenor Sailing Club for the 63rd National Schools Sailing Championships last week.
On Monday, 162 13 and 14-year-old Feva sailors arrived for the JDX Consulting Schools Championships.
They were greeted by a vintage Chichester Harbour summer’s day, with changeable weather forecasts, promising a challenge for PRO Peter Taylor and his race management team.
Race one got under way in 12-15 knots and a strong flood tide to keep the keen RS Fevas behind the line. In separate gold and silver fleets, racing proved extremely tight, with the lead constantly changing.
After two laps of the long windward leeward course, the race was eventually won by Henry Chandler and Louis Johnson of Portsmouth Grammar School.
The race management team were forced to move the race area to accommodate the large fleet. Race two saw Chandler and Johnson show superb tactical nous to control the fleet to secure another win.
As the storm clouds rolled in, the wind picked up and Harry Jameson and Ben Todd of Hayling College began to assert their dominance, winning race three and beating the black flag in race four to record back to back wins.
Day two served up a further change of conditions including light winds and a strong flooding tide.
In race five, Jameson and Todd took the race win again, while witnessing great resilience from Piers Nicholls and Archie Grant, using local knowledge to push them all the way to the finish.
Race six had Chandler and Johnson playing the shifts and tide extremely well to extend a healthy lead over their rivals.
Jameson and Todd wrapped up the event with a triumphant win and a solid first place, leaving Chandler and Johnson and Louis Wright and Jamie Allen to battle it out for second place in the final race.
Taylor and the race management team did well to get race seven away in a dying breeze following a number of general recalls. Jameson and Todd gave no respite to the opposition, taking a dominant win to complete the event with four wins and three third-place finishes.
Chandler and Johnson took second from Wright and Allen, who had a tough final race.
In the silver fleet, racing was equally intense with Hayling College again taking the overall win with Joshua Boniface and Jessica Tame squeezing ahead of Ryan Wilkinson and Rachel Pyke in the final race.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday the Feva fleet was replaced by Fireflies and 420s and more than 100 mostly 15 and 16-year-olds.
After a practice day, the senior championships, sponsored by MPI Brokers and Mind The Gap Year Insurance, got under way and it was clear the Firefly event would be closely contented between the RGS Guildford pair of Patrick Croghan and James Dickinson and Magdalen College School’s Owen Hallett and Primrose Baxter.
In the final reckoning the two crews were level on points after ten races and the title decided by the Guildford students’ three first places compared to the Magdalen pair’s two.
The 420 competition was more clear cut with Ben Roe and Ben Childerley from Sherborne School counting seven first places and one second place, out of a total ten held, to take the trophy in this class.
Charles Hyatt, commodore at Itchenor Sailing Club, said: “The number of entries and the closeness of the competition in this year’s Schools Championship have demonstrated the depth and strength of sailing in schools. We are delighted to play our part.”
Six juniors took part in the third set of the Dell Quay SC junior racing series. The wind was gusting force four to five with a strong tide, making for choppy conditions.
The juniors showed a good knowledge of the racing sequence flags although need to work on the finer points of sailing a course.
Fleur Moranne (Topper) took first place in both races with sister Olivia (Topper) second in the first race and Rachel Dicker (Topper) third in both races.
Lou Dicker showed determination after the first race, in a Feva, to then set up a second boat, a Topper, in time for the second race and come second.
Dell Quay members made the most of the mid-summer weather during the annual cruise and camp to Cobnor. A record-breaking 83 members enjoyed fantastic harbour sailing and camping in the north woods.
They enjoyed barbecues, games and socialising before relaxing by the campfire.
Saturday brought the opportunity for more sailing with several boats sailing to East Head for a picnic lunch. The afternoon brought a return trip to Cobnor followed by a mixed craft ‘flotilla of fun,’ sailing and paddling their way to the ice cream van at Bosham.
Many younger sailors took part in trapeze sailing, kayaking and swimming, followed by circus skills and the annual adults-versus-children football match. After a Sunday morning fry-up and de-camp, many enjoyed more canoeing and sailing skills practice in a lively wind. Six boats sailed in company back to Dell Quay.
Felpham Sailing Club are proving ‘this girl can’ thanks to special newly-developed ‘girls-only’ sessions to get more females sailing.
So far up to 20 females have been taking advantage of the club’s Women on Water (WOW) sessions since they started in June in response to Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign to get more females into sport.
For the past three years the club have run sessions to encourage non-sailing female members to get involved, but this is the first year these sessions have been opened up to newcomers in line with the aims of the Sport’s England’s initiative.
Felpham SC have wasted no time showing local females why sailing could be the sporting answer they are looking for.
Catherine Hemsley, who is leading the sessions, said: “In our experience there so many reasons women haven’t tried sailing, including being the main child carers, which often means limited time.
“In addition, some want to give space for their partner or child to sail or they feel self-conscious about learning in front of their partner or others. They are also sometimes nervous of water or don’t feel fit enough or think they can do it.
“The reality is sailing is a great hobby, which is accessible to all. The current success of WOW is down to the fact that the sessions are very relaxed, social, run by females and includes a shared meal prepared by one of the club members after sailing.
“For some of the women it’s been a chance to get involved in their children’s sport, for others it’s the appeal of the fresh air and opportunity to be fitter. The challenge of learning and mastering a new skill and satisfying a competitive streak are also reasons the women and girls have come along.”
The sessions take place every Thursday from 6pm to the end of August and are open to anyone of any level of experience to get involved. Depending on skill level and confidence, participants are guided through the basics, including land-based theory, with the aim of encouraging the women to enjoy being on the water and even start racing. Girls as young as ten can join in and there is no upper age limit.
Catherine added: “Our motivation for launching WOW was to increase opportunities for girls and women in sailing and racing and to share the wonderful sport. We want to show women who watch their children and partners sail they can do it themselves, and women who have never had a go at the sport how easy and affordable it is to actually become a sailor. We’ve been delighted with the early response to WOW and are looking forward to seeing it grow over the summer.”
To get involved contact the club to let them know you’re interested or just turn up and make yourself known. The first two tasters sessions are free for non-members. Felpham SC is a recognised RYA Training Centre meaning it conforms to the highest standards of quality and safety.
For more, visit www.felphamsailing.co.uk
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